Saturday, September 1, 2012

August Regency Project - Drawstring Gown, Finished!

I finished the gown yesterday! I feel bad that I have no more photos of it during the construction process but our camera batteries were dead and I just had to plunge ahead anyway and sew since I had a deadline to meet. For those among you who are interested in the construction details, this is what I did:

1. Finish the neckline. I finished the straps with a straight binding piece. The front neckline of the dress was finished by plain hemming. I put a drawstring in the front neckline (the drawstring is sewn to where the strap meets the bodice, then emerges from a small eyelet near the center front edge of each bodice piece).
2. Sew the skirts to the bodice. The skirt is 3 panels of 45" fabric. The majority of the skirt is in the back, taken up in deep pleats. The rest of the skirt is sewn flat to the bodice. I finished the seam between the skirt and bodice with a casing and a drawstring draws up the front of the skirt/bottom of the bodice and ties shut in front. The bottom of the skirt is finished with a 1.5" hem.
3. Pattern and make the sleeves. The most annoying part of the construction! I measured my arm and the armhole of the dress. I drew a shape I thought would work. I made a few mock ups, tweaked the fit and ended up with what you see in the pics. The sleeves don't fit smoothly into the armhole but have a few pleats at the back armscye to take in the fullness but this was the only way I could make the sleeve fit without being too tight.

David took some pics for me last night. The first rainfall from Hurricane Isaac was just beginning to arrive here in central IL. I am really happy with how this dress came out. Of all the regency gowns I've made I think this one is definitely my favorite! It's simple and plain and comfortable and I feel at ease in it.

Yeah, David needs to mow our grass. . .
Oh, and one other very awesome thing about this dress is that, due to the lining flaps, I can wear it just as well WITHOUT stays as with stays. The lining flaps don't give as rigid a support as the boned and corded stays, but definitely ample support, kinda a sports bra sort of support. That is nice for nursing since although nursing is definitely possible in stays, Anne does not approve of nursing in stays. She gets very frustrated with it.

Baby Anne is wearing her 18th century baby undies that I made for her way, way back late last December. Or at least her shirt, cap and linen diaper. The shirt barely fits her, poor darling. It's hard to believe she is six weeks old today and already she is outgrowing her first size clothing.

Sorry there are so many pics but since it is difficult to see the details of the dress, due to the fabric and the lighting, that I thought all of the pictures sort of collectively show the style. I love the small back as it gives a huge range of motion to the arm. It is a good style for physical labor and is still fashionable at the same time.

The width of the skirts is also good for active work. I do need to hem up my petticoat a tad, though! It kept peeking out from under the dress.

And the standard front, back and side view pics:

While I was working on this dress I found my patterns for my 18th c. stays and the 1780's gown I made last fall. I hope to get the mock up fitted for the Hobbit bodice today. I started the Silmarillion this week and now am in a great state of delight concerning Middle Earth. I am inspired even more to get my Hobbit outfit completed.



  1. Love it! And the pictures of you and Anne is beautiful!

  2. The dress turned out so lovely! I think I use lovely a lot when speaking of your work ;-) I love the look of Regency era dresses...if only my hubby did. Miss Anne is looking adorable too :-)

  3. David isn't that thrilled about the look of regency gowns either. He calls them "glorified nightgowns". But over the years I think he's come to accept them, if not fully embrace them. It's a style that must grow on a longsuffering husband, after all, when he is forced by coincidence or design to watch repeatedly such films as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion. :) (He DID like the new Emma film!)

  4. Wow, here is quite the group of Sarahs! :-) I really like how the dress turned out. I love the diamond-back pattern. Did you use a pattern for that? I recently purchased the dress patterns from Sense & Sensibility, but I think they use a more modern approach, don't they? I'd very much like to use the most period correct I can find. Any suggestions?

    Oh, and good luck reading the Silmarillion! It was quite intense, but I enjoyed it because it added such depth and history to the LOTR and Hobbit books!

  5. Sarah does seem to be a popular name! But it's a great one! :D

    For the pattern, I used one that I draped (that did not have a diamond back) and redrew the seams to make a diamond back. It was a pain in the rear end though. It is meant to be similar to the style of gown in Past Patterns 031, the Lewis and Clark gown.

    The S&S regency patterns do have more modern construction directions. The original regency gown (the one that closes in the back) definitely has a modern way of putting it together. The Elegant Lady's Closet pattern is better, I think. I don't really think there is anything not accurate about the instructions as far as I know.

    I haven't used the Past Patterns regency gown pattern but I do know that the instructions for it are highly recommended as being very good. I believe the pattern comes with instructions to put the gown together the period correct way, and also a more modern way (although I may be mistaken about that).

    As a general rule I usually treat my lining and outer fabric pieces as one. I finish the seams with felling. The skirts are usually made from full widths of fabric so I use the selvedge as a natural seam finish. I make slashed and hemmed plackets, or, as with this dress, make a small facing for the front slit in the skirt (I got this idea from the medieval clothes I've made in the past). I do not know if my method is accurate or not but as I learn more I can adjust my techniques. I do sew all the seams on the machine and just do by hand that which can be seen from the outside (hems, seam finishes, drawstring channels, etc.)

    I'm about half way through the Silmarillion at this point. It's hard to put down! There is a LOT of information to digest.

  6. Dear Sarah,

    It has been awhile that I have visited your lovely place, and what a surprise to see the little one with eyes open and just looking precious :)

    I am in the process of putting together a servant's costume for an upcoming Heritage Day festival in our county. I am a spinner, and they want the servants to sit and spin for the 'lady' of the house.

    Your lovely space has proven to be a very encouraging and informative space...thank you.

    Mrs. B.

  7. Beautiful! I like simple, well-made dresses, and I have particularly liked this sort of back to regency dresses. It... sort of reminds me of 18th century stuffs?

    I haven't finished Silmarillion yet (as of years), but it is quite fabulous and also extremely full of things. Right now I'm trying to read through the Lord of the Rings aloud with a friend, but since we can't meet all the time, it is going awfully slowly and I might not finish before The Hobbit.

  8. So lovely and feminine, Sarah. I can see why it would be a favorite. :)

  9. Wow, the pictures of you and little Anne are SO INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL. My favorite is the one you are holding her up. It should be a painting.

    Thanks so much for sharing how you did things, now I am totally going to try to make this dress. It looks so beautiful on you, and the fact that its practical is really nice :)

  10. It's lovely!!! You do not look like you just had a baby, you look gorgeous :D


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!