Medieval Kirtle

After making a medieval smock, it was time for a kirtle!

Definitions are tricky, and I’m no expert on Medieval fashion, but as far as I could find the term ‘kirtle’ generally just means a close-fitting dress. Usually they were worn underneath another dress, or layered, but this depends a bit on the era and the social class of the wearer. Lower class working dress often had a kirtle as outer dress, while an upper class person would be much more likely to only wear them as a base layer.

Les Tres Riches Heures du Jean, Duc de Berry, created in 1416:

Blue kirtle worn over what seems like just a smock. Short sleeves, clearly working dress.

 

Kirtles were probably most often made of wool. The other option is linen, which was more often used as fabric for undergarments. I’ll be making mine out of linen, also because I’m mainly making this dress as undergarment for a silk burgundian gown and I suspect linen will be more comfortable (=less warm) than wool. But I also want to be able to wear it on its own, which means a linen kirtle as outer dress. I believe this did happen, but was most likely as a working outfit, and not really what a higher class lady would wear.

I’m making a green linen kirtle. There’s plenty of examples of green dresses, but in retrospect I’m not entirely sure how likely this would be, especially as outer dress. The reason for that is that linen can be a bit tricky to dye, it doesn’t take color quite as well as wool or cotton. Additionally, green isn’t the easiest color for fabric as it requires 2 layers of dye, a yellow and a blue one, dye specifically for green didn’t exist yet. That makes green a more expensive color. Taken together, it makes me wonder how likely it is that a linen, more lower class kirtle is green. If anyone has any thoughts on this I’d love to know!

I’m sticking with it though, as I do love the color. You do also see plenty of green in paintings, which makes me wonder if it’s because it was more expensive as a dress color, so showed status, or also because green paint was easier? Anyway, here’s an example of a green kirtle.

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Anyway, on to the dress diary! I patterned the kirtle using a variation of this method. The difference was that I didn’t lie down, and didn’t have anyone helping me. That mainly just meant more taking it off in between to pin, then putting it back on again. For the gores and sleeves I used the Medieval tailor’s assistant book by Sarah Thursfield as base. I read some conflicting things about the width of the gores, and in retrospect I think I made them a bit too wide. I suspect the variation comes from variations in gore height, mine are actually not that high up, which means they could be narrower. I might go back and change this in the future, but for now it’s fine.

After patterning & cutting, the first thing I did was sew the lacing holes. My kirtle will be front lacing, with 19 eyelets on both sides. Suffice to say, sewing those took a while.

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Patterning, fitting, cutting & sewing

 

With the eyelets done I could check the fit, and as that was right I moved on to the sleeves. Back to mock-up time! I’m pretty happy with how these turned out, and the mock-up shows I could move my arm, which was the most important thing.

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Never mind the huge seam allowances, I tend to be a bit cheap and avoid cutting in mock-up fabric. But I could move!

 

With the sleeves in, I made cloth buttons. Again, as I’d never done this before, google helped me out. This was a great tutorial, and after a couple of tests I got it down.

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Follow the link above to get a description, but this is what the process looked like.

 

After the buttons, time for button holes. They didn’t turn out very pretty, but they’re functional. My main problem was a combination of too many fabric layers (hem+facing made 5 layers in some places) and thin thread. I really wanted to use silk thread though, and I couldn’t find that any thicker, so I tried to stitch super close together and be patient. That took ages, and didn’t make it perfect, but a little better. Conclusion: try to avoid too many layers when sewing button holes!

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When buttoned they look okay, not perfect, but good enough.

 

Final thing was finishing. Although I did the main seams by machine (I know, cheating, and not correct at all but quicker), I did hand-finish all the edges.

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The neckline

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Hemming

 

So now it’s done! To take the pictures I also made a fillet (following the Medieval Tailor’s book again), and a round linen veil, 1m across. I was greatly helped by this tutorial for the size, and a short instagram tutorial she made for narrow hems. I think I need to wash the veil because it’s a bit stiff still, which makes it hang a little weirdly, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It definitely finishes the outfit!

The full dress:

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And a little closer (I do love the little sleeve buttons!)

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1820’s Ballgown

A couple of months ago I was at a fabric market and stumbled on a lovely light-blue fabric with silver ribbon embroidery on the sides. I totally wasn’t planning on anything where it would work, but it was too pretty to leave! Also, it was pretty cheap, being a poly-satin, but the color was so nice that it didn’t actually look too cheap. As a good price is always a good incentive to buy stuff you don’t have plans for, I got it.

The color, drape and border really spoke regency to me, especially the latter regency where emphasis on the hem was getting more pronounced. Say early 1820’s. This was also a nice new challenge, as my previous regency projects were a bit earlier, with the waistline directly below the bust. In the 1820’s, the waistline started dropping and I suspected that would actually be more flattering on me. I don’t really have a lot of bust, so regency dresses make me very tube-like. Of course, that was the idea at the time, but a little more waist emphasis can be more flattering to a modern eye.

I still had a couple of other things to finish up first, but I did start thinking and playing with designs.

 

This is the design I came up with:

I wanted to use the ribbon part for the hem and the sleeves, but also let it return in the bodice a bit. To not make it too overpowering, I decided to just use it in the center-front. The little stripes on the bodice were inspired by this dress (natmus.dk), and are stuffed fabric tubes. I also decided to make a ‘waistband’ as in this example to lower start of the skirt a bit more, and to make the back bodice gathered as in this example.

Brunrød silkekjole, 1816

I did nearly all of the work on the dress in one weekend. I started with lengthening my bodice pattern for the regency dresses a bit, and after that was cutting the fabric!

The lay out for the center bodice part. I cut off the sides of the pattern and cut those from the plain fabric. The pieces will be sewn together and the seams hidden by the fabric tubes.

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All the bodice pieces cut out. I flatlined the bodice in white cotton, because the blue fabric was very slippery.

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The back panel was made wider in the center-back to allow for the gathering. I made the lining slightly shorter than the outer fabric so it wouldn’t show. The pink stripe on the lining is the original width of the bodice.

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A picture which shows the bodice pieces sewn together. To make the fabric tubes I used fiber fill and rolled it into strings, wrapping it in fabric strips and hand-sewing them closed, then hand-sewing them onto the bodice. I believe the original versions of these were made with carded wool stuffing, but I happend to have fiber-fill laying around. It worked okay, but I had to be careful to make the tubes even. I also didn’t cut the strips on the bias, which probably would’ve made them a bit less wobbely as well.

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What it looked like with half of the fabric tubes sewn on! The waistband is still just pinned at the center-front so I could stuff the tubes in the seam.

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I didn’t take much pictures after this, but construction was fairly straight forward. The sleeves were the typical regency-sleeve pattern, only extended at the bottom to be a couple of cm. longer than the original pattern. The back bodice was gathered onto the waistband, the top raw edge of the bodice folded over and hand-stitched to the lining. I attached 2 cotton cords to the shoulder seams to run through the folded-over outer fabric towards the back. These will be the draw-strings to close the back. The skirt was basically 2 rectangles, the back a 2m wide one gathered to the side & back panels, with a slit in the middle.

Finished photos!

 

And because I couldn’t resist, one with an old version of Pride & Prejudice

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Red/White regency dress

My red/white regency dress is done! The planning took ages (other projects took precedence), but the sewing was actually rather quick! I really love how it turned out.

My original inspiration and plan

And the details of the bodice construction

I didn’t take a lot of images of the skirt construction, as it’s basically two rectangles (front & back) and a sort-of-triangle (side). I didn’t use a pattern, but I did take inspiration from the patterns in the book Regency Women’s Dress: Techniques and Patterns 1800-1830, by  Cassidy Percoco. 

The finished dress on my dress form.

 

And a detail of the bodice:

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The bodice closes with a bunch of ties. I tried to photograph how it’s done, so these are the steps.

This is what it looks like without anything attached. (Over only a shift, as my stays don’t fit my dress form very well)

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The first 2 ties are attached to the center back of the lining and tied in front. These are just to stabalize everything.

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Next up is the bodice lining. This is closed with a pin to the right hand side (as viewer). It’s hidden under the dress here, one of the following picture shows the pin.

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The left (viewer perspective) bodice part isn’t attached to the skirt, but has a small modesty placket and a tie at the tip. This is closed through a loop in the right-side lining, as shown in the next image.

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This image shows the pin which closes the lining at the side. Underneath there’s a little loop (which is very hard to see, sorry). This loop is used to close the side of the bodice which isn’t attached to the skirt. This has a tie which goes through the loop and is secured in place.

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The other bodice part is attached to the skirt and has a long tie at the end. This wraps around the entire dress, through the loops in the back. This tie is hidden in the end by the red bow.

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The tie is pinned to the dress at the split, the remaining tie can be hidden within the split.

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The whole thing lying flat, showing all the ties.

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The hem facing is made similarly to bias tape (just not cut on the bias), and longer for the front than the back part. I machine sewed it in place on the right side of the dress, and hand-stitched it in place at the back. Most of the dress is machine-sewn, but I didn’t want any of it showing, so most finishes were done by hand.

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I also managed to take some pictures of myself wearing the dress, as it does fit me better than my dress form.

 

And some details of the top:

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Regency cross-over front closing gowns

Since I’ve been looking into the making of my red/white dress again (yes, it’s going to happen someday!), I’ve been researching the construction methods a bit more. Specifically, I’m looking at front-closing gowns with a v-shaped neckline. I believe there’s different names out there, such as cross-over gown, wrap front gown, apron gown, bib front gown and drop-front gown. All of these names are used somewhat interchangeably for gowns which close in the front, although they all have their own characteristics as well.

The dress which started my search has a deep v-shaped neckline and slit on the left hand side (ca. 1810 – 1820)

To start with, some terminology and what I believe they commonly refer to.

The term ‘bib front gown’ is used most, and is usually used to refer to those dresses where the front of the bodice is attached to the front of the skirt, but not to the side pieces. It has slits on either side, and is shut by pinning the bodice front onto the lining front (which is attached to the side bodice pieces), and tying strings around the body. These dresses could have both a straight square or a v shape neckline, although the former seems to be much more common. One great diagram (by the Hungarican Chick) of a bib dress is below. In this case, pictures are always much clearer to me than trying to describe it! (She has more great articles, including on stays, so if you’re interested, go check out her blog!)

I believe the apron-front and drop-front gown are just alternative terms for the bib front.

The cross-over, or wrap front dress is slightly different in that the front bodice panels are attached to the side bodice panels, but not to each-other. This always gives the v shaped neckline. The skirt has a slit on one side (the side which crosses over) and is attached to the bodice front, or it has slits on 2 sides and is loose from the bodice and closes with ties. The first picture in this post is an example of a cross-over front dress (with one slit in the skirt).

The problem with these gowns is that when you start looking for extant examples, you find many different variations in bodice styles, where the skirt is attached and how the skirts close. I recently asked about these cross-over/bib front dresses in a Facebook group on Regency sewing, and got a lot of different input from people on how they believed dresses were worn. There seem to be a lot of variations, and the discussion inspired me to try to give an overview of what the possibilities might be! This post is by no means meant as a complete study of how dresses were made, but just as an overview of the variations I’ve seen and how they seem to close. For now, I’ll focus on the front closing v-shaped neckline dresses ca. 1805 to 1815.

 

To start, I’ve tried to create some images of the 3 different types of gowns I want to focus on. From now on, I’ll name them ‘bib-front’ gown, ‘cross-over side-slit’ and ‘cross-over drop-front’ gown. Some schematics of the front and back view for these dresses, which I’ve colored for clarity. Blue is background, pinkish is skin (sorry for the nakedness, of course you’d be wearing a shift and stays beneath, but all the white would be confusing 😉 ), yellow would be the outer fabric of the dress and white the lining or inside of the outer fabric.

The bib-front gown (as also seen in the previous images):

Regency dresses - Bib front

 

The cross-over gown side-slit:

Regency dresses - Cross-over Slit

 

The cross-over gown with drop front:

Regency dresses - Cross-over Apron front

 

These schematics show how the bodice and skirt are connected together to form both the v-neck shape and to have the closure in the front. The front-closure is particularly handy if you want to get into your gown by yourself. (I, for instance, am not able to close my blue dotted dress by myself, my arms won’t go that far back with the sleeves set so far in the back. I always need help to close the thing).

The question now, of course, is how you make sure the bodice stays crossed-over and the skirt stays up?

This was the question which inspired quite a lively discussion on the Facebook post I mentioned before. It seems clear that there’s some ties involved, and maybe some pinning. But where do the ties go? How are they attached? And is that enough, or do you still need pins somewhere? I’m afraid we didn’t reach a simple answer to this question, but there were a couple of good theories I’ll try to describe here.

The easiest to answer is probably the bib-front gown, as this is the one most commonly re-created today. It closes with a combination of ties and pins. Specifically, there are 2 ties to each side of the skirt. These wrap around the gown to the back, (often through little loops where the back bodice connects with the skirt), and then close underneath the skirt panel. The bodice front stays up with either pins or buttons to the corners of the panel connected to the skirt.

Or, in a picture:

In this case blue and red are the left and right string. Green are the loops in the back keeping the strings in place. Pink are the spots the pins or buttons would connect to keep the bodice in place.

Regency dresses - Bib front strings

 

I believe this is the common way to wear a bib-front gown, I’ve never seen other versions. It becomes a bit more tricky with the cross-over models. In these cases, several options seem to exist.

To start with the cross-over side-slit dress. For the position of the strings, I looked at the images of the interior of the dress I started this post with. They show several strings.

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I’ve highlighted the strings I could find in red. Now my question was, what ties to what? Because I cound 1 loop and 4 strings. That’s 5 things, which doesn’t seem to add up. There’s a tie at the center-back lining, there’s a loop and a tie in both bodice panels, and there’s a tie on the edge of the skirt. The ties to the bodice are all plain, so appear to be tied invisibly somewhere. The tie on the skirt is a type of trim though, and looking at pictures of the back of the dress you can see it passing along the back.

The general consensus after my blog bost was that the ties in the back would be tied in the front to stabalize the dress. The ties to the front panels would be tied to eachother (possible because they’re not at the very tip of the bodice). The tie to the skirt probably starts somewhere on the side panel. It then wraps around the back and would be pinned in place somewhere at the side panel where it started.

In a picture. The red and pink ties are attached to the inside of the bodice and tie to eachother. The purple and blue tie are sewn to the inside back panel and tie to eachother in the front. The green tie starts at the side of the dress and goes around to be pinned shut where the tie started. I haven’t been able to figure out if it is just pinned in place, or if there’s a slit or tie somewhere. The images of the existant dress don’t show this.

Regency dresses - Cross-over Slit

Another option I wondered about would be to tie the left-front tie to the right-back tie and the other way around. That would look something like this, the blue and purple ties again attaching in the back, the pink and red in the front lining. (the location is a bit awkward for clarification, they’d probably be tied in roughly the same spot.

Regency dresses - Cross-over Slit strings 2

So, are there other options? The above are based on 1 extant example, but one can imagine other possibilities. One would be that there was a string on the inside of the bodice not attached to the skirt (red in the above examples). If there were a slit on the side of the dress, the skirt tie could wrap around and attach to the bodice string on the inside throught the slit.

Something like this, with the red string attaching tot he bodice, the green wrapping around on the outside and attaching to the red throught the slit (blue) on the side. Just a disclamer, I’ve never seen an extant example like this, but it looks like a possibility. This could also be combined with two ties in the back (purple and blue in the first example) which would tie in the front.

Regency dresses - Cross-over Slit strings 3

 

For the cross-over apron-front dress I found some input on the facebook group. One extant dress showed the ties and closure. Mackenzie Anderson Scholz kindly let me post her images here. She’s working on a pattern for Fig Leaf Patterns, hopefully out in fall 2016, based on this dress.

These images show how the ties from the front panels tie to the ties at the center back. Left front to right back and the other way around. The right image shows how the skirt closes in the center-back. The image below shows the front with and without skirt closed. You can see that there’s a little gapping going on at the front, which seems a common occurrence with this type of dress.

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A shcematic. There are two ties to the front, red and pink. Then there’s two ties at the inside center back (blue & purple). The left front ties to the right back and the other way around. Then there are ties to either side to the skirt which tie around in the center back. There they’re held up by loops.

 

Regency dresses - Cross-over Apron front string

It seems all skirts of these type of dresses have ties which go around an tie in the back. The bodice might also just be held shut with pins though, without the ties.

Another problem with this type of dress is that the skirt panel falls down because it’s not really attached to the bodice front. For this, more pins might be a solution to keep it up.

 

To round up, something which also came up in the original discussion was that probably, women in the Regency era were also just doing whatever worked. You can’t see from a fashion-plate how a gown closes or a skirt stays up. Commercial dress-patterns were nonexistant and most front-closing dresses were made that way for practicality, so not for the highest classes. Many were also home sewn by women themselves, who were not necessarily dress-makers. This means that probably, everyone just fiddled along just as we do in trying to get it to work. (Some likely with more success than others). So fiddling around to make it work is period!

Finally, a little thank you for everyone who contributed to the original post on Facebook. If you recognize your own opinion here and would like credit, please let me know because I might’ve lost track of who said what.

 

I hope this post has offered a little insight on the possible options to close and wear these type of dresses. I’d be very interested in new insights on this, so if anyone has any ideas, or knows of extant examples which show different closures, I’d love to know!

 

Just as a closure, some commercial patterns of these type of gowns: (Let me know if I’m missing something)

Fig leaf patterns Apron-front gown (straight front, but could be adapted to a v-shape)

Sense & Sensibility Elegant lady’s closet (Cross-over gown)

Laughing moon 130 (Cross-over drop-front)

Laughing moon 126 (Bib-front, including v-neck option)

Period Impressions Bib-front gown

Past Patterns Empire Gown

 

1860’s Balgown – photos

I finished the ballgown bodice for my black velvet 1860’s dress quite a while back. I’d hoped to wear it to an event back in April, but it was rainy and too cold, so that didn’t happen. Luckily, I had another event last weekend and this time the weather was perfect! So I finally have some photo’s of the new bodice on me, together with the new hoop and petticoat I made.

The whole outfit:

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A close-up

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And some better pictures of the bodice!

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1860’s Ballgown bodice

My 1860’s ballgown bodice is done! Over a year after first drafting the pattern, but it was always meant to be a long-term thing. I drafted the pattern back when making the dinner bodice, just as a try out. I then cut the fabric a little while later, because I also wanted to make my Irish dance dress out of the same velvet. Luckily, I had enough!  The construction was started a couple of months ago. I’m afraid I didn’t take a lot of progress pictures…

This was the drafting stage

The front. Don't mind the ugly left part, that was just for fitting and I didn't have enough fabric.

The front. Don’t mind the ugly left part, that was just for fitting and I didn’t have enough fabric.

And here I’m planning the lace trimming. I looked at a lot of extant ballgowns, and most actually have more complicated trimming. I really liked the lace though, and even though you see this more on 1850’s bodices, I decided to go with 2 rows of lace. It could be a re-fashioned bodice, right?

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Planning the trimming. I decided I liked the lace sleeve best.

 

The bodice is made with a point in front, just in case I ever want to wear it over my skirt. I have a belt for the skirt with a big bow though, and I love the bow, so I’ll probably tuck the bodice into the skirt. So, now onto the photo’s of the finished thing! (The lace is nearer in color to the velvet in real life. The lace reflects much more light, and these photos were taken with a flash because it was dark, so it show up a little lighter).

Front:

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And the back:

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You’ll have to forgive my dress form for not filling up the bodice completely, it’s just a bit smaller than me in the waist. Wrinkles should be a lot less on me! (photo’s with the dress on me will follow soon hopefully)

The trim is 2 rows of lace on the neckline and 1 on the sleeves.

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2 rows of lace on the neckline and 1 around the sleeves

 

The back has little hand-sown eyelets (20 of them… why do I keep doing stuff like this?) and laces closed. They’re not extremely even and round, but overall I’m happy with them.

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Eyelets. There’s 2 more at the top (between the layers of lace) and 2 more at the bottom

 

And with the skirt! (and new 1860’s hoop!)

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Irish dance dress – finished

A while back (read, half a year ago) I wrote a post about my plans on making an Irish dance dress for myself. It’s taken a while, but the dress is finally finished!

I drafted most of the pattern myself, with the exception of the sleeves for which I used a commercial pattern. Because of the low waist-line, there weren’t really commercial patterns which would fit the bodice.

The design of the dress started with this lovely fabric. Because I couldn’t make any of the traditional embroidery, I wanted a quite busy fabric. Irish dance dresses are usually very bright and meant to get attention on stage. This fabric is lovely, while standing out it’s still classy. As complementing colors I chose black (velvet) and old-pink.

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This was the design. A faux-bolero of the rose fabric, a black velvet base, a dropped waist, a pleated skirt with the rose fabric at the bottom and pink accents.

Black velvet for the base, with a (faux) silk with velvet roses fabric for the bolero and old pink accents.

Black velvet for the base, with a (faux) silk with velvet roses fabric for the bolero and old pink accents.

 

After drafting the pattern (which was a pain, dropped waists are tricky!) I could cut out the fabric:

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The sleeves

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Cutting the velvet.

I lined the dress in black cotton and made the lining first to check the fit again. To make the skirt stand out a bit, I used tule. I still had a short tule skirt I bought a while ago and it was the perfect length to use as sewn-in petticoat. These were the base layers:

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After this, I attached the outer layers of the bodice to the lining. (never mind the laundry behind the dress 😉 )

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The next step was to attach the sleeves and the skirt. Especially the skirt was tricky. It was velvet lined in pink, and pleated so that it formed 6 layers in total. With the addition of the tule, it meant I had to sew 7 layers to the 2 layers of bodice and lining. It took a long time fiddling with fabric, but came out all right! With the skirt and sleeves done, it was time for decoration. I tried plain strips of pink along the bolero, but it was too plain, so I found some pearly strings and decided to decorate. I then spent a long time hand-sewing the pearls to the strips and the strips to the dress, but it looked pretty!

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This is what it looked like after attaching the strips. I also sewed one string of pearls around the sleeves. At this point, I decided that I also needed something to separate the skirt form the bodice. I tried one string of pearls, but that was still too plain, so more pink with pearly swirls it was!

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And then it was done! I attached a cameo brooch to the neckline as extra decoration.

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Blue dotted regency dress – Finished!

I finally got around to make some photo’s of my new dress! I also made long sleeves, but I forgot to take one when we took the pictures, so I only made pictures with the short-sleeved option.

 

 

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The front of the dress. Two puffed sleeves and a gathered front to the bodice. The outer fabric is sheer silk, so I lined it with the blue cotton I also used for the waist and sleeve bands.

 

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I wanted the front of the dress to not be gathered, to create a slimmer silhouette, which I think worked out quite well!

 

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From the side. I made loads of gathers in the back for the regency ‘pouf’. (Does my butt look big in this? Yes? Good!)

 

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And from the back. I made the closure with hooks and eyes, with a ribbon at the bottom of the waist band to ensure that fitted closely.

 

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Center back.

 

Construction posts:

Dress construction

Concept

Dotted Regency dress

It’s been a while since I posted on this dress, mostly because I haven’t been working on it a lot, but it’s at a stage where I wish to show it! Almost done, I just need to make the back-closure and hem the skirt and the short-sleeved version will be done. Then I just need to make the detachable sleeves and a way to attach them. But at this point, it actually looks almost like a finished dress.

This was the fabric I started with. It’s really the type where photo’s don’t do it justice though, the light changes the color subtly.

 

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For the body I used Sense & Sensibilities ‘Elegant Ladies Closet’ pattern as a base, but I changed the front piece as I only gathered the outer piece (and a lot more than in that pattern), but not the lining. This is the construction of the back bodice in progress.

 

 

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The whole bodice without sleeves. I chose to gather the silk only and just attach it to the lining so it would stay gathered. Not very period as far as I know, but I preferred this to inserting a drawstring as the skirt will not be gathered.

 

 

 

 

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Fitting the bodice, it works. When I attached the sleeves I found out it was a bit too tight after all because I pull the back of the bodice forward with my arms… Next time I’ll need to make a mock-up with sleeves and try to fix that.

 

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Working on the sleeves. I again used the short puff sleeve as a base, but I added an extra puff for variation.

 

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With the skirt attached. The waistband is attatched to bodice and skirt. Again, I don’t know if this is period, but it worked for me.

 

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Sorry for the bad photo, and I need to iron the skirt… Anyway, it looks like a dress!

 

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This photo was taken before I attached the back of the skirt to the bodice, but that’s done now. A lot of gathering at the back! This fabric is so light & thin that it gathers perfectly.

 

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Not too many progress pictures as I forgot, but in a next post I’ll do some shots of the interior of the bodice and the finished seams. Next post will hopefully be with the finished dress on me!

Dotted Regency dress

A while ago, I wrote a post about my planning for a new red/white regency dress. I since went fabric shopping for this project, and of course, found the perfect fabric for a completely different dress. I’m still going to make the white/red one, and already have a possible fabric choice, but it’s just a little too heavy for what I wanted, so I’m going to see if I can find anything better first.

The fabric I found was a lovely gray/blue dotted silk. It’s a bit sheer, and the color changes a bit depending on the lighting, and it was just so generally pretty that I couldn’t resist. I figured I could make two new dresses, right? After I’d bought it, I went looking for period dresses in a similar fabric, being sure I’d seen it somewhere, but I think that was just my imagination. I did, however, find a fashion plate a few weeks later which matches! I guess my intuition on period fabrics is improving. The plate is of a pelisse, not a dress, but it’s good enough for me!

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The fashion plate, with a pelisse from 1808

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And my fabric. The blue below is the lining. (because it’s a bit too sheer to do without and white lining didn’t do anything good for the color.

Look at how similar they are! It’s things like this which make the costumer-me very happy.

Because I hadn’t actually planned this dress yet, I went back to looking at original dresses and made a design sketch. I wanted a lot of gathers because the fabric lends itself to it so perfectly, with the only exception being the skirt front. A gathered round skirt looks good on many figures, but I’ve only got a small difference between bust & under bust measurement, and I have the suspicion that if I wear a front-gathered skirt I’ll either look like a shapeless tube or pregnant. I want a somewhat slimmer line, so the choice was made for a gathered bodice and skirt back, with smooth skirt-front. I also went looking for sleeve styles, and found some images of dresses with a double puff sleeve which looked both easy to achieve and pretty. Finally, I want to make detachable long sleeves, as most of my occasions to wear the dress will be evening, but the fabric seems a bit more like day-wear to me.

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Two of my inspiration pictures for the sleeves.

The final design sketch for my new dress! Obviously, it will either be two long sleeves or none, but as they will be detachable I wanted to see both the with/without option in this image.

Regency dress plan

 

I’ve already started working on this dress, but I’ll show some pictures when the project is a bit further along.