Monday, December 22, 2008

Regency Drawstring Dress, Completed!

With the sun peeking out today upon a cold, frozen, icy world David condescended to take a few photos of my new gown so I could share them with you all. Forgive the glare and odd lighting. The light from outside was very harsh and the flash we used was the best we could do, without the pictures coming out horribly dark or ghostly white.
I wore this dress again today to my doctors appointment. The good news is that I am feeling much better and my blood pressure, which was high at my last appointment (thus my reason for homely confinement) was down. I'm still supposed to lay low until the baby comes but at least I am no longer threatened by the prospect of hospitalization until then. I'd much rather be at home doing very little than in the hospital doing absolutely nothing.

And my contractions slowed down. So, it appears the baby will be a little while in coming, yet.

Anyway, on to the dress!
I think this is only the second adult sized dress I have ever made completely by hand. I sewed all the seams with the tiniest running stitch I could manage and all the seams are finished by felling on the inside. I was going to try french seams for the sleeves but made felled seams before I remembered I was going to try french. Oh well! The seam finish makes the dress smooth and neat on the inside and only itty bitty indentations in the fabric mark the felled seams on the outside.

It took me a while to decide how to attach the skirt. At first I pleated the back excess into a 4" length but when I sewed it to the skirt the pleats didn't hang evenly. So, I took off the skirt again and just gathered the back.
I used one row of gathering stitches then turned under the seam allowance of the back bodice and laid it over the gathering stitches and prick stitched it to the bodice. The rest of the skirt, which fit the bodice smoothly (no gathers) I just sewed right sides together. Once that was finished I bound the seam allowance.
In the front, the bound seam allowance was pressed up and the top edge stitched to the bodice to create a casing for the waist drawstring. The drawstring emerges from the inside of the gown at the side seams and is threaded on each side through fabric loops at the back bodice before being tied to fit at the center back. This makes the gown extremely forgiving in the area of fit, and easy to get on and off.
The skirt is a few inches longer in the back (with the excess length being treated at the waist, rather than the hem). This creates a very elegant silhouette, I think! I just love the trained skirts of the early regency period! This particular one is so slight that it does not in any way impede my movement or household activities.
I didn't have to add any width to the skirt in the front. The little bit of fullness created by the waist drawstring at the front creates plenty of room for my baby bump. It was nice to not have to alter a pattern for pregnancy!
The only thing I did have to alter, actually, was the cup size of the bodice front. After measuring myself and deciding what size to cut, I cut out my regular cup size but found that made the waistline too low. I had to recut it to be a cup size smaller so the waist would hit in the right spot. This was the only alteration I had to do. It is so nice to work with patterns that fit so well and require such little fitting. Sense and Sensibility patterns have always been so nice to work with in my experience!

Now that I have this one done, I can't wait to start on the next one! I have the fabric for it (dusky watermelon colored cotton with dark pink/red print) and want to make it in long sleeves this time. So fun.

Wee ones are awakening from their naps, so I must go for now. Have a lovely evening, dear ladies! (and any gentlemen who might happen to stop by, as well!)




  1. Sarah, I'm so happy that your BP is down and the threat of hospitalization is passed. The last weeks of waiting are so full of different emotions that it can make the wait harder, I'm praying that you will be filled with the peace that passeth understanding during your wait. I'm looking forward to your announcement, I look for it every day. The gown is lovely and you look lovely in it.

    my exclamation point key is dysfunctional tonight, hence the lack of emotion in my post. so insert smiley face here.

  2. Sarah, your dress is lovely! You look wonderful in it! :)
    Your counter says only 29 days to go now - wow, time sure flies. I am glad to hear that you are feeling better and that you will be able to at home during Christmastime.

  3. Dear Sarah,
    So good that you have pleasant occupations while the baby grows and waits for the right entrance moment :}

    The dress turned out so well; you look lovely in it. Now you have me wanting to try Mrs. Chancey's pattern...I have the regular Regency pattern, but not this one!

    Very best,
    Natalie in Kentucky
    trying to type silently, for there's a sleeping baby six feet and one pulled-to door away

  4. You made it all by hand! I have never sewn an adult dress by hand. You are inspiring me to try it sometime. Glad you are feeling better!

  5. It's beautiful, Sarah! You look lovely!

  6. SO beautiful!!! I adore the dress. And I'm so glad your feeling better. I'm starting to need something more loose in the tummy area, so I think I should get out my ELC pattern! I'm inspired...

  7. Gorgeous! I really must try this pattern out..I think it is one of the ones I bought last year. I have some pretty fabric that would probably be delightful use.

    I am so glad you are feeling better. I hope all continues to move smoothly along for you!

    Lots of love,

  8. Sarah,

    Your dress is absolutely lovely, as are you! You look radiant. We are still praying for your safe and timely delivery. :)

  9. Your dress is so beautiful! And I like the lighting :).

  10. That has got to the prettiest ELC dress made yet! And wow, to think that it was completely made by hand!

  11. Thank you so much, dear ladies! For those of you who want to make a gown by hand, I sooooo heartily encourage you to try it. I was very fearful of it taking forever to sew and coming up with something flimsy when I was done but now I'm absolutely hooked. :)I didn't work on this dress much every day, but it only took me a little over a week to make it from start to finish.

    Lauren Christine and Sommer, I can't *wait* to see what gowns you make! This is the Absolute Perfect Pregnancy Dress Pattern! I might, on second thought, leave out the inner bodice lining next time to make it easier to access the "milk supply" but I don't think that would make any great difference in the final appearance. :) Please do let me know when you get yours done!!!

  12. So beautiful, Sarah. I'm glad you hand stitched the gown. I find hand sewing so relaxing. I am so glad to here you are feeling better. Have a wonderful Christmas. God bless!

  13. Sarah,

    You've inspired me, once again! Lovely gown, and I'm so glad to hear that you are feeling better and can remain at home. Have a beautiful, blessed, Merry Christmas!

  14. So pretty! And I'm glad your BP is going down too. Not much longer! Are you wearing stays under the dress or did you modify it for modern undergarments? That is the discussion I am having with myself regarding this pattern.

  15. Absolutely gorgeous! Thank goodness about your contractions and BP. That's great news. Merry Christmas!


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!