Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dreaming of a 1798-1802 Ensemble

In preparation of the Jane Fest in Fresno in May, I have thoroughly immersed myself in Regency research. Whenever starting a new project, even if I'm well versed in the fashion, I *always* go back to primary and secondary sources for new ideas, inspiration and to delve further into the particular period.

I seem to be drawn to early Regency fashion from 1800 to 1810. I rarely think of 18-teens costumes, probably due to my well-endowed bustline and the extremely high waist of that decade. (Although, for another time, I'm becoming more drawn to the 1790s transitional styles too and would love to pull off a nice 1795 full round gown with tall feathers in the hair.)


I remain humble about the fact that I look good in Regency styles. My mentor, Michelle, has a wide ribcage, and therefore has to choose very particular gowns to be flattering on her figure. (So keep your figure in mind when choosing styling details in your new costume projects.)

The dress design will have a low, round neckline with full bodice gathers at neck and waist with a trained skirt also with gathers at the front and the standard full gathered back panel. The opening will be at center front.


My fabric is a natural white cotton fabric that is gauze-like with a windowpane weave. As I was just about to give up my search at my local JoAnn's, I wandered over to the home dec section and found the sheers right on the first row. It is so soft that it'll be a dream to wear. And since it's sheer, I'll also need to whip up a bodiced petticoat for modesty.


I'm working from a sketch from Fashion in Detail of an early 1800s dress. I pulled out my most recent sage green ballgown pattern and spent quite a bit of time altering it. The muslin is cut and ready to be sewn for a first fitting. Although I'm hoping my patterning will allow me to get away with just the one fitting so I can move onto the robe.

Here is the first rough draft of the pattern:

The sleeve head has a 1" seam allowance for pin-fitting into the armhole during the fitting.

Initially I wanted a pelisse to complete my outfit. My model for the Jane Fest presentation will be in a spencer and I wanted to show another example of outerwear (despite wanting a new spencer because I love them). But in consideration of the early style dress, I went with the open robe that is quite popular with early Regency costumers.



I've pulled out my Janet Arnold book along with the Cut of Women's Clothes by Norah Waugh which both show the open dress from the V&A. You can also see a reproduction in yellow on Kate Winslet as Marianne in the 1995 Sense and Sensibility.

But I'll have to finish the dress first before I continue with the robe. So back to sewing...

7 comments:

Lauren said...

One of my favorite eras!!! I have been stuck in the 1790's for quite some time. I finally decided it was time to go back to the 1780's for a little bit.

Jennifer said...

That last 18th C. decade grows on you, doesn't it? I quite like the few pages of gowns in the Kyoto Fashion book. Someday...

And I love the 1780s too. Just need to find time to get out of the 19th C. to make some of those.

Isis' Wardrobe said...

179´'s- the new black. :-D It's a decade that grows on me more and more!

Kate said...

I will be interested to see the finished product! I admit I am not much for the regency era. I'm head over heels in love with the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras.

I love your blog by the way! I stumbled across it while looking for sewing resources.
~Kate

Jennifer said...

Thanks for reading, Kate!

And stay tuned because as soon as I finish this Regency I'm making a quick 1912-ish evening gown for a dinner party with my reenacting group in late June.

婷妏 said...

It's great!!..........................................

Lady D said...

I much prefer the transition styles of the 1790s-1800s to the 1800-1820. I just find as an hourglass the early stuff suits me better. And I feel more comfortable with the headwear posibilities.