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Costumes Parisiens, from Les Modes Dames (1817)

Costumes Parisiens, from Journal des Dames et des Modes (1817)

Historically, hats have always been trimmed in a variety of different ways. Flowers and feathers were very common trimmings, but artificial fruits, ribbon, lace and different types of fabric also were frequently used.

It is always a puzzle to me to figure out exactly how different trimmings were made, and my task this week was to come up with something for a bonnet that I am finishing.

I decided that a ribbon flower was what was needed and my inspiration was a fashion plate printed in 1817 in Journal des Dames et des Modes. I liked the look of the several flowery-looking (or maybe bow-looking) things in this picture, which are additionally adorned with feathers. Here are my efforts!

Step One: Take the ribbon and fold it to make the first petal. Here I have used two contrasting layers of ribbon that have been laid on top of each other. Gather the petal at the base.

Gather the first "petal".

The first “petal” gathered

Step Two: The second petal can be done in the same way, leaving about an inch of space between them.

The second petal

The second petal

Step Three: Keep going in the same way until you have the number of petals you want. I wanted a flower with four petals.

The four petals completed

The four petals completed

Step Four: Arrange the petals in the way they will sit and tack them in place in the centre of the “flower”.

The petals are tacked in place through the middle of the flower.

The petals are tacked in place through the middle of the flower.

Step Five: Turning to the back of the flower, pinch together the top layer of two adjoining petals and do a small stitch to hold them together.

Tacking the top layer of the petals together

Tacking the top layer of the petals together

This will have the effect of the petals sitting closely together and being more puffy and round.

The resulting "flower"

The resulting “flower”

Step Six: For the centre of the flower, a covered button will work wonderfully. Unfortunately the centre of my flower was too large for a button to work well, so I made a “yo-yo” by cutting a circle of material and gathering the edge. The diameter of the circle should be double the diameter of the finished centre.

The circle, gathered at the edge

The circle, gathered around the edge

Step Seven: Pull the threads to bunch up the material.

The little "puff"

The little “puff”

Step Eight: Tack the centre piece to the flower, making the stitches as invisible as possible.

The finished flower!

The finished flower!

The finished flower can now be attached to a hat.

Hopefully this bonnet will be featured in my next post, once I finish trimming it!

Related Posts

How to use Ribbon to make Decorative Trims

How to make a piped band

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: The Costumer’s Manifesto

From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking, by Denise Dreher – a great book on hatmaking and trimming

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Evening dress (1816); from Ackermann's Repository.

The eighth stop on my Regency Journey is to make a ball gown. Balls and dancing were a frequent entertainment in Regency times, as was evening parties with friends. People would often dress elaborately for dinner, even if they were not going out or entertaining. For these reasons, evening wear was often elaborately decorated with embroidery, spangles (sequins), and lace. Women’s evening gowns in the Regency era were also often low cut around the bosom and had very short sleeves.

Jane Austen wrote to her sister, Cassandra, about a ball she attended in 1810.

Our ball was rather more amusing than I expected. Martha liked it very much, and I did not gape till the last quarter of an hour. It was past nine before we were sent for and not twelve when we returned. The room was tolerably full, and there were, perhaps, thirty couple of dancers. The melancholy part was, to see so many dozen young ladies standing by without partners, and each of them with two ugly naked shoulders.

Jane Austen (1810)

An Evening Dress (1818): Description of how it is made.

As I did not have a pattern for a ball gown (or any idea of where to start drafting one), I did have to do a fair bit of research into the way dresses were constructed and the types of embellishments they had. I derived my inspiration from several fashion plates, published in Ackermann’s Repository. Each issue of this journal had descriptions of some of the popular fashions that had been seen worn in France, with descriptions of how they had been made.

For instance, the white gown (1816; pictured above) was described as “a white crape frock over a satin slip; […] ornamented with French Lama work in silver; the dress is cut very low all around the bosom, and the crape fronts are open at each side so as to display the white satin one underneath. The sleeve is an intermixture of white satin and crape; the latter full, the former tastefully ornamented with silver, to correspond with the bottom of the dress.”

Dinner Dress (1818); from Ackermann's Repository

During the years 1815-1820, the fashions had begun to change from the simple, plain muslin dresses of 1800-1810. The sleeves and bodices of dresses became shorter and more elaborately decorated, and to balance this, the bottoms of dresses were also embellished. These embellishments, as well as side gores for the skirt, changed the silhouette of the skirt to be more triangular.

Jane Austen, much to be lamented, died in 1817, and her last two novels were published posthumously in 1818. As a tribute to her, my ball gown will be inspired by the fashions of these years.

I will try to do further justice to this remarkable author by endeavouring to prevent my “two ugly naked shoulders” being visible at the Jane Austen Festival Ball!

Making a Ball Gown

The Pattern

I had no pattern to work from this time, except ideas I had gathered from fashion plates and the things I learnt constructing my last two day dresses. Using these as a starting point, I drafted the pattern.

1. Using my body measurements, I drew out the pattern on 1/4 inch grid paper and cut it out. Seam allowances were added when the fabric was cut out. All measurements stated from here on DO NOT include seam allowances.

Important Measurements to take for this type of dress:

  • Waist circumference (the waistline is high under the bust in this case)
  • Arm circumference at the underarm and mid-upper arm (for the armband)
  • Arm length from shoulder to mid-upper arm (for the short sleeve)
  • Circumference of the arm at the shoulder (armhole measurement)
  • Shoulder to waist measurement (for the height of the bodice)
  • Waist (underbust) to floor measurement (for skirt length)

2. As the material was so expensive (and because I was unsure of my skill for designing such a garment from scratch!), I decided to make a mock-up or toile of the bodice out of some scrap cotton calico I had in my stash. This enabled me to make mistakes without fear of financial ruin! This mock-up was also done with the sleeves.

My bodice toile (front): This enabled me to experiment with the neckline, waistline and the shoulder straps in order to get the right "look".

My toile (back): I experimented with the back "arch" which was common this era, though I went a bit too far on the toile!

3. The pattern for the skirt front and back were merely two large rectangles. The front skirt was cut on the fold, measuring 10″ x 48″, and the back skirt was cut on two layers of fabric, measuring 36″ x 51″. Triangular side gores (right-angled triangle), which point backwards, were common in this era and provided more fullness to the skirt. Mine were 48” long and 15″ wide at the bottom, narrowing to a point at the top. The waistband was 35″ long and 1/2″ wide. The armband was 15” long and 1″ wide. All other pattern pieces are shown on 1/4 inch grid paper in the photo below.

The pattern pieces: Front Bodice, Back Bodice, Back Shoulder Strap, and Sleeve. I later added a semi-oval of material to the front decolletage.

One change I would make to the pattern is to widen the front skirt to maybe 15 inches (instead of 10). The side seam of the skirt does not stretch around to the back as far as it did in period examples.

Construction Steps

1. Skirt: Sew the skirt together first, beginning with the centre back seam, leaving a 10 inch opening at the top. The long edge of the triangular side gores are then sewn to the back skirt panels and to remaining long edge to the front skirt panel.

2. Bodice: Sew bodice together at the side back seams, leaving the centre back seam open. The shoulder strap is then sewn to the back bodice and the front bodice. The bodice lining can be sewn together in the same way.

Sew the bodice side seam and shoulder seams

3. Bodice cont’: Make a strip of piping out of a contrasting colour, by folding a strip of material (1/2″ wide – plus seam allowances – and long enough to go around the neckline) in half lengthwise. The piping can be stuffed with cord, strips of material or wadding. I threaded a long strip of 1″ wide chiffon through it once it was attached to the bodice.

Sew the piping to the neckline of the bodice first. Then put the bodice and the bodice lining together, right sides facing, and sew them together on the same stitching line as the piping was sewn. When it is turned the right way, it should look like the picture below.

Ivory piping sewn to the neckline of the bodice

4. Attach bodice to waistband: The front bodice pieces of this era were cut out of one piece with no darts, which means it has almost no shaping around the bust. In order to fit it to the body, gather a small amount of the bodice underneath each bust. Adjust the gathers to fit and sew the waistband along the bottom edge of the bodice.

The underbust gathers are visible. The neckline easing is hidden under the lace.

In order to stop the front gaping at the top, I also had to run a gathering stitch along the front neckline. The gathering threads were not pulled tight enough to gather it properly, but just to draw in the neckline a little, and then I sewed over the top with a normal stay stitch. Instead of this, you could make a casing for a drawstring or ribbon around the neckline, which was a common way to help the bodice fit properly in this era.

5. Bodice Embellishment: Embroidery or sequins can now be added to the bodice.

Embroidery and beading detail

At this point, I also added a small curved piece of fabric, edged with piping, to the front decolletage, just like some of the pictures in Repository.

6. Sleeves: The sleeve seams are sewn and then a small section of the bottom edge is gathered. The armband is then attached (in the same way as binding) to the bottom edge of the sleeve. The sleeve head can then be gathered to fit the armhole. Various sleeve decorations can then be added. I pinched small sections of the sleeve together and sewed some pearl buttons to the bunched area. I also attached some matching lace around the armband. It was also common to have embroidered sleeves to match the bodice.

Sleeve detail

7. Attaching the skirt to the waistband: Pleat the centre back skirt in 12 pleats on each side, each pleat using about 2.5 inches of material. Adjust the pleats to fit the waistband and sew.

Back view of 12 pleats

The waistband can then be finished off in the following manner. The seam allowances of the bodice and the skirt can be trimmed and then folded towards the waistband. Then another piece of material (i.e. waistband lining) or a piece of bias binding can be hand sewn to the inside to hide any raw edges.

8. Skirt Embellishment: The bottom edge of the skirt can be hemmed and decorated to match the bodice and sleeves. I am planning to do some embroidery around the hem to match the bodice embroidery.

The skirt detail; two strips of stuffed roulade, with netting and lace, scalloped with pearls.

9. Finishing off! Eyelets are handsewn along the centre back and lacing is inserted. I had also put in a strip of boning along the centre back, just to keep the bodice flat when laced.

Back lacing detail

The back view

All finished!

The next destination on My Regency Journey is a reticule to match this charming ensemble. – coming soon!

To view these posts in order, go to My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: In the beginning…

My Regency Journey: Making a Dress for Daywear

My Regency Journey: Making an Embroidered Morning Negligee

Sources and Relevant Links

Making a Toile

Fashion Plates of the Regency – this site has reproduced a vast collection of fashion plates from the Regency period.

Ackermann’s The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufacturers, Fashions and Politics, Series 2, Vol. 6 (1818) – read online

It’s All in the Details: Making a Regency Ball Gown – design tips for historically accurate gowns

How to make Hand-worked Eyelets

Regency Embroidery Designs – this site has reproduced quite a collection of embroidery designs from the Regency period.

Jane Austen’s Letters – read online

Jane Austen Festival – website

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The sixth stop on my Regency Journey is to make a lightly embroidered dress for daywear.

The Regency era derives its name from the time, between 1811 and 1820, when Prince George was made Prince Regent due to his father, King George III, being too ill to reign. However, when looking at English culture, fashion and literature, the term Regency is used to cover a broader time period, from around 1795 to the 1820’s. This period marked the shift from the Georgian eighteenth century, to the Victorian nineteenth century.

Dresses during this period changed drastically from the previous fashions. Due to the uprisings in France, no one wanted to appear like the aristocracy, and so dresses were loose and flowing, inspired by Roman and Greek statues. They were made with light cotton muslins that were often rather transparent. These dresses become the object of satirists of the day, as they were almost the equivalent of the underclothes or petticoats of the previous fashions.

“The Graces in a high Wind – a scene taken from Nature, in Kensington Gardens.” By James Gillray, 1810.

From: Victoria and Albert Museum

The dress I am making is dated from 1806-1809 and is displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The pattern for this dress has been drafted by Janet Arnold in Patterns of Fashion: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c. 1660-1860. She describes this particular dress (pictured left) as an evening dress, probably due to the amount of embroidery and spangles attached to it. She goes on to say that this same pattern made up in plain muslin had been described as morning negligee in La Belle Assemblee (1808).

I decided that, whilst a day dress was unlikely to have much elaborate embroidery, I would embroider a little on it because it looks pretty!! Though my embroidery does not compare to this superb museum exhibit!

Making a Regency Morning Negligee

The Pattern

From: Patterns of Fashion 1, by Janet Arnold.

As the pattern was printed in inches, I have used imperial measurements for reference, except for seam allowances, which were 1.5cm.

1. Draw out the pattern on 1 inch grid paper, and cut out the paper pattern. Make sure you add seam allowances, either to the paper pattern or when you cut out the fabric. Janet Arnold has not added seam allowances to any of her patterns in Patterns of Fashion. In the end, I used my own body measurements to make sure the pattern pieces would fit, and then added the necessary seam allowances. All measurements stated from here on DO NOT include seam allowances.

2. One very important point about this type of pattern that is drafted from a particular dress from a particular era: they are usually made to fit one particular person and adjustments will need to be made to fit it correctly on a different body, like your own. This particular pattern seems to have been made for a person about 166cm tall, or 5ft 4in, with a waist (underbust) measurement of under 35 inches.

Important Measurements to take for this pattern:

  • Waist circumference (the waistline is high under the bust in this case)
  • Arm circumference: at both the underarm and above the elbow (with the arm bent! or you might not be able to drink a cup of tea with your garment on!)
  • Arm length (for the sleeve)
  • Circumference of the arm at the shoulder (armhole measurement)
  • Shoulder height (for the shoulder strap)
  • Waist (underbust) to floor measurement (for skirt length)

Pattern pieces, with some cut out. The sleeve head was later altered to be deeper.

These measurements can then be checked against the pattern pieces. It is important to remember that you do not want a garment that fits you so tightly that you can hardly move for fear of splitting the seams, so remember to allow a little extra for this on your pattern pieces.

3. Adjust your pattern pieces accordingly. I made the shoulder strap longer by 4 inches, which meant that the sleeve head needed to be adjusted as well. The skirt length was also lengthened by 3 inches.

The pattern for the skirt front and back were merely two large rectangles. The front was cut on the fold, measuring 18″ x 47″, and the back was cut on two layers of fabric, measuring 36″ x 51″. The waistband was 35 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.

Whilst the original garment does not appear to be lined, I decided to line the bodice and create a facing for the neckbands, just to make it neater.

The neckbands, cut on a fold in order to create a facing to turn to the inside of the bodice. The shoulder neckband (top) was also lengthened.

Construction Steps

Whilst Patterns of Fashion shows accurate pictures of the pattern pieces, it gives only brief desciptions of how to construct the garment. Even so, this dress was quite simple to piece together for an experienced seamstress.

1. Skirt: Sew the skirt together first, beginning with the centre back seam, leaving a 12 inch opening at the top. The two skirt side seams are then sewn.

2. Bodice: Sew bodice together at the side seams and the side back seams, leaving the centre back seam open. The bodice lining can be sewn together in the same way.

Bodice and lining made up

3. Bodice cont’: Put the bodice and the bodice lining together, wrong sides facing and gather the top and bottom edges of the front panel.

The bodice and lining gathered together

4. Attach bodice to waistband: Adjusting the gathers to fit, sew the waistband along the bottom edge of the bodice.

5. Neckband: Adjusting the gathers on the top edge of the bodice, pin the neckband on to fit. This is a good time to try it on to check that it fits and to check the mitred corners of the neckband! Then sew it in place.

The bodice, with waistband and neckband attached

Draw a design on the front neckband and embroider it. Handsew the neckband to the inside when complete.

6. Sleeves: The sleeve seams are sewn and then the sleeve head is gathered to fit the armhole. The gathered section of the sleeve is placed around the neckband, as there are no gathers attached to the bodice. Hem the bottom edge of the sleeves at the mid-hand or knuckle region.

7. Attaching the skirt to the waistband: Gather the skirt to fit the waistband and sew. The waistband can then be finished off in the following manner. The seam allowances of the bodice and the skirt can be trimmed and then folded towards the waistband. Then another piece of material (i.e. waistband lining) or a piece of bias binding can be hand sewn to the inside to hide any raw edges. A cord is then threaded through it so the dress can be tied up at the back.

The inside of the dress, with waistband lining being pinned down. The cord is also shown.

8. Finishing off! Attach two buttons to the bodice back, and a hook and eye if needed. Hem the bottom edge. Voila!

Embroidery detail, with a pearl bead in the centre of each flower.

A close up of the back, done up with two covered buttons, a hook and eye, and a drawstring (under the waistband).

The front view

The back view, with a slight train (only 4 inches longer than the front).

Sometimes I wish I had hindsight beforehand, as I think I would have made the waistband out of a contrasting material, as seems common for many of the dresses from this era. In the end, I chose some lengths of ribbon in different colours that can be tied around the waistband (held in place with some small thread belt loops). This can give the dress a bit of a different look, which is handy if you need to wear it several times for the same event.

I am glad that I made a bodiced petticoat previously, as you can see my skin through the unlined sleeves of this dress! At least I can pride myself on having a suitably see-through cotton dress to wear for a promenade around Lake Burley-Griffin!

Janet Arnold mentions that this type of morning dress would be worn with a chemisette of some description to fill in the neckline. A Regency chemisette is the next stop on my Regency Journey.

To view all my posts in order, go to My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: In the beginning…

My Regency Journey: Making a Dress for Daywear

How to Make a Regency Poke Bonnet in Ten Steps

Sources and Relevant Links

Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c. 1660-1860, by Janet Arnold – buy through Amazon

Victoria and Albert Museum – website

V&A 1806-1809 Dress (pictured above)

Regency Embroidery Designs

Jane Austen Festival – website

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The fifth stop on my Regency Journey is to make a morning dress for daywear. Dresses worn during this era were usually made of a light cotton muslin, and were often dotted with small geometric prints or thin vertical lines.

All clothing during this era, up until about 1860, was entirely hand-stitched and fitted for the person it was for. It is therefore understandable that Jane Austen should lament over the decisions required upon ordering a new gown to be made up.

I cannot determine what to do about my new gown; I wish such things were bought ready-made. I have some hopes of meeting Martha at the christening at Deane next Tuesday, and shall see what she can do for me. I want to have something suggested which will give me no trouble of thought or direction.

Jane Austen, in a letter to her sister (1798)

The dress I am making is a bib-front dress, and is a replication of a period morning dress dated around 1798-1805. The pattern for this dress has been drafted in Patterns of Fashion: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c. 1660-1860, by Janet Arnold.

Making a Regency Morning Dress

The Pattern

A morning dress; from Patterns of Fashion 1, by Janet Arnold.

As the pattern was printed in inches, I have used imperial measurements for reference, except for seam allowances, which were 1.5cm.

1. Draw out the pattern on 1 inch grid paper, and cut out the paper pattern. Make sure you add seam allowances, either to the paper pattern or when you cut out the fabric. Janet Arnold has not added seam allowances to any of her patterns in Patterns of Fashion. In the end, I used my own body measurements to make sure the pattern pieces would fit, and then added the necessary seam allowances. All measurements stated from here on DO NOT include seam allowances.

2. One very important point about this type of pattern that is drafted from a particular dress from a particular era: they are usually made to fit one particular person and adjustments will need to be made to fit it correctly on a different body, like your own. This particular pattern seems to have been made for a person about 163cm tall, or 5ft 4in, with a waist (underbust) measurement of about 25 inches. As I am both taller and wider than this, the dimensions of the pattern pieces had to be changed.

Important Measurements to take for this pattern:

  • Bust circumference
  • Waist circumference (the waistline is high under the bust in this case)
  • Arm circumference: at both the underarm and above the elbow (with the arm bent! or you might not be able to drink a cup of tea with your garment on!)
  • Arm length
  • Circumference of the arm at the shoulder (armhole measurement)
  • Shoulder width
  • Shoulder to bust (or to waist) height
  • Waist (underbust) to floor measurement (for skirt length)

These measurements can then be checked against the pattern pieces. It is important to remember that you do not want a garment that fits you so tightly that you can hardly move for fear of splitting the seams, so remember to allow a little extra for this on your pattern pieces.

3. Adjust your pattern pieces accordingly. I made the bodice back wider by 3 inches (shown un-enlarged in the picture below), the back shoulder strap longer by 3 inches, the sleeve pieces wider down the arm length by about 1 inch. The skirt length was also lengthened by 5 inches.

The pattern pieces for short sleeve (cut on bias), long undersleeve (cut on bias), sleeve lining, bodice back (outer cut on bias, lining cut on straight grain), bodice front (cut outer and lining) and back shoulder (cut outer and lining).

The pattern for the skirt front and back were merely two large rectangles. The front was cut on the fold, measuring 20″ x 49 “, and the back was cut on two layers of fabric, measuring 30″ x 49”. The original dress was trained (with the back skirt 15 inches longer than the front), but I decided to have mine untrained.

The waistband was 81 inches long and 3/4 inch wide. All additional pattern pieces (such as the front stomacher piece and the various edging bands) are described below.

Construction Steps

Whilst Patterns of Fashion shows accurate pictures of the pattern pieces, it gives only brief desciptions of how to construct the garment. These descriptions are also limited to the manner in which the particular garment was constructed in that particular era, which is not all that helpful unless you are sewing the garment completely by hand. This meant that there was a significant amount of work to do in order to figure out how to put the dress together! For these reasons, the patterns in this book are more suited to the experienced seamstress rather than the beginner.

1. Skirt: Sew the skirt together first, beginning with the centre back seam. The two skirt side seams are then sewn, leaving an 11 inch opening at the top on each side.

2. Bodice: Sew bodice lining together at shoulder seams, pinning side back seams to check that it fits. Then sew bodice outer together at shoulder seams.

3. Bodice cont’: Sew the lining and outer bodices together (right sides together) along neckline and around centre front panels.

The bodice outer and lining pinned around the neckline.

4. Bodice cont’: The side seams of the bodice outer and lining can then be sewn, but make sure you check that it fits!

The bodice, with side seams sewn.

At the sides of the picture above, you can see that the outer bodice has an extra piece of lining attached to it to form the front section. The resulting piece mirrors the front lining piece, but it could have been cut entirely from the outer material. This small area of lining will be pinned under the bust and will be hidden by the front stomacher piece that attaches over the top of it.

5. Attaching the skirt back to the bodice: Gather 16 inches of the skirt at the centre back, fitting all the gathers into the back bodice panel. Pleat the remaining sides of the skirt back piece in the following manner. On each side of the gathers, measure 4 and 1/2 inches and fold this towards the back to form a large pleat. Repeat to make a second pleat on top of the other. Then, working from the sides, and leaving a 2 inch space from the side seam, measure 2 and 1/2 inches and fold towards the front to form a pleat. Repeat to form a second pleat on top of the other.

You should end up with four back pleats (two either side of the gathers), and four side-back pleats (two on either side). You can see them pinned in the picture below.

The skirt back pinned to the bodice outer (with bodice lining free). The centre is tightly gathered, with one set of pleats folded towards the back and then the next set of pleats folded towards the front.

When sewing the skirt back to the bodice, leave the bodice lining free.

6. Attaching the skirt front to the waistband: Gather the skirt front in 3 sections. The centre front 14 inches should to be eased into 11 inches and pinned to the centre front of the waistband. The remainder of the two sides of the skirt front are then gathered to fit within the next 5 inches of the waistband.

The skirt front, gathered and pinned to the waistband. You can see the three separate areas of gathering.

You can see from the picture above that I have also sewn a facing onto each side where the opening of the skirt is. Instead of a facing, you can finish off the seam by folding the seam allowance over to hide any raw edges.

7. Front Stomacher: The front stomacher piece, which sits over the bust, is a piece of lining that is sewn with 1/16 inch tucks on the straight grain. I did rows of 4 tucks, each tuck 1/8 inch apart, which were then separated from the next set by 7/8 inch, all over the fabric. The stomacher piece (14″ x 5″) is then cut on the cross grain.

Lining material sewn with tucks, then laid out with pattern piece.

The stomacher is edged on each side with 1″ x 5″ lengths of material. The top edge of the stomacher is gathered in two places above each breast and edged with a 1″ x 11 and 1/2″ piece of material. The bottom edge is then attached to the waistband, making the finished width of the waistband 3/8 inch.

The front stomacher piece sewn to the waistband.

The waistband can then be finished off. For the part where the stomacher is sewn, the seam allowances can be trimmed and then folded in so that a piece of bias binding can be hand sewn to hide any raw edges. For the rest of the waistband, fold it under and down on itself to hide any raw edges, and then sew.

The inside view of the waistband with the bias binding pinned.

8. Sleeves: The three sleeve sections (short sleeve, long sleeve, sleeve lining) are each made up separately. Then the sleeve lining can be hemmed.

The sleeve lining is put inside the short sleeve (wrong sides together) and the back area (between the shoulder seam and the back bodice seam) of the short sleeve is tucked to fit. A small section of the lower edge of the sleeve is gathered and an arm band, measuring 1″ x 12”, binds the lower edge of the sleeve.

A back view of the short sleeve, tucked to fit. The sleeve arm band and gathers can also be seen.

The sleeve and the lining are then sewn as one to the bodice.

After the long undersleeve is sewn, it can be hemmed top and bottom, and then hand-sewn to the sleeve lining. Sleeves of this era reached below the wrist to the mid-hand level.

I had a lot of trouble with the sleeves fitting, so I ended up unpicking them to make the armhole bigger. I also re-cut the sleeve lining to be the same size as the outer sleeve, which seemed to fix my problem!

9. Finishing off! Handsew bodice lining to bodice (where it is attached to the skirt back). Attach two small loops at the back for the waistband to thread through.

The back panel, with two loops to thread the waistband through.

Attach some hooks and eyes on the underbust piece at the centre front. You could also use eyelets and cording or pins to hold it in place.

The underbust piece, with hooks and eyes attached

Attach two buttons to the bodice front, to hold the stomacher piece in place.

The stomacher piece, held up with buttons

Hem the bottom edge.

How to put it on!

1. Put your arms through the sleeves and then hook the underbust piece closed.

2. Thread the waistband through the back loops from each side and then tie it up at the front, under the bust.

Hook the underbust pieces together and tie up the waistband.

3. Button the front stomacher onto the bodice.

The front stomacher buttoned up, all dressed and ready to go!

The back view, all finished!

This dress is a perfect costume for pregnant women (as most Regency dresses are) or breastfeeding mothers, due to the bib-front design. Though it can make the wearer look a bit frumpy! Adjusting the gathers at the front so that all the gathering is at the sides of the dress can improve this.

Janet Arnold mentions that this type of morning dress would be worn with a chemisette of some description to fill in the neckline. I will be making one of these soon.

For the next stop on my Regency Journey, I will be making another morning dress.

To view all my posts in order, go to My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: In the beginning…

My Regency Journey: Making a Bodiced Petticoat

How to Make a Regency Poke Bonnet in Ten Steps

Sources and Relevant Links

Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction c. 1660-1860, by Janet Arnold – buy through Amazon

Sewing Tucks

Jane Austen Festival – website

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The fourth stop on my Regency Journey is to make a bodiced petticoat. This was usually a sleeveless garment, reaching to the ankle, worn over the stays. It made the light cotton garments less see-through and provided a little more body to the bottom of the skirt (rather than having it clinging to the legs).

The cotton dresses of the Regency period were sometimes so thin that the legs were visible through them, as the satire print below shows. In this picture, the Regency woman’s shoes, stockings and garter are clearly visible beneath her skirt. As women in the early Regency era did not often wear drawers, it is possible that their “bum” might have been seen without the aid of a petticoat! This new style of fashion was in sharp contrast to the previous era, where thick, stiff, multi-layered skirts created a very different silhouette.

The Year (1740) a Lady’s full dress of Bombazeen. The Year (1807) a Lady’s undress of Bum-be-seen.

A bodiced petticoat could also be boned and be used instead of a corset, as it provided the necessary support to the bust in order to achieve the correct silhouette.

My Regency Bodiced Petticoat

There are several good websites with instructions on how to make a bodiced petticoat. I roughly copied the design of the bodiced petticoat used at Sense and Sensibility Patterns, and then followed her instructions.

My petticoat will go over a corset, so there was no need to put in any boning to support the bust. I decided to do a petticoat mainly as a substitute for dress lining and to ensure that the bottom of the dress stood out a little.

The sleeveless bodiced petticoat, worn over a chemise and corset.

The waistline is a little low on this garment, but the darts around the bust still support the correct silhouette. Once again, I used felled seams. The petticoat skirt is made up of 5 panels: a front (cut on the fold), 2 side front, 2 side back, and 2 back panels. The top third of the centre back skirt is open to enable to wearer to put it on. The bodice is made up of a front (cut on the fold), 2 side back and 2 back panels. The bodice front has three curved darts under each bust which serve to push the bust upwards. The finished width of the waistband is 1 and 1/2 inches.

I added a ruffle at the bottom of the petticoat to help it stand out a little. In order to avoid hemming a long length of ruffle, I folded a piece of material in half lengthwise and then gathered the two layers of raw edges as one.

Making a ruffle: the material is folded in half lengthwise and the top two raw edges gathered together.

In terms of ruffle length, use at least 3 times the circumference of the bottom of the petticoat, as a ruffle that is only 2 times the circumference will be a little flattish. I used roughly 9 metres of ruffle to fit around a 2.5 metre bottom. I also made a casing to cover the raw edges of the ruffle on the inside, and then threaded some cording through the casing to help the bottom stand out a bit.

The finished ruffle, with a row of cording encased above it.

During construction, I forgot all about allowing enough room in the bodice for the back panels to overlap so it could be done up with buttons. To fix this, I added a small rectangular flap to one side for the buttonholes, and sewed some clear buttons on the other side.

Back view of the bodiced petticoat, with chemise and corset visible underneath.

The next step of my Regency Journey is to make a dress for daywear.

You can read all of these posts in order at My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: Corset Construction

My Regency Journey: Making a Chemise

How to Make a Regency Poke Bonnet in Ten Steps

Relevant Links

How to make a Bodiced Petticoat – Sense and Sensibility Patterns

Patterns for Regency Underthings – Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion

How to do Flat Felled Seams

Examples and pictures of Regency era underwear – Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion

Jane Austen Festival – website

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An American Regency chemise; which seems a little different in style to the English ones.

The third stop on my Regency Journey is to make a chemise to go underneath the corset. The benefit of having a chemise underneath is that is stops the corset pinching, and it protects the corset from perspiration. The chemise is also easier to launder.

Another great thing about the chemise is that it is easy and quick to put together without a pattern!

Steps to Make a Regency Chemise

Step One: Measure! There are several measurements you will need. Firstly, a measurement from the shoulder to the knee, or the length that you want your chemise, allowing a little extra for a hem. (Mine was 105cm in length, but was too long and was trimmed later.) Secondly, you will need a measurement of the length and armhole-height of the sleeve. (My sleeve was a square, 20cm by 45cm, where 20cm is the length of the sleeve and 45cm was the distance around the armhole.) My gussets were 15cm squares. A bust measurement won’t go astray, either. Draw your pattern on your material with taylors chalk and cut them out, making sure you allow extra for seam allowances.

In hindsight, I should have added more to my bust measurement, as the chemise ended up a little snug.

The front and back pieces are cut on the fold. There is also 2 sleeve rectangles and 2 gusset squares.

Traditionally, the body of the Regency chemise was made up of two rectangles (front and back) with triangular gores inserted in the sides. Doing it like this might have solved the problem of the snug fit!

Step Two: Sew the shoulder seams of the front and back. For all my seams, I used felled seams to limit fraying.

The shoulder seams sewn

Step Three: Iron the gusset in half to form a triangle.

The gusset on the left is folded and the one on the right is flat.

Step Four: Sew one side of the gusset to the short side of the sleeve rectangle, making sure the diagonal fold is positioned as pictured, “pointing” to the end of the sewn “strip”.

The sleeve sewn to the gusset, with the diagonal fold.

Step Five: Fold the gusset along the ironed fold, and fold the other side of the sleeve rectangle to meet the gusset edge. Sew these edges together.

You can see where the side of the gusset is pinned to the other side of the sleeve rectangle.

The sleeve should look like this when finished.

Now sew the bottom of the sleeve together, where it is pinned. The larger opening of the sleeve will be attached to the garment in the next step.

Step Six: Sew the sleeves to the garment, leaving the side seams open.

The side seams are not sewn yet.

Step Seven: Sew the side seams.

Step Eight: Sew bias tape (or make a casing) around the neckline of the chemise. Hand sew two eyelets through the casing in the centre front and centre back, so that they are on the inside of the garment and are not visible on the outside. Thread with some ribbon and draw up. I anchored the ribbon at each shoulder so the back and front could be independently drawn.

The front and back eyelets with ribbon threaded through to the inside of the garment.

Step Nine: Hem the bottom of the chemise and the bottom edge of the sleeves to the desired length. I ended up trimming my sleeves back almost to the gusset.

Finished!

I am fairly pleased with it. It is probably a little too tight around the bust, as most chemises from this era appear a bit fuller. I am hoping that is not noticeable once the corset is over the top.

Next item on the Regency Agenda is a bodiced petticoat to wear over the top of the corset.

You can follow all these Regency posts in order at My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: In the beginning…

My Regency Journey: How to draft a corset pattern

My Regency Journey: Corset Construction

How to Make a Regency Poke Bonnet in Ten Steps

Relevant Links

How to do Flat Felled Seams

Examples and pictures of Regency era underwear – Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion

Patterns for Regency underthings – Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion (I got some of my ideas for construction from the links on this page)

Jane Austen Festival – website

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A Regency silhouette, showing the "bust shelf"

The second stop on my Regency Journey is the construction of my corset. Corsets of this era were not made to flatten the bust, as they were in the mid 1700’s. Nor were they made to restrict the waist, as they were in the Victorian era. They were made to “lift and separate” the breasts to form a type of bust “shelf”.

The corsets, or stays, were either long or short with little or no boning. They really just provided posture support and helped to define a high empire waistline that was popular in the fashions of the day.

Making a Regency corset has been a challenge: first drafting the pattern, and then figuring out the steps to put it all together! I decided to make some long stays for my Regency costume.

Making a Regency Corset

Step One: I first cut out the fabric, using my drafted pattern pieces, making sure I had added the seam allowances.

The cut-out pieces (except the bust gussets, hip gussets and shoulder straps)

In the Regency era, sometimes up to four layers of material would be used for a corset, for instance a cotton sateen for the exterior layers and then some linen for the inside layers. I have used three layers: an “unknown-satiny” outer layer (obtained as a remnant), a cotton lawn interlining and a cotton lawn lining. After discovering some cotton sateen in my local fabric shop, I would definitely use it next time as it is a nice soft cotton whilst still being sturdy.

Step Two: Putting the satin layer and lawn interlining together as one, I sewed the front and the side back together. I used felled seams (as is used for modern day denim clothing) throughout. Felled seams usually have three lines of stitching, and are known for their added strength and neat “fray-less” appearance.

Step Three: My next task was to decorate and strengthen this front/side section. In the Regency era, corsets were strengthened by cording and light boning. Embroidery and quilting were also used. I drew a basic design on the lawn interlining, drawing on some of my research of period pieces. Some of these areas would be corded, some embroidered, some quilted, and some boned.

The front and side back sewn (not felled yet), with a design drawing for the placement of the various decorative effects.

Whilst white embroidery seems relatively common on Regency era underwear, there are none that I have discovered that have coloured embroidery. Indeed, most of the Regency era underclothes are quite plain when compared to the embroidery in the Rococo era only 50 years before.

However, I can never resist a little embroidery! The design on the front busk pocket is a simplified version of one I have seen on a Regency gown.

Front detail: cording, quilting, boning, machine embroidery and busk-pocket hand embroidery.

Step Four: I then switched my attention to the back pieces. Treating the sateen and interlining as one, I sewed the lining to it on the centre back seam, right sides together. Then turning it to the right side, the boning channels were sewn, leaving a space for the hand sewn eyelets.

The two back pieces, with one boning channel sewn.

The back was then sewn to the side back with a felled seam, leaving the lining free. I hand sewed the eyelets with a small blanket stitch and laced it up with cotton cording.

Back detail

Step Five: Then I started on the lining. The lining front and lining side back were sewn together and then pinned (wrong sides together) to the embroidered outer. I sewed through all thicknesses when I did the third line of stitching on the felled seams, thereby attaching the lining to the outer layers.

Step Six: I cut slits through all three layers in the top of the front section for the bust gussets. The slits went either side of the nipple area, so it can be useful to have a bust separation measurement (the distance between the nipples) for that part of the construction. I used the instructions from Sempstress’s tutorial on setting gussets, which made it very straightforward. In the end, I didn’t need to put the hip gussets in. A bit of decorative embroidery was added around the breast gussets.

Bust gusset detail

You can see from the picture above how the breast gusset forms the lower support for the the bust, and the chemise forms the top part of the “cup” support. There is also a short strip of boning to the left of the picture (right next to each armhole), which helps push the breast to the front, a bit like an underwire bra does.

Step Seven: I attached the straps, once again using felled seams.

Step Eight: The garment was then bound with bias binding around the top and bottom edges and around the armholes.

Front view

Back view

An aluminium ruler works well as the busk, which slides in and out of a pocket behind the dark green embroidery. The ruler (busk) is a little too short, which causes the centre front to bunch in a little. I am undecided whether to find a different one or just shorten the busk pocket.

Overall, I am really pleased with it!

I have bought my ticket to the Jane Austen Festival, and am VERY excited! Next item on the Regency Agenda is the chemise to wear underneath, which you have already seen in some of the photos.

Go to My Regency Journey to view all my posts in order.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: In the beginning…

My Regency Journey: How to draft a corset pattern

How to Make a Regency Poke Bonnet in Ten Steps

Relevant Links

How to do Flat Felled Seams

Cording a corset

How to set a triangular gusset – Sempstress

Achieving a proper fit with Regency stays – by Oregon Regency Society

How to make Hand-worked Eyelets – Sempstress

Examples and pictures of Regency era underwear – Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion

Jane Austen Festival, Australia – website

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