The Rise of the Sacque Back Gown 37



The death of Louis XIV of France in 1715, signaled the end of the Classical Baroque period and all its grandiloquence. The French court breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Throughout his reign, Louis had sought to gain world power through the fashion industry, successfully moving the center of western fashion from Spain to France – where it remains to this day. To display French superiority, he enforced a strict dress code on his court “to encourage loyalty, satisfy vanity, [and] impress the outside world.” It has been said that Louis used fashion to control his nobles by keeping them focused on ever changing fashion trends and forcing them to bankrupt themselves on French fashions. The sudden freedom from Louis XIV’s fashionable stronghold ushered in the Rococo Period that was defined by more relaxed and free-flowing styles.

The Signboard of Gersaint by Jean-Antoine Watteau, 1721, France. Public Domain.

It is from this period that the Sacque Back Gown, as it was commonly called in England and the American Colonies, first emerged. This gown originated in France as an informal and unfitted gown called Contouche or Robe Battante that was not intended to be worn in public. Box pleats that fell loosely from the shoulders to the hem of these gowns gave them a carefree appeal that became popular as the naturalistic styles of the Rococo Period took hold. These loose flowing gowns were well suited to Jean-Antoine Watteau’s new fête galante style of painting. Because he often featured them in his paintings they were often referred to as Watteau Gowns. As these gowns formalized into the more fitted Sacque Back Gown they became one of the most fashionable gowns, second only to court dress in formality until the death of Louis XV in 1774.

Like the gown on the cover?  Leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing to win the fabric and PDF pattern to make your own Sacque Back Gown!


Complete the look of the Sacque Back Gown with our 18th Century Underpinnings!



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37 thoughts on “The Rise of the Sacque Back Gown

  • Lindsay

    Beautiful cover dress, the color is gorgeous. I never understood the construction of a sack back town, and look forward to trying it out

  • Carol weathers

    Your patterns are so on point for the period they represent. I will never understand how those gowns were made in that time. Keep up your excellent work.

  • Georgianne Thomad

    The new look of your patterns is very eye catching. The dark blue is a perfect accent color. I love the dress you have featured, because the shirred ruffle shows so well. I have a similar blue silk that I will beusing for this dress,but first I have to make the underpinnings. Thank you for your wonderfully detailed patterns and historical tidbits.

  • Christina

    I do like the cover dress, very much! Is there a AGAT version? Also, wondering if the updates to the Underpinnings have any changes to the 16″ size?
    What do you think of Elinor? I’m trying to decide if I need another Girl. I’m very much looking forward to seeing some Tudor and Elizabethan patterns. My daughter and I had the pleasure of meeting the Tudor Tailer ladies (Ninya and Jane) last month and seeing some of their recreations.

  • Rebecca

    Sacque back dresses with the box pleats and all the fabric hanging down are some of the most gorgeous gowns I have ever seen. Simplicity released a grown pattern in the Spring and I hope to make one for myself, but this pattern has been on my wishlist for sometime, because I wondered at the description, was this really the dress that I saw on “Marie Antoinette” or in “Last of the Mohicans” or on “The Aristocrats”? I also wonder at the construction of these marvels, how the front looks so tailored and the back just falls in drapes of fabric. Just super excited about this pattern now that I am sure it is what I think it is!

  • Dawn Jetchick

    I like your pattern covers with the timeline on it…brings a little historical knowledge along with the pattern. It goes without saying how much I like your patterns: from the attention to detail, the easy to follow instructions and how well the clothes fit the doll when completed. The only thing I could possibly ask for is just that you keep making more pattern designs as I look forward to each new one.

  • Rhonda

    Everything you make is absolutely beautiful but this is incredible. I love everything about it! I would love to own one in my size. If little girls can dress to match their doll, why can’t we? Thank you for so much historical information to go along with the patterns.

  • Victoria Masteller

    Love the new, umm, remodel of the patterns.
    You do beautiful work and I enjoy how thorough your instructions are. It makes whatever I’m working on easy to complete.

    On a personal note, I understand how you feel about your son going in the military. I’ve sent 2 sons to the Army and seen a beloved grandson go. All returned safely home. Prayer is a great source of strength while they were gone.

  • Barbara

    Your history lesson is very interesting – I realized how little I know abouthow fashion and clothing fit into history and the people who lived it . The pattern and fabric are very pretty.

  • Beth Sherwin

    These gowns look like they would be interesting to sew! Very beautiful sample on the cover too!

  • Annlee Greyerbiehl

    The Sacque Back Gown and Pet en l’ier Jacket are beautiful . There is so much detail in the grown, I love the history of the grown.

  • Carol Meadows

    Both are wonderful patterns…gown and underpinnings! Do those of us who already have the older versions get the newer edition updates, I am wondering?

  • Becky Lindesmith

    This is beautiful!! I never win anything, bit I keep trying
    Thanks you Sheri for sharing your amazing talent with us!!

  • Michele Potter

    The dress is just gorgeous and I love the fabric and color!! And the history lesson is fascinating, as always. I really like the new cover with the timeline!

  • Lurlie Walter

    I simply love this pattern. It had been on my wish list for some time. I have several of your patterns and I do enjoy the “history lesson” with each one. I also love the blue fabric. I haven’t been able to find anything this nice locally and you can never tell what your going to get online. Thanks for a chance to win both.

  • Jess

    Wow – sometimes I think I was born in the wrong century for clothing, but I must admit reading this made me glad I didn’t live during King Louis! You don’t think about the freedoms you have until you realize that not everyone has/had them. Thanks for the fascinating and historical designs!!! Excited for the American Revolution series!

  • Dana Morrow

    I’ve been looking for a new pattern, and this looks just like the ticket! I never knew the history behind the French fashion industry. Fascinating!

  • Diane Hemmer

    The gown is lovely. I have made the the gown from cotton fabric from Williamsburg and think it would be beautiful in silk dupioni. I will have to try out the new pattern with a “fancy” fabric!

  • Jo Lyman

    Your Sacque Back Gown is lovely and I always enjoy your lessons in history that go along with your patterns. Aren’t we lucky today that we aren’t required to wear such gowns? I can only imagine what it would be like to wear all of that fabric on a hot summer day. But then, the glamour of everyone trying to outdo each other, must have been breathtaking also. Thank you for all the attention and detail that your put in each of your patterns.

  • Michele J

    Thank you for the history lesson! Very timely for me, as I am working on the history lesson for Felicity’s time frame for our next museum doll club meeting. We will be teaching the girls embroidery and discussing French and English influence on the colonies with an emphasis on clothing, so this is perfect! We have a volunteer who helps with sewing doll clothes that we use to demonstrate the periods we share, so this pattern would be wonderful. This blue fabric is gorgeous. Appreciate all your research and sharing.

  • Karen L

    A fabulous pattern. Your choice of fabric really shows off all the details you include in the design. Your excellent instructions and pictures/ graphics make it possible to sew this outfit without a struggle. I can always count on your patterns to turn out perfectly! It’s also fun to learn a little history along the way.

  • Regina Stewart

    The historical background enhances the beauty of this Sacque Back Gown. I applaud your work! I can only hope that my attempt at construction will do justice to your pattern.

  • Sara Wilson

    Our Museum could really use this dress for our Doll Club. We work to include historical lessons with hands-on learning activities for our girls.

  • Rhiannon

    What a gorgeous gown! I love the color and am looking forward to the challenge of this pattern. I have actually been researching this style of gown lately so this is very timely.

  • Tamara L

    Ahh, this is beautiful! Growing up in the 60s & 70s I loved history, fashion, dolls & sewing. So happy to be able to reignite these interests with patterns & articles like this. Thank you.

  • Penny T.

    Your photo sample is splendid! I have the original pattern which is wonderful, but the fabric and trim on this version are over the top beautiful.

  • Vicki

    I love the look of the sacque back gown. It is one I have yet to buy. I’m looking forward to ordering the newest version and am hoping it will become available for AGAT dolls as they have become my newest faves!

  • Rebecca Todd

    The cover dress is beautiful! I am wondering, if this pattern has already been purchased, do we need to buy it again to get the update? Thank you! And I am curious, what type of fabric is on the cover? Thank you for such wonderful work as always!