Archive for the ‘Regency era’ Category

My son is constantly nagging me to complete the next item in his “midshipman wardrobe”, so I have been busy. In my previous post, I made my-little-midshipman a shirt and stock. In this post I will be making a pair of breeches.

A midshipman of scant service depended for his authority on board largely on the force of his own personality. He was only a warrant officer himself; when all was said and done a midshipman was not nearly as important to the ship’s economy – and was far more easily replaced – than, say, Washburn, the cooper’s mate over there, who knew all about the making and storage of the ship’s water barrels.

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, C.S. Forester

Breeches worn by Lord Nelson at Trafalgar (18..)

The Royal Naval breeches (1795 pattern) worn by Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 (front view).

The Royal Naval breeches were very similar to all other breeches of this period. The waistband was thick and sat very high (compared to current fashion), and contained a small fob pocket in it. The breeches had a central fall front done up with buttons, and two “fall” pockets at either side also done up with buttons. The centre back waistband contained a triangular gusset with eyelets and a cord that laced up, providing an extra means of adjustment.

The back view of Lord Nelson's breeches, worn in 1805.

The back view of Lord Nelson’s breeches, worn in 1805.

In contrast to the “normal” breeches of this period, Royal Naval breeches were always made of white material, such as woven wool. The breeches reached to the knee, as they all did during that time, and were fastened with four Royal Navy brass buttons, as well as a brass buckle. Navy breeches also seemed to routinely have four extra buttons around the top of the waistband for the use of braces.

In looking for a pattern, I began with the same pattern as I used for making my husband’s breeches, which was Simplicity #4923. I used the same shape of the pattern pieces and drafted them smaller to fit my son. I also wanted these breeches to be tighter in the normal Regency style. The measurements I took from my son were:

Simplicity pattern #4923

Simplicity pattern #4923

  • Waist circumference
  • Underknee circumference
  • Waist-to-underknee length
  • Waist-(centre front)-to-crotch length
  • Crotch-to-knee (inner thigh)

Knowing these measurements helped me change the size of the pattern pieces. I often mark the material by sticking pins vertically into the carpet so that I can stand back and look at the shape of the pattern pieces as I go. It is important that the pieces correspond to the measurements, but it is also important that the pattern pieces retain the same overall shape, as it is the pattern shapes which form the characteristics of any garment. Using pins in this manner makes it easy to change the pieces as I remeasure and compare to the original pattern piece. In hindsight, it might have been good to copy this “pattern” onto a sheet of paper to use again!

The breeches back and front marked with pins and cut out.

The breeches back and front marked with pins and cut out. Once this had been fitted, I did need to take a large wedge out of the centre back seam for it to fit properly.

I used a lemon coloured cotton broadcloth (surely white breeches did not stay white for long!!), with small gold-coloured metal buttons.

I made several changes to the pattern, as I did for my husband’s pair. I added a triangular gusset to the centre back of the waistband, with some eyelets and cord to lace them up.

The back triangular gusset in the centre back, laced with cotton cording.

The back triangular gusset in the centre back, laced with cotton cording. You can see the buttons added for the use of braces.

Instead of using bias binding to hem the bottom under-knee edge, I attached a narrow cuff, leaving some overhang to use with a buckle.

The knee buttons and buckle. The buttons are

The knee buttons and buckle. The buttons are not the navy buttons normally seen during this era, but I had limited gold buttons to choose from!

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view, without the lacing done up properly (oops!).

These breeches have turned out quite well, I think. They fit nicely, with enough room for some growing. I would like to make a second pair with ivory cotton broadcloth, as I wonder if the lemon ones might be a bit too yellow. I would also like to try and alter the pattern to include the two side “fall” pockets that are so often found in the originals. At this stage I have not put the small fob pocket in the waistband either.

But for now, I am moving on to the waistcoat – coming soon!

To read more about The Making of a Midshipman, go to My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

The Making of a Midshipman

MY Mr Knightley: Making Breeches

Sources and Relevant Links

Lord Nelson’s breeches – from Royal Museums Greenwich

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

Simplicity pattern #4923 – for sale on Simplicity.com

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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.


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.


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.

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

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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

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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

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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.


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.


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!


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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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.


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.


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


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


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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