Just got back from a great weekend in the Blue Mountains! Lots of photos and thanks to the organisers for doing such a good job.
I will be posting photos shortly of the various activities as well as the ball.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
As part of the Wentworth Falls Regency Weekend in September, the Historical Picnic Society will be hosting a high tea on the 17th September at the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba. This will be from 2.30pm until 5pm, a good way for a final get together before we leave the mountains.
Today marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. There have been many events today to commemorate this, and I attended the a lecture and morning tea at City of Ryde Library. The lecture was given by Paul Brunton, Emeritus Curator at the State Library of NSW, an authority on the 18th century and a long time Austen fan.
I attended in costume, promoting the society and the upcoming events we have. Hopefully I saw you there1