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Posts Tagged ‘Jane Austen Festival Australia 2013’

Thursday night's gown

Thursday night’s gown

On the 18th of April I travelled to Canberra, Australia, for the annual Regency event, the Jane Austen Festival!

Day One

The Festival began with a casual evening of eating, last minute sewing and chatting at the Director’s house. I also got the opportunity to peruse some old dancing books, gaze at beautiful paintings of ballroom dancers and handle some extant garments.

Friday's gown

Friday’s gown

Day Two

On Friday the day began at St Johns Church with a dancing session to learn the basics of the Country Dance. In the next session I also learnt the rudiments of the Cotillion and the Quadrille. The Cotillion was the forerunner of the Quadrille and, as I have done a lot of Quadrille dancing in Australian Colonial dancing, it was interesting to find out how the dance had developed.

In the next session I had my first proper millinery lesson, making a late Regency bonnet out of buckram and wire. I am really excited about finishing this project now that I am home, as then I will be able to extend my previously meagre hat-making skills to the much more complicated Victorian hats!

Later in the afternoon I managed to view some more extant garments; a cotton day dress, a bib-front silk ballgown, a spencer, and chemise. I find examining the construction techniques of dresses of this era fascinating and I wished that I had more time to take some notes.

For my last workshop of the afternoon I learnt to make Dorset Buttons. I have been wanting to learn this technique for a while and I am really pleased with my first attempt!

The Fashion Parade

The Stars of the Fashion Parade

The evening session – the “Dinner with Darcy” Variety night – began with a lovely traditional English roast dinner. We were entertained with delightfully humorous Regency-themed plays and lovely opera-style singing. A fashion parade, truly a feast for the eyes, illustrated the main shifts of fashion from 1780 through to 1820 and even featured one of my own garments! There were even some fancy French dances beautifully performed for us. The night finished with a fine British sing-a-long, featuring The British Grenadiers, Greensleeves, and Rule Britannia.

Muskets were notoriously unreliable in hitting targets, so in order to improve their effectiveness as weapons, the company were required to shoot in unison at the command of their leader.

Muskets were notoriously unreliable in hitting targets so in order to improve their effectiveness as weapons, the company were required to shoot in unison at the command of their leader.

Day Three

Saturday began with some more dancing workshops to teach the Essentials for Capital Dancing for the coming ball that night, and I also managed to learn some Finishing Dances that were often danced to conclude a Regency evening.

Over lunch we were able to view a company of Grenadiers loading (or pretending to load…) and firing their muskets! They also did a demonstration of how bayonets were attached to the end of the musket in order to use the firearm as a hand-to-hand combat weapon.

A Death Head button; blue cotton thread wrapped around a disc.

A Death Head button; blue cotton thread wrapped around a disc.

I spent the afternoon running a Chemisette Making workshop and then learnt how to make Death Head buttons, which are discs of wood or horn wrapped in thread. Whilst my example is fairly plain, different coloured threads can be used to create a contrast in the weaving pattern and the result can be extremely decorative. I am planning to use this new skill to adorn an eighteenth century frock coat for my husband.

I also managed to view a study table of extant examples of Regency accessories during the course of the afternoon, examining coin purses, reticules, fans, jewellery boxes, and shoes.

My sister and I dancing on Saturday night's Grand Napoleonic Ball!

My sister and I dancing at Saturday night’s Grand Napoleonic Ball!

In the evening we all donned our ballgowns and jewels and attended the Grand Napoleonic Ball, dancing until midnight! It was great to see a completely full hall of enthusiastic dancers and costumers. Aside from a quick trip upstairs for a photo shoot, I think I danced every dance and I was VERY stiff and sore the next morning!

Day Four

My sister and I in the horse and carriage.

My sister and I in the horse and carriage.

On Sunday we met at the historic grounds of Lanyon Homestead for a “Picnic at Pemberley”. We were all conducted on a tour of the homestead, gardens and outbuildings, and then had a lovely lunch and a horse and carriage ride. The day was gloriously sunny and provided me with the perfect occasion to use my new parasol!

The afternoon was spent back at St Johns Church with a Country Fayre, including various stalls, maypole dancing, a fencing display, more dancing and a concert.

My latest ballgown and my entry into the 1813 Costume Competition.

My latest ballgown and my entry into the JAFA 1813 Costume Competition.

The Jane Austen Cotillion Ball was held in the evening and was a great conclusion to the festival. The entrants in the 1813 Costume Competition paraded in their garments and the winners were announced – a three-way win of which I was one! There was also a Regency Gentleman’s Costume Competition this year, with entrants falling under the sub-categories of Mr Darcy, Mr Wickham, Colonel Fitzwilliam or Mr Collins. As part of the competition, the entrants had to pretend to be single, and the “Mr Collins” entry was particularly entertaining!

I really have loved attending this festival over the last two years, and I would highly recommend it! It is full of friendly people who are all eager to try new things and learn from each other. This year we even had visitors from as far as France and America! The festival also offers a great opportunity for people who are interested in learning about a variety of topics relevant to the Regency era, such as history, fashion, dancing, sewing, Regency entertainments and even war. My only lament is that there is not enough time to do all the things I want to do. Even so, I am looking forward to next year already!

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: The Destination – a post on the Jane Austen Festival (Australia) for 2012

Sources and Relevant Links

Jane Austen Festival Australia – website

More photos of JAFA online – from The Canberra Times

A report on the Today Show about this years JAFA – (I am on TV!!! If you can’t see me, I am to the very right of screen in the dancing scenes, with my back to the camera.)

Another person’s Impression of the 2013 Jane Austen Festival Australia – by the Tailor’s Apprentice

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Regency gowns – to me – have often all looked the same. It probably has something to do with the simplicity of their design, particularly in the early Regency period when plain dresses were very fashionable. After a bit of research, I discovered the Regency bodice that wraps around and crosses over at the front, and decided to try this relatively simple bodice design for my next Regency day dress.

I have been involved in the JAFA Costume Challenge, for the Jane Austen Festival Australia (2013), where participants make a Regency garment each month. This garment was also designed to double-up and form part of my Historical Sew-Fortnightly entries, specifically for the Challenge #5: Peasants and Pioneers (making a Common dress).

The half-robe patterned in Patterns of Fashion 1, (c. 1795)

The half-robe (c. 1795-1800) shown in Patterns of Fashion 1, from Snowsill Manor.

I found a pattern for a half-robe that crossed over in front in Janet Arnold’s book, Patterns of Fashion 1, which I thought I would try, making a slight alteration by extending the skirts to the floor. Sensibly, I began with a toile of the bodice and soon discovered that the person who wore this dress must have had a hideous figure! The bust was way to big and shapeless, and the waist far too small. I ended up having to spend a few days in pattern adjustment just to get it to sit nicely on me! (Though, in fairness to the poor person who once owned this dress… it could be me who has the hideous figure! hehe)

Hopefully I have achieved a nice fit after all that work! This gown was made of cotton shirting material and lined with white cotton voile.

Pattern Pieces

The skirts of Regency gowns were usually just big rectangles of fabric. For this gown I altered the pattern to make the skirts longer and also fuller, just because I like it better that way! I cut two back pieces (each measuring 44″ wide and 49″ long), and two front pieces (each measuring 20″ wide and 49″ long).

The other pieces consisted of:

  • Bodice Back
  • Bodice Side-Back
  • Bodice Side
  • Bodice Front
  • Bodice Front lining (which I didn’t use, as I made a lining layer using the bodice front pieces)
  • Sleeve (not pictured below)
  • Half Belt (measuring 1 inch wide and 16″ long, not pictured below)
Bodice pieces

Bodice pieces

In this picture you can see some of the alterations that I made to the pattern in my cutting. Please note that Janet Arnold patterns do not include seam allowances, and all measurements given here also do not include seam allowances.

Construction Steps

Step 1: The bodice was pieced together, and then the lining was pieced together. When piecing the bodice together, attach the half belt into the waist at the side seam. For the half belts, I made a tube of material 1 inch wide and the required length across the front of the bodice. I had two half belts, one attached to each side, however it was difficult to tell if there was actually one or two from the pattern. (The picture of the extant above appears to have just one on the outside.)

Step 2: With right sides together, the lining and bodice were sewn around the neckline.

The bodice, sewn around the neckline and turned right way out.

The bodice, sewn around the neckline and turned right way out.

Step 3: The skirt was pieced together, starting with the centre back seam and side seams. As the front of this dress wraps around the body, it was not necessary to have a centre front seam. Instead, the vertical front edges of the skirt were hemmed.

Step 4: The skirt was then pleated. The pleats at the back were 3 inch pleats, positioned 1/4 inch apart. For the side pleats, I used any excess material to make three even pleats near the side seam, positioned 1/2 inch apart.

The centre back pleats

The centre back pleats

Step 5: The bodice and skirt were attached, and the lining hand sewn down around the waistline.

Step 6: The sleeves were attached. I had made a toile of the sleeves, but when I cut them out they still didn’t fit properly so I had to cut out another pair. I find sleeves very hard to figure out! They were supposed to be lined, but I ended up discarding the lining.

Sleeve pieces. I cut vertically down the highest part of the sleeve head and widened the sleeve to fit my shoulders. I then needed to take the sleeve in around the arms later.

The sleeve pieces. I cut the pattern vertically down the highest part of the sleeve head and widened the sleeve to fit my shoulders. I then needed to take the sleeve in around the arms later. The white lining was cut first in an altered shape, but discarded later.

The sleeves in this garment show the remains of eighteenth century fashion, with elbow length sleeves which are then shaped around the bend of the arm.

Step 7: The half belts were held in place at the front edges of the garment with some small stitches and hooks and eyes. I not only used a hook and eye on the outside front edge, but I also used one on the inside front edge as I was worried I might stand on the front of the dress and it would fall open.

Step 8: The bottom of the dress was hemmed and braid attached around the neckline and sleeve-ends for embellishment. A self-covered button was attached to the front neckline with a rouleau loop behind, which can be used to alter the neckline.

The front neckline, with the buttons and cord to alter the shape of the neckline.

The front neckline, with the button and loop to alter the shape of the neckline.

The front view; with me looking slightly pregnant!

The front view; with me looking slightly pregnant! (Which I am, so its all ok!)

The back view

The back view (very unironed!)

Historical Sew-Fortnightly Details: This dress should be fairly historically accurate, even though I have altered the pattern in length. It took me a few days to get the toile fitted correctly, but after that it would have only taken approximately 8 hours to complete. This will be first worn at the Jane Austen Festival Australia in April, 2013. The total cost was $25 AUD.

I am thinking of getting a pretty silver clasp to put on the waistband opening. It just might give it a bit of a bling-factor!

For more of my Regency sewing, go to My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: Making a Dress for Daywear

My Regency Journey: Making an Embroidered Morning Negligee

Sources and Relevant Links

The half robe (pictured) – from the National Trust Collection website

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

Jane Austen Festival, Australia – website

Jane Austen Festival Australia, Costume Challenge

Historical Sew-Fortnightly – hosted by Dreamstress

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A pair of transitional stays, c. 1790, from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

A pair of transitional stays, c. 1790, from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Last year when I attended the Jane Austen Festival, I remember my sister saying how comfortable her short stays were. She felt well supported but not restricted from doing the things she wanted to do. One of the problems I have always had with historic costuming is how restrictive the fashions could be for women, which has the undesirable effect of making you feel uncomfortable when you are wanting to have fun! So for this reason, I decided to have a go at some Regency short stays for myself.

I had planned to do these as part of the Historical-Sew Fortnightly Challenge #3: “Under it all” (for undergarments), due February 11, but I have finished them a tad early!

The corsets, or stays, of this era were first “transitional” (where they transitioned from the eighteenth century stays to the new Regency style) and then they are commonly thought to have been either long or short, with usually little or no boning. The Regency style of stays really just provided posture support and helped to define a high empire waistline, with a “bust-shelf”, that was popular in the fashions of the day. In researching short stays, I have struggled to find information on historically accurate short stays from primary sources of the period (such as pictures, paintings or extant examples). If you are interested in historical research of the so-called “short stays”, have a look at Short Stays’ Studies by Kleindung um 1800, which examines some historical patterns and journals on the topic.

Pattern and Construction Details

Step One: First I drafted my own pattern using the method I used for my long stays (My Regency Journey: How to draft a corset pattern). I found this process a lot more difficult to do than I had previously, mainly because I did not have much of an idea what these types of stays looked like. I could not find many extant examples online, except for modern historical patterns (such as Sense and Sensibility Patterns) that mention that they are based on extant examples and pictures of the era. I decided to do a toile out of calico, just to make sure that it fitted properly, and then I adjusted the pattern pieces accordingly.

Toile pattern pieces: Front, side back and back. I ended up taking of quite a bit at the side seams, and adjusting the curve of the side back.

Toile pattern pieces: Front, side back and back. I ended up taking off quite a bit at the side seams, and adjusting the curve of the side back. Gusset pieces are not pictured.

Step Two: I cut out the fabric, making sure I added the seam allowances. For these stays, I have used three layers of material: the outer and inner layer are white cotton broadcloth, and the interlining is cotton calico.

Step Three: Beginning with the front pieces, I sewed along the centre front seams so that the three layers were all attached and could then be turned with the right sides facing out.

Centre front pieces, turned right sides out. Shows the layers of broadcloth, calico and broadcloth.

Centre front pieces, turned right sides out. Shows the layers of broadcloth, calico and broadcloth.

Step Four: Again treating the outer layer and interlining as one piece, the side back and back pieces were sewn, leaving the front lining pieces free.

The side back and back pieces sewn in.

The side back and back pieces sewn in.

Step Five: For the gussets, I cut slits through all three layers in the top of the front pieces. The slits were marked on my pattern piece and are placed either side of the nipple area. For this reason it can be useful to have a bust separation measurement (the distance between the nipples) for that part of the pattern drafting. I used the instructions from Sempstress’s tutorial on setting gussets, which made it very straightforward.

Breast gussets pinned ready for sewing.

Breast gussets pinned ready for sewing.

Step Six: As you can see in the picture above, I began decorating the outer layers at this point.

  • Boning Channels: I decided to run a decorative stitch along the outer layer of the boning channels, just to make them pretty! I had a line of nylon boning on each side of the eyelets at the centre front, one line of boning on each side seam, and one line of boning running diagonally from under the arm, forward, to the bottom of the corset.

    The decorated boning channels and underbust cording

    The decorated boning channels and underbust cording

  • Cording: I did three lines of cording, with cotton cord, running horizontally under the bust on each side.
  • Decorative stitching: I added a bit of decorative machine embroidery stitching around the bust gussets. I also did some extra lines of this stitching along some of the back seams (see below).

    The bust gussets, with decorative stitching

    The bust gussets, with decorative stitching

  • Embroidery: Just because I love embroidery, I decided to draw out the outline of a little flower stem that I had in my stamp collection. Using a basic backstitch with some coloured embroidery thread, I followed the lines. So pretty!

    The Embroidery

    The embroidery on the side back panel. You can also see the decorative top stitch on the seam (to the left).

Step Seven: In order to complete the lining, I sewed the side back and the back pieces of the lining together. Then I laid it on top of the outer layers (wrong sides together) and sewed a decorative stitch as a topstitch along the back seam lines, through all the layers. For the side seams, the side back lining edge was folded under and pinned to the front lining edge, with the same decorative stitch being sewn through all layers. This seemed an easy way to get the lining attached without fiddling around too much with it!

Front view

Front view

Back view

Back view

Step Eight: The straps were attached. The eyelets were hand sewn and laced with a length of cotton cording. The garment was then bound with bias binding around the top and bottom edges and around the armholes.

It took a few hours for me to draft the pattern, almost two days to get the toile adjusted and looking right, and then three full days of my holidays to sew it. The total cost was approximately $12 AUD. As the fabric, sewing thread, embroidery thread, and boning, were already in my stash box, the only thing I actually bought was the cotton cording and the binding (which came to $5).

I am really pleased with the fit. It really does pay to do an accurate toile first for less fitting dramas later. And I am really pleased with how pretty it is!

For more Regency costumes, go to My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: How to draft a corset pattern

My Regency Journey: Corset Construction – construction of a pair of long stays.

Sources and Relevant Links

A pair of transitional stays (pictured), from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Another example of a cotton Regency corset (c. 1800-1825) – from the National Trust website

Cording a corset

How to set a triangular gusset – Sempstress

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

Making Hand Sewn Eyelets

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

Jane Austen Festival, Australia – website

Historical Sew-Fortnightly – hosted by Dreamstress

‘Short Stays’ Studies, by Kleidung um 1800 – a great blog post looking at a book published in 1810 by J.S. Bernhardt, on the construction of a ‘new’ sort of stays.

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I have finally made a second chemise! It only took a day to sew together, which is testament to the steep learning curve that happens when you sew your first garment. Having said that, it is quite an easy garment to put together and it is a nice comfortable layer to wear under a corset.

This chemise is constructed in the same way as my first one, but the only difference is that this one is a lot wider across the bust area and slightly longer. The width from underarm to underarm is 31 inches.

The width looks like a bit of overkill in this picture!

The width looks like a bit of overkill in this picture!

If you are interested in any of the construction information, see my previous post on making chemises, My Regency Journey: Making a Chemise.

The chemise complete, looking a bit more roomy than the last one.

The chemise complete, looking a bit more roomy than the last one.

It will be so handy to have a second chemise to wear at the Jane Austen Festival (Australia) this year!

For links to my other Regency costumes, go to My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: Making a Chemise

Sources and Relevant Links

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

Jane Austen Festival Australia – homepage

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