A Winter Dress for Amy March



Hannah Olech


(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

In early December I was working on an 1850s Christmas gown. My friend said the finished gown was beautiful, but wondered when I might start drafting my own gowns. I told her I was contemplating drafting an 1850s-60s daytime ensemble, but I was hesitant. She asked if what I was thinking could have been worn by the characters in "Little Women", and I told her I supposed so. We chatted about the book for a while and Louisa May Alcott in general. I grew up less than an hour from where Alcott lived and where most of the story takes place, in Concord Mass, and my friend grew up IN Concord. All the talk of Little Women and New England winters really got my gears turning and suddenly I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted to make something I could see Amy March wearing during a Concord winter, something fashionable and beautiful, but something appropriate for the weather. So I went digging for materials that would have been fashionable at the time but would be sufficiently warm in the event a foot of snow dropped on us. And boy oh boy, a foot of snow actually dropped on us the day before I photographed this finished costume. I know it may not be a popular opinion but I like Amy's character a lot. She has a reputation for being dramatic and selfish, but I think she feels deeply and tries her best, despite outward appearances.

Outline the construction…

I have been sewing for nearly 5 years and I have been using historic patterns most of that time, but drafting my own bodices has always intimidated me. I've long been drafting my own skirts and even hats, but have shied away from bodices fitted over corsets or anything that requires drafting sleeves but I decided if I can draft my own hats, I should just get over myself and draft a bodice. First I flat drafted my pattern, then made a mock up and fiddled with it till I had something I liked. Then I fit it over my own corseted body as my dress form can not replicate my corseted shape, and I was ready. This outfit consists of a chemise, pantaloons, petticoat, corset, camisole, cage, over petticoat, blouse, gown skirt, bodice, bonnet and cap. All items were made by me and all outer garments were self drafted. The bodice and skirt are made of flannel, and the bodice is fully lined and boned on each seam. I sew my seams by machine but always do external work such as hems by hand. The bones are in twill tape channels which were hand sewn in place. The bonnet is made of buckram and has a wire edge, it is covered in silk shantung and decorated heavily. The cap under it is made of chiffon and organza. The blouse is made of linen. My go to hand stitches are the running stitch, back stitch, and whip stitch.




  1. Avatar Phanuel Jagna Levinsen on March 11, 2021 at 11:20 pm

    You’ve matched the seams on the skirt with the pattern so well! All the finishes are so pretty and the colours of the fabric are beautiful!

  2. Avatar Susanna Antonsson on March 13, 2021 at 11:53 am

    Beautiful dress and so appropriate for Amy!

  3. Avatar Manon L'Hostis on March 15, 2021 at 2:35 pm

    Such a beautiful gown! And the silhouette is really flattering on you!

  4. Avatar Laura Wemyss on March 21, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    A lovely interpretation. I love the shot of the back view while descending the staircase. Beautifully done.

  5. Avatar Kristina on March 22, 2021 at 3:32 pm

    I am breathless! Dress is so beautiful and bonnet is amazing too!

  6. Avatar Kikkii von Fustian on March 29, 2021 at 11:32 am

    I love a good checkered 1850’s dress! I think you did a wonderful job on drafting and making the bodice, it’s so hard when you have to fit the bodice on yourself!

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