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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

Pinterest is full of ideas on how to upcycle button-up shirts into steampunk outfits!

Pinterest is full of ideas on how to upcycle button-up shirts into steampunk outfits!

I have recently enjoyed a little excursion in the world of steampunk. I suddenly came up with the idea to go to a steampunk event with some friends and I needed to make a quick and easy costume. I started with a skirt and then moved onto a blouse made from an ordinary shirt.

Steampunk is the name given to a new and modern reinterpretation of Victorian clothing. Essentially, Victorian clothing elements (such as lace, corsets, bustles and flounces) are combined with industrial themes (such as metal, leather, and dark colours) to create a very modern and often burlesque look. As I don’t really like black, I have come up with a bit of a lighter and brighter idea, but I feel it is still worth sharing.

I started with an ordinary button up shirt that I bought from a second-hand shop.

The shirt I started with; long-sleeved, button-up, with cuffs. Cotton spandex blend with a "tucked" texture woven into it.

The shirt I started with; long-sleeved, button-up, with cuffs. Cotton spandex blend with a “tucked” texture woven into it.

Construction Steps

Step 1: Cut off the sleeves at elbow length. Cut out two “windows” on each side of the upper chest. Trim the bottom edge to desired shape.

The shirt trimmed back

The shirt trimmed back

Step 2: Sew lace onto chest area. I tucked the raw edges of the lace underneath the shirt and topstitched through all layers. But the scalloped edge of the lace I placed on top of the shirt and topstitched through all layers.

The lace placed in the cut-out section.

The lace placed in the cut-out section.

Step 3: Sew lace along bottom edge of shirt. I pressed the seam upwards and topstitched to hold it in place.

The lace sewn to the bottom edge.

The lace sewn to the bottom edge.

Step 4: Out of the scraps I made the new cuffs. I needed 8 quarters of a circle in order to make two full-circle cuffs. I cut 2 quarters from the bottom of the shirt, 2 from the upper part of each sleeve and 1 from the bottom part of each sleeve. (Total = 8)

The cuffs being cut out.

The cuffs being cut out. Top: the bottom part of the shirt. Middle: Sleeve one. Bottom: Sleeve two.

I joined the cuff pieces with some insertion lace.

One cuff with 4 quarters sewn together.

One cuff sewn together, containing 4 quarters of a circle pieced and joined with insertion lace to form a full circle.

The cuffs were then sewn to the bottom of the sleeve. I also hemmed the cuff by attaching some more lace trim.

The full-circle cuffs

The full-circle cuffs

Step 5: In order to make the shirt more fitted, I decided to add some lacing at the back. Using the placket sitting just above the sleeve cuff, I added some eyelets and sewed it to sit in the small of the back. I added pink lacing to match the skirt.

The back lacing

The back lacing

All finished!

The front view

The front view

This was quite a quick and easy up-cycling project. The total project cost $1 (!), as I tried to use only items that were in my stash or leftover from other projects. And the limits to this type of costume are only your imagination!

Related Posts

Making a Steampunk Skirt

Making a Victorian Fan Skirt

Sources and Relative Links

Image Source: from Pinterest

How to sew insertion lace – by Wearing History

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.

Since I have ventured into the world of whitework embroidery, making an embroidered fichu has been on my list of things to do. It is the sort of project that I figured could be started and still worn while the embroidery was being done.

Fichus, also called neckerchiefs or kerchiefs, served a similar purpose to a Regency chemisette, which was to fill in the neckline of the gown. They were used through the 17th, 18th and parts of the 19th centuries. Kerchiefs were generally made from a sheer or lightweight fabric, either cotton, linen, silk or lace. They were often white and could be embroidered with whitework, but they could also be made from coloured or patterned fabric and embroidered with coloured threads.

Pattern

Eighteenth century fichus and neckerchiefs came in quite an array of shapes and sizes.

  • Fichus could be long rectangles, a bit more like a shawl or a stole. One example I found was 53 inches long and another 114 inches long and 15 inches wide.
  • They could be made square, and then folded in half diagonally and put around the shoulders. The sizes I found ranged from 30 to over 40 inches square.
  • Kerchiefs could be triangular. They could have a slit to accommodate the neck area, or sometimes a scoop cut out for the neck. Sizes (along one straight edge) ranged from 28 inches to 76 inches, with the depth at the centre back ranging from a mere 5 inches to a rather deep 20 inches.
  • They could be diamond in shape and, similarly to the square ones, were folded in half to be worn.
A variety of fichu or kerchief shapes.

A variety of fichu or kerchief shapes.

Fichus could be worn underneath the dress (as a chemisette is), or on top of the dress. They could be fastened with a pin or tucked into the stomacher or waistband. If long enough, they were crossed over in front, passed under the arms and then tied at the small of the back. The Oregon Regency Society has some additional shapes and diagrams of some of the ways they were worn.

For my fichu, I cut a piece of white cotton muslin in a right-angled triangle, with each straight edge measuring 35 inches.

The pattern and cutting of a fichu

The pattern and cutting of a fichu

Construction Steps

Step One: I hemmed my triangle on all sides using a rolled hem. Some embroidered fichus were hemmed with a scalloped blanket stitch, but I thought that doing a rolled hem initially would enable this item to be worn immediately and any blanket stitch hemming could be done later if needed.

Doing a rolled hem; by Hub Pages

Doing a rolled hem; by Hub Pages

Step Two: I decided on an embroidery pattern and drew out my pattern on a large sheet of paper, making sure I had several repeats of the pattern in the drawing. I laid (and alligator-clipped) the muslin over the top of the pattern and traced the drawing with an erasable fabric marker.

My inspiration was from some whitework on a 1780’s gown held in The Metropolitan Museum of Art museum. This design, with two intersecting lines of a semi-circular pattern that weaves back and forth to create “joined ovals”, was an extremely popular design in the 18th century. I used it in a similar way in my Embroidered Lawn Ruffles, using the edge of the scallop as one of the “lines”.

Whitework embroidery from a 1780's gown. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Whitework embroidery from a 1780’s gown. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Step Three: I began the embroidery, using 1 strand of white DMC cotton. My technique was to embroider the whole length of the pattern with the major figures in the pattern, and then repeat with the more minor elements. This meant that, at any given time, my embroidery was fairly balanced and my fichu could be worn even if the embroidery was not completed.

The embroidery detail, showing chain stitches, satin stitches and overcast eyelets.

The embroidery detail, showing chain stitches, satin stitches and overcast eyelets. The blank area opposing the eyelet filling will be worked with pulled stitches.

Embroidery Stitches Used

Chain stitch

Chain stitch: I used this as an outline, but it can also be used as a filling. Source: Rocksea & Sarah

Chain stitch: I used this as an outline, but it can also be used as a filling. Source: Rocksea & Sarah

Eyelets (overcast)

Eyelets: Usually pricked with an awl first (to make a wide enough hole) and then an overcast stitch sewn around the edges. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Eyelets: Usually pricked with an awl first (to make a wide enough hole) and then an overcast stitch sewn around the edges. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Satin stitch

Satin stitch: I found that doing an outline in running stitch was really effective in helping the final result to look good. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Satin stitch: I found that doing an outline in running stitch was really effective in helping the final result to look good. Source: Rocksea & Sarah.

Various pulled stitches

These weren’t completed when the pictures were taken, but for more information on pulled work, you can visit my Pulled Work Embroidery Sampler pages.

The front view

The front view

The back view; the embroidery is not complete at the centre back, as there will be a central motif there.

The back view; the embroidery is not complete at the centre back, as there will be a central motif there.

I am quite pleased with it, even though I found the embroidery did get a bit tedious at times. I do find I have to be in the right “mood” for embroidery. And if I am not enjoying it I find it harder to keep motivated! I still have a bit to complete, but that will come.

Related Posts

Pulled Work Embroidery Sampler: Part One

Dresden Whitework Stitch Sampler

Sources and Relevant Links

First Image Source: from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Fabulous Fichu – by The Oregon Regency Society

Regency Fichus: More than just squares of fabric – by The Oregon Regency Society (lovely pictures of extant fichus)

A large number of links to 18th century extant fichus and neckerchiefs – by 18th Century Notebook

How to do a rolled hem – by Hub Pages

Second Image Source: from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Regency needlework designs (1811-1815) in Ackermann’s Repository – by My Fanciful Muse

Rocksea and Sarah – embroidery tutorials

Pulled work stitches – by Lynxlace

This week I got a call about an industrial sewing machine that someone was planning put out for rubbish collection. I really wasn’t interested in acquiring more stuff that I don’t really have room for, and especially an industrial sewing machine that I wasn’t sure that I would use.

However, when I got saw some pictures of it I instantly changed my mind. And upon arriving to have a look at it, I was glad I had!

My new electric Singer 31K20 machine.

My new electric Singer 31K20 machine in her new home.

This new machine is a Singer 31K20, which was one of their electric industrial range. It was made in Britain in 1951, and has a lovely little plague commemorating 100 years of Singer sewing machines. It has a foot pedal which engages a clutch motor that then turns the belts to operate the machine.

"A Century of Sewing Service: The Singer Manfc Co. 1851-1951"

“A Century of Sewing Service: The Singer Manfc Co. 1851-1951″

It is not quite the same as the lovely old Singer treadle machines (which is something that I have always wanted), but never-the-less, to get something like this for free is not something to take lightly!

I used the serial number – EG 651406 – to find the manufacture date, which is May 23, 1951. On this date, 15,000 31K machines were allotted for sale.

It is nice to have a little piece of history in my home!

Related Posts

My New Lady

Sources and Relevant Links

Use your Singer Serial Number to find its date of manufacture

Steampunk is the name given to a new and modern reinterpretation of Victorian clothing. Essentially, Victorian clothing elements (such as lace, corsets, bustles and flounces) are combined with industrial themes (such as metal, leather, and dark colours) to create a very modern and often burlesque look.

A steampunk skirt by Retroscope.

A steampunk skirt sold by Retroscope Fashions.

I – rather suddenly – decided to go to a steampunk event with some friends and needed a rather quick and easy costume for it. My idea was that I could draft a pattern of a relatively simple Victorian skirt and use some of the steam punk ideas to dress it up. I looked at several skirts on the internet and came up with a look I was happy with. Now, before sharing this quick little project, I must say that I have never made a steampunk outfit before. I also don’t really like black or brown and revealing or skimpy clothing are not really my cup of tea (probably because I am not that young and slim anymore!). So this little steampunk adventure doesn’t really feel “punky” enough to deserve the name! However, I felt that it was still worth sharing.

Pattern

After looking at several skirts online, I decided that I could use a similar pattern as my Victorian petticoat, with all the ruffles at the back. I also wanted the front cut shorter at the knees, and I wanted some draping to imitate a bustle at the back. I really liked the wider waistband (more like a yoke) that lots of steampunk skirts have, with the addition of possible lacing to imitate a corset.

Pattern Pieces:

  • Front Skirt Panel – cut 1 on fold
  • Side Skirt Panel – cut 2
  • Back Skirt Panel – cut 1 on fold
  • Back Short “Bustle” Piece – cut 1 on fold
  • Back Long “Bustle” Piece – cut 1 on fold
  • Front Yoke – cut 1 (plus cut 1 for lining)
  • Back Yoke – cut 1 (plus cut 1 for lining)

This is the pattern layout that I began with. Remember to add any seam allowances.

This is the pattern layout for the skirt.

This is the pattern layout for the skirt. The dotted lines across the back panel indicate the cutting line for the “bustle” pieces. This means that this back piece will need to be cut three times, each on a fold line (once for the skirt back, once for the short “bustle” piece, and once for the long “bustle” piece).

I have used some notch marks to indicate how the skirt panels are pieced together. The fold line on the front panel is the centre front and the fold line on the back panel is the centre back. The skirt part is quite easy to fit to any figure. The curve line at the top of each of the skirt panels needs to measure about 1/5th of your total waist circumference. You can make the “waist curve” in back skirt panel a little longer than this if you like, which will give the back panel more gathers. You can make the skirt length whatever you like. I have made mine to scoop up at the front.

The yoke, however, will take a bit more fitting. Maybe you have a pattern you could use with a yoke that already fits you. Otherwise you can use some scrap material to make a toile or mock-up, which can be fitted to your body and then unpicked to use for your pattern. Or you could “drape” your yoke, which is what I did. To do this, set your dressmakers form to your measurements and then pin some fabric to the centre front waist, making sure the grain line is vertical. Smooth the fabric around to the sides of the dummy. In order to make the fabric sit correctly, you will end up with a curve at the top of your yoke and a diagonal seam at the sides. Do the same with the back. Cut or pin your yoke to fit, then sew it together and try it on to double-check. My back and front yoke ended up being different sizes, but they could be the same. Semptress also has a great tutorial to make your own yoke pattern too. Unfortunately, I didn’t take as many pictures as I usually do, so my construction steps are a little sparse with diagrams!

Construction Steps

Step 1: Firstly, take the two back “bustle” pieces and sew the ruffles and lace along the bottom edge. These two “bustle” pieces are then gathered separately and laid on top of the back panel, which has also been gathered separately. Pin all layers together along the waistline. It makes sense at this point to pin the side seams of all the layers together. This will mean that the raw edges of the bustle pieces will be hidden in the seams of the skirt. I forgot to do this and instead I did Step 2 first and then I had to topstitch the “bustle” pieces to the skirt.

The two bustle pieces have been hemmed at the side seams and then laid on top of the skirt. Then top-stitched through all layers. Not the best way to do it really.

The two “bustle” pieces have been hemmed at the side seams and then laid on top of the skirt. A top-stitch through all layers attaches the pieces. This is not the neatest way to do it unfortunately!

Step 2: Sew all the skirt panels together, flat-felling the seams.

Step 3: Sew the front and back yoke pieces together. Sew the front and back yoke lining pieces together. With right sides together, sew the yoke and the lining together along the top curved edge. Clip curves and turn to the right side.

Step 4: Attach the skirt to the bottom curved edge of the yoke. Make sure the front side seam is sitting at the yoke side seam so that a zip can be easily inserted. Adjust the gathers of the back panel and “bustle” pieces to fit. These will probably be fairly tightly gathered!

Step 5: Sew the zip into the side seam of the yoke and into the top of the front side seam. Then handstitch the yoke lining down, folding under any raw edges.

Not precision work, but a zip none-the-less!

Not precision work, but a zip none-the-less!

Step 6: Sew the ruffle and lace along the bottom edge of the skirt. My ruffles were folded lengthwise (so the ruffle did not have to be hemmed) and then pleated.

The ruffle is cut on the straight grain and folded lengthwise. Any joins are made with a seam. The entire ruffle is pleated.

The ruffle is cut on the straight grain and folded lengthwise. Any joins are made with a seam. The entire ruffle is pleated.

Step 7: Attach two lengths of cotton tape or twill tape to the inside of the yoke, where the two back side seams of the skirt meet the yoke. Attach a button to each point where the bottom of the “bustle” pieces meets this seam; a total of four buttons. Sew buttonholes in the tape so that the skirt can be drawn up and buttoned. You can add more buttonholes to the tape so that you have more options for draping.

The inside of the skirt, at the back. You can see the two lengths of twill tape which is buttoned to four buttons.

The inside of the skirt, at the back. You can see the two lengths of twill tape which is buttoned to four buttons.

Other optional extras:

  • I really wanted to add a lacing panel to the yoke somewhere, mainly because this dress will be leant to friends and it would provide a way to draw in any fullness (as well as being a bit decorative).
  • I also wanted to have a drawstring casing or some sort of clip system to the front panel (on each of the front side seams) so that the front of the dress could be drawn up over the knees.

These can always be added later. For now it is all finished!

Front view

Front view

Back view

Back view

Stay tuned for my new steampunk blouse!

Related Posts

Making a Victorian Petticoat

Making a Victorian Fan Skirt

Sources and Relative Links

Image Source: Retroscope Fashions

How to draft a skirt yoke pattern – by Semptress

How to flat-fell seams – by Sew Neau

How to sew a yoke to a skirt – video by BurdaStyle (The skirt shown here has a centre back opening, but mine has a side opening.)

Pretty in Purple

For the past two months I have been working on a commission costume for a friend. She is attending a “Battle of Waterloo Ball” in London to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the famous defeat of Napoleon by the English, and she needed a Regency outfit.

Stays

She decided that she wouldn’t bother about a chemise, so we jumped straight into making the stays. I drafted the pattern for the stays myself, using her measurements and following a similar method that I used to draft my own.

The stays are made from two layers of white cotton drill, with the boning sandwiched in between. For the centre busk I used two clear 30cm rulers and the boning is plastic imitation “whalebone” boning. The lacing is cotton cord and I used some thin cotton tape for the front drawstring around the top of the bust. The eyelets are hand sewn using a buttonhole or blanket stitch.

She was particularly concerned about her large-ish bust presenting a problem, so I used a double row of boning underneath and to the side of the bust area. The “cups” of the corset do extend a bit higher than normal to compensate for the lack of chemise. Traditionally, the corset holds the bust underneath while the chemise contains the bust from above. In this case, I used the bodiced petticoat to contain the top part of the bust.

The front view

The front view

The side view

The side view

The back view

The back view

Bodiced Petticoat

For the petticoat, we used the Regency Wardrobe Pattern by La Mode Bagatelle. I used the “DD” sizing for the bodice part but in hindsight I probably didn’t need to, as I needed to do a fair bit of adjusting because it turned out so big.

The petticoat is made from white cotton broadcloth, with cotton tape around the top edge to draw it in over the bust. The buttons are just plain modern plastic ones. The bottom of the petticoat is hemmed with some wide bias binding, which forms a casing for some large cording. This helps the petticoat stand out from the legs and prevents the gown from clinging.

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

Ballgown

I drafted the pattern for the ballgown myself, using a lot of similar features that I used in my own purple Regency ballgown. However, I used the sleeve pattern from La Mode Bagatelle (View C – short sleeve). My friend gained a lot of inspiration for how she wanted her gown from one she saw at Edelweiss Patterns.

The ballgown is made from purple dupioni silk and lined with acetate bemsilk lining. The piping around the waist and sleeves is made from cotton cord and cream satin bias binding. The buttons are self-covered and there is a ribbon drawstring around the lining of the neckline.

Side of Regency ballgown

Side and Sleeve view

The sleeves are “smocked” by sewing thread in a 1cm diamond and then pulling and knotting the threads tight. This is repeated in a honeycombed pattern across the sleeve. This creates little “puffs” on the other side of the material (which I used as the “right” side), and my friend then sewed little pearl beads to. The hemline was embellished later with some cream lace drawn up in scallops and some “flowers” made from the same lace.

In the pictures below, the dress takes on a luminescent glow from the morning sun, but the colour is actually darker purple than this.

The front view

The front view

Back of Regency ballgown

The back view

Spencer

The cuff detail

The cuff detail

We used the La Mode Bagatelle pattern for the spencer, using View H (minus the sleeve caps and with the addition of the peplum).

The spencer is made from a beautiful cream silk that my friend had in her “fabric stash”, but not dupioni as it has no slubs. The piping is made from cotton cord and gold bias binding. The buttons are a gold plastic button with a military design; a larger size for the front and two smaller ones for the cuff.

Instead of boning the collar (which is instructed in the pattern), I used two layers of very stiff, woven, sew-in interfacing which has worked really well.

In the pictures below, the spencer is shown over the bodiced petticoat.

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

The side view

The side view

I am very pleased with this little project, as I don’t normally do pattern or gown drafting for other people. And my friend is also very pleased and is looking forward to her trip overseas in a few months!

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: How to draft a corset pattern

My Regency Journey: Making a Ball Gown – my own purple ballgown

Making a Regency Spencer – my own spencer

Sources and Relevant Links

Regency Wardrobe Pattern by La Mode Bagatelle – to buy

A Pink Silk Regency Ballgown – by Edelweiss Patterns

“Smocking” instructions – on Pinterest

For my previous stitch sampler I focused on practising some of the stitches used in Dresden whitework embroidery. Many of these stitches had been used from before the 18th century and continued to be used during the Regency. So for my next sampler, I decided to focus more on how the Regency embroidery designs had changed.

During the Regency period, embroidery designs became much more delicate and “flowy” than their 18th century predecessors. Some of the common flower, bud, leaf and frond motives had been quite large and bulky, but changed a little in shape to be more delicate. Often the designs were smaller in size and were repeated more frequently in the embroidery sequence, and – as a result – the areas of pulled work embroidered also became smaller during this era. Other Regency designs were still quite large but the flowing and dainty nature of the design made it subtly different to the style used in the 18th century. “Sprigged muslin”, where muslin fabric was embroidered with quite small motives to form a “dotted” design, became very popular. Linear designs also became more popular, probably due to its likeness of Greek and Roman clothing trims which the new model of Regency fashion was based on.

My design has been copied from a needlework pattern from Ackermann’s Repository, the one in the centre below.

A Regency needlework pattern, from Ackermann's Repository (June 1812).

A Regency needlework pattern, from Ackermann’s Repository (June 1812).

Once again used premium cotton muslin and chose a convenient handkerchief-sized piece for my sampler, finished with a handsewn rolled hem. I used many of the same stitches as I used in my previous sampler: chain stitch, satin stitch, eyelets and blanket stitched pinwheels. The pulled stitches I have used here have also been used before in my pulled work sampler.

My finished "handkerchief", ready to throw down so the nearest "redcoat" can pick it up for me.

My finished “handkerchief”, ready to throw down so the nearest “redcoat” can pick it up for me.

The six pulled work areas were worked in the centre of the paisley shapes and were all different: (from top left to bottom right) ring-backed stitch, double backstitch, faggot stitch, honeycomb stitch, spaced wave stitch and four-sided stitch. The pulled work in period examples leaves much larger “holes” in the fabric than I have in this example, so I will have to practice my technique some more.

A close-up of one edge of the embroidery, with the stitches labelled.

A close-up of one edge of the embroidery, with the embroidery stitches labelled.

I am really pleased with how this turned out, and now I am ready to start designing my embroidered fichu!

Related Posts

Pulled Work Sampler: Part One

Dresden Whitework Stitch Sampler

Sources and Relevant Links

Regency needlework designs (1811-1815), from Ackermann’s Repository – at My Fanciful Muse

Pulled work stitches – by Lynxlace

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