Monday, August 27, 2012

August Regency Project - Linen Gown, Pt. 1

I felt vaguely guilty last month for missing the monthly regency project challenge. I had my newborn baby girl on my hands so I thought that was good enough excuse to miss it. But I didn't want to miss the August challenge. And now I am realizing with a jolt that August is very nearly over and I still have not even really thought about a regency project for this month.
Judah expresses shock and horror that I haven't started my regency project for this month yet.
(Okay, not really, he was just being dramatic and silly during our (very wet and muddy) living history event this weekend. )

That must be remedied. This months project won't be fancy or involve too much work but it will get done. After looking back on the list of projects I so enthusiastically wrote out earlier this spring of things I wanted to make for the regency costume challenge I was feeling quite uninspired by every thing I have left on that list. So I decided to make the dress since when all else fails, a new dress still makes me feel good when I put it on.

It won't be the filmy, floaty, sheer white gown I envisioned back in the merry month of May. I haven't purchased fabric for that and there is no time to order it for this month. I will still likely make the filmy dress someday but this month I am going for something more practical. After all, the items I planned to make were to represent what an average woman of average means may have worn day to day during the early 19th century in this pioneering area of the country.
Filmy white gown from V & A

For that, I plan to change up the style slightly. Instead of the V&A dress style (which I still adore!) I will make something more along the lines of the Past Patterns Lewis and Clark gown. The front opening will be perfect for nursing and this dress is just adorable. I have seen the pattern made up several times and it always look great on the person wearing it! The cut of the back is just pure awesomeness. And so practical for doing work! The cut of the sleeve is great for that.
I love the bonnet in this illustration for the Lewis and Clark gown. Maybe I will make one like it for next month.

The fabric I am using is a medium weight linen blend fabric I got at the thrift store over a year ago. I suspect it is a blend since it doesn't wrinkle as easily as pure linen. Maybe a linen/rayon blend? It is more drapey than a linen/cotton blend. It feels very much like the linen/rayon blends that Jo Anns sells. It is not pure white but is more of a cream or eggshell color. It has a woven stripe in it. I feel vaguely guilty about using a linen blend instead of pure linen but because time is short and money is tight I am going to just use it anyway. . .after all, it will look good and honestly, who is going to cut a piece of fabric off my dress and burn it to discern the fiber content?

My only concern is the drawstring closure. I like tidy, neat little drawstring channels and cords. Bulky drawstring channels are nasty. Because the fabric is not super lightweight I am afraid the the drawstring channels will bunch up unattractively. Do I live with it and use drawstrings anyway? Or should I make a fitted waistband for the dress instead and gather the neckline to a bound edge and close the front of the dress with either pins or hook and eyes?

Of course, if I make the bodice with minimal gathers and making the channels fit rather tight to the drawstring cord the drawstring method of closure may work well too. I will have to experiment.



  1. I look forward to seeing the dress. I ended up going for a drawstring cheat by using elastic.
    I have some mystery linen blend myself. But I look terrible all in white. Have to stick to patterns.

  2. Hi Sarah,
    I know you are super busy right now, with little Anne and the boys, but I have an idea for a post. I've been reading your blog for a few years and you have often mentioned some thrifty ideas for making a corset (cable ties, etc.) and I'd love a post detailing some cost-saving ideas and hints for making your first corset. Keep up the great blogging and enjoy your wonderful family!

  3. Lady D, I look terrible all in white too. I think I read somewhere that pure white is one of the hardest colors to wear since hardly anyone looks really good in it. I tend to have to stick with cream colors, off-white, very light beige, etc. Those look much better.

    Elisabeth Rose, thanks for that post idea! That is a GREAT idea and I will definitely have to think more about doing something like that. I actually have a corset to make for a friend and have draped the pattern but not started sewing it together yet, so perhaps when I do I will have to do that post. Corsets are my favorite thing to make! And they can be so easy to make and so cheap to make as well. Thanks for that thought!


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!