Making plans

August 30, 2012

I’ve been really busy with uni so, as usual, I’ve been procrastinating by making costuming plans without actually doing anything constructive.  Since my 18th century plans are basically made and waiting on me finding time to carry them out, I’ve mainly been thinking about Regency.

I’ve got a couple of fabrics put away that I bought because I thought they might make good Regency things. The first is a printed quilting cotton in green and blue.  I think the print is technically Civil War era and I know quilting cotton’s a bit heavy, but I think it’ll be good for a more practical day dress. I’ve been thinking that a drop-front gown could be a fun thing to try and it’ll make it more practical, so that’s the plan.  I like this dress as a fairly plain drop-front with a gathered front and this one has really cool braided trim around the neckline, although it may not look as cool without stripes.

I also bought some white silk chiffon with little woven dots, which I think would make a fantastic evening dress but I’m having trouble coming up with something interesting to do with it.  I’m not really into the super-decorated flouncy things from the later period, but it want it to be more exciting than just a white dress. So I have to think about that, but at least I know that I need to make a petticoat to go under the chiffon (which I could use for some of my other dresses).

Then, I don’t remember why, but I was looking through a book I bought in Denmark about Louise Auguste, published by Rosenborg palace, which happens to have some very lovely extant regency-era costumes in it.  In particular, it has two amazing silk velvet dresses. It also has a pattern diagram for one, though sadly it’s for the one that I like less, but I’m thinking I could do something that uses the bodice and skirt of the one I like more and the sleeves of the one that has the pattern. It seems like the collection isn’t online anywhere so I can’t find any pictures except what’s in the book… Anyway, I think it would be a really cool project, so we’ll see how that goes.

And finally, since it looks like I’ll be starting on a reasonable number of Regency projects, I think I might be weakening on the stays front.  I’ve always been a bit worried about the ‘regency stays will make you look like you have no bust’ thing, but I’m feeling better after looking at lots of pictures of European royalty looking for pictures of those dresses. And short stays should be reasonably quick to make. And they can’t be as slow and painful as the 1780s stays.

Queen Luise Dress

September 28, 2011

I also managed to make up the  Queen Luise dress from the pattern I got from Nehelenia Patterns.  It came together pretty quickly and I’m really happy with it, though I don’t have any photos yet.

I had to alter the pattern a bit by lowering the waistline – this might be because I wasn’t wearing period undergarments, or because I’m tall.  Not sure.  I also had a bit of trouble with the sleeves are there wasn’t much guidance on how to put them in, but I basically did what I’ve done in other dresses and it turned out fine.

I made the dress from a lovely soft cotton voile (Swiss, I think) with cotton/linen for the bodice lining, and a strip of silk satin for the waistband.  I found some nice lace in the cupboard for the bodice insert which decorates it a bit and I made a sash from pink silk satin.  I’ve retained the slight train for now, for a nice change.  I added an underskirt from a more substantial polycotton (ugh, but I was in a hurry) because it seemed easier than making a proper petticoat (I really need to get around to making one of those).

The only downsides: my handsewn buttonholes look ugly and I didn’t get around to hemming the underskirt.

Regency Robe continued

September 28, 2011

Well I did do that robe for the Jane Austen Festival, although it was a bit rushed and needs more work.  This isn’t a great photo, but you get the idea:

It’s basically adapted from the Sense & Sensibility pattern, altered to have darts in the front and opens in the front with hooks and eyes.  The side and back panels are just rectangles.  It has braid along the front and lower edges of the ‘skirt’ .  The bodice is a little uneven and needs more decoration, hopefully I’ll do some more work on it in the future.

Regency/Empire tunic/overdress/robe

April 2, 2011

The title might give you a clue that I’m not too sure what I’m doing here…

Basically, the original idea was to make a version of the dress in this picture for the Northanger Abbey theme of JAFA this year.

I chose it because to me it looks a little Gothic, with the opulent colours, trimming and lace edging at the neckline, and I could imagine that it’s the sort of thing Catherine Morland would’ve liked.  I’d had the picture sitting on my computer for a while so I decided that before I started serious work I should work out where I originally got it from… And then the problems began.  I figured out that it was actually from a series of German plates of ‘The History of Costume’ from the 1860s-70s.  So, not exactly primary source material, although that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s inaccurate.  But I did think I should find some evidence for the various elements of the costume.

What I found was that the closest things I could find were French, from the Napoleonic period (the original plate was indeed listed as ‘Germany and France, 1808-9’).  This meant that A) even leaving aside the issue of written in 1790s/published in 1817, Catherine Morland would never have gone near French style in this period, and B) the ‘Gothic’ style was mainly associated with England while its fashions were out of contact with France, so this isn’t related to the ‘Gothic’ fashions as such.  Damn.  So I was left with 4 options:

  • follow through the French empire style and do that properly (which does look pretty cool, eg that giant painting of Napoleon’s Coronation)
  • ditch the picture entirely and find something actually related to Northanger Abbey and Gothic-ness
  • copy the picture anyway (working out how it’s actually constructed) and ignore the accuracy issues
  • find some contemporary pictures similar to the original picture and make something up that’s just pretty

So I’m going with the fourth option.  I found these pictures:

The first is in the Louvre, from 1804.  My boyfriend took a photo of it on his phone and I discovered it the other day, then tracked down a bigger version.  I like the lines of it and the way it seems to lace closed at the front (though I might raise the neckline a tad).  I’d also add some decoration.

The second is a portrait of Princess Charlotte in 1817 (so a bit later).  I don’t like the lines quite so much and some of the trimming is a bit much for me, but I like the colour scheme; it basically matches the fabric and braid I already have.

So I think what I’ll do is an overdress thing along the lines of the Louvre painting, though I’m not sure what length I’ll do the skirt yet – 3/4, full or trained – and then play with trimming to work out what looks nice.  It might need hooks and eyes for now since I don’t think I’ll manage eyelets for lacing before the festival.

Jane Austen Festival Australia 2010

April 19, 2010

Last weekend was the 2010 Jane Austen Festival of Australia, organised by the amazing Aylwen Gardiner-Garden.  As a member of the Earthly Delights dance group, I was somewhat involved in the organisation and I also did a couple of the talks.  I was part of the talk on ‘Jane Austen in the 21st Century’ about spin-off fiction with four other lovely ladies, and I also did a talk on ‘Creating your own Regency Look’.  My talk went fairly well, I think, but it was really aimed at people starting out on costuming but, being on Sunday, most of the people were already experienced and talented costumers… Oh well, everyone seemed to have fun, and it led me to meet some great people.

Anyway, it was a great weekend, full of lovely people and lovely costumes.  I really enjoyed having a few different costumes so I could change according to the occasion.  I fixed my ball gown up so it fits better now and finished off Jonathan’s jacket (he looked so fantastic!).  Hopefully I’ll be keeping up with the people I met and looking forward to next year!

Progress on Velvet Spencer

April 19, 2010

Well, my red velvet spencer is at least semi-finished.  I wanted it in a hurry so I just whip-stitched up the hem at the waistline without attaching the skirts, and the lining isn’t sewn in at the arm-holes.  I put some buttons on it but even though I cut out the double-breasted version it only overlaps enough for one row of buttons.  It seems weird, because it fits otherwise, so I don’t think that it’s too small.

Other than that it’s turned out pretty well.  I really like the contrast between the velvet and the satin (I covered the buttons in satin too) and it fits nicely.  I got some good comments on it at the Jane Austen Festival on the weekend.  It was really too warm for it at the picnic but I wore it anyway, since I like it so much : )

I’d still like to attach the skirt, but I’m wondering if there’s a way I can do it so that it’s detachable.  It’d be cool to do that so that I could have it either long or short.  I was thinking of using press studs but I’m not sure if it’ll hang well, and it might make it too bulky at the waist.  Oh well, I’ll give it a go and see how it works.  So far I’ve sewn it together square, so I’d also like to work on making it curved at the front.

Red Velvet Spencer

February 12, 2010

My current project is to make a red velvet spencer, to match my day dress and keep me warm on Regency outings.  I’m using the Sense & Sensibility Spencer and Pelisse pattern

I’m making the double-breasted version, and I’d like to add a knee-length skirt, if I have enough fabric (it will be only just enough, I think).  I really just want something quick, easy and warm, so I’m not going to decorate it all that much, I’m mainly relying on the fabric to make it interesting.  I’m also aware that double-breasted may not be all that historically accurate, but I have a thing for double-breasted coats, so I don’t care, I’m doing it anyway.  Plus, it will make it warmer.

I’m using a dark red cotton velvet for the bulk, with a heavy, cherry-coloured satin for the facing, collar and wristbands.  I’m lining the back and sleeves with acetate lining, in cream with a fine red stripe.  I’m going to try to self-cover some buttons with satin.  So, it’s not really based on anything, but I think it’ll be a nice combination of shiny and fluffy.