Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Regency Drawstring Dress, Progress Pics

After watching Sense and Sensibility a week or so ago, I engulfed myself fully into the task (the pleasant task, to be sure) of making a gown similar to the ones worn in the movie. I am using a bluish-gray-purple striped shirting cotton and Sense and Sensibility's Elegant Lady's Closet e-pattern.
The most time-consuming and tedious part, so far, was printing out the pages of pattern pieces and taping them together. (not an easy feat when you have two toddlers who very much enjoy the rustly sounds of paper and who very, VERY much enjoy the sounds of tearing paper). Since my machine doesn't work right now I'm sewing it all by hand. It is taking me a bit longer to do this than if I had a machine but I am very excited about creating this gown the way it originally would have been put together!

So far the pattern has been absolutely wonderful to work with. The pieces fit together perfectly and the instructions are clear and illustrated. I finished the bodice yesterday and plan on starting on the skirt this evening if I have time. I'm still not completely sure how I will gather and attach the skirt at the back and I'm not sure exactly how to make the casing for the drawstring at the waist (which will depend upon which method I use for attaching the skirt) but those things tend to work themselves out so I'm trying not to worry too much about it right now.
I did make a few changes because I only had a little over 3 yards of this material and the pattern called for more than that. To make my fabric amount work, I had to cut the bodice back so there was a seam up the center back and I had to cut the straps of the bodice seperately instead of in one piece with the bodice front. I think these changes are okay since in Janet Arnold's book she illustrates a few surviving gowns from this same period that have center back seams and seperate shoulder straps. I barely had enough fabric left to cut the skirt long enough but I was able to squeeze out the full length measurement plus a scanty 1" extra for a tiny turned hem at the bottom. The dress is interesting to me because it has an inner closure that you fasten before you draw up the drawstrings in the gown. This little inner front bodice is described as smoothing the lines of your stays so they will not show through your gown when you are wearing it. I made this inner lining of heavy green linen since the pattern called for a somewhat stiff, heavy fabric. I think next time I make this dress I will alter the shape of the lining pieces so that will fit me better. Right now the lining kind of gapes a bit at the waistline because I am not flat from the raised waist to the high point of the bust. But redrawing the slant of the front edge should cure that, I think. When I wear this dress I will have to pin the lining with more overlap at the bottom edge than at the top but that is something I can live with.

Hopefully this dress will be finished within the week!




  1. Very, very nice. You may certainly use any picture you wish m'dear. As for the pleating, I'm not sure how to describe it....I usually pleat the back to match the width of the bodice, and I try to pleat is as small as possible. Then I pin each pleat in place and sew the right sides of the bodice and skirt together with a running stitch. I'm not sure if this is period correct, but it gets the job done and looks nice on the outside. If the back bodice is lined, I turn the back bodice lining under and whip stitch it to the inside of the skirt. If the bodice is not lined, which is how this pattern is, I will encase the raw edge. Hope that helps. I will be sending you a longer letter soon, dear. God Bless!

    Love Lauren

  2. I love your gown! The stripes are beautiful -- I didn't even notice the back seam until you pointed it out. I just found some old sheets at Goodwill to begin my next Regency gowns. I've never hand-sewed anything more than a hem before, is it as fragile and time consuming as I fear? I'm too afraid of my stitches breaking that I haven't even tried yet.

    And I've visited Bloomington a few times in my life. Most of my family lives South and West, tho, so I have little excuse to got that way. When is your little one due?

  3. Very lovely fabric! I've been meaning to try this same pattern myself although I'm afraid it will have to take a backseat to some mid-century men's things. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

  4. Beautiful gown! Regency has always screamed "MATERNITY DRESS" to me, so it should be perfect for you right now, lol. I guess that the style must have grown on David by now? I need to get that Janet Arnold book, you've referenced it several times and have made such lovely gowns with it!


  5. Wonderful job as always, Sarah. :) Thank you for sharing.

  6. That is beautiful, Sarah! I can hardly wait to see what the finsihed gown will look like. What *gorgeous* fabric. Where did you get it?!

  7. Sarah,

    Can you please read the comments on my "Santa Story Post?" I had a nasty comment from an anonymous person and I responded. I wanted your opinion on the response. Thank you dear friend. God Bless!

    Love Lauren

  8. Lauren, thanks so much for the sewing tips! I have the skirt pleated and ready to be sewn on hopefully today. We have errand-running to do and its nice to have a bit of handwork to work on in the car in-between places. :)

    Im so sorry for the nasty comment you got on your blog. I have had a few of those here myself and they have always been anonymous. I don't mind if people disagree with me but I would like it if they would do so in a loving manner and if they would at least sign a name so that is why I have everyone sign in for comments now. Sigh. But God Bless you for standing up for what is right!!

    Cheri, I got the fabric at a Red Tag sale at Jo Anns - $2/yard which was WAY lower than the original price! I was so excited to find it!

    Thank you all for your kind words!

  9. Thank you dear friend. I wanted to make sure that I didn't come across nasty or at that same level. You are a true friend :-)


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!