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.



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:


The sleeves


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:


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


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!


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













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.





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.




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




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




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.




Center back.


Construction posts:

Dress construction


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 attached 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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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.

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

1860 – Dress progress

In the past weekends, I’ve been working on my 1860’s dress. I’ve cut the skirt fabric, sewn the pieces together, made the pleats and the waistband and decided I do want a short train after all. I only need to sew the hem and the skirt will be finished. I didn’t take too many pictures, as I mostly sew in the evening and photographing black velvet with little light doesn’t work, but here’s a picture of my living room when I was cutting the fabric:

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Aside from the skirt, I also finally finished the petticoat. I still needed to hem it, so it’s done. No pictures, unfortunately.

Last night, I was looking at 1860’s ball gowns and made the decision to also make a ball-gown bodice. Many existent dresses have both a day and an evening bodice for one skirt. I still have enough fabric left to make an evening bodice, and if I do it I’ll need to work with the same fabric, so I decided to just go for it. I’ll finish the dinner bodice first, but at least I’ll save the fabric.

My next step was looking at patterns for evening bodices, and I decided to try to drape one myself. I used the picture below for the seam-lines and this post by the Dreamstress as guideline:

I’m pretty happy with how the experiment went, as it actually fits! This method is so quick, and a lot cheaper than buying a commercial pattern. I only had to make slight alterations to the mock-up, so I think this will work!

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Sewing – Floral Recency dress

This dress has been a long time in the making. I believe I bought the pattern over 3 years ago, planning to make a dress. Then, at least a year after that, I finally bought the fabric. I decided to also buy a cheaper fabric to try out the dress first, in a shorter version to sort of pass for a summer dress. I ended up having enough fabric to make an underskirt, and that dress I finished about a year ago. I started the floral dress almost directly after, and finally finished a couple of weeks ago.

The pattern I originally picked was Butterick 6630:

Butterick 6630

I knew it was not entirely historically correct, but this one was available at a Dutch patternshop and I was going for historically inspired. Of course, after making the first dress following the pattern and looking at loads of images of actual regency gowns, I wanted something slightly different by the time I actually started. So in the end, I only used the bodice pattern, which from what I’ve seen, I believe is reasonably accurate.

When shopping for fabrics, I originally wanted to find a very thin white cotton, but that turned out to be completely impossible in our fabric market, unless you wanted embroidery of babies on it. So I settled for a beige flower patterned fabric. It’s not period correct in that it is way too heavy, but I really loved the pattern. It is a little old-fashioned for Regency, but there are some examples of flower-patterned dresses.

From the American Textile museum

The sleeves in the pattern were a little too big for my taste, and after seeing these two dresses I decided to make fitting sleeves. It was my first time drafting a sleeve pattern, and looking back I might do it a little differently, but I think they turned out ok for a first attempt.

The skirt pattern I took from this dress: , so is completely accurate.

I decided that practicality came before accuracy when it came to sewing, and used the machine for everything accept the trimming. I don’t have a lot of time to sew anyway, so speed and convienience were more important this time.

I’m glad with how it turned out, although of course I immediately wanted to make a new and improved dress when I was done. Keeps one busy I suppose.

I’ve already posted the pictures of the dress on me at the Bal Masque, but here are some more on my dressform.

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The front, before I hemmed the bottom.

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And the back!

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Matching reticule

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A close-up of the bodice. Apologies for the weirdly green colorscheme.

Inspiration – Regency Dresses

This weekend, I attended the Bal Masque organized by Stichting Reverence, a masqued ball taking place in 1813. I had a lovely evening, about which I’ll post more once I’ve got all the photos. For now, it has mainly gotten me inspired again to make a regency dress. I want to finish my 1860s black ballgown first though, so at this point I’m just dreaming, ‘what would I make if I had all the time and money in the world’…

Some of my favourite dresses:

I love the bow at the front, and combination of white and a bright colour.

The colour of this dress is lovely, and I like the little golden grecian trimmings.

I really adore this dress, the colours and the paisly details. I’d need to find an affordable paisly scarf to make this though…

Almost the same as in the painting!

Amazing embroidery, and I really like the idea of a sheer overdress and a bright underdress.

It’s plaid! Not sure if I like the bodice though…

I do like the bodice on this one.

Stripes. I like the gold/white colour combination as well.

Some white dresses can be a bit plain, but I adore this one. The fabric is so pretty.

The lace on this one is even prettier… Love it.

Maybe both a white dress combined with this style…?