Finally, we finished the weekend with high tea at the Carrington Hotel as well as some impromptu dancing thanks to the lovely pianist in the room.
Month: September 2017
The next morning, we had brunch at the Gingerbread House at Katoomba. Thank you to the lovely people who didn’t mind us invading and preparing a special Regency blend hot chocolate.
After a quick rehearsal that afternoon, we dressed up in our evening attire and attended the Regency ball. So many nice ladies and gentlemen dressed up to the nines.
The first step was to attach the lining to the various pieces, mostly by hand stitching. After that it was time for construction, which Marion and I began over a marathon day of about five hours.
First, we constructed the bodice itself, adding the layers until it was complete and could be tied up the front to make sure for size. The turquoise lining can be seen here, but the bib would cover it up.
After that it was on to the sleeves, gathering them getting them attached to the sleeve bands and then to the shoulder straps. The stiffness of the lining gave them a good shape, meaning reinforcement for a puff was unnecessary once they were gathered at both ends.
And then, we go on to attaching the skirt to the ball. First gathering the skirt and the lining and then attaching it to the bodice. This wasn’t a small job, but thanks to what I had learned from Adrienne and Marion up to this point, I managed to pull it off.
So here it is, very closed to finished and almost in time for the ball! Thanks very much to Adrienne and Marion for their experience and patience. This never would have been done without them!
Before we started construction on my dress, I had no idea it would be so involved. And had I known this before, then perhaps I wouldn’t have thought of starting it. But, it was worth it in the end despite the difficulties and thanks to the invaluable skills of Adrienne and Marion.
First thing I would like to relate what Adrienne said to me about anyone embarking on a Regency sari dress: everyone is unique to each woman and each sari. What she did with measuring me and the fabric was to try and use the best features of the sari as well as have enough fabric to make the garment. This does take a rather experienced eye, which I didn’t have. However, this is also what would have been done if one was constructing a gown back in the Regency period. To take a sari brought from India to a dressmaker and have them make a gown from it.
First we decided on a pattern, we used the Laughing Moon bib front gown and after some measuring and cutting by Adrienne, we were left with these pieces to make the dress.
The pallu, the loose end of the sari, we preserved entirely to make the front of the dress. The back is made of two starred panels with a plain blue in between. There are also stars on the centre back piece and on the sleeves (not pictured). The borders we managed to save are be used for the bib front, the shoulder straps and sleeve bands.
Given the sari is so sheer, it needed a lining. I settled on a bright turquoise in the end to bring out the colour, as well as a few shades of purple which unfortunately my camera could not bring up. The lining would also form the support for the bodice ties for the bib to be attached to.
Next we will move on to construction of the gown itself.
Many period clothing involves construction of a big skirt, this means a large amount of fabric that needs to be fit around the waist. And the best way to do this is with cartridge pleats, also known as gauging. Though the use of cartridge pleats is not really true to the period, but sometimes you need to prioritse efficiency over accuracy.
Once again, Marion has provided pictures for the construction of the dress with particular detail paid for the cartridge pleats. This is for hand-sewing construction, not machine, which I have done myself as its better for control.
First thing is to make sure that the skirt is hemmed and the top of the skirt is finished and neat, such as with overlocking as Marion did here,
Cartridge pleats look best when they are even, so Marion made a guide to make this easier, making a double line of markings where the hand stitches will be. Using heavy-duty thread and a large needle, connect the two lines of markings with a running stitch and then pull together so the folds meet. You should have something that looks a little like a set of curtains.
After this, there are several ways to fix the pleats in place, such a sewing in a waistband, Marion instead attached her skirt to the bodice, the heavy canvas already being quite stiff and supportive.
For more information on creating cartridge pleats, this tutorial is very good.
Just as important as the costume itself is having the right foundation garments. For the period, the correct ones is a bumroll, similar to the panniers for my 18th century court dress, with a farthingale hoop that can be seen beneath the petticoat.
Once these are in place, the right Elizabethan silhouette can be achieved which is seen when Marion tries it on with the front piece in place.
Lastly, some braid and ribbons finishes off the garment, the buttons more decorative than functional and the garment is finished!
Thanks go to Marion for such cleverness as well as permissions to use her photos!