Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Regency Shift

The past weekend was full and busy and fun. The only bit of sewing I did was cutting out my regency shift and taking the big black feather off of my regency bonnet. I swapped it out for smaller white feathers and a row of pink paper flowers across the front.

I saw some similar trim arrangements on bonnets in my new book so I felt it was a safe and accurate choice. I would have preferred silk flowers but I could not find anything remotely real looking in either Jo Anns, Hobby Lobby or Wal Mart. The whole effect is much fluffier and girlish (as in, little-girlish) and Little Bo Peep-ish but I do not feel so starkly obvious now that the tall black feather is gone. I do still have it. I even made a red velvet ribbon rosette to pair with it which looked stunning, if I do say so myself. Black and red are very magnificent colors. But, it was just not me. Not right now, anyway. If you think it looks horrible just tell me as I am open to any and all suggestions. I keep trying to trim it like an 1860's bonnet but every time I go back to look at fashion plates and paintings and drawings from the early 1800's I realize how very, very different bonnet shapes, styles and trimmings were!

Maybe I could pair the rosette and ostrich plume with my red slippers and white gown for the ball.

Anyway, no white gowns can be in my future until I first have my proper undergarments. I have my stays and a bodiced petticoat (although I think the petticoat needs some work to make it less bulky) but I have not a proper shift. I finally finished this one today after 4 days of lethargic sewing. It is square cut, boring and I have no idea why it took me so long to make.

Despite it being an unfancy garment it has already seen its share of adventure. This morning I awoke at 5 a.m. to a horrendous yowling and screeching beneath the window our bed is next to. Peeping out I saw Cat facing off a strange calico, pale-faced feline and just behind Cat sat the large bunny cage. Since last night was so warm, we kept Milo and Otis outdoors and thought little of it. Apparently, the Strange Cat had advanced with evil thoughts upon the two terrified and helpless bunnies and Cat sprang to the rescue to defend them. Little tufts of white fur bore witness to his heroic defenses. I threw open the window and tried to scare the strange cat away but it would not go and gazed at me balefully.

So then my yet-unfinished shift came into play. I threw it on and ran outside to chase the strange cat off. It went very slowly and very unwillingly back to an outbuilding on the property with Cat in close pursuit. After trying in vain to get Cat to come inside with me I scooped up the bunnies and brought them in. I now have gray and white bunny-fur speckles on my shift. Cat returned home later this morning, a little grungy looking and with some fur missing from his backside but seemingly very well pleased with himself. He is now sunning himself on the carpet in the boys playroom. The Strange Cat is nowhere to be seen.

If I get motivated I will attempt to refurbish my bodiced petticoat this afternoon so that I can start on my gown and David's tailcoat as soon as possible. Registration for the Jane Austen festival begins today!

Edited: Okay, here is a photo of my undies; shift, stays and bodiced petticoat. The petticoat bodice is made of one layer of white cotton lined (I probably should NOT have lined it!) with pale pink cotton since I was out of white cotton at the time I was making this. : / It has a drawstring to adjust the waist which seems to work okay, but there is also a drawstring at the neckline that ties at center back and the back just does NOT overlap and the fabric at the neckline creeps up on the drawstring, so you can see my stays if that makes sense. Also, I think the neckline of the bodiced petticoat looks a tad high. This is about how I want my dress neckline cut so I think the bodiced petticoat neckline should be lower/wider than the dress. Also, the straps on the petticoat seem to be really almost off the shoulder instead of high up on the shoulder. Should I cut it down? Make a new bodice for the petticoat? Could I salvage this one by taking off the bodice, removing the lining, cutting down the bodice a tad bit at the neck and armscyes and then finish and reattach it to the skirt? And maybe make the back button closed instead of tie? (I could still keep the tie at the waistline since it is a bit adjustable. . .)



  1. Oh, good Cat! Brave Cat!

    Brave you to run outside and rescue the little bunnies. You might want to sew a single bunny hair and Cat hair inside a hem for remembrance's sake.

    The shift does like nice. Yes, many of them were quite plain back then, although not all. Like you, I am dawdling on mine, for it's not too exciting to complete.

    Very best,


  2. I already gave you my (amaturish) suggestions about the petticoat on FB, but I had to say I loved the tale of Cat and the interloper! Good for him, taking care of the bunnies like that. I hope he got lots of love today :) And the image of you running outdoors in your shift to rescue the rabbits made me laugh!

  3. What a great cat! I'm so glad your bunny is safe.

    I loove the length and cut of your petticoat. I might be stealing your idea for the length and shape :-)

  4. The petticoat is very sweet. And good for Cat, defending the bunnies! :)

  5. Bravo Cat, defending his own! But please keep an eye on anywhere he might have been scratched. You don't want to end up with nasty abcesses, so i recommend finding any wounds and applying a warm/hot compress to the sites a couple of times a day for several days. You don't want to get hard scabs on them - keep them "soft" by the moist heat. If Cat doesn't care for the treatments, you can wrap him in a towel to make it easier to hold or secure him. It takes up some of your time, but not too much effort, and really pays off in preventing more serious (and gross) infections.

    Ah, Spring! I like the hat trim, and think the paper roses are perfect. Not every lady would have been able to afford silk flowers, and might have made her own such as these. Well done! Diane


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!