Saturday, November 9, 2013

A look at my new regency bits.

For the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Halloween ball I attended recently, I had to come up with a new wardrobe quite quickly. I put the most time into the short stays, as I figured I should do them properly and be able to use them again. I used the Sense and Sensibility pattern for this. 

I have read conflicting stories about whether short stays did or did not exist during the regency. The pattern says they did, and it was based on an extant example. Of course, I don't know what year this was. Regardless of authenticity, I chose short stays because they are small and went together quickly, even hand sewn.

I did the channels in a running stitch and corded them with doubled, sport weight cotton yarn. I did some quilting in the panels, too, but it's very hard to see in these photos. The stays are made of a layer or cotton lining, twill interlining, and linen on the exterior.

One note about this pattern. For my size (at least), even when boned, the center front bowed out when worn and didn't lay against the chest, to allow the gussets to separate the boobs. It did lift, though... If I made this pattern again, I might forgo the gussets and use gathered cups instead. Just a thought.

I will say, though, it was very comfortable and fit well, even while bouncing around dancing. 

For the dress, I chopped my basic 18th century bodice, changing the back seams (and everything else by the end, of course lol!). I tried to go for the 1799-1802 look, judging by fashion plates. I constructed it using 18th century techniques.

By no means am I saying this was how regency dresses were constructed. I really didn't know how and needed a dress lickity split, so my logic was a) I get how 18th century dresses were made (mostly the regency era sleeve and shoulder area was where I was clueless), and b) my 1790's dress was made this way... so perhaps it carried on a few years later and I suppose it's logical to think in 1799, a dress could have been constructed like this. Transitional fashion? I don't know...

Not to mention, what I could machine sew (without it showing), I absolutely did. Which is why the gathers are kind of ugly.  Oh well, speedy speedy... I can always take it apart one day.

A few things I do know about this era of dressmaking, which I learned at the Road to Regency Symposium, are evident in the front of the gown. 

First, the front panel of the skirt is cut like 18th century petticoats, in that you slash the top couple inches to allow for a better drape. You can kind of see this through the sheer fabric, in the photo. When I wore it, the white under layers made this invisible, as were the seams and selvages, which are very evident against the dark background, in these photos. 

Second, the bodice front. The bodice crosses under the bib and is fastened with pins, over which the front, which is cut on the bias, for a better fit, is pinned. 

Third, the skirt panels are cut appropriately. The front is a narrow rectangle, the back is a wider rectangle and the sides are a rectangle cut diagonally, arranged so the narrow portion is at the waist and the wider at the hem, to keep as much bulk away from the waist as possible, while allowing the hem to be full.

The petticoat is cut the same way, but minus the bodice and it has shoulder straps. It can be partially seen in the topmost photo. It closes in the back.

I wish I paid more attention to the Regency info at the symposium. I took notes, but I was more enthralled with the late 18th century stuff and my attention was all to that. Ah well.

And below are a couple better pictures of my new knitted, beaded reticule. I am not a knitter really, so this was really fun to make. No pattern. I just loaded up some beads, cast on some crochet thread to the thinnest needles I had, and started going. It's a tiny little thing, but I have heard reticules being described as frivolous and just big enough to hold a few coins. I love stuff like that. 

And I'm really liking knitting more. Annnnddd, it's really fun to step in to a new era. It always a bit overwhelming, but it's fun to have new things to be inspired about.


  1. All of your pieces look lovely, as do the gathers, specifically. It doesn't seem like there's a need to redo anything!


  2. Oh how lovely are your Regency bits! Especially your lovely reticule! I am very envious of those who can knit...and hand stitiching your short stays! Fabulous! And how your gown trains is truly beautiful!


  3. Well done! I like your initiative to work through the different pieces using patterns you know work for you and make sense to get the line you needed. Great job.