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For the second square in my pulled work embroidery sampler, I decided to try some pulled satin stitches. All embroiderers are familiar with using the normal satin stitch, but a pulled satin stitch differs in that it pulls the threads of the fabric together (or apart) to create a pattern.

A spaced satin stitch can have different variations from just changing the length or number of stitches or the spaces between the sets of stitches. The particular combination below resembles a bricked pattern or wavy line when completed.

The black dot is where the thread comes to the front. The solid lines represent the thread on the front of the fabric, and the dotted lines are the thread on the back.

Spaced satin stitch is worked from side to side. The black dot is where the thread comes to the front. The solid lines represent the thread on the front of the fabric, and the dotted lines are the thread on the back. The grid paper represents the thread count of the fabric.

As for the first post in this series, when you come to end of the row take the thread from the top of one row to the bottom of the next. This makes it easier to maintain an even tension at the edges of your work.

A stepped satin stitch can be done in many different combinations and below it is shown in a checked pattern. I struggled to get the spacing correct in my sampler, but it does help to have it graphed or sketched out on paper beforehand!

This stitch is worked in sets diagonally.

The stepped satin stitch is worked in sets diagonally.

A basketweave stitch is just satin stitch placed close in sets with each set in an alternating direction, and it resembles weaving once completed. It is difficult to separate out the threads of the fabric once you have already pulled a set closed, which is why my example has a extra strand between each set.

This stitch is worked either up and down or side to side.

Basketweave stitch is worked either up and down or side to side.

My finished square looks like this:

The top half is in spaced satin stitch. The bottom half is in stepped satin stitch and basketweave stitch.

The top half is in spaced satin stitch. The bottom half is in stepped satin stitch (left) and basketweave stitch (right).

I really liked how the spaced satin stitch turned out. The other two stitches might require a bit more practise on my part, and if they covered a larger area they might look more effective.

Part Three of this series – coming soon!

Related Posts

Pulled Work Embroidery Sampler: Part One

Making a Pair of Lawn Ruffles – with whitework

A Regency Letter Case

Sources and Relevant Links

Pulled Stitches – by Lynxlace – This site has many many different variations of pulled stitches, with some free patterns for samplers as well.

Later on in the year I am planning to make a fichu embroidered with whitework, so I have been keen to work on some embroidery samplers to learn and practise some stitches. For the next nine weeks I will be posting about my progress.

A mid-18th century fichu, embroidered in whitework, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A mid-18th century fichu, embroidered in whitework, from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Whitework is merely the use of white embroidery threads on a white background, and has been in use for several centuries. The styles of whitework embroidery have varied dramatically throughout that time, with Hollie Point, Hardanger, Richelieu, Dresden work, tambour and needlelace among the types in use.

My first sampler – a bookmark size – was to be in pulled work, where the thread is used to pull the warp and weft threads of the fabric apart to make a lace-like pattern. This technique was used extensively in Dresden work during the 18th century, often being used as a filler for blank, outlined areas. I have used a 55-count premium muslin, which has the similar translucent quality of the fichus from the 18th century (but for beginners who are interested in just trying a sampler, I would recommend a 25 count linen). The thread I have used for the outline of the sampler squares is DMC white cotton embroidery thread, and the thread used for the pulled work is normal cotton sewing thread.

My first step was to mark out sections in which to put the separate stitches. I did a chain stitch around the outside of the area to be embroidered (roughly 10cm x 5cm), and cordoned off 8 squares within this with a backstitch, both in white cotton embroidery thread.

Chain stitch around the outside and backstitch on the inside grid.

The sampler has chain stitch around the outside and backstitch on the inside grid.

For the first square I decided to do the first half in a wave stitch. There is a great video tutorial of wave stitch online, otherwise you can use this diagram.

The needle comes to the front at the black dot. The solid lines represent the thread on the frontside and the dotted line represents the thread on the underside. The grid paper represents the threadcount of the fabric.

Wave stitch is worked from side to side. The needle comes to the front at the black dot. The solid lines represent the thread on the frontside and the dotted lines represents the thread on the underside. The grid paper represents the threadcount of the fabric.

When you finish a row, bring the thread from the top of one row to the bottom of the next and continue back along the next row with your threads forming a mirror image of the row above. This is important as it enables you to keep a consistent tension throughout your work.

For the other half of the first sampler square I did a honeycomb stitch, represented by the following diagram.

The needle comes to the front at the black dot.

Honeycomb stitch is worked from side to side. The needle comes to the front at the black dot, as described above.

Once again, when you finish a row bring your thread from the top of one row to the bottom of the next. Then continue along the next row, with your stitches forming a mirror image of the ones in the row above.

My finished square looked like this:

The top half is in wave stitch, and the bottom half is in honeycomb stitch.

The top half is in wave stitch, and the bottom half is in honeycomb stitch.

I really like how the honeycomb stitch looks! It is so pretty and very easy to do.

Despite this exercise being rather difficult on the eyes with such a fine fabric, I have really enjoyed it so far. Stay tuned for Part Two!

Related Posts

Making a Pair of Lawn Ruffles – with whitework

A Regency Letter Case

Making a Stomacher

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Wave stitch Tutorial – by Make It Coats

Many many more Pulled Work Stitches – by Lynxlace

18th and 19th Century Whitework Embroidery – by Jane Austen’s World

Chemise c. 1780, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Chemise with sleeve and neck ruffles, c. 1780, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Recently, I have been making some more stays to wear beneath my eighteenth century costumes, and I had the idea to begin work on a chemise for the same period. Since I have made my Regency Day Cap, I have been looking for something else to handsew and this chemise seemed to leap out at me to be a good option. As a result, this garment is completely handsewn and took about 3 weeks (with a few hours of sewing per day) to finish.

Whilst few chemises of this period survive, I was really keen to find one with some sleeve and neck ruffles, and even something with a touch of lace.

Pattern

The pattern I started with was the one provided on How to Make an 18th Century Chemise. There is also a helpful cutting diagram to help with pattern placement on the fabric.

My chemise consisted of four basic pattern pieces:

  • Main body: Cut 1 – 260cm x 80cm (This piece will have a hole cut in the middle for the head opening, which means there will be no shoulder seams.)
  • Sleeves: Cut 2 – 40cm x 35cm
  • Sleeve gussets: Cut 2 – 15cm x 15cm
  • Gores: Cut 4 right angled triangles – 80cm x 25cm (height x width of a right angled triangle)

Other optional pieces:

  • Sleeve cuff – a thin piece of material about 1-2 cm wide and 25 cm long (just make sure it will fit around your arm at the elbow).
  • Sleeve ruffle – I used a strip twice the length of the bottom of the sleeve and 5 cm wide.
  • Neck ruffle – Once again, twice the length of the neck opening and 3-5 cm wide.

I followed the sewing instructions provided at “How to Make an 18th Century Chemise” fairly closely, and have detailed my progress below.

The stitches and techniques I have used have been a running stitch, back stitch, rolled hem, rolled whipped gather, whip stitch, slip stitch, and flat felling.

Construction Steps

Step One: Assemble sleeves and gussets, flat-felling the seams with a slip stitch to neaten. All of my basic seams have been sewn with a running stitch (with a back stitch every so often to anchor the thread). For more information on how to sew a gusset, you can look at my previous post My Regency Journey: Making a Chemise for more detail.

The sleeve with the gusset, all sewn to the main body.

The sleeve with the gusset attached, all sewn to the main body.

The bottom edge of the sleeve can be gathered and finished with a cuff. For information on this type of finishing, go to “The Cognitive Shift” link below. I finished mine with a rolled hem (ungathered).

Step Two: Sew the gores (all four of them) onto each side of the main body, sewing from the hem upwards. Then sew the side seams of the main body together, upwards from the hem, finishing where the gores end.

Step Three: Sew the sleeves in position, then finish any side seams that are still open by flat felling.

At this point (before I attached the sleeves) I decided that an 80cm wide chemise was too wide for my body, so I trimmed the top of the main body so that it was a little narrower (60cm wide across the shoulders rather than 80cm). I sloped the new narrower width out to meet the gores, which had already been sewn in.

You can see where I have altered the width. Instead of the side seams going straight up, they go diagonal when they reach the gores.

You can see where I have altered the width. Instead of the side seams going straight up, they go diagonally when they reach the gores and then straight up again where the sleeves are attached. There is no neck opening as yet.

In “How to Make an 18th Century Chemise”, at the very end of the article under “Alternative Patterns”, the patterns provided are all 60cm wide at the shoulders. They also show that there were various ways to cut out a chemise to suit various figures.

Step Four: Flat fell all the side and gore seams with a slip stitch.

The gore seams being flat felled with a slip stitch.

The gore seams being flat felled with a slip stitch. The top one is complete, the middle one is being felled, and the bottom one is trimmed ready.

Step Five: Hem the bottom edge to mid-calf area using a slip stitch.

Step Six: Cut the neck opening and finish with a rolled hem. A casing and drawstring can be added if you need one.

My neck opening was done by trying on my chemise underneath my stays and marking the neckline with an erasable fabric pen. This did lead to having an opening which seems slightly too big, but which still worked well without a drawstring. For an interesting discussion on necklines and drawstrings of 18th century chemises, have a look at The Cognitive Shift; or, 18th Century Shifts: What I Know and How I Learned It.

Step Seven: For any sleeve or neck ruffles, do a rolled whipped gather on one long edge and a rolled hem on the three remaining sides that will not be gathered. Whip stitch the ruffle ends together and attach the gathered ruffle edge to the bottom sleeve edge using a whipped stitch. I sewed lace on to the bottom edge of my ruffle as well.

The sleeve ruffle attached. Very pretty, I think!

The sleeve ruffle attached. Very pretty, I think!

All finished!

All finished! I am still decided whether to attach a neck ruffle to it or not...

All finished! I am still undecided whether to attach a neck ruffle to it or not… decisions, decisions!

I love the feel of wearing cotton lawn undergarments. Whilst I know most (if not all) chemises of this period were made of linen, I have not been able to find any linen within a reasonable price range to do the job! And I find this is a very suitable alternative.

And hand-sewing has recently become my cup of tea!

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: Making a Chemise

A Second Regency Chemise

Making 18th Century Stays

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: From the Metropolitan Museum of Art

How to make an 18th century chemise - by La Couturiere Parisienne

Links to extant 18th century shifts – by 18th Century Notebook

Extant chemise with lace neckline and lace cuffs (c. 1750-1800), from Belgium Art Links and Tools (BALaT)

Extant chemise with woven lace neckline (c. 1780-1810), from Colonial Williamsburg

The Cognitive Shift; or, 18th Century Shifts: What I Know and How I Learned It – article by Sharon Burnston

Stays (1770-1790)

English Stays (1770-1790), made from red silk damask, Victoria and Albert Museum.

My last pair of 18th century stays took about 13 years to finish, and by the time they were finished they didn’t fit me, so I have decided to make another pair.

I finally decided on a half-boned style, and used this pair of red silk damask stays (from Victoria and Albert Museum) as a starting point.

Stays of this era were designed to conform the body to an inverted cone shape, with a round bosom and a much smaller waist. They were also quite elongated, to draw the body upwards, and therefore came up high under the arms. The armholes were placed further back in the garment and, along with the shoulder straps, were designed to force the shoulders backwards to create the desirable “small back” posture.

My dear Louisa, you will laugh when I tell you, that poor Winifred, who was reduced to be my gentlewoman’s gentlewoman, broke two laces in endeavouring to draw my new French stays close. You know I am naturally small at bottom but now you might literally span me. You never saw such a doll. Then, they [the stays] are so intolerably wide across the breast, that my arms are absolutely sore with them; and my sides so pinched! – But it is the ‘ton’; and pride feels no pain. It is with these sentiments the ladies of the present age heal their wounds; to be admired, is a sufficient balsam.

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, The Sylph (1778)

I really like this style of stays, with the round, broad oval neckline and the way the bones are wrapped diagonally around the body. It looks very flattering for the 18th century figure!

This project fits well with the Historical Sew-Fortnightly Challenge #12, hosted by Dreamstress.

Pattern

The pattern I have used is based on the 1780′s pattern from Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh. This one is very similar to the one pictured above – in fact it may be the same one, despite the minor styling differences apparent in the printed pattern.

A pattern for 1780's stays, from Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh.

A pattern for 1780′s stays, from Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh.

Beginning with my measurements and a piece of paper, I drafted my pattern up, using the Corsets and Crinolines pattern as a guide to panel shape and grainline. I used eight panels: 2 x centre back, 2 x side back, 2 x side, 2 x front.

The panel pieces all cut, excepting the shoulder straps which I cut and fitted at the very end.

The panel pieces are all cut, excepting the shoulder straps which I cut and fitted at the very end.

Four layers of material were used in this pair of stays. The outer layer was a cream/pale yellow cotton damask. The two interlining layers were a white cotton duck. The inner lining was a white cotton lawn. I used 6mm plastic boning with a tiny bit of 12mm plastic boning in the centre front. The embroidery was done with plain cotton sewing thread.

Construction Steps

In order to construct these I referred mainly to How to Make an 18th Century Corset but I have also detailed my progress below.

Step One: Draft the pattern up on paper, using your measurements. Do a toile to fit it to your body, marking any alterations on your pattern. Cut out the pattern pieces.

Step Two: Sew the panels together. I pressed the seams to alternate sides (rather than pressing each seam open) in order to alleviate stress on the seams.

The top layer is damask, then there are the two interlining layers of cotton duck. The lining was sewn in at a later stage.

The top layer is damask, then there are the two interlining layers of cotton duck. The lining was sewn in at Step Seven.

I found it easier to piece together the back, side back and sides first and then do the fronts separately until I was ready to put in the boning. This is because the front panel has boning that goes in different directions, rather than just up and down.

Step Three: Sew boning channels and then add boning.

One side of the back, with the centre back, side back, and side panels sewn.

One side of the back, with the centre back, side back, and side panels sewn together. Some of the boning channels are sewn. I am beginning to applique the ribbon on the seams here as well.

Step Four: Apply ribbon to the seams. I used nylon ribbon, as it was thin and of a similar thickness to silk ribbon. The boning should be inserted into the channels before you apply the ribbon, or else you may sew the channel shut by accident! I used a simple running stitch to applique the ribbon on, as this appears to be what was used on the extant pictured above.

The centre front panel, with ribbon being applied.

The centre front panel, with ribbon being applied.

Step Five: Add embroidery or other embellishments. Whilst a great deal of embellishment was not frequently used for stays unless the front was to be seen as a stomacher, some smaller amounts of embroidery (usually straight or curved lines) was occasionally used. I generally embroider my stays because I enjoy doing it and I think it looks pretty!

The central splays of boning is slightly different to the original, as the size of the panel is a little different. I have embroidered an 18th c. stylised set of buds and flowers between each. Note that the horizontal boning at the centre front is continuous and goes behind the vertical boning. Using two layers of interlining helps as you have two separate layers to run the crossing bones.

The central splays of boning are slightly different to the original, as the size of the panel is a little different. I have embroidered an 18th c. stylised set of buds and flowers between each. Note that the horizontal boning at the centre front is continuous and goes behind the vertical boning. Using two layers of interlining helps, as you have two separate layers to run the crossing bones.

The detail of the central embroidered flower.

The detail of the central embroidered flower, using mainly backstitch and running stitch.

Step Six: Hand sew eyelets and add lacing.

Step Seven: Attach shoulder straps. I did this as one of the last things, as I wanted to be able to try it on first so that I could fit the shoulder straps properly.

Step Seven: Piece together the lining panels and lay the lining layer to the inside of the stays. You can do this step earlier so that the eyelets go through the lining fabric, but I folded under the raw edges of the lining and handsewed them just inside of the eyelets. (You can see this on the finished pictures below.)

Step Eight: Cut the tabs after fitting it to your body. Cutting the tabs later in the process saves them from fraying everywhere or getting damaged in the construction process. I used a buttonhole/blanket stitch over the raw edge of the stays, and then added the binding.

I used twill tape for binding and sewed one edge down to the right side before folding the rest over and handsewing it down on the inside.

I used twill tape for binding and sewed one edge down to the right side of the stays before folding it over and handsewing it down on the inside. You can see the blanket stitch visible on the raw edge.

The extant stays pictured above have areas where the binding has worn away to reveal the raw edge sewn over with what looks like a blanket stitch. I was interested to try this technique as I wondered if it helped keep a narrower bound edge. It certainly helped with reducing the fraying as the binding is completed!

Finished!

Outside all finished

Outside all finished

Inside all finished

Inside all finished

And tried on!

Back view

Back view

Front view

Front view

The other HSF items to cover are firstly historical accuracy, which was pretty good. Obviously the stay pattern was made to fit me, rather than an 18th century women that has been wearing stays her whole life, so the pattern is slightly different in shape to extant ones of the period. The fabric I chose was semi-accurate as cotton was in production then, but often linen was used for stay making. Secondly, the number of hours it took to complete are hard to calculate, as many hours were spent pattern drafting and making a toile. I began this project four months ago, but didn’t work on it solidly through that time. I am guessing 50 hours? Maybe more? Thirdly, it was first worn to a Three Musketeers Ball the day after it was completed! And lastly, the total cost was about $60 AUD.

My next post will be on my 18th century chemise made to go underneath.

Related Posts

Stays from the 18th Century - my first pair of 18th century stays

My Regency Journey: How to draft a corset pattern – a helpful beginning to drafting a pattern if you have never done it before.

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: from Victoria and Albert Museum online collection

The Sylph, by Georgiana Cavendish – read online

Corsets and Crinolines, by Norah Waugh – on Amazon

How to make an 18th Century Corset/Stays – by La Couturiere Parisienne

One of the workshops I took at the Jane Austen Festival in April was on making a Regency day cap. Generally speaking, I don’t really like the look of historical caps but I thought that being married and having attained a much more “mature” age I probably should consider wearing one occasionally with my costumes. The other benefit of them is that it stops your hair getting stuck in straw bonnets!

At the workshop, we were provided with all the materials and instructions to make this cap but only really had time to learn the stitches and begin the first few edges of hemming. So this was one of the first projects I took out to finish once I arrived home.

Stitches Used

Rolled Hem

A rolled hem is a common stitch used in historical sewing, particularly for hemming the edges of ruffles and fine linens. There are many tutorials online for handsewing a rolled hem, so I will not repeat one here except to include a helpful photo.

Doing a rolled hem; by Hub Pages

Doing a rolled hem; on Hub Pages (link below)

Whipped Gather

This is a useful stitch for both neatening and gathering an edge of fabric at the same time. Here is a useful tutorial:

Whipstitch

This is a great stitch for seams and is often used in historical stitching. Once again, there are many tutorials online for this, but I have just included a photo for demonstration.

A whipstitch; from

Stitching a whipstitch; from Holiday Crafts and Creations (link below)

Patterns for caps; from The Workwoman's Guide to

Patterns for caps; from The Workwoman’s Guide (1840). Whilst these are Victorian caps, Figure 13 is the most similar to mine, using a horseshoe shaped capote.

Pattern and Construction Tips

The pattern I have used for my cap was supplied at the workshop, but there are patterns for many sorts of historical day caps online (such as the pattern from Kanniks Korner) or you could make up your own pattern.

There are basically four pieces to my cap:

  • the capote (the head piece) – mine is an “arch” or “horseshoe” shaped piece and needs to be large enough to fit your head when gathered up,
  • the head band – which needs to fit from ear to ear over the top of your head,
  • the frill – which (as a good gathering guide) needs to be at least 2.5 times the length of the head band,
  • the ties – cut two for tying under the chin.

My cap also had a small casing at the centre back (at the nape of the neck) to accommodate a cotton-tape tie. This made it adjustable around the back of the neck.

All the raw edges of each piece of my cap were neatened first, either by using the whipped gather (for any gathered edges) or the rolled hem (for all other edges). Then the pieces were sewn together with a whipstitch. This method is a good one because it means that there are no fraying edges on the inside.

A close up of the stitches attaching the frill to the band. This is the right side and you can see how the gathering looks when finished.

A close up of the stitches attaching the frill to the band. This is the right side and you can see how the gathering looks when finished.

Front of cap: my daughter is modelling it for me.

Front view of cap: my daughter is modelling it for me.

Back view of cap

Back view of cap

I really enjoyed handstitching this cap, and I think it looks really cute! (My husband wasn’t as enthusiastic and I think the kids just said it looked good to be encouraging…) I found it so therapeutic to sit and handsew in the evenings that I am now busy trying to decide what else I could make fully handstitched.

Related Posts

A Late Regency Bonnet

Sources and Relevant Links

How to sew a rolled hem - tutorial on Hub Pages

How to sew a rolled whipped gather – Youtube tutorial

How to sew a whipstitch – tutorial on Holiday Crafts and Creations

“Madame Novice” using the pattern from Kanniks Korner: Women’s and Girl’s Caps (1740-1820)

Kanniks Korner: Pattern for Women’s and Girl’s Caps - scroll down a little to find the relevant pattern.

The Workwoman’s Guide (1840) – read online

Jane Austen Festival Australia – website

One of the highlights of my Easter holidays was a trip to Canberra for this year’s Jane Austen Festival. This was my third festival and it has become a favourite event of mine. This festival was focused particularly on celebrating the novel Mansfield Park, as it is the 200th year since its publication. Since it was also in our school holiday period, I decided to take two of my children along.

What a peaceful Regency setting!

What a peaceful Regency setting!

Thursday night

The festival began with a welcome night of Regency card games and childrens’ games. My children had particular fun playing with the period set of skittles and bilbocatch. Those of us who are “more mature” could play a number of card games over tea and coffee, such as Speculation, Loo or Whist.

My sister and I playing Bat and Trap with my daughter.

My sister and I playing “Shut the Box” with my daughter. We all got in a win, but I think my sister had a good strategy because she won the most!

Friday

The first full day was filled with dancing workshops, sewing workshops and lectures given on a variety of topics. Attendees had a variety of options, from making a walking bonnet or reticule, to learning how to tie a cravat or make silk slippers.

Learning to do tambour on tulle.

Learning to do tambour on tulle. You can see the beginnings of my curvy lines. (Excuse the quality of this photo, but it was taken on my phone.)

I spent the afternoon learning how to do tambour, which is a very common form of embroidery used on Regency clothing. It originated from India, and uses a very small hook (similar to a crotchet hook but with a pointy, needle-like tip). It is basically like crocheting through the medium of the fabric or netting, and the resulting stitches look like very small chain stitches. Tambour was often used on netting to resemble lace.

I was very excited to learn how to do this, and by the end of the session I was trying my hand at doing some wavy lines. I hope to do more soon and maybe use it to decorate some future garments!

There was also talks given on the conservation and storage of extant garments and period stitching and construction techniques. For those more interested in Regency history, there was an opportunity to learn about Josephine (that famous wife of Napoleon) and how Australia became involved in the war of 1812.

On Friday night we were royally entertained by a range of acts at the Variety Night Dinner, some serious and some hilarious! My favourite was an act entitled “The Literary Monogamist”, where Lizzy Bennet and Mr Darcy become concerned over the behaviour of “Susan” from “Coles”.

Captain James T. Kirk and Dr Spock, with Miss Lizzie Bennet.

Captain James T. Kirk and Dr Spock, with Miss Elizabeth Bennett.

“Susan” appears to be reading Pride and Prejudice yet again, and such a worrisome trend might have a bad impact on her future. In order to help her move on with her life, Lizzie and Mr Darcy decide to change the end to their story with the help of some useful ring-ins: Captain James T. Kirk, Dr Spock and Jesus. Captain Kirk comes up with a plan! Jesus should play a zombie character in this new story, and attack Mr Darcy. Lizzy, now distraught over the prostrated and bleeding body of her love, consoles herself with his dying words – that she should go to ::in a grand and awestruck voice:: University, where she could become a woman of her own means and not dependant on any man. So Miss Bennett – the decisive woman that she is – travels to the future on the starship USS Enterprise, happily living long and prospering for the remainder of her days.

And of course – Mr Darcy could not die! He came back to life as a vampire, ready to star in numerous sure-to-be-popular films of that particular genre.

My newest members of the family: the baby and the cloak!

The newest members of my family: the baby and the cloak! I am told that the colour of this cloak is very similar to the “arsenic green” colour that was used in the Regency period to dye fabric.

Saturday

Another full day followed of the same dancing, sewing and listening. We had many options – from learning about the fashions of 1814 to designing different Regency sleeves. We could make a pair of mitts or make our own silhouette. And the lecture topics included martial arts, Regency food, and the various modern adaptations of Mansfield Park.

On this day I attended a talk by Hilary Davidson, the previous curator of the Museum of London, on her replica of Jane Austen’s 1814 pelisse coat that is held in a Hampshire museum. It was a fascinating account of how the provenance of garments are researched, but also what can be told by a historic garment about it’s original owner.

The benefit of having a replica available is that people can examine it without fear of damage and it can also be tried on. The pelisse fits a fairly thin but tall woman, with narrow shoulders and a high bust. Ms Davidson used the body measurements derived from the garment to make comparisons with today’s body types, and suggested that the owner had been “model thin”. In fact, Jane Austen was often referred to as remarkably tall and thin. My nine-year-old daughter was the first to try it on, as most of the women present were not of a suitable frame.

My daughter wearing the replica of Jane Austen's pelisse coat. As you can see, the sleeves and skirts are too long for her, but it fits her well across the shoulders.

My daughter wearing the replica of Jane Austen’s pelisse coat. As you can see, the sleeves and skirts are both too long for her, but it is only a little loose across her shoulders. We did end up finding one young lady who it fitted pretty-near perfectly.

The dressmaking skills used in this garment are quite remarkable, as the unique shape of the sleeve enables the wearer to put their arm straight up above their head and, whilst doing so, the waistline of the garment virtually stays in the same position. Ms Davidson plans to publish her pattern and construction steps at some stage in the future and I am very interested in purchasing it!

In the afternoon I went to a workshop on making a Regency day cap. It was really fun to learn some traditional stitching techniques and I have just completed it last week after returning home. I will post about it as soon as I can take some pictures of the finished product.

The Jane Austen Festival Ball was held on Saturday night and was a fantastic night of Regency fashion and fun. Beginning with the Grand March, everyone could feast their eyes on the delectable costumes while parading around in their own elegant finery. The highlight of the night for me was dancing my favourite dance, “The Downfall of Paris”! I do need to spend more time practising it, but it was fun nonetheless.

Sunday

On the last day of the festival the morning was entirely devoted to a symposium on the novel Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen. I must admit that Mansfield Park is not my favourite of the Austen novels, but it was great to listen to several speakers and learn more about the themes in this novel. Somehow looking at the story at a deeper level helped me gain a fuller appreciation of it.

A picnic lunch and promenade at the National Botanical Gardens was a lovely way to spend a sunny early afternoon in autumn. Suitably equipped with our parasols and shawls, we made a lovely sight for all those normally-dressed people having their Sunday lunch at the cafe.

Then it was back to the venue for an afternoon Cotillion Ball; that’s it, MORE dancing! One of the dances this year was the “Pride and Prejudice dance” which is commonly associated with Mr Darcy and Miss Bennett in the 1995 BBC version of the movie, starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. In this movie they dance “Mr Beveridge’s Maggot” at the Netherfield Ball. It is really a very pretty dance but it was quite surreal to have that tune playing in my ears because it has become quite iconic to Pride and Prejudice.

Unfortunately this year I found it very difficult to take photos while managing children, so I have had to use the less-than-ideal pictures from my phone or borrow pictures from friends. Hopefully next year I will have the opportunity to take more!

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: The Destination! – about Jane Austen Festival Australia 2012

Jane Austen Festival – Australia, 2013

Sources and Relevant Links

Jane Austen Festival Australia – website

Jane Austen’s pelisse coat – Hampshire City Council

Mr Beveridge’s Maggot – Youtube clip from the movie Pride and Prejudice (1995)

At the Jane Austen Festival Australia 2012 I had the privilege to be able to view and handle some extant garments of the Regency period. This was the first time I had ever handled clothing so old and I found it particularly exciting.

A Regency cloak, c. 1790's

A Regency cloak, made of fine chocolate brown chintz with a deep pleated trim (c. 1790′s).

One of the garments was a Regency cloak. After I examined it, I discovered that it probably would not be that difficult to make, so I wrote down some of the measurements and drafted a pattern from what I had seen. Due to its simple construction, I decided to attempt to sew it entirely by hand, which is a first for me!

Historical Background

I have grown to enjoy finding real historical examples of garments to make, as it is challenging and it helps ensure that I get the right look for the period. However, with this cloak I found it quite difficult to find pictures, paintings or extant examples of this particular type of cloak in Regency times.

The typical eighteenth century cloak did not have a yoke. However, by Regency times cloaks did begin to appear with a cape to help prevent rain from penetrating the shoulder area. These capes were attached to a yoke or collar, which was hidden beneath the cape and was not visible like this yoke is. Unfortunately, I have not been very successful in finding any cloak quite like this one to help verify its historical accuracy, but I decided that it was still worthwhile making!

The Pattern

The cloak consists of four pieces: the body, the yoke, the hood, and the hood trim. I have not included any seam allowances in any of the following measurements.

Pattern Pieces

  • Cloak body – 41.5 inches long x 157 inches wide
  • Yoke – pictured
  • Hood – 37 inches x 12 inches
  • Hood trim – 3 inches wide x 111 inches long

(The hood trim needs to be at least 3 times the length of whatever area it will decorate, in this case the hood opening. I ended up adding another 15 inches because I hadn’t made it long enough, making it a total length of 126 inches.)

This is the yoke I drafted. It basically ends up as a U-shape and it is worth drafting one to check it fits you properly.

This is the yoke I drafted. It basically ends up as a U-shape and it is worth drafting one to check it fits you properly.

I did a toile of the yoke first, just to make sure it sat correctly and fitted across my shoulders properly. The original one was four inches narrower in the centre back.

The Construction

Step One: Beginning with the hood, I folded the hood piece in half widthwise (right sides together) and then sewed down one of the long edges. Repeat this for the hood lining. This should give you the beginnings of a hood shape.

Folded and sewn down one edge

Folded and sewn down one edge. I have made this hood a rectangle, but a lot of 18th century hoods were shaped a little at the edges to make them sit a little closer on the head. The sources below give more information on this type of shaping.

The lining and outer are together.

The lining and outer put together. The seam you can see is the centre back seam in the hood. The seam is pinned ready to pleat for the fan pleats.

Step Two: To give the hood a bit more shape, fan pleats are put in the rear of the hood. Hand sew two rows of large stitches that are aligned and are 1/2 inch apart. These stitches will remain in the pleats, so make sure any end threads come to the inside of the hood. They can then be tied closed.

The fan pleating stitches are sewn in the centre back seam of the hood and then drawn up.

The fan pleating stitches are sewn in the centre back seam of the hood and then drawn up.

The inside view of the hood as the fan pleats are drawn up.

The inside view of the hood as the fan pleats are drawn up.

The fan pleats from the outside.

The fan pleats from the outside, fully drawn up.

Step Three: The hood lining and the hood outer are then edge stitched together, by folding the raw edges to the inside.

The hood is pinned for edge stitching.

The hood is pinned for edge stitching.

Step Four: For the hood trim, I sewed a gathering stitch along one long edge and pleated the other long edge in 1/4 inch pleats, gathering the other edge to fit.

The raw edges are folded to the inside. One edge has two rows of gathering stitch sewn.

The raw edges are folded to the inside. One edge has two rows of gathering stitch sewn. The strip is then pleated.

To attach it to the hood, I laid the pleated/gathered strip on the front edge of the hood with the gathered edge hanging slightly over the edge. I ran three lines of stitching down the length of trim; one on the pleated edge, one in the middle of the trim to hold the pleats, and one on the gathered edge. These stitches tacked down and held the edge of each pleat.

The trim is pleated and tacked down through all layers. The gathering stitch can be removed at the end.

The trim is pleated and tacked down through all layers. The gathering stitch can be removed at the end.

Then I put 6 pleats (3/8″) around the neck of the hood. The total neck edge of hood should measure 19 inches.

Step Five: To attach the hood to the yoke, I sewed the lower edge of the hood to the top edge of the yoke. The yoke lining was sewn so that when the right sides are visible the seam is hidden on the wrong side of the layers.

The yoke (outer, flannel interlining, and lining) is attached to the hood.

The yoke (outer, flannel interlining, and lining) is attached to the hood. You can also see the small pleats in the neck of the hood (as per Step Four).

Step Six: The body of the cloak is just one big rectangle. I put the lining and outer material wrong sides together and folded the raw edges (on each side and the bottom edge) to the inside and slip stitched or edge stitched them together.

The top edge of the body is then cartridge pleated. I drew three horizontal lines across the top of the body, 1/4 inch apart. Then I stitched three rows of stitches along the lines (and in line with each other), with each stitch 1/4 inch apart. The threads are then drawn up to form the cartridge pleats.

Measuring and drawing out the lines for pleating.

Measuring and drawing out the lines for pleating.

In hindsight, I think the body of the cloak would have fitted better if the cartridge pleats had been a little smaller and finer, maybe 1/8″ instead.

The cartridge pleats drawn up.

The cartridge pleats drawn up.

Step Seven: To attach the body to the yoke, the body is gathered up to fit the lower edge of the yoke. I then turned the yoke edge (the outer and flannel interlining) to the inside and pinned it, right sides together, to the body.

The outer layers of yoke are folded and pinned to the pleated body of the cloak.

The outer layers of yoke are folded over and pinned (right sides together) to the pleated body of the cloak.

Then I stitched it together, putting two stitches into each pleat.

The needle is going down through the "hill" of the pleat.

The needle is going down through the “hill” of the pleat.

The needle is coming out in the valley on the other side. The needle is put back in the valley and catches the yoke on the other side. Each pleat is stitched twice.

The needle is coming out in the valley on the other side. The needle is put back in the valley and catches the yoke on the other side. Each pleat is stitched twice.

I then sewed the yoke lining to the body, folding under the raw edge and catching in a pleat with each stitch.

The yoke lining was sewn down to each pleat. This means that each pleat is sewn on each side, which increases its strength.

The yoke lining was sewn down to each pleat. This means that each pleat is sewn on each side, which increases its strength.

One part that was in the original that I didn’t add was a small gathered ruffle (about 1 inch wide, with raw edges tucked under) attached around the inside of neckline. This was probably included to prevent uncomfortable drafts from making your neck cold.

Step Eight: Lastly, I sewed on three large fur hooks and eyes to fasten the centre front with.

The finished cloak with hood off.

The finished cloak with hood off.

The cloak with hood on.

The cloak with hood on.

Finally done!

The finished cloak back view.

The finished cloak back view.

I am so pleased to be finished a cloak that has been two years in the making! And it is my first completely handsewn garment, which I am very proud of. This has been completed just in time to wear to this year’s Jane Austen Festival which begins this week. Look out for my next post describing the fun in detail!

Related Posts

Making a Regency Spencer

My Regency Journey – a page with links to all my regency sewing.

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Christie’s auctions

Extant examples of cloaks in the eighteenth century – From 18th Century Notebook

Cloaks, Mantles and Mitts (with a close up view of fan-pleating in the eighteenth century) – From 18th Century New England Life

Construction instructions from 1760 on mantelets and plisses

How to Sew Cartridge Pleats – by Historical Sewing.com

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