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Posts Tagged ‘Patterns of Fashion 1’

Early on, I had decided that I needed to make a new stomacher to match my 18th century robe a l’anglaise. The original one I had made 12 years ago was completed using quick and easy ribbon embroidery and appliqued lace motifs, mainly so that I could wear it immediately to a ball. But once I found out that the dress no longer fitted me, I decided to make a caraco jacket.

An embroidered stomacher (c. 1700-1729), displayed in Victoria and Albert Museum. (Image source below.)

Caraco jackets were worn as day wear in the last half of the eighteenth century. They were styled similarly to a gown but the skirts were trimmed off at mid-thigh level, with a petticoat worn underneath. Some would meet in the middle, fastened with hidden hooks and eyes, but others were worn open and had a decorative stomacher displayed at the front. Since I really like the idea of a pretty piece of handiwork displayed on the bosom, I decided to make another stomacher that would match my new jacket!

Stomachers were often worn during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, though they did change shape a little throughout the period, depending on the fashion. They were triangular shaped pieces of material, either boned or unboned, usually pinned in place at the front of the bodice. They were often elaborately decorated, using many different methods and items such as embroidery, bows, pleated ruffles, braid, lace or sequins.

My Pattern:

Using a stomacher pattern in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 1 for inspiration, I drew out a pattern on tissue paper and cut out two pieces of calico and one piece of outer fabric. I researched common embroidery patterns for stomachers and drew out a pattern for this on the tissue paper.

The pattern

Construction:

The two layers of calico were placed together and boning channels sewn through all layers. As you can see from the picture, the stomacher is fully boned. Once the embroidered outer layer was completed, it was laid on top of the boned layer and the edges bound with satin bias binding.

The back of the finished stomacher

Embroidery:

After a lot of deliberation, I decided to stretch my embroidery skills to long and short stitch, and try embroidering a carnation with some buds in true eighteenth century style! The V-shaped border and the stem of the carnation was done with a whipped chain stitch, and the scrolling curves at the sides were done with backstitch. The leaves were done in a satin stitch, creating a groove where the stitches met in the middle of the leaf.

The front!

I am VERY VERY pleased with the result! I have never been good at embroidery, but I have spent a lot of time practising with very simple plain stitches to create some good effects on my costumes. I never thought I would be able to do this so well!

Now all that remains is to finish off my caraco jacket!

Relevant Posts

An 18th Century Robe A l’anglaise

Stays from the 18th Century

Sources and Relevant Links

V&A Stomacher Image from In Jane Austen’s England

Embroidered Stomachers, c. 1700-1729, from the Victoria and Albert Museum

Embroidered Stomachers, c. 1700-1725, from the Victoria and Albert Museum

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

Long and Short Stitch Tutorial – on Youtube

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A Regency chemisette from the Snowsill Collection

The seventh stop on my Regency Journey is to make a chemisette to go underneath my day dresses.

In the Regency era, a chemisette was commonly worn underneath a morning dress to fill in the neckline. It covered the visible shoulders and chest to make the outfit appear more modest. They were usually made of a fine lawn or cambric, or a thin muslin.

Other acceptable garments to properly cover the exposed neck and chest included a fichu or neck scarf.

In contrast, evening gowns were much more revealing, with the dresses cut very low around the bust and the sleeves worn quite short.

Making a Chemisette

I used the pattern for a chemisette (dated from 1800-1825) in Patterns of Fashion 1, by Janet Arnold.

Two chemisettes; pictured in Patterns of Fashion 1, by Janet Arnold.

First, I traced and cut out the pattern on 1/4 inch grid paper.

The front and back sections traced on grid paper.

Then I made small vertical tucks to the front panel, from the shoulder seam to the bottom edge. Unfortunately Janet Arnold does not show exactly how these were done in this example, so I made them up myself! I did ten 1/8″ tucks, spaced 1 inch apart.

Once the front panel fitted the back panel smoothly, I sewed the shoulder seam, using a flat felled seam.

The shoulder seams sewn, with the vertical tucks in the front panels.

I hemmed the side seams (where the arms go) and the centre front opening, and then sewed a casing along the bottom edge for a drawstring or ribbon to go through. Once the ribbon was threaded through the casing, I sewed a stitch in the casing at the centre back to anchor the drawstring.

I cheated a little for the mushroom-pleated frill, using a mushroom-pleated length of organza lace I had in my lace stash. I attached two lines of the lace to a piece of ribbon (1cm wide). One line of the lace was sewn to one edge of the ribbon, and the other line of lace to the other edge, so that one layer nicely overlapped the other. Then the “lace collar” was attached to the bodice so that the right side of the lace was on visible to the outside when the frill was folded down.

A close-up of the lace frill, with the one layer peeping out beneath the other layer.

Janet Arnold has instructions on how to make the frill if you are not inclined to cheat like me! Use a 90 inch length of material cut on the straight grain (2 and 1/4″ wide at the centre back graduating to 1 and 1/2″ wide at the centre front). There are three layers of frill in her left-hand picture and two layers in the right-hand sketch. These layers are then mushroom-pleated onto tapes which are then fitted onto the collar. Mushroom-pleating is a very fine tight pleat that resembles the underside of a mushroom.

To finish it off, I added two lengths of cord at the top of the centre front to do up the chemisette.

The finished chemisette!

Looking very Regency!

The next stop on my Regency Journey will be to make a ball gown.

To read 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

My Regency Journey: Making a Morning Negligee

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

Sewing Pin Tucks

How to do flat-felled seams

Mushroom pleating

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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