Archive for the ‘Regency era’ Category

Meeting Mr Darcy in the lake

This weekend I had a love-ly time!

That’s right! LOVE-ly! I went to visit the exhibition “Love, Desire and Riches” at Ripponlea Estate in Melbourne, Australia.

Ripponlea Estate was built in 1868 by Sir Fredrick Sargood.

Ripponlea Estate was built in 1868 by Sir Fredrick Sargood.

This exhibition consisted of a collection of wedding dresses and wedding memorabilia, ranging from Victorian times through to contemporary dresses, and also included many wedding costumes used in films of classic literature.

A wedding dress from 1889, made from....

A wedding dress from 1889, made from silk ottoman, velvet, cord, chiffon and tulle.

The back view of an 1889 wedding gown.

The back view of an 1889 wedding gown. I love that vandyked edging to the train.

The photos I took were mostly of the extant garments, but it was interesting to see the wedding dresses from popular movies, such as that of Emma Woodhouse, played by Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma (1996), and Marianne Dashwood, played by Kate Winslet in Sense and Sensibility (1995). There were also garments used in the filming of Twelfth Night, Madame Bovary, and Great Expectations, among others.

Interestingly, this "celebrated CB corset" was a ready-made corset available to buy "off the shelf".

A corset, c. 1890. Interestingly, this “celebrated CB corset” was a ready-made corset available to buy “off the shelf”.

There was a room dedicated to the seductiveness of wedding lingerie, but also detailing the rather long list of items required for a bride’s trousseau. A trousseau not only included basic undergarments for the new wife (of the Victorian era, in this case), such as chemises, petticoats, corsets, dressing gowns, drawers and stockings, but also included items for the expected arrival of new babies. A trousseau rarely included expensive outer garments, but were merely a way of ensuring that a new bride could begin life with an entire “set” of “essential” undergarments for her new station in life.

I was excited to discover a copy of The Queen, The Lady’s Newspaper in one of the rooms. This publication had been the result of a merge between two magazines, The Queen and The Lady’s Magazine, in 1863. During the 1870’s and 1880’s, publications for ladies began developing that skill of advertising that we see so prevalently today!

An advertisement for silk shoes, published in "The Queen, The Lady's Magazine", August 2, 1879.

An advertisement for silk shoes, published in “The Queen, The Lady’s Magazine”, August 2, 1879.

An advertisement for a "binder belt", to be used after childbirth to help "remodel the figure of the wearer". From "The Queen, The Lady's Magazine", August 2, 1879.

An advertisement for a “binder belt”, to be used after childbirth to help “remodel the figure of the wearer”. From “The Queen, The Lady’s Magazine”, August 2, 1879.

As part of the exhibition, the rather-famous and rather-large statue of Mr Darcy is also residing in the lake at Ripponlea Estate.

Mr Darcy's statue that recreates the scene in Pride and Prejudice (2005) where Colin Firth as Mr Darcy swims in his lake at Pemberley.

This statue of Mr Darcy recreates the scene in BBC’s Pride and Prejudice (1995) where Colin Firth, as Mr Darcy, swims in his lake at Pemberley. There is nothing like a Regency man in a wet shirt…

The grounds of the estate were particularly nice to wander around in, especially on such a lovely sunny day. A coffee and lunch in the pop-up cafe made the day complete! This exhibition is advertised to run until the end of September, so be sure to rush in quickly and get your photo taken with Mr Darcy!

In a few more weeks I will be visiting another exhibition in Bendigo, Australia, “Undressed” on the fashions of underwear through history. Keep an eye out for the upcoming post!

Related Posts

Advice to Avoid Matrimonial Misery

A Recipe to Soften the Hardest Female Heart

Will Your Clothes End Up in a Museum?

Sources and Relevant Links

Ripponlea Estate, Melbourne, Australia.

Love, Desire and Riches Exhibition, National Trust of Australia

Mr Darcy in Hyde Park, London

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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:


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

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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!


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.


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.


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)

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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!

Postscript: At the Jane Austen Festival Australia 2014, I had another opportunity to examine the extant garment that this was based on. There are some important things to note:

  • The cartridge pleating on the original garment is much finer than mine is on this garment.
  • The trim around the edge of the hood is not mounted on top (as I have done mine), but sewn into a seam. The trim is sewn to the outer hood piece (right sides together), and then the lining is attached afterwards.
  • The shape of my hood is not accurate. As this was the first extant garment I had ever tried to accurately replicate (and in addition, I only examined it once and took a few notes before sewing it!), I am still learning some of the techniques to “pattern” an existing garment. My guess is that the hood is shaped (or curved) more like an 18th century hood is.
  • The way I have done my fan pleating is also not accurate, as this extant cloak’s fan pleating looks more similar to the examples shown here: Cloaks, Mantles and Mitts.

Patterning is something I find remarkably challenging but I hope to have some more opportunities to do and learn more of it soon.

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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It has been pretty quiet on the blog for the last two months or so, as everything from a very busy year caught up with me! Unfortunately life has the tendency to do that some times, and it seems to happen most often at Christmas time.

On the subject of Christmas, one of my presents this year from my long-suffering husband was the mini-series Lost in Austen. I remember seeing some of it on TV a few years ago, but I felt so upset to see the storyline all mixed up that I couldn’t bear to watch it all. It must have just been a stage I was going through at the time, because this year I decided to put it on my present list!

Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper) in Lost in Austen (2008).

Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper) in Lost in Austen (2008).

The story centres around a young lady, Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper), who lives in Hammersmith, London. She has a passion for Jane Austen and, in particularly, for the book Pride and Prejudice. On one rather peculiar day she discovers Miss Elizabeth Bennet standing rather awkwardly in her bath. This elegant regency lass had found a secret doorway leading from her attic in 1813 to Miss Price’s modern day bathroom. But after Amanda steps through the doorway to check it out, it slams shut leaving Miss Bennet behind to navigate a world of mobile phones, electrical appliances, and speeding vehicles.

Lost in Austen (2008)

In the bathroom in Lost in Austen (2008)

Poor Miss Price is likewise in a dilemma! Not only is she locked in a world that she does not belong to, she is quick to realise that the events from her favourite novel are about to radically change without Elizabeth Bennet present. And how devastating would it be for an Austen fan to realise that they were the means by which a perfect storyline could be forever destroyed?

What follows is a series of blunders as Amanda desperately tries to orchestrate the meetings of those characters who need to meet, and similarly attempts to prevent some characters from getting too close. Mr Bingley and Jane, Mr Collins and Charlotte, and NOT Mr Wickham and Lydia. She even resorts to convincing them of the affection which they should hold towards each other.

When you stop to think about it, losing the main character from any story would quite naturally radically change it, and the loss of Elizabeth is no exception. Suddenly, Bingley is attracted to Miss Amanda Price instead of Miss Jane Bennet; Jane then has no reason not to think of matrimony with Mr Collins; Charlotte Lucas is promptly left “on the shelf”; Bingley is heartbroken when the fair Jane slips through his fingers; and so it continues. The ravages that occur to a storyline when its main character is unavoidably absent!

Here that sound? That’s Jane Austen spinning in her grave like a cat in a tumble dryer.

The worst thing about this movie is that I didn’t know how it would end. (And that is just-a-little hang-up of mine… I really don’t like not knowing the ending! That is probably the reason why I enjoy movies based on historical novels… movie producers don’t tend to change the ending of a classic storyline, how ever much they meddle with the middle bits.) It felt awful to see the storyline reduced to a shambles! Charlotte Lucas deciding to be a missionary, Jane Bennet miserably unhappy, and no one to tempt Mr Darcy to get off his high horse so he can pollute the shades of Pemberley. Something deep inside me still insisted that the story should somehow have a happy ending, regardless of the cyclonic trail of demolition that had wreaked its havoc. And somehow – against all the odds – it did!

One of the things I did like about this movie is that the theme within the novel – that of Darcy’s pride and Elizabeth’s prejudice – still flows through the movie and its characters despite the altered storyline. Darcy is still proud, and he still comes to regret his pride. The only alteration is that of Amanda’s prejudice, that she is initially convinced she should love Mr Darcy but instead finds him unbearable.

If I dream about him tonight, I shall be really angry! I am going to dream about him. Well, in my dream I hope you choke! Hateful man.

Overall, I found this movie funny and lighthearted. It is always interesting (and amusing) to imagine what sort of mess would happen when modern life has a mid-air collision with Regency times. And this movie is precisely a depiction of what you could expect!

Related Posts

Every Savage Can Dance!

On Love, Shakespeare and Marianne Dashwood

Sources and Relevant Links

Lost in Austen (2008) – the mini-series

Image Source: Penny for your Dreams (This blog post is a great summary of the storyline for the first episode.)

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Image from Oregon Regency Society

A Danish girl’s dress from the Regency era. Garment from the National Museum of Denmark. Image from the Oregon Regency Society.

Since my oldest daughter has become interested in folk music and dancing, I have been focused on sewing her some period clothes that she can wear for dancing events.

Girls dresses during the Regency era were remarkably simple in structure and make an ideal quick sewing project! I found a picture of a basic girl’s dress when I was searching online, and there was even a pattern to go with it. The links for all the relevant webpages are provided below.

This dress is fairly standard for the era and the pattern can be fairly easily adapted for different sized children. Once the garment is made, it is even pretty easy to adjust as your child grows, which was surely as desirable to the contemporary families as it is to families today.

The Pattern

The pattern for this dress has been provided online as an image file and can be saved to your own computer. It will need to be scaled up to full size and drawn out on some dressmaking paper. Make sure you allow extra for seam allowances.

Some measurements to take:

  • Waist measurement: remember that this should be measured at the high Regency waistline.
  • Waist to floor: this measurement will be the length of the skirts.
  • You could also take additional measurements around the chest, over the shoulder, and around the arms if desired. I didn’t, but I made sure I added extra in the seams when cutting out so that adjustments could be made once the bodice was fitted.

Enlarging the pattern:

This particular pattern would probably fit a six-year-old girl, so it is possible that you may have to enlarge the bodice to adapt it for an older child, as I had to do.

In order to do this, I made a mock up of the bodice and made several changes to the pattern. I extended the shoulder straps, I added a bit extra width in the centre front (after comparing the pattern to the “waist” measurements I had taken), and I extended the centre back to make it wider as well. I also found it useful to allow extra for the seams under the arms.

Then all it takes is a quick fitting to get all the seams right. At the fitting stage, you may find the armholes and/or neckline also need trimming.

Construction Steps

Step One: Sew the side seams of the bodice together, followed by the shoulder seams. The pattern includes a very narrow piece as a side-back panel, but I omitted this piece.

The front fitting

The front fitting: The neckline gapes, which will be fixed once there is a drawstring around the neckline. There is no need for bust shaping for a young girl. The arm scythes are too tight under the arm so they were trimmed back slightly. (I fitted on a sleeve here but I re-cut it later to make it bigger.)

The back fitting

The back fitting: The bottom area gaped so I put in some side-back darts. I allowed extra material on the centre back seam as this extra material is drawn up with a drawstring and allows for easy adjustment as the child grows. The extra in the side seams was trimmed back.

Step Two: The pattern for the skirt is slightly flared or gored, however I cut mine in the early Regency style – in large rectangles. The front skirt (cut on the fold) measured 22 cm wide and 120 cm long. (I allowed an extra 20 cms at the bottom as a deep hem that could be let down as my child grows taller.) The back skirt (cut two) was 45 cm wide and 120 cm long. (Unlike the pattern, my version has a centre back seam.)

Hint: Allowing extra for a deep hem will mean that the garment can be let down as your child grows. Allow more than double (even up to triple) the waist measurement for the width of the skirts, especially if you are not using gored skirt panels. This will mean that the child will still be able to walk and run!

Sew the side seams of the skirt together. Sew the centre back seam, allowing an opening of 15-20 cms at the top. I sewed a topstitch around this opening.

The back opening of the skirt

The back opening of the skirt

You can also hem the skirt at this point, using your measurement from the waist to the floor. Because my skirts were rectangular, it was quite easy to take up a deep hem and then hide the hemline with some rows of decorative ribbon.

The hem of the skirt

The hem of the skirt

Step Three: The back panels of the skirt are then gathered and can be attached to the bodice. Remember that the back area of the dress will be further gathered up by the back drawstrings later.

Step Four: The sleeve seams are sewn and I pleated (rather than gathered) the head of the sleeve to make it fit the armhole. The bottom edge of the sleeves are then hemmed. These particular sleeves are not supposed to be gathered around the bottom edge, but I decided to do a small box pleat to draw them in a bit.

Step Five: The neckline of the bodice can be finished with a strip of bias binding, which acts as a casing for a drawstring. I also sewed a strip of bias binding around the waist seam as well (rather than turning the seam itself into a casing, as the pattern suggests). I also used some more decorative ribbon to disguise the stitching lines of the casings.

The bias binding is sewn to the neckline of the bodice. It will be turned under and sewn down to create a casing for a drawstring.

The bias binding is sewn to the neckline of the bodice. It will be turned under and sewn down to create a casing for a drawstring.

Step Six: Insert cotton tape through both of the casings to form two drawstring ties at the centre back.

The drawstrings have been inserted.

The drawstrings have been inserted.

The dress is now complete!

Front view

Front view

Back view

Back view

This little daughter is keen to go dancing in her new dress. Hopefully it’s her cup of tea!

Related Posts

Dress Ups for a Girl

Dress Ups for a Baby

Sources and Relevant Links

Costumes for a Regency Child – by The Oregon Regency Society (image source)

Free Online Pattern for a Regency Girls Dress and a Regency Boys Skeleton Suit – from Regency Society of America forum

National Museum of Denmark – the dress pictured is from this collection, however I have been unable to find the page for this particular dress.

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Parisian bonnets from Ackermann's Repository (1817)

“Parisian Head Dresses” from Ackermann’s Repository (1817)

At the Jane Austen Festival in 2013, I did a workshop on making a bonnet from buckram. I have always wanted to do more millinery but have struggled to know where to start without proper tuition, so this workshop was very exciting for me!

The pattern was of a late Regency bonnet, circa 1817, and was provided as part of the workshop. The basic materials (buckram, wire, and pellon) were also provided. We were set to work handsewing the strips of metal wire to the edges of the buckram.

In millinery, the buckram is cut to the desired shape and the wire is used to hold the buckram in this shape. For this reason it is important to pre-shape the wire to the desired shape before attaching it to the buckram. It is also important to double check that the part of the hat that sits on the head will fit your head!

The buckram top and brim, partially assembled

The buckram crown and brim, partially assembled. This is as far as I got in the class.

Once I got home, I sprayed the assembled buckram frame with a spray-on adhesive and stuck the pellon (thin layer of padding) to it. The pellon pieces covered the entire outer sections of the hat, as well as the inside brim area. The inside of the bonnet had no pellon.

The buckram frame fully assembled with the pellon adhered

The buckram frame fully assembled with the pellon adhered

Then the fabric was cut out and handstitched to the frame. The fabric was cut out in 6 pieces: the outer top, the inner top, the outer side, the inner side, the outer brim, the inner brim. The fabric I chose for the inner sections was different to the fabric I chose for the outer sections, thereby creating a contrasting lining.

The bonnet with the fabric handsewn on

The bonnet with the fabric handsewn on

Then I decorated it. The trimmings were all sewn on by hand after the hat was finished. This means that the trimmings can be easily removed and replaced later to create a new look.

All finished!

All finished!

"Parisian Bonnets" from Ackermann's Repository (1817)

“Parisian Bonnets” from Ackermann’s Repository (1817)

The piped band and ribbon flowers were both made by me (the links are below), and I obtained the ostrich feather from my local craft store.

These pictures from Ackermann’s Repository helped provide ideas of how these bonnets were trimmed at this time. I particularly wanted mine to match the Regency spencer I have just finished. Now I have a lovely bonnet-and-spencer ensemble! For my first-ever buckram hat, I am pretty pleased with how it turned out.

I really loved the opportunity to work with buckram because the skills I have acquired give me so much more versatility to my hatmaking. Now I am able to purchase other hat patterns or draft my own to make my own range of hats.

Hats are my cup of tea!

Related Posts

How to make a piped band

Making Ribbon Flowers

How to make a Regency Poke Bonnet in Ten Steps

Making a Regency Spencer

Jane Austen Festival – Australia, 2013

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Regency Era Fashions from Ackermann’s Repository 1817 – by EKDuncan “My Fanciful Muse”

The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics, by Ackermann – read various volumes online

How to make a Regency stovepipe bonnet from buckram – Youtube tutorial (The author recommends using millinery wire as I have done, but does not use it in this particular tutorial.)

Covering a Regency stovepipe bonnet – Youtube tutorial (The author shows how to cover a buckram frame. I sewed, rather than glued, mine.)

From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking, by Denise Dreher – this book has many ideas for hat patterns, as well as construction steps and decorating ideas.

Jane Austen Festival, Australia – website

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