Friday, August 16, 2013

A Blue Linen Regency Skeleton Suit

My beautiful boy is 4 years old. I cannot describe how much I love this little fella. He delights me and amazes me with his personality, his plain common sense and his deep maturity. Is he only 4? He acts as though he possesses a spirit much older. His eyes are wide and far seeing. He has a beautiful soul.

For his regency outfit I wanted a distinct "little boy" style. I was very tempted to make a frock and matching pantalette's/drawers but at 4 Malachi is a bit too old for that. Together we looked at our inspiration images and Malachi decided he wanted a skeleton suit, which consists of a little jacket or bodice buttoned to trousers. The original suit Malachi liked was blue, with a very plain long sleeved, boat-necked bodice and broadfall trousers.

I used the blue linen to make some loose fitting trousers with a deep hem and an easy fitting waistband. I have no idea if it is period correct or not but I took a cue from the 1860's and made a little convenience slit in the front seam, so Malachi can use the potty without having to unbutton all those buttons around his waist. That is the only thing I don't like about button suits - they're awkward that way.
a huge thanks to my friend Jackie for all these silver buttons. A vintage 1950's find at a second hand sale - and there were exactly the right amount to make this suit.
I had a small bit of the linen left over and though I was going to make a long sleeved yellow linen jacket to go with the trousers, Malachi decided he wanted a matching jacket of the blue linen. I did not have enough to make a long sleeved bodice, but I did have just enough to make a short sleeved one. There are examples of short sleeved skeleton suits from this period so it is a nice period correct option, especially for summertime.

For the bodice I used the Sense and Sensibility Girls's Regency Gown pattern. It has the 3 piece back and the neckline I wanted, so I decided to go for it, changing the opening to a front opening - and it came out brilliantly! The sleeves were copied from several sleeve styles from the late 18th/early 19th c. in Patterns of Fashion 1. I made it up unlined, with facings at the front opening, and finished all the seams with hand felled seams.

The little shirt was a bit of a puzzle to figure out. In many paintings from the era one sees little boys wearing ruffled collar shirts. Some of the shirts appear to be regular men's-style shirts with ruffles at the collar and no collar button, others have plain collars and yet others appear to have shaped collars with ruffled edges. It's hard to know what artistic license was taken and usually impossible to see seam lines in paintings.

In the end, I made a little square cut shirt with a ruffle in place of a collar. An original c. 1800-1825 boys shirt from Augusta Auctions was made the same way, only with long sleeves instead of short ones. The neck was left to fall open. I'm not sure how I feel about the collar on this shirt since it seems a bit too full and clownish. I will probably make another shirt when I make the long sleeved yellow jacket.

Malachi was very happy with his finished outfit and immediately demanded that I take pictures of him in it. He appraised his reflection critically in the mirror and then delivered his verdict; "Oh Mommy, it looks so healthy."

Considering boys in the earlier 18th century wore restrictive clothing and these little skeleton suits were considered free and healthy for boys to wear, he is not far off on his remark, though it still puzzles me how he thought to use that word in this instance.

Tomorrow is the big day! The boys have been eagerly looking forward to it the past few weeks. I am looking forward to it, too, and quite content to think that now, at last, I have a Regency Family.



  1. It is so lovely! And you have a very clever little man there.

  2. You have a BEAUTIFUL Regency family! This suit is adorable. I am glad he loves it - I hope one day my little boys will as willingly acquiesce to being dressed up to please mum.

  3. Oh what a sweetheart! Awesome job! I love all your work it's so good.

    God Bless

  4. I'm glad those buttons worked out for this suit! *tear* he's growing up so fast. I remember when he was a day old when I came to see you and him at the hospital. I'm amazed at how grown up he's acting. When I was playing with him and the boys on the little merry go 'round he was talking and talking to me. He's so sweet.

  5. Very resourceful! I read your blog and it is brilliant. I went through many articles On Linen Suits but none of them are as good as yours.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!