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Posts Tagged ‘Patterns of Fashion 1’

Two day dresses, c. 1848-49, with gathered skirts and long sleeved bodices.

Two weeks ago I was invited to participate in a Colonial Dance display team and I realised that I had nothing to wear that fitted the Colonial description. Strangely, even though the Australian colonial period spans from 1788 through to 1901, the style of dress that is considered iconically colonial (especially for dancing) is the 1850s and 1860s. Even so, I did not have enough time to make anything that required me to make a hoop (or any additional undergarments that I did not already have), so I decided to venture into the realm of the late 1840s.

During the 1840s, skirts had been gradually increasing in size with the help of several petticoats, often corded to enable them to stand out nicely. The first crinoline was not patented until 1856, so until then skirts were fairly limited in their width. The skirts of this era were generally cartridge pleated to a waistband or bodice to enable a large amount of fabric to be condensed to a small area. In most instances, the bodices were attached to the skirts to form one dress, rather than a separate skirt and bodice. This meant that openings were generally at the centre back.

I particularly wanted a front opening bodice with a separate skirt, which became more common in the 1850s. The picture shown above shows a dress on the right with buttons down the centre front, however I think these are decoration rather than functional.

Pattern

I used Jean Hunnisett’s book, Period Costume for Stage and Screen, as a reference for the skirt, and then looked at the 1840s dresses in Janet Arnold’s book, Patterns of Fashion 1. This gave me the general shape of the dress and some ideas of how to construct it.

I used three spans of material (selvedge to selvedge, 60 inches wide), cut to my chosen length (46 inches long, including an allowance for the hem and cartridge pleating). There were two panels on either side of the centre back (with a seam for the CB placket), and one more panel at the centre front.

The skirt panels, all folded in half lengthwise, with all three laying on top of one another. At the bottom is the waistband.

I used a light cotton fabric with a woven stripe, as well as some white cotton broadcloth inside the waistband and for the hem facing.

Construction Steps

Step One: All the skirt seams were sewn. The top of the centre back seam was left open 12 inches for the placket. I also decided to put a pocket into the right-hand seam at the side.

The finished pocket on the finished skirt. The pocket is attached to the waistband with a piece of twill tape.

Step Two: The waistband was sewn into a 1-inch-wide tube, and interlined with white cotton broadcloth. The ends of the waistband were turned in and slipstitched. The waistband has a finished length of 33 inches, which enabled a generous overlap at the back.

Step Three: The top of the skirt panels were neatened, then turned over 1 1/2 inches and cartridge pleated. I used two rows of stitches for my pleating, the rows being 1/4 inch apart, and the pleating stitches 1/4 inch apart, resulting in 1/4 inch deep pleats.

Step Four: The cartridge pleats were drawn up and then whipstitched to the waistband. I left the cartridge pleating stitches in to help them sit properly. A waistband hook and eye was used for fastening.

The 1/4 inch cartridge pleats sewn to the waistband. You can see the tiny stitches.

Historial Sewing has a great tutorial on cartridge pleating, so have a look there for all the finer details of how to do it!

Step Five: The hem was finished with a hem facing (5 inches deep) made from white cotton broadcloth. It was sewn right-sides together to the bottom of the skirt, then folded to the inside and hand sewn down.

This skirt took me two days to complete and is worn over a basic bridal petticoat without a hoop. This saved me having to make any undergarments.

The front view.

The back view, pinned at the waistband because this dress form is a bit too big.

Dappled sunlight does not really make for a good photo – I am sorry! Overall, I am very pleased with my skirt. It is not an elaborate skirt, like I usually like to make, however it works fine for a simple day ensemble – which is what it was supposed to be!

A late 1840s day bodice to match the skirt will be coming soon!

Related Posts

Making an Early 1870’s Gown: Skirts

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Two 1840s day dresses – Costume and Lace Museum

Period Costume for Stage and Screen: Patterns for Women’s Dress 1800-1909, by Jean Hunnisett – buy on Amazon

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

How to sew Cartridge Pleats – by Historical Sewing

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The next part of my latest 18th century ensemble is the closed-front robe a l’anglaise, with en fourreau pleats at the back.

The robe a l’anglaise was fashionable for an extended period of time during the 18th century. Literally, “the English gown”, it was characterised most generally by a fitted bodice, in contrast to the robe a la francaise which had a pleated-and-draped back that flowed free from the shoulders.

During the 18th century, the Anglaise often had a long centre-back panel piece, extending from the shoulder to the floor. This back piece was then formed into a series of sewn-down pleats on the dress bodice (the “en fourreau” back) which were then released to form fullness into the skirt of the gown.

Towards the later half of the 18th century, the gown began to be seen with a closed front bodice, even though the skirt could remain open revealing a matching or contrasting petticoat. The front of the gown could be closed with hook and eyes, or by long pins. The skirts could be trained, or pulled up polonaise-style, or left at the same length as the petticoat.

A robe a l'anglaise with an en fourreau back, c. 1770-1780, from Patterns of Fashion 1, by Janet Arnold.

A robe a l’anglaise with an en fourreau back, shown over a quilted petticoat, c. 1770-1780, from Patterns of Fashion 1, by Janet Arnold.

Pattern

The pattern I wanted to do for this dress was another of Janet Arnold’s patterns, in Patterns of Fashion 1. It has a closed front bodice, with an open skirt. The back is cut en fourreau, and the skirts are gathered up in a polonaise-style. The gown is shown over a quilted petticoat, whereas mine will be over a matching petticoat.

The pattern is made up of several pieces:

  • Front bodice panel
  • Front bodice lining panel
  • Back (bodice and skirt) panel
  • Back bodice lining panel
  • Sleeves
  • Shoulder band
  • Skirt Front

A few points to note: Janet Arnold’s patterns do not include seam allowances; and I always do a mock up of the bodice over the correct stays before I begin. In this case, I did a mock-up of the lining pieces so I had an accurate idea of how it would fit me and could adjust the pattern accordingly.

This gown is made with a printed cotton fabric and lined with white cotton broadcloth. It is entirely hand sewn.

Construction Steps

Step 1: The first place to start seemed with the en fourreau pleats in the back panel. I happened upon a great article by The Merry Dressmaker (En Fourreau Back – The Lazy Dressmaker’s Version) and decided that this was a great way to do it.

The back lining piece had a curved centre back seam to allow for fullness at the bottom of the bodice for a false rump, so this seam was sewn first. Then I began pleating the back panel, making sure I had the back lining piece to use as a comparison of finished size.

Most of these types of gowns had 3 pleats on each side of the back bodice. The first pleat was generally pleated into the middle of the back, and the second and third pleats were turned to the sides, however there are some instances where they were all pleated in towards the back. They tended to be curved pleats, which accentuated the slimming look of the waistline. It took me quite a few tries to get the pleating to look right.

The en fourreau pleats have been pinned down to the lining. (You can also see in this picture that the front panel has been pinned to the back panel at the sides as well.)

The en fourreau pleats have been pinned down to the lining.  The first pleats are curved and have been drawn into meet at the centre back. The second and third pleats are straight and have been folded in towards the centre back. (You can also see in this picture that the front bodice panel has been pinned to the back panel at the sides as well.)

Then I laid the back bodice lining piece underneath (wrong sides together) and did a running stitch through all layers to secure the pleats. The pleats are secured down to where the skirts begin, and are then released to allow the fullness into the skirt.

Step 2: The front bodice panel was then sewn to the sides of the back panel. I did this by laying the outer-fabric front panel with the outer-fabric back pleated panel, right sides together. The front lining panel was put with the back lining panel, also right sides together. This created a seam with four layers. Then the seam was pinned and sewn through all thicknesses.

The front panels are pinned to the back panels.

The front panel in the outer-fabric can be seen on the left. The front panel in lining fabric can be seen to the right. The seam (in the middle) is sewn through all thickness, which means the seam allowance is pushed towards the side.

This means that, once the front panels are placed together, the raw seam allowance is already hidden within the lining of the garment.

Step 3: The skirt panels were sewn together, front skirts to back skirt-bodice piece. I left a 10-inch gap in the top of the side seams for a pocket slit.

The skirts are then pleated and sewn (right sides together) to the outer fabric. The skirts do not meet in the front, as there is a large opening for the petticoat to be seen.

Interestingly, Janet Arnold comments that the skirts of her gown were sewn to the lining fabric and then the outer fabric was pulled down, the raw edges folded in, and then caught down to the waist seam (on the outside of the garment) with some stitches.

The skirt is pleated and attached to the bodice.

The skirt is pleated and attached to the bodice. You can see the second row of stitches that holds the pleats in position.

Step 4: Once my skirt was sewn on, the bodice lining was pulled down, with raw edges folded under, and stitched down with a slip stitch.

The lining is pinned down ready to sew.

The lining is pinned down ready to sew. You can see the running stitches that secure the en fourreau pleats on the left. On the bottom right, you can see that the skirts stop very short of the centre front.

Step 5: The centre front bodice could be finished by folding the raw edges in and edge stitching. Instead, I folded the outer fabric over the lining and sewed it down with a slip stitch. I then inserted a very thin piece of boning down each side of the centre fronts. Boning in the centre front does not seem to be a common practice, however boning was often inserted in the backs of these bodices. I just thought that a more firm centre front bodice would help me with fastening.

Initially I had wanted the centre front to be fastened edge-to-edge with hooks and eyes, but I changed my mind when I couldn’t get the hooks and eyes to sit properly. I ended up making a bit of overlap on the left centre front piece so that the right edge could be pinned over the top, to match up the stripes more accurately.

The centre front closure, shown closed with two pins.

The centre front closure, shown with right overlapping left, and closed with only two pins. I had used about 6 pins during wear.

Step 6: The sleeves were flat-lined with cotton broadcloth, and the sleeve seams sewn through all thickness. The seam allowances were then folded under and slip stitched down.

The sleeves were then attached to the bodice with a backstitch, ONLY under the arm. For an explanation of how to fit sleeves the 18th century way, American Duchess has done a great tutorial which I found very useful!

There is also a great video on how to pattern sleeves to have greater mobility in garments, particularly in fitted bodices. I found this a great video, as it explains to me why the shape of sleeves look so different in historical garment pattern pieces. I used this technique in this gown, and it greatly increased my arm movement!

Step 7: The sleeve head was then pleated to fit over the shoulder and the shoulder band was stitched on top. Once again, see the American Duchess tutorial for a great explanation of this technique.

The finished sleeve head

The finished sleeve head.

The bottom of the sleeve was hemmed and finished with trim.

Step 8: The back top edge of the bodice in Janet Arnold’s book was finished by turning the raw edges in and edge stitching, however my en fourreau pleats were sewn to the lining and prevented me from doing this. I decided to cover it with a “back-binder” piece, common for gowns of this period. There is a gown in Costume Close-Up (by Linda Baumgarten) that is constructed in this way.

The back-binder piece

The back-binder piece

If you look closely you will see that the back binder piece does not join the shoulder band properly, however by that stage I was happy that it covered the raw edges!

The rest of the raw edges of the bodice (along the neckline and along the front of the waist) were turned in and edge-stitched.

Step 9: Finishing touches! The bottom edge of the gown was hemmed, allowing for a slight train if left down.

The front edges of the gown skirts and the neckline were finished with trim.

The trim around the neckline.

The trim around the neckline.

Four tapes were sewn to the inside of the gown skirts; two on the bottom of the back bodice, and two on the skirts at the back. These can be tied together to create a polonaise effect over the false rump.

The tapes sewn to the inside of the skirts, and tied up to form a polonaise.

The tapes sewn to the inside of the skirts, and tied up to form a polonaise.

Here are some of the finished pictures from the Jane Austen Festival Australia, 2016. This outfit was worn on the Georgian Day of the Festival.

The Front

The front view; I ended up wearing my pockets over the top of the petticoat, but under the gown. This meant that they could be easily reached through the front of the gown, instead of through the pocket slits.

The side view

The side view

The back view. The fichu is a little crooked!

The back view. When the polonaise is down, the skirt trains slightly on the ground. And sorry, but the fichu is annoyingly crooked!

The gown is shown here with my pair of embroidered lawn ruffles, my embroidered muslin fichu and my embroidered pockets (sitting over the petticoat but hiding under the gown). I am very pleased with the outfit overall!

Related Posts

Does My Bum Look Big in This? – Making an 18th Century Rump

Making a Robe a l’Anglaise: Matching Petticoat

Sources and Relevant Links

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

En Fourreau Back – The Lazy Dressmaker’s Version, by The Merry Dressmaker

Setting 18th Century Sleeves the 18th Century Way – by American Duchess

How to modify sleeves for better arm mobility – video by Threads Magazine

Costume Close-up: Clothing Construction and Pattern, 1750-1790, by Linda Baumgarten- on Amazon

Classic Georgian Hairstyle – by Locks of Elegance

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A robe a l'anglaise, with a matching petticoat, from MET Museum.

A robe a l’anglaise, with a closed front and a matching petticoat, c. 1785-95, from The MET Museum.

This year I have had a long list of costumes planned to make, but a Robe a l’Anglaise was not one of them. However, I quickly changed my mind when a friend decided to make one and it became convenient and easy to work on the project together!

The robe a l’anglaise was fashionable for an extended period of time during the 18th century. Literally, “the English gown”, it was characterised most generally by a fitted bodice, in contrast to the robe a la francaise which had a pleated-and-draped back that flowed free from the shoulders.

A gown cut en fourreau, from MET Museum.

A robe a l’anglaise, with the back cut en fourreau, c. 1776, from The MET Museum.

The Anglaise saw many different variations through the 18th century: open and closed bodices; long and elbow-length sleeves; worn polonaise style; etc… During this time, the Anglaise often had a long centre-back panel piece, extending from the shoulder to the floor. This back piece was then formed into a series of sewn-down pleats on the dress bodice (the “en fourreau” back) which were then released to form fullness into the skirt of the gown. Towards the end of the gown’s popularity, the bodice was cut separately to the skirts and attached with a waist seam.

Another transition in this gown was with the front. Gowns that had been worn open to reveal a stomacher earlier in the century, began to be worn closed, either pinned or closed with hooks and eyes. The skirts could also be closed in front (called a “round gown”), or be worn open to reveal a matching or contrasting petticoat.

For this particular costume, I decided that I wanted a petticoat to match the gown, and with a pinked flounce. It also needed to have pocket slits so that I could wear my new pockets!

The petticoat

The petticoat, c. 1775-1785, in Patterns of Fashion 1, by Janet Arnold.

Pattern

In looking for a suitable pattern for a petticoat, I went with one in Janet Arnold’s book, Patterns of Fashion 1. It is dated 1775-1785 and is part of a matching petticoat/gown set. It is a very basic skirt pattern, made up of a large rectangle of material (pieced where necessary).

The FINISHED WIDTH of the front panel of my petticoat (not allowing for seam allowances) was 62 inches wide (and then made as long as I needed it for my height). The back panel was exactly the same as the front.

This gown is made of a cotton printed material, and is completely handsewn.

Construction Steps

Step 1: After you have cut out the large rectangles that make up the skirt, sew the side seams together. I had to piece several pieces of material together to get the required width, but I made sure I had two side seams to make allowing for the pocket slits easier. The top 10 inches of the petticoat side seams were left open for the pocket slits. All seams are either on the selvedge or flat-felled.

Step 2: Pleat the top of the front panel onto a waistband. My pleats start from the centre front and go out to the sides. Pleat the back panel in the same manner with a second waistband. Often petticoats of this era could also be attached to a length of twill tape as a waistband.

Step 3: After finishing the waistband, attach ties to the ends of both the back and front waistbands. I made an eyelet through each end of each waistband and then tied a length of cotton tape to it.

The two halves of the waistband, with ties on each end.

The two halves of the waistband (back and front), with ties on each end.

Step 4: Hem the bottom edge of the petticoat. I inserted some cord into the hem to help it stand out better.

The hem, with a length of cord threaded through the hem casing.

The hem, with a length of cord threaded through the hem casing.

Step 5: Using pinking shears, pink the flounce with a scallop at the top and a zigzag at the bottom. Attach the flounce. My flounce is 9 inches deep, and twice the length of the bottom of the petticoat. It is box-pleated to fit the petticoat, and it should only just overhang the hem.

The flounce, box-pleated to fit.

The flounce, box-pleated to fit.

Step 6: Add any trim. My trim is just a piece of plain gimp-like braid with a ribbon threaded through it at intervals.

The trim; a length of gimp-like braid with ribbon threaded through it.

The trim: a length of gimp-like braid with ribbon threaded through it.

The finished pictures!

The front, shown over my hip roll.

The front, shown over my hip roll. The front half is tied around the waist first, and the back half is tied around the waist second.

The side view. Because the petticoat is not shown with my stays, you can see the pocket slits in the side.

The side view. As the petticoat is not shown with my stays, you can see that it doesn’t quite fit the dummy. There is normally a bit of an overlap between the front half and the back half. The pocket slits can be seen in the side.

I was quite pleased with the end result, though I do think I need another plain petticoat underneath (over the hip roll) to help with the skirt’s body.

Look out for the next post in this series, the closed-front gown to match. – coming soon!

Related Posts

Does my Bum Look Big In This? – Making an 18th Century Rump

An 18th Century Robe a l’anglaise – a very early and non-historical attempt!

How Heavy is Too Heavy for a Dress? – about a quilted petticoat

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Robe a l’Anglaise, c. 1785-95, from The MET Museum

Image Source: Robe a l’Anglaise, c. 1776, from The MET Museum

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

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A Regency spencer (c. 18), from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

A Regency spencer (c. 1815), from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Once you have made a supply of Regency gowns, the next thing to try making is something to keep you warm during those promenades around town. I had been wanting to try making a Regency spencer for a while and I had a small piece of velvet in my stash that I wanted to use for it.

I found a pattern for a Regency pelisse (c. 1820) in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 1, and so I decided to just use the top half and turn it into a spencer. The only significant (and tricky) alteration I made was to make a peplum for the back. Both the outer fabric and the lining are cotton, and the interlining is cotton flannel. The trims are made from velvet and satin.

This garment fits in nicely with the Historical Sew-Fortnightly Challenge #20: Outerwear.

Pattern

The pattern pieces are:

  • Front
  • Side Back
  • Back (with the peplum I fashioned myself)
  • Collar
  • Sleeve
  • Sleeve cuff
  • Mancheron (or upper over-sleeve)

Some pattern pieces are not shown in the photo below. These are the sleeve head (cut from calico), and the two belts that go around the waist. Any extra “bits” are described in the steps below.

Pattern pieces for spencer

Pattern pieces for the spencer

Construction Steps

Step 1: Treating the lining material and the flannel interlining as one, piece together the side seams (there are two; the side-back seam and side-front seam) and shoulder seams. Note that when sewing the side-back panel to the back panel, leave sufficient seam allowance at the bottom of the garment to attach the pleated peplum later.

When sewing the side back panel to the back panel, it helps to draw the sewing line in tailors chalk.

When sewing the side back panel to the back panel, it helps to draw the sewing line in tailors chalk. This will help to see where to stop stitching so the peplum can be stitched properly to the bottom of the garment.

Press the back seam allowances to the side. Repeat for the outer material.

Step 2: Sew three front darts in either side of the front panel for both the lining layers and outer layer.

Step 3: I made up two strips of velvet, with piping along the edges, to be sewn to each side of the centre front. However, the pattern produced by Janet Arnold is complete without it. In her example, the decorative centre front strip is mounted on top of the fabric on one side only.

The centre front velvet panel is sewn in.

The centre front velvet panel is sewn in, and the lining and outer layers are arranged right sides facing.

Step 4: Sew the collar seam at the centre back and then sew the two layers of collar pieces together, right sides facing. You may want to add piping along the seam, as I have.

Collar pieces sewn up

Collar pieces sewn up

The collar is then turned right side out and sewn to the garment. Instead of attaching this collar in the normal way, I laid both layers of the collar in between the lining and outer fabrics of the spencer and sewed through all layers. This made the neck seam less bulky when using velvet.

The collar is pinned ready to sew. Note how the piping from the collar and the centre front are positioned to create a continuous look.

The collar is pinned ready to sew. Note how the piping from the collar and the piping from the centre front are positioned to create a continuous line.

Step 5: While the outer layer and the lining layers were still inside out, I sewed around the bottom of the spencer, between the side back seam and the front, stopping where the velvet trim begins. I also sewed the bottom edge of the peplum. Then I turned the garment in the right way.

Step 5: Treating the lining and outer fabric as one, pleat the peplum and attach to the bottom of the side back panel of the outer fabric, along the waistline. Clip the seam allowance to make it easier.

This is the lining layers of the back of the garment. The flannelette interlining stops at the waist, so that the peplum does not have interlining. You can see the seam allowance clipped to allow the peplum to be pleated and sewn.

This is the lining layers of the back of the garment. The flannelette interlining stops at the waist, so that the peplum does not have interlining. You can see the seam allowance clipped to allow the peplum to be pleated and sewn.

On the right, both layers of the peplum have been sewn to the outer fabric. On the left, the peplum is sewn in and the lining pinned ready to handsew.

On the right, both layers of the peplum have been sewn to the outer fabric. On the left, the peplum is sewn in and the lining pinned ready to handsew.

Step 6: Attach the calico sleeve head to the top of the sleeve, and then sew side seams.

The sleeve head sewn to the sleeve.

The sleeve head sewn to the sleeve.

Attach the velvet cuffs. You may like to sew piping along the edges as I have done. Once again, the pattern piece is complete without the need for cuffs. In Janet Arnold’s example the decorative edging on the cuff area was mounted on top of the fabric.

Step 7: The mancherons (or upper over-sleeves) are lined with black net to stiffen them. The horseshoe-shaped areas are cut out and bound with bias binding.

Binding the horseshoe cutout sections of the mancheron.

Binding the horseshoe cutout sections of the mancheron.

Gather the bottom edge of the mancheron and attach binding to cover this raw edge. (Hint: Make sure this bottom edge will fit around the upper part of your arm!)

Make the decorative piped band that will be used to ruche up the mancheron. You may want to experiment with different ways to do this, otherwise I have a tutorial on how I constructed mine (How to make a piped band). These should be attached to the head of the mancheron and tucked under the horseshoe cutouts to be sewn in place.

Step 8: Gather the mancheron to fit the sleeve by using small tucks. Fold the side edges (underarm area) of the mancheron under and sew to the outside of the sleeve. According to Janet Arnold, this reduces the bulk of material under the arm. Then, treating the sleeve and mancheron as one, gather the sleeve head to fit the armhole (again using small tucks) and sew to the garment.

Mancheron and sleeve completed

Mancheron and sleeve completed

Underarm view

Underarm view: the mancheron is also pleated under the arm to ruche it up.

Step 9: Two belts should be cut to fit from the side back seam to the centre front. I attached piping around the velvet waistband and lined them using the same lining material as the garment. In the original pelisse, this belt does not appear to be attached except at the back with a button, but because this is a spencer and I did not want the waistband to sag or ride up, I handstitched it in place.

Step 10: The spencer is fastened at the front with hidden loop buttonholes and covered buttons. After these were attached, I handsewed the centre front lining down.

Inside the centre front

Inside the centre front

Unfortunately the centre front opens slightly, so I may attach some hooks and eyes to keep it flat. However, it is finished!

Front view

Front view

IMG_4383

Back view

This garment is fairly historically accurate as far as the pattern and look of the garment is concerned. It took many hours (probably 30 or 40) to complete, mostly because I spent a lot of time on a toile to get it to fit nicely and then again experimenting with the trim. Having a baby in the middle of the project didn’t help either! The total cost of the project was about $40 AUD, and I am hoping to wear this garment for next years Jane Austen Festival in Australia.

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

Related Posts

How to make a piped band

Sources and Relevant Links

Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy on Amazon

Image Source: from Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

How to make and attach your own piping

Making fabric looped buttonholes

Historical Sew-Fornightly – hosted by Dreamstress

Jane Austen Festival, Australia

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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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I decided to make a second chemisette for this years Jane Austen Festival, using Janet Arnold’s pattern (A. c. 1800-25) in Patterns of Fashion 1. I have also joined a Historical Sew-Fortnightly, hosted by Dreamstress, which I am hoping will help me sew more historical garments through the year. This garment is for the #1 challenge – making something that would have been worn in __13, in my case it is for the year 1813.

A Regency chemisette, from the Snowsill Manor

A Regency chemisette, from the Snowsill Manor

For my previous chemisette, I had used the same pattern but had mistakenly thought that the garment required pin-tucks down the entire centre front. After seeing a picture of the garment online (pictured right), it could be seen that there were instead just small tucks in the material along the shoulder seam.

So I made a series of 1/8″ tucks every 1.5cm or so along the shoulder of the front panel. This created a type of gathered puffy look to the front, which I presume was to give a bit of shape or movement to a garment that really has no shape at all.

The shoulder seam tucks in the front panel.

The shoulder seam tucks in the front panel.

The fabric I used was premium cotton muslin, which is nice and thin and resembles the weight of the fabrics used in period chemisettes. For some reason, the cotton lawn and cambric made these days does not seem as thin as it seems from extant examples.

The construction steps were virtually the same as my previous chemisette. One of the main differences was in the construction of the frill. For my first attempt last year, I had used a pre-pleated organza lace as the frill, but this time I decided to try pleating a length of cambric lace with some Broderie Anglaise on it. The frill has two layers, graduated in height, attached to a length of cotton tape 20mm wide.

One layer of lace, pleated and pinned to a length of cotton tape.

One layer of lace, pleated, ironed and pinned to a length of cotton tape.

The finished chemisette has a lovely striking collar, which stands up nicely! It is not really period correct, as I have not seen embroidery on collars like this in any extant examples and usually the pleating is much finer (mushroom pleating), but this was at least easy to construct and will be easy to re-iron after laundering!

Collar frill detail

Collar frill detail

I also threaded some wooden beads onto the ends of the cotton cords which tie up the neckline, which looks a bit more interesting than just having knotted cord. The bottom edge is tied together with a length of 5mm cotton tape.

The finished chemisette!

The finished chemisette!

I was quite pleased with the effect! This only took two days to complete (maybe 16 hours in total) and cost $8 AUD to make. I would like to try the second Regency chemisette pattern (B. c. 1800-25) in Janet Arnold’s book next time.

If you would like more information on the construction of my chemisettes, go to my previous post, My Regency Journey: Making a Chemisette. To see more of my Regency costuming, go to My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: Making a Chemisette

Sources and Relevant Links

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

The pictured Regency chemisette, from the Snowsill Wade Collection

Jane Austen Festival Australia – website

Historical Sew-Fortnightly – hosted by Dreamstress

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After recovering from the disappointment of my robe a l’anglaise being too small, I busied myself with making a caraco jacket.

Like my robe a l’anglaise, this jacket was also made from a curtain I had found at a second-hand shop. It had been in my stash for a while and, whilst I loved the grey stripes, I was unsure of how to use it because there was not enough material to make a full gown. That is when I had the idea of making a shorter 18th century jacket, commonly used for daywear.

Pattern:

A matching caraco jacket and petticoat (c.1770-1780), from The Victoria and Albert Museum.

After doing a bit of research, I found several useful patterns in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion, which gave me a good idea of how much material I would need and how jackets like these were constructed during the eighteenth century.

Caraco jackets were styled in the same way as a gown but the skirts were trimmed shorter, usually about mid-thigh length. Other types of jackets were trimmed even shorter than this. The jacket was then worn over stays, panniers or a false rump, and usually a matching petticoat.

Construction:

Janet Arnold gives some basic directions for assembling a caraco jacket (c. 1775-1785) in her book.

First, I completely unpicked the curtain and measured it before cutting it. I knew that I had to take into account that the pattern would need to be made bigger to fit me, and that I needed to match the obvious stripes in the material.

Then I basically sewed together the centre back and side seams of the fabric and lining separately, and then sewed the two layers together around the neckline. Then I attached the sleeves, which I ended up deciding not to line. I deliberated on how to adjust the front so that I could include a stomacher, and all that was left to do was to sew a bar across the top of the back and side pleats, hem the bottom, and attach any trims.

The Finished Result:

Here is the finished result, shown with the petticoat that was made to match my robe a l’anglaise, and the embroidered stomacher that I have just completed.

The front

The back

And for some of the trimming detail…

The trim detail

For a remake of second-hand curtains, I think this outfit has turned out very nicely! Now, I just need to finish embroidering a pair of lawn ruffles to go around the sleeves.

Related Posts

Making a Stomacher

An 18th Century Robe a l’anglaise

Panniers: An 18th Century Reproduction of a Sacque-backed dress

Sources and Relevant Links

Caraco jacket with matching petticoat (c.1770-1780), from Victoria and Albert Museum

Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s Dresses and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy through Amazon

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