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Posts Tagged ‘Regency costumes’

Image from Oregon Regency Society

Image from Oregon Regency Society

This March my family and I will be venturing out in public in all our Regency regalia! The 2nd Annual Melbourne Regency Picnic will be held on March 6th and I am very excited to go for the first time. It will be a lovely relaxing day out for our family, but the bit that is not as relaxing is getting all the children “kitted out” before then!

I decided to start with my youngest daughter, a sweet 5-year-old, and make her a quick costume using a pattern I have done before.

Pattern

The pattern for this dress is a free one available online, and it is the one I have used before, in “How to make a Basic Regency Girl’s Dress”. It requires scaling up, but it is fairly easy to put together using modern dressmaking methods.

I made some slight alterations to the pattern for this gown, such as omitting the thin side bodice panel, and bringing the drawstring casing all the way around the waistline (rather than only to the side seams).

Construction

The steps that I used were very similar to that for the basic Regency girl’s dress I have done before, so I will not detail all of the steps again here. Instead I will briefly outline some of the features that I decided on for this outfit.

Features of this dress:

  • Simple bodice, with a centre front panel and two back panels;
  • Slightly flared skirt, with lace around the bottom (and a deep hem for later taking-down);
  • Short sleeves, with the fullness pleated over the sleeve head, the bottom edge ungathered and finished with a lace edging;
  • Drawstring casing around the neckline and the waistline, which fastens with ties at the back.

This was a nice, quick weekend project, and the best part is that little girls need very little fitting!

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

A lovely floral fervour for my littlest flower-petal!

Related Posts

How to make a Basic Regency Girl’s Dress

Drafting a Pattern for a Girl’s Regency gown

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Costumes for a Regency Child, from The Oregon Regency Society

Free pattern for a girl’s Regency dress – on Regency Society of America forum board

The 2nd Annual Melbourne Regency Picnic – the Event, from the Facebook page

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Midshipman Robert Deans (1790-1867), oil painting by the British School, 19th century

Midshipman Robert Deans (1790-1867), oil painting by the British School – 1807

In this series of posts, I have been making the elements of a midshipman uniform employed in the British Navy during the years 1795 to 1812. In this post, I have been working on a cutaway tailcoat that was worn by midshipman during this period.

The midshipman tailcoat transitioned from before the 1790’s, when the front buttoned edge formed a large curve from the collar-bone, in to the sternum (where it would be fastened with often only two buttons), and then falling out past the waist and around to the back of the knees.

In contrast to this, the cutaway coat had a straight button-up front, where all of the buttons were functional, but at the belly there was a horizontal edge out to the pelvic bone, then beginning a curve down to behind the knees.

(c) National Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

A Portrait of a Midshipman – 1810 (c) National Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation. Note that the double-breasted nature of the coat is incorrect.

The coat of a midshipman also had a high stand-up collar, with the white patch (with a button) of a midshipman rank. There were three decorative buttons on the cuffs, three decorative buttons underneath the corners of the flap pocket, a button to hold each of the two back pleats, and functional buttons down the centre front.

The above painting of Midshipman Deans (1807) is the clearest picture of the coat that I can find, as midshipmen portraits often only included the face and torso.

Hornblower had Pellew’s order as acting-lieutenant for two months now. Tomorrow he would take his examination. If he should pass the admiral would confirm the order the next day, and Hornblower would be a lieutenant with two months’ seniority already. But if he should fail! That would mean he had been found unfit for lieutenant’s rank. He would revert to midshipman, the two months’ seniority would be lost, and it would be six months at least before he could try again. Eight months’ seniority was a matter of enormous importance. It would affect all his subsequent career. 

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, by C.S. Forester

I used the 1790's coat pattern in Norah Waugh's "Cut of Men's Clothes" as one of my references.

I used the 1790’s coat pattern in Norah Waugh’s “Cut of Men’s Clothes” as one of my references, particularly regarding pocket placement, sleeve shape, and the back pleating.

Pattern

In deciding what sort of pattern to use, I spent a bit of time researching coats from the 1790-1800 time frame. I looked particularly at the construction details in the 3-pointed-flap-pockets and the arrangement of the pleats. I found examples in the books Costume Close-up, by Linda Baumargarten and The Cut of Men’s Clothes, by Norah Waugh, and I also looked at as many paintings of midshipmen as I could find. (The downside with the paintings was that they rarely showed a full shot of the coat.)

Once I had determined where I wanted the seams and how high around the neck to have the collar, I laid the lining on my son’s body and “draped”, cutting a large allowance for seams (in case of mistakes!). Once the lining was pinned and adjusted to fit, I used these pieces to cut out the outer material.

This coat was made from navy woollen fabric (I think it was a wool/poly blend, actually). It was lined with ivory cotton broadcloth, and the buttons were a metal gold colour with a fouled anchor imprint on them.

Construction

For more step-by-step detail on making a tailcoat, you can refer to my similar post, MY Mr Knightley: Making a Regency Tailcoat. Several elements of this midshipman’s coat were done differently to my previous tailcoat, in particular the collar, the back pleats, and the pockets. Unfortunately my progress pictures were lost when I misplaced my camera’s SD card, so I am not able to include as much detail as I had planned to. Hopefully when I find them I can add them later!

Step One: The centre back seam, side seams and shoulder seams were sewn, for both the outer material and the lining.

Step Two: The sleeves were sewn together and attached to the coat. The sleeve lining was handsewn in to cover the raw edges of the sleeve seam, which had been pressed towards the sleeve.

Step Three: The pockets were made similar to a welt pocket (except without the outer welt). I made a slash through the outer fabric (not the lining) and then sewed one pocket-sized piece of broadcloth to the upper edge of the slash and one to the lower edge. These were turned to the inside, where the sides and bottom edges of the pocket pieces were sewn together. A three-cornered flap was then sewn to cover the slash, with three buttons decorating it.

The three-cornered flap pocket

The three-cornered flap pocket

Step Four: Around the tails of the coat and up to the cutaway area at the centre front, the raw edges of the lining and outer fabric were turned to the inside and handsewn with a topstitch. This was also done with the raw edges of the seams to be pleated in the tails. Once the raw edges of these seams had been sewn in, I made the pleats, pressed them, and hand sewed the seams together with a whipstitch. This seemed to help them sit flatter, but the wool does need a good deal of pressing to get it to pleat properly! Buttons were sewn at the top of the pleats to help hold them in place.

Step Five: The collar was lined with ivory cotton broadcloth and sewn to the neckline of the coat. I used a very similar pattern as I used for the collar of the waistcoat.

The midshipman patches were made using some white cotton broadcloth. Two layers were sewn together and then turned right-side-out. Buttonhole stitching was done across the centre of the patch and a small button sewn to the end of the patch. Then it was handsewn in place on the collar.

The midshipman badge on the collar.

The midshipman badge on the collar.

Step Six: The raw edges were turned in at the centre front and then handsewn with a topstitch through all thicknesses. The buttonholes were handsewn and buttons attached.

The buttonholes are handsewn with buttonhole stitch.

The buttonholes are handsewn with buttonhole stitch.

Step Six: The cuffs were made with only one layer of wool, just to make it a bit thinner. They were attached to the end of the sleeve and then turned up. Three gold-coloured metal buttons were sewn through all thicknesses to keep the cuff in place. Apparently as young lads’ arms grew longer, these buttons could be removed and the cuff pulled down to lengthen the sleeve, and then the buttons were reapplied.

The cuffs, with the non-functional buttons sewn on through the sleeve to hold the cuff in place.

The cuffs, with the non-functional buttons sewn on through the sleeve to hold the cuff in place.

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

I am very happy with the way the coat turned out. It does seem to attract a bit of dust and fluff, and could have done with a little brush before the photos!

It also probably should have been made a little bigger, as I think this little midshipman will grow out of it quite quickly. The other thing to note is that the collar on the waistcoat should have come up closer to the base of the neck, as it doesn’t quite sit properly with the coat collar.

For my next post in this series, I plan to make a midshipman’s full dress bicorn! But first, a sailor’s tarred hat.

For more details on my costuming posts, visit my page Costumes.

Related Posts

The Making of a Midshipman – the introduction

MY Mr Knightly: Making a Regency Tailcoat

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Midshipman Robert Deans (1807) – at Royal Museums Greenwich

Image Source: A Portrait of a Midshipman (1810) – at BBC: Your Paintings (Painting details online at Royal Museums Greenwich – where it states that the double-breasted jacket is incorrect.)

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

The Cut of Men’s Clothes, by Norah Waugh – buy on Amazon

Sewing a Welt Pocket – by Craftsy

Buttons of the UK’s Royal navy – by Diana’s Buttons

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A British navy waistcoat, after 1812.

A British navy waistcoat, worn by either a captain or commander, (circa. after 1812).

In this series I have been making a midshipman uniform for my 9-year-old son. The period I am focussing on for this uniform is the years between 1795-1812. In this particular post I have been working on a waistcoat.

This dear William would soon be amongst them. There could be no doubt of his obtaining leave of absence immediately, for he was still only a midshipman; and as his parents, from living on the spot, must already have seen him and be seeing him perhaps daily, his direct holidays might with justice be instantly given to his sister, who had been his best correspondent through a period of seven years…

Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen

One of the difficulties I am facing is that not many extant midshipmen uniforms have survived, so it is a little more difficult to find out the exact regulations for the the time period than merely looking at museum pieces. There are also less pictures (both paintings and cartoons) of midshipmen versus those of higher naval rank. I am also working to a deadline, as my son would like to wear this uniform next month for “Book Week” at his school. This deadline has squashed any desire in me to search for copies of British Navy regulations to peruse!

A Portrait of a Midshipman, by Sir Martin Archer Slee.

A Portrait of a Midshipman, by Sir Martin Archer Shee.

The British navy uniform included a white, woven wool, single-breasted waistcoat for all its officers. This waistcoat featured an upstanding collar, pockets (flap pockets earlier in the period and welt pockets later), and brass buttons. The Royal Museums Greenwich states that the pattern on the buttons indicate the rank and status of the wearer, and Diana’s Buttons have a useful summary of the British naval buttons through the 18th and 19th centuries. The waistcoat could be lined with cotton or silk, backed with cotton, and with the fronts and facings (if they had facings) in wool. Waistcoats of this era also often had tapes (or eyelets and cord) at the back for adjustment.

Pattern

My pattern inspiration initially came from the all the extant waistcoats I could find. None of these are identified as midshipmen waistcoats, and the paintings of midshipman don’t always show the waistcoat clearly, so my general assumption is that they were all similar.

A waistcoat from the uniform of a British naval officer, c. 1807

A waistcoat from the uniform of a British naval surgeon, (circa. 1807).

I looked at The Cut of Men’s Clothes, by Norah Waugh, and Costume Close-Up, by Linda Baumgarten for ideas on the shapes of pattern pieces, particularly the collar. Both of these books have examples of waistcoats from the 1790’s.

From this information I draped the lining on my son and cut away! *gasp* This is the first garment that I have actually draped with fabric. Having recently made a vest for an Oliver production may have helped my courage!

The front panels were made from cream wool, and the waistcoat was lined and backed with ivory cotton broadcloth. The buttons have a fouled anchor imprint and are made from gold-coloured metal.

Construction

A modern waistcoat is relatively simple to make, as it generally consists of sewing two side seams and attaching buttons to the front. For this reason I have not gone through every step of the construction process. If you are interesting in seeing each step of a Regency waistcoat, you can refer to my previous post, MY Mr Knightley: Making a Regency Waistcoat.

What is different in Regency waistcoats is the collar and pockets, as many modern vests do not have these features.

I drafted the collar piece after examining the pattern pieces in Costume Close-up. It seems that many collars were seamed at the centre back. This has the effect of drawing them in closer around the neck. The grainline was often vertical in historical pieces, but in modern wear collars often have the grainline running horizontally.

The pattern for the collar piece. To the left is the centre back and to the right is the centre front. No seam allowances have been added to the pattern.

The pattern for the collar piece. To the left is the centre back and to the right is the centre front. No seam allowances have been added to the pattern.

I put in welt pockets, using a tutorial from Craftsy.

The welt pockets

The welt pockets

The buttonholes were slashed and handsewn with buttonhole stitch, and the buttons sewn on. You can see the edges of the waistcoat have been handsewn through all thicknesses with a running stitch to help keep the wool flat.

The buttons and handsewn buttonholes

The buttons and handsewn buttonholes, and the centre front edges sewn with running stitch.

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

Keep an eye out for my next post in this series, making a midshipman coat.

Related Posts

The Making of a Midshipman – the introduction

MY Mr Knightley: Making a Regency Waistcoat

Sources and Relevant Links

Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen – read online

Image Source: A British Navy waistcoat (circa. after 1812) – at Royal Museums Greenwich

Image Source: A Portrait of a Midshipman, painted by Sir Martin Archer Shee

Image Source: A British Navy waistcoat (circa. after 1807) – at Royal Museums Greenwich

Buttons of the U.K.’s Royal Navy – by Diana’s Buttons

The Cut of Men’s Clothes, by Norah Waugh – buy on Amazon

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

Sewing a welt pocket – by Craftsy

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At the Jane Austen Festival Australia 2012 I had the privilege to be able to view and handle some extant garments of the Regency period. This was the first time I had ever handled clothing so old and I found it particularly exciting.

A Regency cloak, c. 1790's

A Regency cloak, made of fine chocolate brown chintz with a deep pleated trim (c. 1790’s).

One of the garments was a Regency cloak. After I examined it, I discovered that it probably would not be that difficult to make, so I wrote down some of the measurements and drafted a pattern from what I had seen. Due to its simple construction, I decided to attempt to sew it entirely by hand, which is a first for me!

Historical Background

I have grown to enjoy finding real historical examples of garments to make, as it is challenging and it helps ensure that I get the right look for the period. However, with this cloak I found it quite difficult to find pictures, paintings or extant examples of this particular type of cloak in Regency times.

The typical eighteenth century cloak did not have a yoke. However, by Regency times cloaks did begin to appear with a cape to help prevent rain from penetrating the shoulder area. These capes were attached to a yoke or collar, which was hidden beneath the cape and was not visible like this yoke is. Unfortunately, I have not been very successful in finding any cloak quite like this one to help verify its historical accuracy, but I decided that it was still worthwhile making!

The Pattern

The cloak consists of four pieces: the body, the yoke, the hood, and the hood trim. I have not included any seam allowances in any of the following measurements.

Pattern Pieces

  • Cloak body – 41.5 inches long x 157 inches wide
  • Yoke – pictured
  • Hood – 37 inches x 12 inches
  • Hood trim – 3 inches wide x 111 inches long

(The hood trim needs to be at least 3 times the length of whatever area it will decorate, in this case the hood opening. I ended up adding another 15 inches because I hadn’t made it long enough, making it a total length of 126 inches.)

This is the yoke I drafted. It basically ends up as a U-shape and it is worth drafting one to check it fits you properly.

This is the yoke I drafted. It basically ends up as a U-shape and it is worth drafting one to check it fits you properly.

I did a toile of the yoke first, just to make sure it sat correctly and fitted across my shoulders properly. The original one was four inches narrower in the centre back.

The Construction

Step One: Beginning with the hood, I folded the hood piece in half widthwise (right sides together) and then sewed down one of the long edges. Repeat this for the hood lining. This should give you the beginnings of a hood shape.

Folded and sewn down one edge

Folded and sewn down one edge. I have made this hood a rectangle, but a lot of 18th century hoods were shaped a little at the edges to make them sit a little closer on the head. The sources below give more information on this type of shaping.

The lining and outer are together.

The lining and outer put together. The seam you can see is the centre back seam in the hood. The seam is pinned ready to pleat for the fan pleats.

Step Two: To give the hood a bit more shape, fan pleats are put in the rear of the hood. Hand sew two rows of large stitches that are aligned and are 1/2 inch apart. These stitches will remain in the pleats, so make sure any end threads come to the inside of the hood. They can then be tied closed.

The fan pleating stitches are sewn in the centre back seam of the hood and then drawn up.

The fan pleating stitches are sewn in the centre back seam of the hood and then drawn up.

The inside view of the hood as the fan pleats are drawn up.

The inside view of the hood as the fan pleats are drawn up.

The fan pleats from the outside.

The fan pleats from the outside, fully drawn up.

Step Three: The hood lining and the hood outer are then edge stitched together, by folding the raw edges to the inside.

The hood is pinned for edge stitching.

The hood is pinned for edge stitching.

Step Four: For the hood trim, I sewed a gathering stitch along one long edge and pleated the other long edge in 1/4 inch pleats, gathering the other edge to fit.

The raw edges are folded to the inside. One edge has two rows of gathering stitch sewn.

The raw edges are folded to the inside. One edge has two rows of gathering stitch sewn. The strip is then pleated.

To attach it to the hood, I laid the pleated/gathered strip on the front edge of the hood with the gathered edge hanging slightly over the edge. I ran three lines of stitching down the length of trim; one on the pleated edge, one in the middle of the trim to hold the pleats, and one on the gathered edge. These stitches tacked down and held the edge of each pleat.

The trim is pleated and tacked down through all layers. The gathering stitch can be removed at the end.

The trim is pleated and tacked down through all layers. The gathering stitch can be removed at the end.

Then I put 6 pleats (3/8″) around the neck of the hood. The total neck edge of hood should measure 19 inches.

Step Five: To attach the hood to the yoke, I sewed the lower edge of the hood to the top edge of the yoke. The yoke lining was sewn so that when the right sides are visible the seam is hidden on the wrong side of the layers.

The yoke (outer, flannel interlining, and lining) is attached to the hood.

The yoke (outer, flannel interlining, and lining) is attached to the hood. You can also see the small pleats in the neck of the hood (as per Step Four).

Step Six: The body of the cloak is just one big rectangle. I put the lining and outer material wrong sides together and folded the raw edges (on each side and the bottom edge) to the inside and slip stitched or edge stitched them together.

The top edge of the body is then cartridge pleated. I drew three horizontal lines across the top of the body, 1/4 inch apart. Then I stitched three rows of stitches along the lines (and in line with each other), with each stitch 1/4 inch apart. The threads are then drawn up to form the cartridge pleats.

Measuring and drawing out the lines for pleating.

Measuring and drawing out the lines for pleating.

In hindsight, I think the body of the cloak would have fitted better if the cartridge pleats had been a little smaller and finer, maybe 1/8″ instead.

The cartridge pleats drawn up.

The cartridge pleats drawn up.

Step Seven: To attach the body to the yoke, the body is gathered up to fit the lower edge of the yoke. I then turned the yoke edge (the outer and flannel interlining) to the inside and pinned it, right sides together, to the body.

The outer layers of yoke are folded and pinned to the pleated body of the cloak.

The outer layers of yoke are folded over and pinned (right sides together) to the pleated body of the cloak.

Then I stitched it together, putting two stitches into each pleat.

The needle is going down through the "hill" of the pleat.

The needle is going down through the “hill” of the pleat.

The needle is coming out in the valley on the other side. The needle is put back in the valley and catches the yoke on the other side. Each pleat is stitched twice.

The needle is coming out in the valley on the other side. The needle is put back in the valley and catches the yoke on the other side. Each pleat is stitched twice.

I then sewed the yoke lining to the body, folding under the raw edge and catching in a pleat with each stitch.

The yoke lining was sewn down to each pleat. This means that each pleat is sewn on each side, which increases its strength.

The yoke lining was sewn down to each pleat. This means that each pleat is sewn on each side, which increases its strength.

One part that was in the original that I didn’t add was a small gathered ruffle (about 1 inch wide, with raw edges tucked under) attached around the inside of neckline. This was probably included to prevent uncomfortable drafts from making your neck cold.

Step Eight: Lastly, I sewed on three large fur hooks and eyes to fasten the centre front with.

The finished cloak with hood off.

The finished cloak with hood off.

The cloak with hood on.

The cloak with hood on.

Finally done!

The finished cloak back view.

The finished cloak back view.

I am so pleased to be finished a cloak that has been two years in the making! And it is my first completely handsewn garment, which I am very proud of. This has been completed just in time to wear to this year’s Jane Austen Festival which begins this week. Look out for my next post describing the fun in detail!

Postscript: At the Jane Austen Festival Australia 2014, I had another opportunity to examine the extant garment that this was based on. There are some important things to note:

  • The cartridge pleating on the original garment is much finer than mine is on this garment.
  • The trim around the edge of the hood is not mounted on top (as I have done mine), but sewn into a seam. The trim is sewn to the outer hood piece (right sides together), and then the lining is attached afterwards.
  • The shape of my hood is not accurate. As this was the first extant garment I had ever tried to accurately replicate (and in addition, I only examined it once and took a few notes before sewing it!), I am still learning some of the techniques to “pattern” an existing garment. My guess is that the hood is shaped (or curved) more like an 18th century hood is.
  • The way I have done my fan pleating is also not accurate, as this extant cloak’s fan pleating looks more similar to the examples shown here: Cloaks, Mantles and Mitts.

Patterning is something I find remarkably challenging but I hope to have some more opportunities to do and learn more of it soon.

Related Posts

Making a Regency Spencer

My Regency Journey – a page with links to all my regency sewing.

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Christie’s auctions

Extant examples of cloaks in the eighteenth century – From 18th Century Notebook

Cloaks, Mantles and Mitts (with a close up view of fan-pleating in the eighteenth century) – From 18th Century New England Life

Construction instructions from 1760 on mantelets and plisses

How to Sew Cartridge Pleats – by Historical Sewing.com

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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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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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