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Midshipman Michael Daintry (1813), painted by Thomas Lawrence.

Midshipman Michael Daintry (1813), painted by Thomas Lawrence.

Since my 9-year-old son asked to come to the Jane Austen Festival, I have become inspired to make him a midshipman uniform for the occasion. He also seems rather keen to go to “Book Week” as “Mr Midshipman Hornblower”, which could be interesting for him!

There was no sign of anything brewing while dinner was being eaten in the great cabin of the Indefatigable. Pellew was a courtly host at the head of the table. Conversation flowed freely and along indifferent channels among the senior officers present – the two lieutenants, Eccles and Chadd, and the sailing master, Soames. Hornblower and the other junior officer – Mallory, a midshipman of over two years’ seniority – kept silent, as midshipmen should, thereby being able to devote their undivided attention to the food, so vastly superior to what was served in the midshipmen’s berth. 

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, by C.S. Forester

For the second post in this series, I will be making an 18th century boys shirt and stock.

Shirt

Generally speaking, men’s 18th century shirts were all made along the same lines. They were made from rectangles and squares, neatly cut as to have little offcuts, and rather roomy in the body, only fitting closely around the neck and the wrist cuffs.

18th century linen shirts, from

Late 18th century linen shirts, from Germanisches National Museum. The front ruffle and the wrist frills can be easily seen.

In addition to this, midshipmen from this Regency period all seemed to have a front frill on their 18th century shirts, which is often seen peeking out from below their neckstocks. However, they do not seem to have the corresponding frill around their wrists, which was so popular during the 18th century.

Using this information, I made my-little-midshipman a shirt. I last made an 18th century shirt when I was making a Regency costume for my husband, so I simply referred back to my post and followed the same process using the smaller measurements.

There is a basic pattern for a shirt in Norah Waugh’s The Cut of Men’s Clothes, or there are various places online to look for making an 18th century shirt.

I made this shirt from white cotton broadcloth. It has a front frill and a dorset button on each wrist cuff and the collar. It is rather roomy, but I am hopeful that it will still fit if he grows before April next year.

A little dorset button on the cuff.

A little dorset button on the cuff.

Showing a midshipman, master and commander, and a cabin boy.

Showing a midshipman, master and commander, and a cabin boy. The midshipman’s stock appears knotted here.

Stock

A black stock was considered the general sign of a military man in this period. Sometimes they were made into a short straight strip, laid on the front of the neck and then attached at the back with ties. Other times they appear to be a longer strip of fabric that crosses at the back and is knotted at the front.

Bush felt the perspiration prickling under his uniform, and his stock constricted his thick neck so that every now and again he put two fingers into it and tugged, without relief. It would have been the simplest matter in the world to take off his heavy uniform coat and unhook his stock, but it never crossed his mind that he should do so. Bodily discomfort was something that one bore without a complaint in the world; habit and pride both helped.

Lieutenant Hornblower, by C.S. Forester

I have previously made a variety of cravats for my husband, but this time I particularly wanted a stock that knotted in front, similar to the painting of Midshipman Michael Daintry above.

From the pictures I have seen, this type of stock appeared to be a long triangular piece that was folded, laid on the front of the neck, crossed at the back and then neatly knotted (with short ends) at the front.

I used black cotton broadcloth and cut it with the long straight edge on the selvedge. The neckcloth is folded lengthways before being put around the neck.

A black neckcloth for a midshipman. The long flat edge is cut on the selvedge (measuring 41 inches), and the depth at the midpoint measures 7.5 inches.

A black neckcloth for a midshipman. The long flat edge is cut on the selvedge, measuring 41 inches long, and the depth at the midpoint of the triangle measures 7.5 inches.

All finished! And looking good so far.

The shirt and stock of a little midshipman

The shirt and stock of a little midshipman

Next up, making a little midshipman’s breeches. – coming soon!

Related Posts

The Making of a Midshipman

MY Mr Knightley: Making a Shirt

MY Mr Knightley: Making a Neckcloth

Sources and Relevant Links

Portrait of Midshipman Michael Daintry (1813) – painted by Thomas Lawrence

18th century shirts – from Germanisches National Museum

The Cut of Men’s Clothes, by Norah Waugh – buy on Amazon

Making an 18th Century shirt – the cutting and sewing instructions from 1760

Image (Drawing) Source – from Osprey Men-at-Arms 65: Royal Navy 1790-1970

The Secret River, by Kate Grenville (date)

The Secret River, by Kate Grenville (2008)

The Secret River is a novel by Australian author, Kate Grenville. It explores the experiences of early convict settlement in Australia when fictional character, Will Thornhill, is transported from England 1806 and then pardoned to live as a free settler in New South Wales.

The story focuses much of the plot on William; first his early life, his transportation as a convict, and then the process and difficulties of becoming a landholder. His wife, Sal Thornhill, also travels to Australia with him and, together with their growing family, they eventually settle along the Hawkesbury River in what is now Sydney.

This novel explores the very natural conflict that occurred between white settlers and the native Aboriginals, as both groups fought for ownership over the land. The plot also contrasts the attitudes of those white settlers who had begun to realise that these native people were essentially the same as them – they loved their children, they loved their home -, with those who believed the natives were little more than animals.

Late last year I was contacted by a dancing friend of mine who was looking to gather together a group of “youngish” period dancers to dance in a scene of an up-and-coming movie-mini-series by the ABC, The Secret River. I was so excited to participate, as it was the first time I had been an extra in a movie, but the fact that is was a PERIOD movie really tickled me!

I am pleased to announce that the two-part mini-series premieres on Australian television on ABC, on June 14th and 21st, 2015. I will be watching to see if my scene made it into the final edit!

This book has also been adapted for the stage by Andrew Bovell, and was dramatised for audiences by the Sydney Theatre Company in 2013.

Related Posts

Every Savage Can Dance!

James Boswell’s Trip to Tyburn

Sources and Relevant Links

The Secret River, by Kate Grenville

The Secret River Airdate – view the trailer

The Secret River: An adaptation for the stage, by Andrew Bovell

The Secret River – pictures of the play

Midshipman Robert Deans (1790-1867), oil painting by the British School, 19th century

Midshipman Robert Deans (1790-1867), painted in 1807.

My 9-year-old son expressed interest in coming to the Jane Austen Festival with me next year, so I have been contemplating what sort of costume to make for him. I really liked the “navy look” so after a bit of research I decided on a midshipman uniform.

It was that of a skinny young man only just leaving boyhood behind, something above middle height, with feet whose adolescent proportions to his size were accentuated by the thinness of his legs and his big half-boots. His gawkiness called attention to his hands and elbows. The newcomer was dressed in a badly fitting uniform which was soaked right through by the spray; a skinny neck stuck out of the high stock, and above the neck was a white bony face. 

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, by C.S. Forester

Midshipman Russell

Midshipman John Russell (1810-1869), painted in 1824.

Pattern Inspiration

I have struggled to find a pattern specifically for a midshipman uniform, though there are some available for captain and lieutenant ones, so I decided I would draft something myself. I was comforted when I read somewhere that all navy uniforms did differ slightly, even though there were “regulations” set down by the naval code.

So I decided to turn to depictions of midshipman in paintings and drawings of the period. A “proper” uniform for the navy was first introduced in 1748, but then the regulations were changed in 1774. More changes occurred in 1787, 1795, and 1812.

Since this Mr. Midshipman will be in a Regency style, I was most interested in those depictions from 1795-1812. Luckily the midshipmen uniform had not altered much (in terms of depictions of rank) over this time, as the coat still retained one row of gold buttons down the front, three buttons on the cuffs and pockets, and a white patch with button on the collar. What did change more perceptibly was the cut of the coat, particularly as the cut-away style gained more popularity in fashionable circles.

The uniforms of the British Royal Navy.

The uniforms of the British Royal Navy. To the left are those from 1787-1795, and to the right are those from 1795-1812.

I decided that Norah Waugh’s 1790 pattern for a coat and waistcoat (in The Cut of Men’s Clothes) would provide some useful guidance as to cutting for this time period.

Elements of Midshipmen Uniforms

From the pictures shown, I began to glean some of the necessary, or at least common, items of dress for a midshipman.

A midshipman

“A Midshipman” (1780)

Shirt: the normal sort of white 18th century shirt that was worn as an undergarment for every male during this time.

Stock: a black cravat or stock was the common sign of a military man.

Breeches: made from white wool with a fall front and gold buttons, with more gold buttons and buckles to fit tightly under the knee. During the Regency trousers were becoming more common in naval “undress” wear.

Waistcoat: made from white wool, with gold buttons, pockets at the front and a stand-up collar.

Coat: in a Regency cutaway style, with pockets (each with 3 gold naval buttons) and cuffs (each with 3 gold naval buttons) and with a single row of gold naval buttons down the front. In addition, a midshipman could be easily distinguished by the white patch and button on his stand-up collar.

Hat: a bicorn for “full dress” or a tub sort of hat for “undress”.

Stockings: white, reaching to above the knee.

Shoes: the normal 18th century sort, black with a buckle, are seen in many drawings. Boots seem to be mentioned sometimes too.

This is my first attempt at making a naval costume, so I am learning as I go. Stay tuned for my up-and-coming post on a midshipman’s shirt and stock.

Related Posts

Dress-ups for a Girl

Up into the Cherry Tree

Sources and Relevant Links

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, by C.S. Forester – buy on Amazon

Midshipman Robert Dean – from Royal Museums Greenwich

Midshipman John Russell – from Royal Museums Greenwich

Royal Navy Officers and Midshipmen – from Canadian Military History Gateway

The Cut of Men’s Clothes, by Norah Waugh – buy on Amazon

Boy Sailors During the Age of Nelson and Napoleon – by English Historical Fiction Authors

Playing at Command: Midshipmen and Quarterdeck Boys in the Royal Navy, 1793-1815 – at Dear Surprise

At the Jane Austen Festival in Canberra this year, I attended a sewing workshop on how to do English paper piecing. I have done patchwork and quilting before, but I have always been interested to learn paper-piecing, mainly because of the very neat, hand-pieced method.

For this workshop, I decided to begin work on a hexagon table runner. I thought it was a fairly simple and straightforward project that wouldn’t take too long to complete. I only managed to cut and wrap four hexagon pieces around die-cut paper and then sew two together in the class; the rest of the project was taken home.

I got home from the festival and at once focused on cutting and wrapping a whole heap of hexagons; then I could begin on a layout or pattern. It took awhile to decide but, once I had, the table runner top went together very quickly.

My layout included pretty windows!

My layout included pretty windows!

The problem I had next was how to back it. Normally for a quilt or runner the edges would be bound, but I had made mine with little windows which would be difficult to bind. I thought of appliquéing it to another piece of material, but then I would lose my “window-effect”. In the end I hand sewed “lining hexagons”, one at a time, on the reverse side of the runner – carefully matching up the edges to make it as neat as possible.

The underside of my table runner, showing the lining hexagons.

The underside of my table runner, showing the lining hexagons.

To be honest, sewing the lining took WAY longer than sewing the top, and if I had to do it again I would do “quilt-as-you-go” hexagons and then whipstitch them together at the end.

All finished!

All finished!

I think it is very pretty and it makes a nice addition to my table!

Related Posts

How to make an American Quilt

Jane Austen Festival Australia 2015

Sources and Relevant Links

Jane Austen Festival Australia – website

English Paper Piecing: Where to begin – by Flossie Teacakes

Hexie Window Table Runner – by Anjeanette Klinder (This is where I got the idea from.)

Quilt-as-you-go hexagons – by Always Playing with Aurifil Thread

The drawing in Janet Arnold's "Pattern of Fashion 2".

The drawing in Janet Arnold’s “Pattern of Fashion 2″.

In the first part of this series, I concentrated on making the skirts of this early-1870’s gown. The skirts have such a nice drapery about them!

For this post I will be looking at the construction of the ballgown bodice. Ballgown bodices of this era often had short sleeves or were occasionally sleeveless. They were quite decorated around the bust and sleeve area, and often appeared to be almost off-the-shoulder.

Pattern

The pattern I am using is from Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 2. This particular gown has three separate skirts (the underskirt, the overskirt and the basque), as well as two bodices (the evening bodice and the day bodice).

I normally post pictures of all the pattern pieces, but I have found this gown slightly more complicated than others that I have done, so I suggest purchasing the book if you are intending to make this particular garment. Instead I have listed the pieces below:

  • Bodice front (cut 2, plus 2 lining)
  • Bodice back (cut 1 on fold, plus 1 lining on fold)
  • Bertha (left, right, front and back) (cut 4, plus 4 lining and 4 net)
  • Sleeve (cut 2)
  • Sleeve lining and gusset (cut 2 of each)
  • Sleeve band (cut 2)
  • Waistband (cut 1, plus 1 lining)

This garment was made from a printed striped cotton fabric and the lining was a white cotton broadcloth. The trims on the garment are made from a polyester shot maverick shantung.

I made a mock-up of the bodice first, just to sort out any fitting issues. I had to adjust the bertha quite significantly to fit it properly, and the waistline had to be enlarged.

Construction Steps

Step One: Once the pattern pieces were cut out, I mounted the outer fabric of the bodice pieces onto their corresponding lining pieces and treated them as one.

Step Two: I sewed the bodice side seams, then the front darts to fit. I sewed the shoulder seams.

The darts and side seams all sewn.

The darts and side seams all sewn. The shoulder seams are yet to be sewn.

Step Three: The bertha has an outer layer (cotton), lining layer (cotton) and inner layer of stiff net. There are four bertha pieces (front left and right, and back left and right), so altogether you should have cut out 12 pieces (four bertha pieces each in outer, lining and net).

Note: In the pattern the bertha pieces are all the same shape (for both front and back) but I had to adjust this in order for the garment to fit properly. My front and back bertha pieces, therefore, are different shapes.

I sewed each of these four bertha pieces to their corresponding layers (outer, net, lining layers) together on the upper edge.

The net sewn to the outer and lining pieces.

The bertha (front left piece) sewn to all its layers (outer, net, lining) along the upper edge. It is now opened up and pinned to the front right piece along the centre front.

You should now have four bertha pieces that are all attached along the upper edge. Now they need to be attached in the centre front and centre back. Do this by opening the pieces out and pinning right sides together at the centre front/back and sew.

Bertha is sewn at centre front and back.

The bertha is sewn at centre front (and likewise at centre back, not shown). Clip seam allowances and turn right side out and press.

The front and back bertha pieces are now sewn at the shoulder seams.

Step Four: The bertha can now be attached to the bodice. Match centre fronts and backs and shoulder seams. Sew the bertha outer layer (including the net) to the upper edge of the bodice (right sides together). Press the seam towards the bertha and turn the raw edge of the bertha lining under. Slip stitch it down.

The bertha is attached.

The bertha is attached. The bertha lining is being turned under and hand sewn down.

Step Five: Sew the sleeve seam. Gather the top and bottom edge of the sleeves (outer).

The sleeves are gathered top and bottom.

The sleeves are gathered top and bottom.

For the sleeve lining, slash the mark and insert the gusset. Sew the sleeve seam.

The lining sewn, showing the slash with gusset inserted.

The lining sewn, showing the slash with gusset inserted.

Mount the sleeve outer on top of the sleeve lining (wrong sides together) and pin. Attach the sleeve band, turning the excess to the inside and slip stitching the raw edges under.

The sleeve mounted on the lining and cuff strip attached.

The sleeve mounted on the lining and sleeve band attached. The raw edges of the sleeve band are pinned under and are ready to hand sew.

The sleeves can then be attached to the bodice.

Step Six: Attach the waistband to the bottom edge of the bodice.

Step Seven: Attach lace around the bottom of the sleeves and around the neckline. I used a 2 inch wide insertion lace. A thin cotton cord can be used to draw the fullness of the lace in so that the bodice does not fall down over the shoulders.

The front of the bodice, showing the cord lacing up the insertion lace at the front.

The front of the bodice, showing the cord lacing up the insertion lace at the front. The trim is also sewn down.

Step Eight: Make the trim (the same as is detailed in “the skirts” post) and attach it around the sleeve cuff, and around the bertha as per the diagram in Janet Arnold’s book.

Step Nine: Attach hooks and eyes down the centre front of the bodice. The centre front of the bertha meets edge to edge with the trim hiding the hooks and eyes, but further down on the bodice I created an overlap to more effectively hide the hooks and eyes.

The hooks and eyes sewn to fasten at the front. They are tucked behind a slight overlap in the fabric.

The hooks and eyes sewn to fasten at the front. They are tucked behind a slight overlap in the fabric.

Three waistband/trouser bars were also sewn to the back of the bodice waistband to correspond to matching hooks on the basque.

The back of the bodice, showing the hooks and bars sewn to attach the basque.

The back of the bodice, showing the hooks and bars sewn to attach the basque.

All finished! My dressmakers form is not the same shape as my corseted body but hopefully you get the idea.

The front

The front view

The back view

The back view

My last post in this series will be about making the day bodice for this ensemble. – stay tuned! For more information on my costuming, go to my Costumes page.

Related Posts

Making an Early 1870’s Gown: Skirts

Making a Victorian Corset

Sources and Relevant Links

Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomens’ gowns and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy on Amazon

Setting a gusset – by Sempstress

Attaching a waistband – by Fashion Freaks (This tutorial is for a skirt, but the same principles apply.)

1871 ballgown – by Before the Automobile (See this beautiful version of this dress made by someone else!)

Making a “proper” Victorian bustle gown has been on my list to do for a while. For 15 years actually – ever since I first saw a lady dancing in one and marvelled at its drapery.

There were two distinct periods in history where bustles – in their most “Victorian” extreme – were used. The first was in the early 1870’s and the second was in the 1880’s. Elsewhere in history, bumpads of all sorts have been frequently used, but here I am talking about the much more prominent Victorian bottom enhancer.

The 1871-3 three-piece-gown described and patterned in Janet Arnold's book. (Photo found on Pinterest, from manchestergalleries.org,but I can't find the original entry.)

The 1871-3 three-piece-gown described and patterned in Janet Arnold’s book. (Photo found on Pinterest, from manchestergalleries.org,but I can’t find the original entry.)

From 1871 to 1873, gowns were remarkably similar. Gown ensembles were most often in two pieces; the skirts and the bodice. The skirts were gored (which made them nice and full) and often included an outer or overskirt that ended around the knees. This overskirt was generally pulled up in a polonaise-style over the bustle behind. For day bodices, the sleeves were not highly gathered around the sleeve head, but instead often flared out at the bottom, sometimes in layers, in a manner very similar to 1970’s pants! For evening bodices, the style was almost off-the-shoulder with short gathered sleeves.

The gown that caught my eye more recently was found in one of Janet Arnold’s pattern books, and I even had the material purchased and waiting patiently to be made up!

This particular post will deal with making the three skirt layers: the underskirt, the overskirt and the basque.

Pattern

I used the pattern by Janet Arnold, in her book Pattern of Fashions 2. I had to make several alterations to it so it would fit me. For the skirts, this included increasing the length of the underskirt, and increasing the waistline measurements.

The drawing in Janet Arnold's "Pattern of Fashion 2".

The drawing in Janet Arnold’s “Pattern of Fashion 2″. This gown ensemble is made up of a day bodice, an evening bodice, an underskirt, an overskirt, and a basque.

I normally post pictures of my pattern pieces, but this gown is quite complicated. If you are interested in making this pattern I suggest you either get Janet Arnold’s book or get a similar historical pattern to use.

I dont often bother making a mock-up of the skirts of a gown, so I got straight into sewing!

Construction Steps

The Underskirt

Step One: Sew the underskirt panels together, leaving an opening for the placket, which is on the seam to the left of the centre back. To make the placket, I just pressed the seam allowance open and top stitched around the placket edge.

Step Two: Janet Arnold’s pattern includes a pocket in the front left seam of the underskirt. I highly recommend putting one in! Mine is made from white cotton broadcloth, and set on an angle (facing towards the centre front) in the left seam. Make sure you make an opening big enough to fit your hand in, and that the pocket is big enough to hold your fan or any other item you feel is essential.

The pocket sewn on an angle in the seam. It is positioned ... from the waistband.

The pocket sewn on an angle in the seam. The top of the pocket opening is positioned 5 inches down from the waistband.

Step Three: Laying the two waistband pieces right sides together, sew around them, leaving an opening for to turn it in the right way. Turn it in the right way and press. Sew the opening closed.

Step Four: Neaten the upper edge of the underskirt, pleat and attach to the waistband. I laid the waistband on top and sewed through all thicknesses. (As compared to the normal method of sewing a waistband.) Attach hooks and eyes to the waistband for fastening.

You can see the top stitching on the placket opening, and also the topstitching on the waistband (which secures the pleated skirt). The hooks and eyes are also sewn on.

You can see the top stitching on the placket opening, and also the topstitching on the waistband (which secures the pleated skirt). The hooks and eyes are also sewn on.

Janet Arnold is not clear exactly how to attach the skirt to the waistband. She does indicate cartridge-pleating was used in the overskirt but does not state that this was also done on the underskirt. I initially cartridge-pleated the underskirt, but after it all unravelled at the first ball it was worn to, I decided to pleat it the second time around instead!

Step Five: Bind the lower edge of the skirt with matching bias binding. I cut my own bias strips and made binding that matched my trim.

Step Six: Sew the wide bias strips of flounce onto the bottom of the skirt, folding the raw edge under and sewing through all thicknesses. Attach trim to hide the seam. (See below for trim construction.) Sew binding to the bottom edge of the flounce.

The flounce has been applied to the skirt, and the trim hides where it has been sewn. You can see the two bound edges on the bottom of the skirt.

The flounce has been applied to the underskirt, and the trim hides where it has been sewn. You can also see the two bound edges on the bottom of the skirt. The bottom edge of the flounce does not overhang the skirt, but is the same length as it.

The underskirt is finished!

1871-3 underskirt front

The front view

The back view

The back view

 

The Overskirt

Step One: Sew the skirt panels together, leaving the centre front seam open. Note: On the side seam of the front panel, two upward-pointing pleats are done prior to sewing the side seams.

Step Two: Take two waistband pieces and sew them in the same way as I sewed the underskirt waistband. Note: The waistband needs to be a finished piece (no raw edges) when a skirt is to be cartridge pleated to it. This is a different method of attaching the skirt and waistband than is normally done.

Step Three: Cartridge-pleat the upper edge of the back panel of the overskirt and attach to the waistband. Attach hooks and eyes to the waistband for fastening.

The top edge of the overskirt, being cartridge pleated.

The top edge of the overskirt being cartridge pleated. Note that the raw edge is folded over before the cartridge pleating stitches are started.

The finished cartridge pleats

The finished cartridge pleats in the back of the overskirt.

Step Four: Right sides together, sew the bias strips of flounce to the bottom edge of the overskirt. Attach trim to cover the seam line.

Step Five: Close the centre front seam by using covered buttons. For the bottom four buttons, overlap the two edges (right over left) of the skirt and sew through all thicknesses. For the remainder, sew buttons to the top layer (right) and attach hooks and eyes to fasten beneath the button, hidden from view.

All the buttons are false; that is, they do not have corresponding buttonholes. The buttons are the top are sewn through the left side of the placket and hooks and eyes are hidden beneath (not shown). The buttons at the bottom are sewn through both sides of the placket.

All the buttons are false; that is, they do not have corresponding buttonholes. The buttons at the top of the picture are sewn through the right side of the placket and hooks and eyes are hidden beneath (not shown here). The buttons at the bottom of the picture are sewn through both layers of the placket.

Step Six: The inside of the overskirt is draped using a system of tapes and buttons. The exact placement of these is detailed in Janet Arnold’s pattern, but can otherwise be done by pinning to see what looks best.

The tapes are sewn to the waistband and have buttonholes sewn into them. The buttons are sewn to the skirt. There are two tapes sewn to each side of the skirt which tie together to keep the skirt sitting at the back.

The tapes are sewn to the waistband and have buttonholes sewn into them. The buttons are sewn to the skirt. There are two tapes sewn to each of the side seams of the skirt which tie together to keep the skirt sitting at the back.

The overskirt is completed!

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

The Basque

Step One: Sew the pieces of the basque together. Sew the pieces of the basque lining together in the same way.

I discovered that there is a mistake in the Janet Arnold book, which confused me for awhile. The CB FOLD instructions are on the wrong pattern piece (the front), but when changed to the other (back) pattern piece, it all makes sense again.

The "CB to fold" instruction has been mistakenly put on the wrong pattern piece.

The “CB to fold” instruction has been mistakenly put on the wrong pattern piece.

Step Two: Right sides together, sew the basque and the lining together along the bottom and centre front edge. Fold the right way and press. Trim can now be added to the bottom edge.

Step Three: Make the pleats in the waistline and bind the top edge with bias binding to hold the pleats. Janet Arnold’s example was not bound with bias binding, but I found it easier to do that to properly hold the pleats in place. You could also attach it to the waistband in the normal manner instead.

The basque, with the trim attached and the waistline bound with bias binding, ready to attach to the waistband.

The basque, with the trim attached and the waistline bound with bias binding, ready to attach to the waistband.

Step Four: The waistband is made up of two main pieces: the outer layer cut on the bias, and the lining on the straight grain. The two layers can be laid wrong sides together and bias binding sewn around the top and bottom edges. The raw edges on the two short sides of the waistband can be turned to the inside and sewn down.

Step Four: Hand sew the bound upper edge of the basque to the waistband. I stitched “in the ditch” between the waistband binding and the outer material, through all thicknesses. Add hooks and eyes to fasten.

The basque is finished!

The front view

The front view. The bound waistband meets edge to edge.

The back view

The back view

Making the Trim

Step One: Cut bias strips from your chosen material, joining the strips until you have the necessary length. Fold the raw edges in on the wrong side and press. You piece should now look similar to bias-binding that can be bought in the store.

Anchor your thread with a few stitches to one folded edge of the strip.

Use a few stitches to ancor the thread at one side of the trim.

Use a few stitches to anchor the thread at one side of the trim.

Step Two: Using a running stitch, weave your needle in and out of the material until you have reached the other folded edge of the strip. Don’t pull your needle out, as it makes it more difficult to gather the threads in the next step.

Weave the needle in and out across the strip, creating a running stitch.

Weave the needle in and out across the strip, creating a running stitch.

Step Three: Use your fingers to squeeze the material together whilst it is still attached to the needle, creating a series of gathers.

Use your fingers to squeeze the material together whilst it is still attached to the needle.

Squeeze the material together whilst it is still attached to the needle.

Step Four: Pull the needle through the material, still holding the material tight in its gathers. Make a few small stitches on the other folded edge to anchor the thread.

Anchor the thread by stitching a few more stitches on the other folded edge.

Anchor the thread by stitching a few more stitches on the other folded edge.

Step Five: Hand sew the trim onto your gown, trying to make your stitches as invisible as possible. I hand sewed the top edge and the bottom edge of the trim to the gown, rather than just securing it at the gathers. That then ensures the raw edges are all anchored securely.

The trim attached

The trim attached

And here is the skirts all layered together. My dressmakers form doesn’t seem to hold the bustle in the right place on the waist, so the back does tend to droop. However, it doesn’t do that when I am wearing it.

The skirt layers together.

The skirt layers together.

Keep an eye out for the next post in this series, the evening bodice.

Related Posts

Making a Victorian Corset

Making a Victorian Chemise

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Pinterest (but the original is reported to have come from manchestergalleries.org)

Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomens gowns and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy on Amazon

Sewing a waistband in the normal manner – by Fashion Freaks

How to sew cartridge pleats – by Historical Sewing

1871 ballgown – by Before the Automobile (See this beautiful version of this dress made by someone else!)

Have I told you before how much I love going to the Jane Austen Festival? It is not so much that it is about Jane Austen or even that it is set in the Regency period. It is not about a fantasy for Mr Darcy either.

For me it is about having an opportunity to dress in historical costume. And it is about learning new things about history, like the dress, the events, the accessories, and the entertainments of the time period. And – of course – I do love dancing and spending time catching up with the friends I’ve made at these events. In addition, there is not a whole lot of opportunities in my area to participate in period costume events, which makes the Jane Austen Festival in Canberra all the more alluring.

This year’s festival was aimed at celebrating the 200th anniversary of The Battle of Waterloo and the fall of Napoleon in 1815.

Friday

My caraco worn for the Georgian pleasure evening.

My caraco jacket and stomacher worn for the Georgian pleasure evening.

Our festival weekend began with participation in a wide variety of workshops, from dancing to sewing and historical talks on the era. The sewing options ranged from making an 1820’s pelerine to making a 1806 bonnet, and there were other demonstrations like how to tie a cravat and discussions on putting the finishing touches on your costume.

The history symposium focused on “Austen’s Men”, with presenters not only talking about the men depicted in Austen’s novels, but also the men she interacted with daily, her brothers.

I taught a workshop on making a fichu in the morning, and then spent the afternoon learning to dance some large dances involving 12 to 16 people. Next on the dancing menu was the minuet and the “knotty allemande”, which was mentioned in the 2000 movie, Sense and Sensibility. Interestingly, Emma Thompson (as Elinor Dashwood) dances one of the elements of an allemande (that “peeking-in-the-window” move) in this scene with Robert Ferrars.

My attempt at Georgian hair. It is very difficult to do yourself, and takes a degree of practise!

My attempt at Georgian hair. It is very difficult to do yourself, and takes a degree of practise! I did several hair “trials” in the few weeks leading up to the event.

After spending an hour in the evening doing my hair in an 18th century style (luckily it didn’t fall out!), we arrived at the Georgian Pleasure Evening on Friday night. I wore my caraco jacket and petticoat with the matching embroidered stomacher I made a few years ago. It was a lovely evening intermixed with dancing, singing, Neoclassical ballet performances, card playing and baroque display dances.

Saturday

The second day of the festival involved another comprehensive day of workshops and talks, with the history symposium focusing of The Battle of Waterloo. The sewing workshops included – among other things – making a knitted miser’s purse, how to scale patterns, and a very popular Period Pattern Review discussion that explored a great number of period patterns and their strengths and weaknesses.

I spent the morning again teaching a workshop, this time on whitework embroidery, including both pulled work stitches and normal embroidery stitches.

I then had the opportunity to learn English paper-piecing, which is a patchwork technique used by Jane and Cassandra Austen to make their quilt, currently on display at Chawton Cottage.

Jane Austen's quilt, on display at Chawton Cottage.

Jane Austen’s quilt, on display at Chawton Cottage.

The presenter, Marilyn Steven, brought along her reproduction of the Austen quilt and shared her journey on how she made it, which was fascinating to hear. Since arriving home I have made some great progress on a table runner using hexagons with the paper-piecing technique.

This is my attempt at paper-piecing, so far.

This is my attempt at paper-piecing, so far.

I had my Regency silhouette taken by an extremely talented young lady who could cut a silhouette from black cardboard in 3 minutes! I was quite pleased with the result. “Now all it needs is a suitable frame.” Perhaps Mr Elton would be so kind…

My Regency silhouette

My Regency silhouette

The remainder of my afternoon was spent dancing; the Mescolanze, the Mazurka, the Waltz and the Polonaise. One particular favourite was learning to dance the Lendler, most popularly seen in the movie Sound of Music, though our version differed a bit from the movie version shown here.

My daughter dancing the Lendler

My daughter dancing the Lendler

I found the Lendler particularly tricky at about the part where she (Julie Andrews) started blushing. It was quite easy to get yourself and your partner all tangled in knots! The picture to the left is of my daughter dancing the Lendler with the dance instructor, John Gardiner-Garden.

My 1813 gown

My 1813 gown

On Saturday evening, we attended The Battle of Waterloo Ball. I was suitably attired in my 1813 reproduction of a fashion plate, so I didn’t feel TOO behind the times for an 1815 ball. Though, would you believe, I am STILL embroidering dots on the netting two years after finishing the dress! Maybe by next year… I think I have 120 dots to go…

The Belgium ambassador

The Belgium ambassador to Australia, H.E. Mr. Jean-Luc Bodson.

We had the pleasure of welcoming the Belgium ambassador for the evening, who talked briefly about the impact that the Battle of Waterloo had on Belgium. When he is not living in Canberra, Australia, he lives at Waterloo, which is located in the middle of Belgium. He related how the Belgian people fought on both sides of the conflict and how important it was that Napoleon be defeated.

One of the highlights of the evening was the first-ever dance through of “The Battle of Waterloo Dance”, cleverly depicting ranks of soldiers coming forward to engage in battle. With 96 dancers on the floor in one large set, it was quite a feat – not incomparable to the battle itself!

Sunday

The morning was spent at a local theatre seeing a production of “Mr Bennet’s Bride”, a prequel to Pride and Prejudice, which explored how Mr Bennet came to choose Mrs Bennet as his wife. It was a superbly performed period theatre experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t get many opportunities to visit the theatre, so it was a real treat.

Afterwards one of the directors came over to me and congratulated me on my costume. He said that the Costume Director had been looking at all the audience members’ costumes and thought that mine was especially worthy of comment. I thought that was a lovely compliment!

Lovely weather for a ride in the barouche-box! "As I cannot bear the idea of a young woman travelling post! By themselves!"

Lovely weather for a ride in the barouche-box… “As I cannot bear the idea of a young woman travelling post! By themselves!”

The afternoon weather was perfect for the promenade from Albert Hall to the Lennox Gardens in Canberra. A leisurely parasol-filled picnic and carriage ride followed.

The festival concluded with the late afternoon Cotillion Ball, where I managed to dance my favourite dance, The Downfall of Paris, before leaving for the long drive home.

This event has become an annual tradition for me, (its just my cup of tea really!) and I am hoping to take some more of my children next year. Stay tuned for some forthcoming posts on costumes for children in the coming year!

We are also planning some Regency events for next year in Melbourne, Australia. You can check out The Melbourne Regency Picnic on Facebook for our up-and-coming event on March 6th, 2016 at Elsternwick.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: The Destination – Jane Austen Festival 2012

Jane Austen Festival – Australia 2013

At the Jane Austen Festival – Australia 2014

Sources and Relevant Links

Jane Austen Festival Australia – website

How to do Georgian hair, using a bun donut – Youtube (I used a bun donut for the front, but for the back I rolled my hair up using my fingers and pinned it in place like Locks of Elegance did.)

Jane Austen’s quilt – The Jane Austen Centre

How to do English paper-piecing – by Craftsy

Mr Bennet’s Bride goes on tour” – by Herald Sun

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