War and Peace Natasha Day Gown



Elizabeth Greenfield


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Sevara Greenfield- Model

Outline the story …

I decided to create a Regency Era gown, inspired by Natasha Rostov from the Russian classic War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I fell in love with her character and really wanted to complete a dress she may have worn within the books (a sad failing of the book is that Tolstoy very rarely describes the wear of his characters), however the inspiration for the gown first came from the scene within Volume II where Natasha visits the Moscow Opera and meets with Anatole Kuragin, however her dress is described as blue.

Other areas of inspiration came from a specific dress dated to this era within the text 'The Empire's New Clothes: A History of the Russian Fashion Industry, 1700-1917' by Christine Ruane. This is one of the very few books written in English on the changing of Russian fashion from traditional dress to heavily European, as decreed by Peter I. The dress in question dated to around 1810, noting that the embroidery on the dress was designed to match with the shawl, which was foreign manufacture. This dress is where the main inspiration and design elements were introduced to the final product, although time and monetary constraints meant that I had to amend certain aspects.

Outline the construction…

This dress is the third sewing project I have conducted, the first dress I have ever made and my first attempts at both pattern drafting (with aid from a text) and embroidery. The dress is made from 100% cotton, although as it was quite thin (due to budgetary concerns, I was unable to afford the quality cotton, or historical wool/silk combination of the inspiration dress) I layered the bodice pieces with two pieces, rather than a single. The skirt and sleeves were single-layered, although in the end this had very little impact on the final product.

The create the pattern, I used the text 'Creating Historical Clothes: Pattern Cutting from Tudor to Victorian Times' by Elizabeth Friendship. The book was incredibly helpful, offering specific measurements and instructions on how to create the patterns, however I did have to adjust the pattern. The major mistake I made in creating the pattern, which I realised late in the project, was that the bodice needed to be lengthened to accommodate the modern bra worn by my model for the empire waist seam to sit in the correct position. Other mistakes came from my first adjustments, in not cutting the neckline correctly, causing sagging at the back due to the edges not meeting.
The garment was initially by modern sewing machine, then hand stitched embroidery using a basic satin stitch and French knots for the centre of the flowers. Closures of hooks and eyes were also hand stitched, as were the hems.




  1. Avatar Laura Boyles on March 11, 2021 at 8:58 pm

    I love the embroidery and detail. It has a lovely fall at the back, too. Best of luck x

  2. Avatar Natasha Cosier on March 12, 2021 at 1:08 am

    It looks amazing!!

  3. Avatar Leah Christlanda on March 12, 2021 at 3:36 am

    how adorable and sweet, very much something Natasha would wear. Love the lovely little flowers.

  4. Avatar Drago on March 12, 2021 at 11:08 am

    Your embroidery adds so much to the character of the dress! Well done!

  5. Avatar Laura Wemyss on March 12, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    Your choice of satin binding adds an air of elegant stateliness when contrasted against the more down-to-earth nature of the gown fabric and the simple style of embroidery (so beautifully done!). It’s such a lovely combination!

  6. Avatar Carolien van Alphen on March 12, 2021 at 5:49 pm

    Love it! The gold details really make it pop!

  7. Avatar Suzi Smart on March 12, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    I really love how the embroidery elevates and finishes the dress so perfectly.

  8. Avatar Elena Migliorin on March 13, 2021 at 10:15 am

    I really like how the dress flows, especially the sleeves (nice length, very elegant) and the back. I think you did a really good job, and the detailing is amazing! I wish you all the best for the competition!

  9. Avatar Natalia V. on March 13, 2021 at 8:59 pm

    War and Peace is one of my favorite books! I loved your idea and the dress looks beautiful. Congratulations and good luck!

  10. Avatar Nancy Stange on March 13, 2021 at 11:56 pm

    First, I must give you cred for reading War and Peace! I fear it will be on my “to read” pile forever. I can tell how much work and love you put into this and it looks wonderful! I really like the gold edging especially.

  11. Avatar Becky C on March 14, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    Elegant and well done!! I love the embroidery and trim along the bottom hem of the skirt. Wonderful job!

  12. Avatar Valerie on March 17, 2021 at 3:21 am

    I love how the floral embroidery at the neckline evokes folklore designs but fits right in with the fashions of the day!

  13. Avatar KC (Keowyndrial) on March 19, 2021 at 9:07 pm

    Beautiful dress! I love the embroidery details and the lace trim. Very elegant!

  14. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 23, 2021 at 4:38 am

    This is so pretty. I love that embroidery! Thank you so much!

  15. Avatar Lizzie Blake on April 1, 2021 at 4:11 pm

    This is such a wonderful dress! Everything goes together so well. I especially love your choice in edging and the embroidery.

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