Category: costume

Regency Sari Ballgown – Part 3

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!


Elizabethan Coat Dress – Part 2

Cartridge Pleats

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.

Guide and markings for cartridge pleats

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.

Stitching cartridge pleats

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.

Cartridge pleats constructed

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.


Skirt attached to bodice

For more information on creating cartridge pleats, this tutorial is very good.





Skirt Supports

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.



Finishing Touches

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!





Elizabethan Coat Dress – Part 1

One of our members Marion has started to construct an Elizabethan gown. With her permission, I have used her photos to document her progress on it.

She is basing it off the Pattern Simplicity 3782, doing the collared dress on the left in the picture. The fabric she is using is a furnishing fabric, these are usually the only ones available that have the patterns necessary for historical costumes.

The first thing is the bodice, which is fairly straightforward. She cut this using the vertical lines of the fabric pattern. Then adding the sleeves and a green fabric was used as the contrast on the collar when the bodice was finished.



Next up it is time for the skirt, showing in the detail the construction of cartridge pleats.

Regency Sari Ballgown – Part 1

With the ball at Wentworth Falls coming up, I was looking at a ballgown. Firstly a white on white embroidery gown, but I am still very much learning my embroidery. So instead I decided to go with a dress made from an Indian sari, much easier and even authentic.

After some Googling I chose this sari from CBazaar, going for a border I could use as a hem and some decoration I could use for the skirt. It arrived promptly, and I have started to play with it on my mannequin and the jewellery I plan to wear with it.

The design I have is fairly basic, but the key is the cutting out to take advantage of the sari’s embroidery. Next month we have a sewing day for our club, and with the help of the more experienced seamstresses I will cut it out and make a start to it.

Accessories for the budget costumer

Making historical costumes can require significant investment in time and money. But what completes a costume and makes it look more authentic is accessories, and these need not be expensive or even difficult to acquire. These are just a few that I have noticed and I may post again if I see more.


A must-have accessory for ladies and gents, particularly at balls. Kitten Damour sells satin, fishnet and lace gloves in black and white. For evening wear, Costume Box has a range of elbow-length gloves.

Fans and Parasols

A good place to look for cheap fans and parasols is websites that sell wedding favours. Such as Favours Plus, JJs House and Pink Frosting.

Hats and Shoes

These are perhaps the most expensive, but what helps is doing research as well as keeping your eyes open. I recently purchased my dancing slippers for the regency from Big W, they were ballet flats. The same with hats which can be easily decorated with ribbons and artificial flowers.

French 18th Century court dress – Part 4

Once the bodice was done, I was in the home stretch for the gown!

Firstly, it needed more support in the undergarments. I changed the petticoat to have quilted panels down the bottom to better support the weight of the skirt. The quilted fabric I got from the charity fabric shop, it reeked heavily of mothballs and had to be washed thoroughly to get the smell out.

After that I managed to finish the dress relatively quickly once I got the fabric, all in all I estimate about 15 metres of jacquard fabric went into this dress!

At this stage I still have a little way to go, need some more metallic trim and I need the proper stays (corset) to properly finish it off. I will post more when I have more updates about the construction of the stays.



French 18th Century Court Dress – part 3

I found some lovely silver trim at a charity fabric shop near me, unfortunately it meant that it would be impossible to get more. The trim did a very good job of hiding the overlocker stitching as well as breaking up the fabric pattern. This was all hand-stitching with invisible thread.

Then had the problem of finding more trim that was similar, not an easy task! I managed to locate some in the UK through Ebay, it wasn’t exactly alike but I thought it was about as good as I was going to get.

The next task was to do the bodice, which I had to do some modifications. Firstly, it did not seem to be made for particularly big busted people so I would need to make it bigger. Secondly, I wanted to make it more authentic by having the stomacher detatchable.

The first one was fairly simply, I cut pattern pieces out of some fabric scraps and used my mannequin to construct the rest as I would need it. I highly recommend getting one if you are a costumer! It is so good to be able to see your work as it will look on you!

After that the bodice was easy to create.

To make the stomacher detatchable was even simpler. I cut two of the pattern piece in calico and used American Duchess’ suggestion of cable ties for boning. I know there are other things you can use that are more authentic, but you can get these very long and very easily.

Once it was covered with my fabric, I added the trims and some ties so it can be pinned on.

So, here it is all together!

Next time, finishing it all up!

French 18th Century court dress – Part 2

What I love about the 18th century fashions is all the little details that make up the whole garment. This means trims and for this dress, lot and lots of box pleats.

This tutorial was very helpful in working out the box pleats. In the end all I needed was a ruler, a pencil, a hot iron and a lot of pins. To get the right amount of fabric for the pleats I went from a ration from 1:3. This meant I had to cut, baste and overlock about six metres of fabric all up so there would be enough for the pleats.


This first set of pleats were 5cm wide. They were, mostly, to cover the stitches of the extra panel I had added to the hem. But when I attached them I liked how they looked so much that I decided to add some more smaller ones for the very bottom of the skirt.


This next set of pleats I made smaller. Only 2cm wide. A bit more difficult to make them smaller, but it was good practice as I do plan to make some more of the same size for the overskirt.


Attaching the pleated trim to the skirt gave it a weight and drape that I really liked. It also made it clear that the skirt needed more support than it had from the fairly lightweight petticoat. More petticoats was the answer, probably.versaillles_dress8versaillles_dress9

Next up, some metallic trim to hide those ugly overlocking edges!