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Archive for the ‘Regency era’ Category

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

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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

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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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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:

Whipstitch

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

A whipstitch; from

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

Patterns for caps; from The Workwoman's Guide to

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

Pattern and Construction Tips

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

There are basically four pieces to my cap:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back view of cap

Back view of cap

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

Related Posts

A Late Regency Bonnet

Sources and Relevant Links

How to sew a rolled hem – tutorial on Hub Pages

How to sew a rolled whipped gather – Youtube tutorial

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

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

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

The Workwoman’s Guide (1840) – read online

Jane Austen Festival Australia – website

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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!

Friday

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

Learning to do tambour on tulle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday

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

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

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

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

Related Posts

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

Jane Austen Festival – Australia, 2013

Sources and Relevant Links

Jane Austen Festival Australia – website

Jane Austen’s pelisse coat – Hampshire City Council

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

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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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