Saturday, June 11, 2011

Regency Day Dress Progress Update #2

My dress is nearly done! I am glad, since it's just hit me that I only have a few more weeks to finish getting our stuff ready for the JA festival. Time is running short! Alas! I don't have that much more to do but I am going to have to speed up production a few notches. It was relaxing taking my lethargic time making bits and pieces of our regency attire since winter, but, the time for lethargic behaviour is over.

Anyway, the dress was really insanely simple. . .a lot like putting together a childs dress from the 1860's era. Similar style of gathered bodice, waistband, sleeves, etc. So it went together really fast. There is no lining in the dress but I did put a covering waistband on the inside, to hide the seam allowances and make everything look tidy. Here is an inside view of the bodice:

The dress was constructed with the short sleeves and the armscyes trimmed and bound. The undersleeves are simply basted into the armscye, attaching to the binding, and can easily be removed the short sleeved version of the dress is preferred. This is a nifty way to get two looks out of one garment. I really like it. :)

You may note the undersleeves do NOT match the dress fabric. They were originally intended to match, but I realized my fabric was only 36" wide when I was cutting out the skirt, so I had to use the fabric I was originally going to make the undersleeves with to piece together a panel to make my skirt wider. (2 panels of 36" fabric just wasn't going to cut it, as it seems a normal width for skirts of this period is around 100" or so). I have seen what appears to be contrasting undersleeves in fashion plates of the era - there is one good example in Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion - and ladies more knowledgeable than I about this period of fashion thought that using a contrasting fabric would be fine. So, the undersleeves are of handkerchief linen. I think they will be deliciously cool to wear in the heat of summer.

Here is the front. . .kind of a boring shot since you all know what the front looks like already! :) The undersleeves look kind of boufy and big here but I think that is because there is no arm in them to give them shape. They are in reality quite closely fitted with a flare at the wrist to go over the hand, ending at about knuckle level.

A closer view of the neckline and sleeves:

And the back. The back closes with covered buttons and hand made buttonholes. There is a slight scorch mark on the neckband that I will have to try to remove. :( My iron is very unreliable right now. I really don't want to throw this dress in the washing machine. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get this out?

A side view. The skirt is not hemmed yet and as it is, it is slightly trained. What think thee, gentle readers? Should I ditch the train and make the skirt even all around or keep it?

And back. The panel that I had to piece I put at the back. You can see the seams between the 3 pieces I had to sew together to make this panel towards the bottom of the skirt but hopefully it won't be terribly noticeable. I do have enough fabric left to make a narrow band I could sew to the skirt to cover this seam, but am afraid a band at this height on the skirt would make it look choppy instead of columnar and graceful. Since I am a bit on the short side, I need all the visual height I can get! ;)

What I still have to do:

Hem the skirt. David has agreed to try to mark it for me if I want an even hem all around. If not, I can just hem it up where it is at right now without having to mark it.

Possibly embroider the undersleeves. I'd love to do this, but don't have floss on hand so can't start on that right away. I may or may not get this done before the festival but I do want to do it eventually.

Remove scorch marks!



  1. This dress turned out so nicely! I love the style- it's a little different than a lot of the Regencies I've seen, but still in the same vein. And the fabric is so lovely and subtle, and complimented by the square neckline! Well done!
    This makes me want to finish up my own Regency dress, which has been sitting in my sewing lair 90% done for a while now... :)

  2. Oh, and I do like the train. It doesn't look long enough to trip over, but adds an elegant touch to your already lovely dress :D

  3. Keep the's beautiful, and adds to the 'visual lengthening' of the dress.

  4. I vote for the train! Together with the undersleeves, it will add an extra touch of gracefulness and gentility. :)

  5. Oh it's so lovely! Really, just beautiful.

  6. Dear Miss Sarah Jane,

    Miss Jenni is right: the train will add height and extra grace when you walk.

    Such a handsome dress!

    Very best,

    Who just cannot wait to meet you in July!

  7. Oh my gosh, that is gorgeous! It looks perfect. I can't wait to see you wearing it!
    Love, Julia

  8. HI Sarah,
    Your dress is turning out beautifully. I would seriously wear something like's so pretty :) :) I vote "keep the train" I really liked that detail :) Have a great Sunday. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  9. Absolutely beautiful! So finished and professional, looks like the 'real' thing in a museum! I love the buttons in the back.

    One thing that a mentor taught me is that you don't have to purchase the forms for covered buttons, which can be somewhat expensive and fiddly to work with...a cheaper and perhaps 'free' (if your husband keeps tools and such about) are stainless steel metal washers. They come in many diameters (1/2 inch is perfect for midcentury waistcoats).

    Just cover them in muslin (to protect your fashion fabric from the edges if desired)first and make a pouch out of the fashion fabric to stitch on to the washer. The tied off end is what is sewn to the garment. I was sceptical that this would work, that it wouldn't hold but they are sturdier than commercial coverable buttons. Plus,they have that flat profile so they're great for Civil War era waistcoats, etc.

  10. Very, very pretty! I can't wait to see it on you. you will look gorgeous!

  11. I too like the train. Can't wait to see it all come together!

    There's lots on the web for removing scorch marks. My first impulse would be to use white vinegar, but i've also seen suggestions for lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide. Something should work, but don't use too hot of an iron, and the sooner you work on it the better. Good luck.

  12. Keep the train! You're my hero!

  13. Ms. Sarah:

    I am always awe-inspired by your talents. Over the last several days of my research I am continually pointed to your blog. Good work!

  14. I know it's been ages since you've posted this, but I realized I may have the exact fabric that you used for this dress! I made an 1880s walking dress that ended up being my wedding dress which turned out quite lovely for that fabric.

    I'm about to make my first Regency dress and I really love this style that you used. I know you probably didn't use a pattern, but do you have more detailed instructions of how you assembled this one? I have the Lady's Closet pattern from Could I use that as a start to achieve this type of dress? Thank you!

  15. Sarah, this dress was really quite easy to make! Do you have or can you get through the library the book Patterns of Fashion 1 by Janet Arnold? This dress is heavily inspired by one of the dresses in that book, that has the gathered bodice with the square neckline. The book has drawings of the pattern pieces, so you can see how to adjust your own pattern to get the same style.

    I think you could easily get a similar style from the Elegant Lady's Closet pattern by doing the following:

    1. Use the pattern for the "drawstring" gown.

    2. Instead of making it a slip on style, make a back opening.

    3. Cut separate shoulder straps and have them end at the bottom of the neckline.

    4. Cut a strap to go across the front neckline, and sew the shoulder straps to the neckline.

    5. To complete the front bodice, gather and attach a rectangle to the neckline strap.

    6. You will probably have to shape the under-arm area of the front bodice, cutting away a little bit to accommodate the underarm. Sew up the side seams.

    7. Gather the bottom of the front bodice to fit a fitted waistband.

    8. Attach skirt - I used 2 panels of fabric for mine.

    9. Attach sleeves. The sleeves in the ELC pattern are great! Mine are just above elbow length puffs, with removable plain undersleeves.

    Hope this helps! I can't wait to see your dress! :D

  16. I just realized. . .this sounds way more complicated than it is! The Boone frock style of dress that you made for your daughter on your blog has a really similar neckline. . .so that is a better way to describe how to do it! Just do it like that. ;)


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!