2 cotton Regency dresses

After making new stays, I figured I’d take the opportunity to also make some additions to my Regency wardrobe. I wanted to add one white cotton dress, as they are quite versatile. Wearing them with a spencer makes them suitable for day wear, but they can also work for evening. Additionally, I wanted a printed cotton day dress, something for more practical wear.

Both dresses were made with the same pattern, which I adapted from my previous Regency dresses. I particularly wanted to try out bib-style dresses, so dresses where the center front panel is only attached to the skirt, and ties in place. The main advantage of this style is that it closes in the front, so is easy to get in and out of.

These pictures by the Hungarican Chick show the system really well:

 

For the white cotton dress, this was my main inspiration:

c.1808-1809 Gilbert Stuart - Mary Harrison Eliot

ab. 1808-1809 Gilbert Stuart – Mary Harrison Eliot
(Harvard Art Museums)

I really love the decoration on the bodice and sleeve of this dress. A lot of white cotton regency dresses have intricate white-work embroidery as decoration, but I wanted this to be a simple project so I chose to do it with lace instead. I don’t know for sure if the portrait is embroidered or has lace, but the straight borders do suggest lace to me. The portrait also seems to show a bib-dress, if you look closely there is the suggestion of the front panel being laid on top of the shoulder strap. For the skirt I went fairly simple, but I did add some tucks near the bottom for extra decoration.

The lace I bought from cottonlace, and is very pretty! The right picture are the tucks in progress

 

For my day-dress, I looked at existent examples and settled on this one:

1808-12 White cotton day dress printed with red and blue floral rondels overall. The dress with scoop neck and high waist. A panel from the waistband flaps up over the bust, ties at the waist are pulled to the tightly pleated back. The short sleeves with sewn in fitted undersleeve with ruffled wrist. Silverman/Rodgers Collection, KSUM 1983.1.28

KSU MuseumFollow
Cotton day dress, ca. 1808-1812

 

It is made of printed cotton, and has a tuck at the hem and sleeve ruffles. The bodice is decorated with a simple pleated strip to add a little interest. I liked how this dress is very simple, but has a couple of small decorative touches. Plus, this also looks to be a bib-front dress. I think this original dress has one-piece sleeves, but I decided to go for a separately finished short puff sleeve and longer sleeve, whipped together. This way, I have the option to remove the lower sleeve easily for hot days.

The Merry Dressmaker: Kent State Museum of Fashion: A Pictorial Tease II

Picture courtesy of the Merry Dressmaker

 

 

And the finished dresses!

The white dress, with evening gloves and tiara.

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The lace on the bodice and sleeves adds a subtle bit of interest.

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And the white-blue gown, worn with the long sleeves, my chemisette and bonnet (in some pictures, as I also wanted to show the pleated strip on the bodice.

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Cotton flowers

Aside from my historical projects, I also sew more modern stuff for my regular wardrobe. Mostly I make skirts and dresses, I rarely wear any pants, and I love skirts! They’re also so easy to make, which makes them really gratifying. I recently started several projects with regular printed cotton fabrics. I’ve found I really love it, even though it sometimes creases a bit, it’s lovely fabric to work with. For my skirts, I’ve found that if I line the skirt with lining-fabric it also falls really nice and doesn’t cling to my legs. All photo’s are taken with a petticoat by the way, a-line tulle for the dresses, and my cotton bell-shaped one for the skirts.

This was one of the first cotton projects. I just loved the fabric. It’s very summery, and very cute, and I couldn’t resist. The pattern was Vogue – 8701. It’s a very nice pattern, and went together well. I do have to say that it’s better for ‘special occasion’ dresses than for ‘everyday wear’ dresses. The bodice sits beautifully when standing still, but when moving my arms it shifts a bit and I have to pull it back into place again.

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I found the fabric for these next two skirts at the market. I hadn’t planned on buying anything, but I couldn’t resist and the price was very good. The red skirt is a circle, the other one a pleated rectangle. The white lace I bought at a market for 2 euro, and I still have about 25 meters left… A bargain!

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The next fabric was also spotted at the market. I originally wanted to make a dress from this pattern, but with a wider skirt:

Burda, Dress with Petticoat 09/2014 #111

 

I didn’t think I had enough fabric to make a full dress, so I decided to make the skirt of plain black with just a flowered border. I ended up making a circle skirt with the bodice from the pattern, and omitting the collar and sleeve collars. I really love the dress, and it seems to fit me better than the model in the photo! I didn’t have to make any alterations to the bodice either, so I might use it again in future projects. I’m really starting to like dresses with sleeves as well, so you can wear them in other seasons then summer ;). I lined the skirt with lining fabric, and the bodice with black cotton because that feels nicer to the skin. The one mistake I made was that I didn’t pre-wash the fabric. The cotton shrunk more than the lining, making the skirt lining a bit baggy. I eventually sewed a seam between the black and flower border in the skirt to make sure it didn’t show.

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In the end, I did have quite a lot of fabric left, enough for another skirt! I really love the fabric, so I was very happy with this. The skirt is again a simple rectangle pleated to a waistband, but this time with a ruffle attached at the bottom. It gives a nice touch.

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This last skirt was made from cotton bought in a quilt-fabric store. I love quilting cottons, they’re such good quality and gorgeous prints, but not the cheapest. I decided to treat myself with this fabric. The lace at the bottom is made in a lace-museum, with the original cotton bobbin-lace making machines.

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