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Posts Tagged ‘Regency Fashion’

For the past two months I have been working on a commission costume for a friend. She is attending a “Battle of Waterloo Ball” in London to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the famous defeat of Napoleon by the English, and she needed a Regency outfit.

Stays

She decided that she wouldn’t bother about a chemise, so we jumped straight into making the stays. I drafted the pattern for the stays myself, using her measurements and following a similar method that I used to draft my own.

The stays are made from two layers of white cotton drill, with the boning sandwiched in between. For the centre busk I used two clear 30cm rulers and the boning is plastic imitation “whalebone” boning. The lacing is cotton cord and I used some thin cotton tape for the front drawstring around the top of the bust. The eyelets are hand sewn using a buttonhole or blanket stitch.

She was particularly concerned about her large-ish bust presenting a problem, so I used a double row of boning underneath and to the side of the bust area. The “cups” of the corset do extend a bit higher than normal to compensate for the lack of chemise. Traditionally, the corset holds the bust underneath while the chemise contains the bust from above. In this case, I used the bodiced petticoat to contain the top part of the bust.

The front view

The front view

The side view

The side view

The back view

The back view

Bodiced Petticoat

For the petticoat, we used the Regency Wardrobe Pattern by La Mode Bagatelle. I used the “DD” sizing for the bodice part but in hindsight I probably didn’t need to, as I needed to do a fair bit of adjusting because it turned out so big.

The petticoat is made from white cotton broadcloth, with cotton tape around the top edge to draw it in over the bust. The buttons are just plain modern plastic ones. The bottom of the petticoat is hemmed with some wide bias binding, which forms a casing for some large cording. This helps the petticoat stand out from the legs and prevents the gown from clinging.

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

Ballgown

I drafted the pattern for the ballgown myself, using a lot of similar features that I used in my own purple Regency ballgown. However, I used the sleeve pattern from La Mode Bagatelle (View C – short sleeve). My friend gained a lot of inspiration for how she wanted her gown from one she saw at Edelweiss Patterns.

The ballgown is made from purple dupioni silk and lined with acetate bemsilk lining. The piping around the waist and sleeves is made from cotton cord and cream satin bias binding. The buttons are self-covered and there is a ribbon drawstring around the lining of the neckline.

Side of Regency ballgown

Side and Sleeve view

The sleeves are “smocked” by sewing thread in a 1cm diamond and then pulling and knotting the threads tight. This is repeated in a honeycombed pattern across the sleeve. This creates little “puffs” on the other side of the material (which I used as the “right” side), and my friend then sewed little pearl beads to. The hemline was embellished later with some cream lace drawn up in scallops and some “flowers” made from the same lace.

In the pictures below, the dress takes on a luminescent glow from the morning sun, but the colour is actually darker purple than this.

The front view

The front view

Back of Regency ballgown

The back view

Spencer

The cuff detail

The cuff detail

We used the La Mode Bagatelle pattern for the spencer, using View H (minus the sleeve caps and with the addition of the peplum).

The spencer is made from a beautiful cream silk that my friend had in her “fabric stash”, but not dupioni as it has no slubs. The piping is made from cotton cord and gold bias binding. The buttons are a gold plastic button with a military design; a larger size for the front and two smaller ones for the cuff.

Instead of boning the collar (which is instructed in the pattern), I used two layers of very stiff, woven, sew-in interfacing which has worked really well.

In the pictures below, the spencer is shown over the bodiced petticoat.

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

The side view

The side view

I am very pleased with this little project, as I don’t normally do pattern or gown drafting for other people. And my friend is also very pleased and is looking forward to her trip overseas in a few months!

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: How to draft a corset pattern

My Regency Journey: Making a Ball Gown – my own purple ballgown

Making a Regency Spencer – my own spencer

Sources and Relevant Links

Regency Wardrobe Pattern by La Mode Bagatelle – to buy

A Pink Silk Regency Ballgown – by Edelweiss Patterns

“Smocking” instructions – on Pinterest

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One of the workshops I took at the Jane Austen Festival in April was on making a Regency day cap. Generally speaking, I don’t really like the look of historical caps but I thought that being married and having attained a much more “mature” age I probably should consider wearing one occasionally with my costumes. The other benefit of them is that it stops your hair getting stuck in straw bonnets!

At the workshop, we were provided with all the materials and instructions to make this cap but only really had time to learn the stitches and begin the first few edges of hemming. So this was one of the first projects I took out to finish once I arrived home.

Stitches Used

Rolled Hem

A rolled hem is a common stitch used in historical sewing, particularly for hemming the edges of ruffles and fine linens. There are many tutorials online for handsewing a rolled hem, so I will not repeat one here except to include a helpful photo.

Doing a rolled hem; by Hub Pages

Doing a rolled hem; on Hub Pages (link below)

Whipped Gather

This is a useful stitch for both neatening and gathering an edge of fabric at the same time. Here is a useful tutorial:

Whipstitch

This is a great stitch for seams and is often used in historical stitching. Once again, there are many tutorials online for this, but I have just included a photo for demonstration.

A whipstitch; from

Stitching a whipstitch; from Holiday Crafts and Creations (link below)

Patterns for caps; from The Workwoman's Guide to

Patterns for caps; from The Workwoman’s Guide (1840). Whilst these are Victorian caps, Figure 13 is the most similar to mine, using a horseshoe shaped capote.

Pattern and Construction Tips

The pattern I have used for my cap was supplied at the workshop, but there are patterns for many sorts of historical day caps online (such as the pattern from Kanniks Korner) or you could make up your own pattern.

There are basically four pieces to my cap:

  • the capote (the head piece) – mine is an “arch” or “horseshoe” shaped piece and needs to be large enough to fit your head when gathered up,
  • the head band – which needs to fit from ear to ear over the top of your head,
  • the frill – which (as a good gathering guide) needs to be at least 2.5 times the length of the head band,
  • the ties – cut two for tying under the chin.

My cap also had a small casing at the centre back (at the nape of the neck) to accommodate a cotton-tape tie. This made it adjustable around the back of the neck.

All the raw edges of each piece of my cap were neatened first, either by using the whipped gather (for any gathered edges) or the rolled hem (for all other edges). Then the pieces were sewn together with a whipstitch. This method is a good one because it means that there are no fraying edges on the inside.

A close up of the stitches attaching the frill to the band. This is the right side and you can see how the gathering looks when finished.

A close up of the stitches attaching the frill to the band. This is the right side and you can see how the gathering looks when finished.

Front of cap: my daughter is modelling it for me.

Front view of cap: my daughter is modelling it for me.

Back view of cap

Back view of cap

I really enjoyed handstitching this cap, and I think it looks really cute! (My husband wasn’t as enthusiastic and I think the kids just said it looked good to be encouraging…) I found it so therapeutic to sit and handsew in the evenings that I am now busy trying to decide what else I could make fully handstitched.

Related Posts

A Late Regency Bonnet

Sources and Relevant Links

How to sew a rolled hem – tutorial on Hub Pages

How to sew a rolled whipped gather – Youtube tutorial

How to sew a whipstitch – tutorial on Holiday Crafts and Creations

“Madame Novice” using the pattern from Kanniks Korner: Women’s and Girl’s Caps (1740-1820)

Kanniks Korner: Pattern for Women’s and Girl’s Caps – scroll down a little to find the relevant pattern.

The Workwoman’s Guide (1840) – read online

Jane Austen Festival Australia – website

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Image from Oregon Regency Society

A Danish girl’s dress from the Regency era. Garment from the National Museum of Denmark. Image from the Oregon Regency Society.

Since my oldest daughter has become interested in folk music and dancing, I have been focused on sewing her some period clothes that she can wear for dancing events.

Girls dresses during the Regency era were remarkably simple in structure and make an ideal quick sewing project! I found a picture of a basic girl’s dress when I was searching online, and there was even a pattern to go with it. The links for all the relevant webpages are provided below.

This dress is fairly standard for the era and the pattern can be fairly easily adapted for different sized children. Once the garment is made, it is even pretty easy to adjust as your child grows, which was surely as desirable to the contemporary families as it is to families today.

The Pattern

The pattern for this dress has been provided online as an image file and can be saved to your own computer. It will need to be scaled up to full size and drawn out on some dressmaking paper. Make sure you allow extra for seam allowances.

Some measurements to take:

  • Waist measurement: remember that this should be measured at the high Regency waistline.
  • Waist to floor: this measurement will be the length of the skirts.
  • You could also take additional measurements around the chest, over the shoulder, and around the arms if desired. I didn’t, but I made sure I added extra in the seams when cutting out so that adjustments could be made once the bodice was fitted.

Enlarging the pattern:

This particular pattern would probably fit a six-year-old girl, so it is possible that you may have to enlarge the bodice to adapt it for an older child, as I had to do.

In order to do this, I made a mock up of the bodice and made several changes to the pattern. I extended the shoulder straps, I added a bit extra width in the centre front (after comparing the pattern to the “waist” measurements I had taken), and I extended the centre back to make it wider as well. I also found it useful to allow extra for the seams under the arms.

Then all it takes is a quick fitting to get all the seams right. At the fitting stage, you may find the armholes and/or neckline also need trimming.

Construction Steps

Step One: Sew the side seams of the bodice together, followed by the shoulder seams. The pattern includes a very narrow piece as a side-back panel, but I omitted this piece.

The front fitting

The front fitting: The neckline gapes, which will be fixed once there is a drawstring around the neckline. There is no need for bust shaping for a young girl. The arm scythes are too tight under the arm so they were trimmed back slightly. (I fitted on a sleeve here but I re-cut it later to make it bigger.)

The back fitting

The back fitting: The bottom area gaped so I put in some side-back darts. I allowed extra material on the centre back seam as this extra material is drawn up with a drawstring and allows for easy adjustment as the child grows. The extra in the side seams was trimmed back.

Step Two: The pattern for the skirt is slightly flared or gored, however I cut mine in the early Regency style – in large rectangles. The front skirt (cut on the fold) measured 22 cm wide and 120 cm long. (I allowed an extra 20 cms at the bottom as a deep hem that could be let down as my child grows taller.) The back skirt (cut two) was 45 cm wide and 120 cm long. (Unlike the pattern, my version has a centre back seam.)

Hint: Allowing extra for a deep hem will mean that the garment can be let down as your child grows. Allow more than double (even up to triple) the waist measurement for the width of the skirts, especially if you are not using gored skirt panels. This will mean that the child will still be able to walk and run!

Sew the side seams of the skirt together. Sew the centre back seam, allowing an opening of 15-20 cms at the top. I sewed a topstitch around this opening.

The back opening of the skirt

The back opening of the skirt

You can also hem the skirt at this point, using your measurement from the waist to the floor. Because my skirts were rectangular, it was quite easy to take up a deep hem and then hide the hemline with some rows of decorative ribbon.

The hem of the skirt

The hem of the skirt

Step Three: The back panels of the skirt are then gathered and can be attached to the bodice. Remember that the back area of the dress will be further gathered up by the back drawstrings later.

Step Four: The sleeve seams are sewn and I pleated (rather than gathered) the head of the sleeve to make it fit the armhole. The bottom edge of the sleeves are then hemmed. These particular sleeves are not supposed to be gathered around the bottom edge, but I decided to do a small box pleat to draw them in a bit.

Step Five: The neckline of the bodice can be finished with a strip of bias binding, which acts as a casing for a drawstring. I also sewed a strip of bias binding around the waist seam as well (rather than turning the seam itself into a casing, as the pattern suggests). I also used some more decorative ribbon to disguise the stitching lines of the casings.

The bias binding is sewn to the neckline of the bodice. It will be turned under and sewn down to create a casing for a drawstring.

The bias binding is sewn to the neckline of the bodice. It will be turned under and sewn down to create a casing for a drawstring.

Step Six: Insert cotton tape through both of the casings to form two drawstring ties at the centre back.

The drawstrings have been inserted.

The drawstrings have been inserted.

The dress is now complete!

Front view

Front view

Back view

Back view

This little daughter is keen to go dancing in her new dress. Hopefully it’s her cup of tea!

Related Posts

Dress Ups for a Girl

Dress Ups for a Baby

Sources and Relevant Links

Costumes for a Regency Child – by The Oregon Regency Society (image source)

Free Online Pattern for a Regency Girls Dress and a Regency Boys Skeleton Suit – from Regency Society of America forum

National Museum of Denmark – the dress pictured is from this collection, however I have been unable to find the page for this particular dress.

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Parisian bonnets from Ackermann's Repository (1817)

“Parisian Head Dresses” from Ackermann’s Repository (1817)

At the Jane Austen Festival in 2013, I did a workshop on making a bonnet from buckram. I have always wanted to do more millinery but have struggled to know where to start without proper tuition, so this workshop was very exciting for me!

The pattern was of a late Regency bonnet, circa 1817, and was provided as part of the workshop. The basic materials (buckram, wire, and pellon) were also provided. We were set to work handsewing the strips of metal wire to the edges of the buckram.

In millinery, the buckram is cut to the desired shape and the wire is used to hold the buckram in this shape. For this reason it is important to pre-shape the wire to the desired shape before attaching it to the buckram. It is also important to double check that the part of the hat that sits on the head will fit your head!

The buckram top and brim, partially assembled

The buckram crown and brim, partially assembled. This is as far as I got in the class.

Once I got home, I sprayed the assembled buckram frame with a spray-on adhesive and stuck the pellon (thin layer of padding) to it. The pellon pieces covered the entire outer sections of the hat, as well as the inside brim area. The inside of the bonnet had no pellon.

The buckram frame fully assembled with the pellon adhered

The buckram frame fully assembled with the pellon adhered

Then the fabric was cut out and handstitched to the frame. The fabric was cut out in 6 pieces: the outer top, the inner top, the outer side, the inner side, the outer brim, the inner brim. The fabric I chose for the inner sections was different to the fabric I chose for the outer sections, thereby creating a contrasting lining.

The bonnet with the fabric handsewn on

The bonnet with the fabric handsewn on

Then I decorated it. The trimmings were all sewn on by hand after the hat was finished. This means that the trimmings can be easily removed and replaced later to create a new look.

All finished!

All finished!

"Parisian Bonnets" from Ackermann's Repository (1817)

“Parisian Bonnets” from Ackermann’s Repository (1817)

The piped band and ribbon flowers were both made by me (the links are below), and I obtained the ostrich feather from my local craft store.

These pictures from Ackermann’s Repository helped provide ideas of how these bonnets were trimmed at this time. I particularly wanted mine to match the Regency spencer I have just finished. Now I have a lovely bonnet-and-spencer ensemble! For my first-ever buckram hat, I am pretty pleased with how it turned out.

I really loved the opportunity to work with buckram because the skills I have acquired give me so much more versatility to my hatmaking. Now I am able to purchase other hat patterns or draft my own to make my own range of hats.

Hats are my cup of tea!

Related Posts

How to make a piped band

Making Ribbon Flowers

How to make a Regency Poke Bonnet in Ten Steps

Making a Regency Spencer

Jane Austen Festival – Australia, 2013

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Regency Era Fashions from Ackermann’s Repository 1817 – by EKDuncan “My Fanciful Muse”

The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics, by Ackermann – read various volumes online

How to make a Regency stovepipe bonnet from buckram – Youtube tutorial (The author recommends using millinery wire as I have done, but does not use it in this particular tutorial.)

Covering a Regency stovepipe bonnet – Youtube tutorial (The author shows how to cover a buckram frame. I sewed, rather than glued, mine.)

From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking, by Denise Dreher – this book has many ideas for hat patterns, as well as construction steps and decorating ideas.

Jane Austen Festival, Australia – website

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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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During the early Regency period, silk bobbin net and silk gauze dresses became increasingly fashionable.

1813 Dress

White netted gown over a pale pink petticoat, Costume Parisien (1813), in Journal des Dames et des Modes.

Machine-made net, commonly called ‘English net’ or bobbinet, became more widely available in the early nineteenth century after the invention of a machine (patented in 1808, by John Heathcoat) which copied the technique of the much more costly hand-made bobbin net. This meant that net was cheaper and more accessible to more people.

From 1810 onwards, dresses overlaid in net or gauze increased in popularity. Some netted dresses were made to be worn over an alternate coloured dress or petticoat. Other netted gowns had the netting sewn into the matching or contrasting fabric so that the netting overlaid the dress permanently. Examples of both sorts of dresses can be seen in various museums, and I have included several links to online sources below.

Whilst machine-made net was cheaper, it was initially made plain and had to be embroidered by hand, that is, until a machine could be made to ornament it. Netting could be embroidered with tambour or other decorative embroidery stitches, often in the shapes of small flowers or spots. It also became popular during this time to embellish the hems of the net with embroidery, net frills, ribbon, roulade, satin, ribbon, lace or fabric flowers.

"Robe de Gaze. Garnie en Satin decoupe." Costume Parisien (1813), in Journal

“Robe de Gaze. Garnie en Satin decoupe.” [Gauze Dress lined in etched satin] Costume Parisien (1813), in Journal des Dames et des Modes.

The skirts of gowns in this era were columnar, cut in large rectangles which were then gathered at the top, with the gathers centred in the back. The bodice was often fastened in the centre back with two drawstrings, one around the neckline and one around the waistline.

This particular ballgown was made for the Jane Austen Festival Australia – 1813 Costume Challenge. Unfortunately the cost of silk tulle was too prohibitive for my budget, so this gown was made from “Poly Tulle”, made from polyester, which is finer and drapes more like silk than the stiffer types of nylon tulle. As I could not buy tulle that was already embroidered, I decided to try embroidering the white spots on by hand. The contrasting fabric underneath was a satin-backed shantung (also made from polyester), and the lining was bemsilk acetate.

This outfit was a bit late for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #4 (Embellishing a garment), but there was no other particular challenge that it could fit under, so I have just made a late entry!

"Robe de Tulle. Garnitures de fleurs." Costume Parisien (1813), from Journal

“Robe de Tulle. Garnitures de fleurs.” [Tulle Dress trimmed with flowers] Costume Parisien (1813), in Journal des Dames et des Modes.

Pattern

After much deliberation, I decided to use the picture to the right – Robe de Tulle Garnitures de fleurs – as a model for my pattern drafting. I used the pattern I drafted for my previous Regency ballgown, and just made some necessary alterations to reflect the differences that I could find in the picture. In this gown the skirts were ungored, and gathered at the back rather than pleated. The sleeves were cut fuller and the neckline was altered. The front bodice piece was cut in two pieces, rather than on the fold.

Please note: None of the measurements given here include seam allowances.

Pattern Pieces

  • Bodice Front
  • Bodice Back
  • Front “Modesty Piece”
  • Shoulder Strap
  • Waistband (cut 2 – 35″ x 1/2″)
  • Sleeve
  • Sleeve band (cut 2 – 15″ x 1″)
  • Skirt Front (cut 1 one on the fold – 15″ x 49″ – here the length of the skirt is 49 inches to floor)
  • Skirt Back (cut 2 – 28″ x 49″)
Sleeve pattern piece, showing the increased height and width of sleeve.

Sleeve pattern piece, showing the increased height of sleeve head and width of sleeve.

Construction Steps

Step 1: After cutting out the pieces of fabric and netting, I embroidered round white spots in chain stitch evenly over all of the netting, to resemble the fashion plate picture.

White spots, embroidered in a chain stitch spiral.

White spots, embroidered in a chain stitch spiral.

Step 2: Treating the fabric and embroidered netting as one, piece the bodice together at the side seams and two shoulder seams. Leave the centre front and centre back open. Piece bodice lining together in the same way.

Step 3: Lay the bodice and the bodice lining right sides together and sew around neckline. Turn the right way and press. Gather a small section underneath each side of the bust to fit waist measurement.

The beginnings of the bodice. You can see the gathers under the bust area.

The beginnings of the bodice. You can see the gathers under the bust area.

Step 4: Sew one boning casing on each side of the centre back. You can handsew eyelets into the outer fabric and lace up your dress from behind, as I did for my previous ballgown. However, this time I decided to make an inside flap to house the lacing. I made two flaps from some cotton broadcloth and inserted a piece of cable tie as boning down the centre back edge.

The cotton broadcloth eyelet flaps

The cotton broadcloth eyelet flaps

Then I sewed the flaps to the inside of the bodice, allowing a gap so that I could lace the dress tighter if I need to. (I am currently six months pregnant, and am cautious of making the dress too big and not fitting into it after I have had my baby!) I handsewed the eyelets and threaded the lace through. I did need to add two hooks and eyes to the outer fabric – one at the neckline and one at the waist – to help it sit flat when worn.

The flaps sewn in the inside (a little crooked). I trimmed them a little and handsewed the eyelets.

The flaps sewn in the inside (a little crooked). I trimmed them a little and handsewed the eyelets.

Step 5: Once the centre back can be attached, it is a good time to try it on to figure out how to fit the centre front pieces together. For the “pointy” centre front parts, I folded under the raw edges so that I could thread a diamonte buckle onto the end.

The lower edge of the centre front bodice is turned under and handsewn closed to form a point.

The lower edge of the centre front bodice is turned under and handsewn closed to form a point.

Then I sewed a decorative section (or “modesty piece”) to fit into the gap at the front, embellishing it with some lace and ribbon. It can be pinned in place when you try it on to make sure it covers any necessary bits! It will be sewn in the seam with the waistband in Step 7.

Step 6: Treating the fabric and the embroidered netting as one, sew the sleeve seam and gather the sleeves at the sleeve head and the bottom edge. Attach sleeves to the bodice. (I didn’t line these sleeves, but you can if you like.) For the bottom edge of the sleeves, attach the sleeve band (right sides together), folding it inside to handsew.

Step 7: Attach the waistband and a waistband lining to the bottom edge of the completed bodice.

The front "modesty piece" is pinned in place at the top, and is pinned into the waistband seam. The waistband lining sits underneath, ready to be folded down to meet the outer waistband after stitching.

The front “modesty piece” is pinned in place at the top, and is pinned into the waistband seam. The waistband lining sits underneath, ready to be folded down to meet the outer waistband after stitching.

When sewing the waistband to the bodice, the centre front “pointy bits” should be left free.

You can see the "pointy bits" are pinned out of the way, but all other raw edges are contained in the waistband seam.

You can see the “pointy bits” are pinned out of the way, but all other raw edges are contained in the waistband seam.

Once the waistband is sewn, the centre front “pointy bits” can be threaded with the diamonte buckles and sewn together.

The centre front seam is only small, and the seam allowance can be handsewn flat if desired.

The centre front seam is only small, and the seam allowance can be handsewn flat if desired.

Then I handsewed the “modesty piece” to the top edge of the bodice, just to hold it in place properly. In the pictures above, you can see where the bodice and “modesty piece” have been pinned in place to be handsewn later.

Step 8: Piece the skirts together, with a centre back seam and two side seams. Do the same with the netting. Gather the back of the skirts to fit the bodice, gathering the fabric and the netting separately and then laying them on top of each other.

Step 9: Attach the skirts to the waistband. The side seams should reach all the way around the body to the side back. On the inside of the dress, turn all raw edges into the waistband area, fold the raw edges of the waistband lining under and handsew.

The inside of the dress, showing the waistband lining pinned ready to handsew.

The inside of the dress, showing the waistband lining pinned ready to handsew.

Step 10: Hem the dress. Attach any trims around the hem of the netting. I had also wanted to attach some fabric flowers to the bottom, as in the fashion plate picture, but ran out of time! Maybe later…

Two rows of pleated netting, with ribbon bordering the top and bottom.

Two rows of pleated netting, with ribbon bordering the top and bottom.

Back view, without the embroidered spots

Back view, without the embroidered spots. The centre back gapes a little and needs a couple of hooks and eyes to help it sit flat.

Front view

Front view

I am really, really happy with how this dress turned out! I was very anxious about my ability to make a dress when all that I had to work with was an old fashion plate picture. It did take a lot of preparation, as I spent a lot of time thinking about my design and how to accomplish it, and I also did a toile of the bodice to make sure my design ideas were going to work.

In the end I feel I did the fashion plate justice, though I did not embellish the sleeves in quite the same way.

Historical Sew Fortnightly details: This gown is fairly historically accurate. Whilst the garment is copied from a 1813 fashion plate, most other parts of construction (the pattern, bodice construction, lacing, etc…) I have seen on other extant garments of the period. The fabric I used, however, is not historically accurate. This took me many, many hours to complete! I would estimate it at about 50 hours, as I worked on it for over two months from toile to completion (and the embroidery and flower trims are yet to be completed). It will be first worn at this years Jane Austen Festival in Australia. Total cost came to AUD $126, largely due to the fact that I had nothing to use for it in my stash and had to buy everything new.

For more of my posts on making Regency wear, go to My Regency Journey.

Related Posts

My Regency Journey: Making a Ball Gown

Jane Austen Festival, Australia – 2013 – for a picture of me in this gown

Sources and Relevant Links

A French brown silk and net dress c. 1805-1810 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art

A white net overdress c. 1805-1810 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Pink and cream silk net dress c. 1800-1810

Cream and green silk net dress c. 1810 – The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Red silk net overdress c. 1807-1811 – Victoria and Albert Museum

Regency Fashion: The Muslin and Net Period – at Jane Austen’s World

It’s All in the Details: Making a Regency Ball Gown

Handsewn eyelets – by Sempstress

Jane Austen Festival Australia – 1813 Costume Competition

Historical Sew-Fortnightly – from The Dreamstress

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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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