Monday, May 7, 2012

Jane Austen Regency Wardrobe Challenge

The Jane Austen Festival of Australia is, I discovered, hosting a costume challenge. I adore things that have the word "costume" in them and, most of the time, the word "challenge". BOTH costume AND challenge in a phrase? An ideal coupling, if you ask me. This is very timely for me since I have been longing for an excuse to get back into making regency items. There are two categories you can enter; one is to create a c. 1813 garment and the other is to make a "regency wardrobe". The site lists the various garments one can choose from for the wardrobe. You can enter the wardrobe challenge full time or part time. Full time is just one item per month. 

I am probably not going to be able to make it to the Jane Austen festival in Louisville, KY this summer. With David's work schedule, and finances and the fact I will be about five weeks away from my due date David feels it is wiser to stay close to home this summer. Still, I have been longing for an excuse to get back into sewing regency stuff. This challenge is just perfect and will give me a nice schedule to follow. Just one item per month is so doable and since I won't have to rush to get many projects done at once I can spend more time on the research and construction stage of each project. Hopefully this will mean a higher level of accuracy for each item. (although I am still not sure if I want to handsew everything.)

I have made a basic list with what I plan to make. This list is very flexible and may change as I research more and decide I like different styles better. But for now, this is the basic, bare-bones list. :) And I'm shooting for "around" the year 1800. The contest/challenge runs from now (May) through March of next year.

*I have saved these images from the internet and have NO IDEA, for the most part, where the images came from. So if you know please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.*

1. Drawstring/gathered gown: 
This gown is just gorgeous - and so convenient for the last few months of pregnancy as well. I think this will be my June project

2. Petticoat: (I already have one but would like to make another with fullness across the front to accomodate the baby bump)
My May project! Gotta have a petticoat before making a dress. 
3. "Spencerino", from Madame Dujards awesome tutorial, based on this original:
Most likely my July project
4. Short Gown:
October Project?

5. Linen mitts:
August - I want to handsew these so figure it will be a nice project to keep with me during the last days of pregnancy and the first weeks of new-motherhood. I can work on them anywhere!

6. Simple day cap:
I will probably make this in December, due to it's simplicity and the fact I am usually quite busy in the weeks right before Christmas

7. Sewn stockings:
Potential January project?
8. Bonnet: (this is the pattern I have but the style may, and probably will, change to something more suited for 1800)
February Project

9. Apron:
September Project
10. Open Robe:
November Project - I'd love to have this done  to wear for the holiday season.

So to all you fellow regency-lovers who haven't signed up - gosh, go sign up! :) I can't wait to see what everyone makes. 



  1. I find myself rather drawn to the phrase "costume challenge" as well. Best of luck!

    The first image is from the V&A museum. Nifty trick: drag and drop the image into the search field at, and it will find where else on the internet the image appears, which can help you find sources for older downloaded images.

  2. oooh...a costume contest sounds so inviting!

    I will miss you this summer, if you decide not to attend the J.A. Festival. But, with the baby on the way, and the summer heat...I don't blame you. :)

  3. I'm entering too! Everything looks lovely, good luck!

  4. Its funny..I'm not part of the challenge but I'm trying to do something a bit like this. Taking my time to sew each element. Chemise, stays, petticoat then dress.
    I'm going to have a front opening dress so need a petticoat.
    I also need to work on either hat or turban.
    And if I have time some 'slippers'.

  5. This is so exciting! I saw the challenge and have been waffling whether or not to join. Thanks to your example, I think I will! I'll be at the lower level, I suspect - I've got a lot else going on, too. But I find I do well with having some kind of deadline.

    Here's a higher-resolution version of that underpinnings picture:
    It's got the original caption, too, saying it's a "morning bonnet" and "corset elastique"! I guess it's one of the many varieties of short stays, shown over a sleeveless chemise and very sheer (you can see her garter) petticoat with embroidered hem. Crazy to see fashion plates like this, but it's so helpful.

  6. How fun!!! I wish I could go :(

  7. Beautiful choices! Can't wait to see how the recreations turn out :)


  8. Ahh, Regency fashions are my favorite of any era. I remember in college (I was a fashion major) getting lip from one of my professor's because the costume of the time was fairly uninvolved. Which is precisely what I like about it.

    Thanks much for the well-wishes on my blog...have a wonderful Mother's Day!!!

    xoxo Caroline

  9. Love your blog... I adore the old costumes,dresses, and all....


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!