Friday, March 1, 2013

Remaking the Green Regency Gown

Two years ago I made this dress: Green Regency Daydress. I copied the style from one in Costume in Detail and it came out looking a lot like the original! Good, right?

I never wore it. *blush* I did put it on a few times but I never actually wore it out of the house. Why? I just didn't like how it looked on me. It wasn't fitted very well and the style, with the loose sleeves, just made me look like I was wearing an ill-fitting muumuu.
oh-so-not-flattering. : /

I do like the fabric though, so I thought at some point I would remake it so it would fit a little better. What with missing last months regency challenge I thought it would be a good time to finally pull this thing apart and put it back together. With this dress I have 4 regency dresses and another outfit (white swiss dot evening gown, white striped day dress with removable undersleeves, cream checked drawstring dress, plus my spencer/petticoat outfit) I really have no need at all for any additional ones, so it is a better use of my time to remake what I already have rather than make new.

On Wednesday afternoon I tore the dress apart, removing the sleeves and taking the skirt off the bodice. Yesterday I set about putting it back together.

There were a few things I wanted to change with this version of the dress:

1. I wanted the bodice to fit well. (no drawstrings to take up ease, and a fitted lining)

2. I wanted the sleeves to fit well.

3. I wanted the waistline to be a tad higher. I made this dress to go over different stays that required a slightly lower waistline.

The first thing I did, after picking out the threads and pressing the pieces, was to take out some of the excess width in the back by putting in curved side back seams.

Here is the back bodice with the side back pieces sewn. You can see that by adding this seam, it significantly shortened the length of the back bodice.

This is fine with me since often in dresses from this period you will see the waistline in the back curves to be higher than the waistline in the front. It gives a more elegant, fluid line. I trimmed off the excess length at center back and everything was fine.

I then sewed the side seams and tried the bodice on. I had to take in the side seams about an inch on either side to get it to fit nicely. After that, I put the bodice on inside-out and pinned darts in the lining.
In all these fitting pics, you can see the stays above the long V neck opening. I will wear the dress with a kerchief or (when I make one) a chemisette to hide the stays.

The dress was originally made with the lining gathered-to-fit, but that gave a rather poufy silhouette to the bust. A fitted lining makes the gathers of the bodice to be pulled close to the body to avoid unnecessary visual bulk!

Now I could gather the fashion fabric at the bottom of the bodice to the fitted lining. MUCH better!!

My next area of concern was the armscye. When I made this dress I cut the armscye to hit very close to the shoulder edge. This gave a boxy appearance to the shoulders, especially when combined with the gathered sleeves. I cut a LOT away from the armscye and also cut the armscye in the back to be much deeper.
The pins sort of showing where the front armscye needs to be trimmed. 
For the sleeves I used my basic 18th c. style sleeve and cut it off just below the elbow. It fitted well into the armscye of the dress. Here is the bodice with the sleeves sewn in:

I didn't take any pictures during the re-do of the skirt but it was fairly simple. The original skirt was gathered to fit the back but this time I pleated it. I put in two small pleats at either side of the front skirt as this gives a better line (at least for me) than having the skirt totally straight all the way across.

I hemmed the sleeves, finished some inside seams, fixed the back buttons and now the dress is ready to wear! I'll have some finished pics later.

In the meantime, Judah and Malachi found a cat outside yesterday, a poor, skinny, starving, purry, grey-faced, golden-eyed kitty. She's a girl, and she has no name. We call her "The Skinny Cat". We will keep it, at least til it is fatter and healthier. Then we'll see what we'll see.



  1. Your talent for taking things apart that were once undesireable into something beautiful continually inspires me. Ahh, I can't wait to return home and start sewing this spring! :)

    Poor kitty. I've always had a soft spot for cats, and your stray calico looks like sweetheart!

  2. I love your remake! It looks perfect. I too prefer pleating on regency - gathers can look too bulky.

  3. I think you should name her Angel. :) When I was MUCH younger, there was a beautiful cat at my Grandparents house that bonded with me. She looked so much like the skinny cat, and I called her Angel. She disappeared a long, long time ago, but I never forgot my sweet Angel. :)


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!