Regency Dance Weekend Part III: Fell Off The Sewing Wagon, But Got Back On!

Yup, that’s me I’m talking about in the title of this post. I was straggling along the first bit of the Mar-pril Regency Sew Weekly road. For Goal #2: evening wear, I had hopes to fix the rip in my 1813 red evening gown, but unfortunately I didn’t get to it in time for the deadline.

Sad, sad rip.

I did get to it before the Regency Dance Weekend, though, so I was able to wear the dress for the Grand Ball and Reception on Sunday night. I’ve got pictures of the event to share soon, but for now I’m going to focus on the gown.

When I first made this dress back in January and wore it to the Pride and Prejudice Ball in February, the skirt of the dress was tightly gathered across the back to take in all the fulness of the skirt. But while taking pictures after the ball, the dress caught and ripped! I suppose it’s hard to tell in the picture, but the rip was not small.

Gathers used in the back to take in all the fullness.

Ugh! What to do? Try to patch it, or darn it, or replace the whole vertical panel where the rip was? None of those ideas sounded like they would be pretty or fun.

I didn’t actually get around to fixing this until after I had constructed my Tree Gown, which has a skirt with an angled (trapezoidal) front panel and the back panel cut as a rectangle. The effect of that shaping on the Tree Gown is neat: there is less fabric to gather at the back and the skirt has a nice shape to it that is different than the shape that is created by the original tube shaped skirt on the red gown. In addition, I decided after looking at the pictures of the red gown that the gathers were too poofy in the back and created a shape I wasn’t looking for.

So I came to the idea of using the trapezoid plus rectangle skirt shaping for the red gown, because making a trapezoid would allow me to cut out the section of the skirt with the rip. This required taking the skirt off of the back waistband, sewing the new seams, then reattaching the whole thing. Since I was taking it apart anyway at that point, I decided to also pleat the fabric around the back instead of gathering it, like this dress, below.

1812 Wedding Dress at the Met with a pleated skirt.
The ripped side of the skirt, removed from the waistband and with the new seam pinned. Now you can see the scale of the rip!

It looks like I don’t have any great pictures of the back of the gown with the new pleated back… whoops! Here’s one picture, though, where you can sort of see what’s going on with the dress.

Sort of hard to tell, but the area where the skirt meets the waistband is much flatter, and the skirt has a much bigger flare at the hem due to the new seam shaping.

Perhaps hard to envision, but if you compare this back picture to the one at the beginning of this post, there is a definite difference. It wasn’t a fun project, but it needed to be done, and I sure am glad it is! Next time there will be pictures of the reception, including more fun pictures of this dress.

A Stripe-y Reticule And Sneak Peek At A Tree Gown (MpRSW #3 & #4)


I intended to complete this reticule for the HSF Challenge #6: Stripes this past week, but as the deadline approached and I reread the fine print, I realized that the challenge was supposed to be fulfilled by a garment. Whoops! I don’t think I can convince myself that a reticule is garment, let alone other people. So I put the project on hold while working on other things (like Evie, my 1864 ball gown, and the completion of my purple ballroom competition dress), but finally got back to it and finished it off towards the end of last week.

Lucky for me, this reticule does fulfill the MpRSW Goal #4: Accessories (due April 8th: I’m early!). (If you’re paying attention, I did fail to post about the MpRSW Goal #2: Evening Gown… I might have fallen off the wagon on that one and not managed to fix the rip in my gown on time. But luckily, the MpRSW is motivating me to complete that repair this week, even if I am delayed!)


Trust me, this is not a historically accurate reticule. The fiber content is questionable… (probably a blend including polyester), the ribbon is polyester, and the tassels are cotton embroidery floss. But it’s cute and functional and has the general look of the period, so I’m happy. This will get packed for the Regency weekend coming up in April!

Inside the reticule: french seams and a cotton canvas purple (woohoo, extra fun on the inside!) layer whip stitched to the inside of the bottom to provide stability and help keep the triangular shape. The seams are hard to spot because the stripes blend into each other so much, but they’re there!

What you saw in the first picture (behind the reticule) was a first glimpse of my latest Regency gown! This new block printed cotton gown, from 1815, is “The Tree Gown” in my head because the motif reminds me of trees (or shrubs perhaps, but I like the sound of The Tree Gown better than The Shrub Gown). This gown fulfills the MpRSW Goal #3: Day Wear! It’s due today, so I’m right on time. The gown is machine sewn on all of the non visible seams, and hand finished on the visible sections.

Center front. This gown has a mostly squared neckline with a drawstring across the bust, like my 1812 white striped gown.
Unlike previous Regency gowns in my possession, this gown has long sleeves! (This is a back view.)
There are two 1 1/2″ tucks around the hem of this gown, for decoration.
The gown closes at center back with two hooks on the waistband (see the thread loops?) and a tie at the top of the back.
The tie at the top of center back is a drawstring that continues to the shoulder seam, allowing the back to gather slightly. The bow in the middle is the drawstring for center front.
The fullness at center back is gathered. This gown has french seams and the waistband seam allowance is just whip stitched together to keep it tidy.
The inside of the neck opening. The area over the shoulder is reinforced with an extra bit of fabric cut on the straight of grain to keep it from stretching.

This gown below is my main inspiration for this dress: the tucks at the hem, the sleeves, the pattern for the skirt, the gathers on the bodice, the mostly squared neck in front, the tie at the back of the neck… I omitted the extra sleeve puff (partly because I didn’t have enough fabric, partly because I wanted this dress to be more streamlined) and the tie at the back waistband. I love the super zoom on the Met’s website because you can see so many great details!

For example, I could see where the center front skirt panel ended and the angle of that seam (as well as the angle of the back panel). Using that information, I determined that my front panel should be a rectangle (it’s 21″ across in my dress given my proportions) and that the back panels should be cut straight at center back, but with an angle on the side seams that goes up toward center back making an elongated trapezoid. There is a seam at center back, so the hem of each back piece is 45″, but each top narrows to 31″. I’m curious to see how that style of skirt fits me. I certainly like the look of the skirt on the dress in the museum!

1810-1815 dress at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This gown also fills the HSF #9 Challenge: Flora and Fauna, so you’ll be seeing another post about it with some more details (and pictures of it on a body!) coming up in a few weeks (after the Regency Weekend in April, you know!).

Reminder, The MpRSW Is Upon Us!

My push to complete my new 1864 green ball gown is complete (more on that soon), and that means a shift in focus to the Regency! It also means that the Mar-pril Regency Sew Weekly goals are upon me. I’ve already completed my project for the first goal, the 1812 blue under dress. Have you been working on a project for Goal #1? This is a reminder to get going, because the due date is tomorrow!

Goal #1 (due March 18): Under Wear Ideas to complete this goal: make from scratch, finish, or trim something worn under another garment, a petticoat, underdress, shirt, or waistcoat could fall into that category, or maybe this is a great opportunity to trim a finished garment already in your closet.

Don’t forget about me!

This is also your reminder for…

Goal #2 (due March 25): Evening Wear Ideas to complete this goal: an all new garment (gown, breeches, waistcoat, or tailcoat, for example), finishing a garment in progress, trimming an already finished garment, sewing something to keep you warm while on your way to an evening event, or maybe completing accessories to wear or take with you to an evening event.

I’m planning to use this goal as encouragement to fix the rip in my red 1813 evening gown. What progress are you planning?

HSF #5 & MpRSW #1: Blue Under Dress

The HSF #5 Challenge: Peasants and Pioneers. The MpRSW #1 Goal: Under Wear. This recently completed garment fits both!

Now remember, and don’t judge me, that this project is one of those “I just want this to be done quickly and no one will be able to see the details” projects.

Here it is: an 1812 under dress.

First, the facts:

Fabric: Cotton-poly blend.

Pattern: The exact same as my 1812 white striped gown from last summer, which is adjusted from a gown in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 1.

Year: 1812.

Notions: About 2 yds of 1/4″ cotton twill tape.

How historically accurate?: Accurate pattern, almost totally inaccurate fabric (that cotton counts for something, right?), and entirely machine sewn (not a single hand stitch, which for me is a rather unusual accomplishment). I give this one a 60% on historically accuracy. I think the pattern goes a long way towards being a saving grace. Ok, maybe a 65% if I count the cotton…

Hours to complete: Let’s say 16. All that gathering does add some time.

First worn: Not yet, but will be worn in April.

Total cost: Between $9-$12 (I can’t remember exactly how many yards I bought…)

How does this fit the HSF challenge? The simplicity of the fabric and style of the dress and lack of extra trimmings, puts this in the category of basic Regency clothing that could be worn by a pioneer-type. It’s probably still a little fancy for a peasant. It’s hard to make plain and simple clothing!

A few more pictures, then a little more explanation.

Machine stitching showing on the front. I have no problem with interior seams being sewn by machine on some garments, but I do prefer hand finishing on garments that are going to be seen.
Back. It looks rather medical scrub looking, especially with those white ties… Regency hospital gown?
Machine sewing galore!
A closeup of the back.
Here’s what it looks like on the inside. No raw edges: that makes me happy. There’s a drawstring along the top of the center panel so I can adjust it.
Looking over at the armsceye.

Explanation time. I actually don’t like this color much on its own. In fact, I think it does absolutely nothing for my complexion. Actually, it just looks bad on me. So why did I pick it, you ask? Well, this is intended to be an under dress, not something I ever plan to wear by itself. I was at the fabric store looking for colors that worked under my 1812 striped square neck gown, and this is the one! The other colors looked too much like skin, or just awful pastel shades of ew. Also, I was probably influenced by this next picture. I couldn’t stop looking at the blues.

At the Hermitage.

Anyway, given how much I don’t like the color/am amused by the scrub-like quality of it and don’t plan for this to be really seen, I just wanted it to be done, quickly and without fuss. That’s why it’s totally machine sewn. Granted, I did do a nice machine sew job, so I suppose it might one day be worn without the over dress, but I don’t see that as a likely option, at least on my body. Funny contrast is that the white dress is entirely hand sewn, with not a machine stitch to be found.

Here’s what the blue under dress looks like with the white striped dress over the top. (Oops, the blue hem was too long. Fixed that in a jiffy!)
The blue fades to a soft grey-ish blue under the white.
And it helps show off the stripes and the more opaque white areas of the white dress.
IMG_3562 - Version 2
For comparison, here’s what the white dress looks like with the original white under dress underneath.

Voila! One over dress, two different looks! One of the comments awhile ago mentioned the idea of the Regency LWD: Little White Dress. That’s been on my brain while I’ve been making this blue under dress. With different under options this LWD becomes more versatile and can change looks for different events. Nice!

Also, and this is really cool, my blue under dress is incredibly similar to this “slip” at the Met! The cool part is that I came across the slip in January, months after I had made the plan for my under dress. But look at the gathers on the sleeve at the sleeve band and at the crown, and at the shoulder strap construction of the bodice, and at the gathered top and bottom center front panel. It’s kind of uncanny, because this is not the dress that Janet Arnold based her pattern off of. Just goes to show that this construction style was used on more than one dress in the Regency period. Cool!

Early 19th Century slip at the Met.

As I dressed Squishy I realized that when I go to wear this blue under dress it would probably save me some fussing if I baste the shoulder straps of the two dresses together so the blue doesn’t poke out where I don’t want it it. That’s an easy thing to then take out again later. I’ll have to get on that before April!

Introducing the “Mar-pril Regency Sew Weekly”

JPEG Regency Sew Weekly

What is that, you ask? It’s a group sew along!

Why? Well, you see, in April my friends and I will be participating in a Regency Intensive Dance Weekend hosted by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers. There will be lots of dance classes in modern clothes, but also balls and day events in Regency clothing! Of course that means new clothes to be sewn during the months of March and April and some of us keep our motivation going better than others. This sew along is intended to encourage and sustain the motivation of all of us (and anyone else who is interested in participating!).

April 13-14, 2013 in Salem, MA. Hosted by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers

What do you have to do? Sew! Really, though, that’s it. You can make your goals as small or large as you need to. All you have to do is complete the goals as they come up, and then share your progress. That will keep you accountable, and hopefully encourage you to stay motivated.

Goal #1 (due March 18): Under Wear Ideas to complete this goal: make from scratch, finish, or trim something worn under another garment, a petticoat, underdress, shirt, or waistcoat could fall into that category, or maybe this is a great opportunity to trim a finished garment already in your closet.

Goal #2 (due March 25): Evening Wear Ideas to complete this goal: an all new garment (gown, breeches, waistcoat, or tailcoat, for example), finishing a garment in progress, trimming an already finished garment, sewing something to keep you warm while on your way to an evening event, or maybe completing accessories to wear or take with you to an evening event.

Goal #3 (due April 1): Day Wear Ideas to complete this goal: making, finishing, or trimming a dress, a spencer, a pelisse, a tailcoat, or a waistcoat, or perhaps completing accessories to wear or take with you to a day event.

Goal #4 (due April 8): Accessories Ideas to complete this goal: reticules, chemisettes, parasols, bonnets, gloves, hats, shoes, boots, stockings… this is a soft and easy goal so if you didn’t make one of the first three goals, this gives you a great catch-up opportunity!

Goal #5 (due April 12): Anything Left! You know there are always things you hoped to finish earlier but you’re still trying to finish them up at the last minute? Make this a goal to complete whatever it is you didn’t complete before now. Maybe that’s another accessory, or a hem, or some trim, or maybe it’s just gathering your thoughts and your clothes to pack for the weekend.

How do you participate? Take the MpRSW (Mar-pril Regency Sew Weekly) image at the top of this post and add it to your blog, if you have one. Then, as you complete the goals, post about it on your blog. Don’t forget to leave a comment here with a link back to your blog post!

Do you have to participate in all of the challenges to participate? Nope! Pick and choose as you wish. The overall goal is just to inspire creativity and completion of Regency related sewing projects!

Do you have to be attending the Regency Intensive Dance Weekend to participate? Of course not! Again, the goal is just to inspire creativity and completion of sewing projects!

If you’re also participating in the Historical Sew Fortnightly, as I am, then perhaps there will be times where the two sew-alongs overlap for you. I know that my HSF #6: Stripes (due March 25) item will also fit into a MpRSW goal, since it’s a Regency item. Other upcoming HSF challenges include #7: Accessorize (due April 8), which should be easy to use for overlap, since the MpRSW #4 goal: Accessories, is due the same day, and #8: By The Sea (due April 22).

Finally, let me just say that it would be pretty awesome if you’re out there in the blogging world and want to join in! This sew along is smilingly aimed at all of you who might enjoy a helpful hand of motivation to be fully sewn and fully clothed (ahead of time) for the Regency Intensive Dance Weekend, but I hope that doesn’t discourage you from participating, even if you won’t be at that event. Hopefully some of my sewing motivation will be passed on!