Regency Dance Weekend 2017

I’m combining these two dresses in one post since they’re essentially the same dress in different fabrics. Both were worn at this year’s Regency Dance Weekend in Salem, MA.

The pattern is Laughing Moon #126, and both dresses have the View A bodice front with the skirts cut on the short side for dancing. (Possibly too short–but, speaking from experience, I much prefer that to tripping over my hem all evening.)

Day1Ball

The first dress is my wearable muslin, made out of an old duvet cover. I was so pleased with the fit that I decided it was useable as a dress for the first night and for the daytime tea on Sunday. It has View B puff sleeves with detachable long undersleeves (as in, they’re attached by whipstitching). For daywear, I also added a chemisette, spencer, cap, bonnet, and shawl.

The second dress was made from a sheer chiffon sari (a gift from a former colleague) and white cotton lawn, and uses the View C puff sleeves. The sleeves are unlined, the bodice is both flatlined and lined (this made sewing that shifty chiffon much, much easier!), and the skirt is a lawn underskirt with a shorter split overskirt made from the sari. I loved using the sari–it’s just instantly more impressive with all that nice embroidery! Plus, it has built-in matching trim (that trim at the neckline and sleeve bands is cut off a different part of the sari). I wasn’t going to attempt to make self-fabric ties from chiffon, so the ties are a coordinating ribbon, which I’m pleased to say was a simple substitute (and I’d be tempted to do the same for future dresses just to avoid the extra work of making the ties).

InMirror

I’m also wearing a high-waisted petticoat under the purple dress, but I don’t have any photos of that because it’s the type that’s held up with just straps instead of a full bodice (like this one). I used the skirt from the dress pattern, but didn’t cut the front slashes, left an opening in the center back, and threaded a drawstring through a waistband. It’s got a couple of rows of cording and tucks at the hem to help it stand out a bit. The straps are just wide twill tape.

All in all, I really like this drop-front dress design. It’s kind of a wrap dress, with all the easy, flattering fitting that entails, plus you can get in and out of it yourself (though it’s always nice to have another pair of hands to make a neat bow in the back).

Regency Spencer

Last month, a few of us costuming enthusiasts had a nineteenth-century picnic in Central Park. We were mostly Regency, which gave me an excuse to make new stays (already blogged) and a spencer.

Picnic1(Leia, me, Marci, and Alex. Photo by James)

The spencer is the Sense and Sensibility Regency Spencer/Pelisse pattern. I made the lapels a bit less pointy and adjusted the shoulder width (successfully! finally!), but otherwise didn’t make any major changes. I think the sleeves ended up a bit short, so the next time I have an excuse to work on Regency outfits I may add cuffs. I interlined the lapels and collar with hair canvas for stiffness, though the pattern just calls for interfacing the collar.

haircanvasThe entire bodice is self-lined and the sleeves are unlined (I finished the armscyes with self-binding). The jacket closes with two hooks and eyes; the fabric-covered buttons are just decorative.

spencerfront spencerhooksandeyesBut my favorite decoration is the cotton piping!

spencerbackspencerpiping

Fabric is a mediumweight linen, which was perfect for a spring day–breathable but provided a bit of warmth.

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(Photo by Marci)

In other costuming news, it’s looking like there’ll be a good chance I can join my sister at the big Texas Renaissance Festival in November. Three days of Ren fair equals three different costumes, right?? At this point, I’m thinking:

  1. Italian Renaissance gown (already made)
  2. Classic Ren fair “wench” outfit (which I’ll have to make entirely, but damn it I’ve been wanting one since high school!)
  3. “Goth” Ren fair outfit (aka, an excuse to finally finish altering my black leather Timeless Trends corset)

YES, only the first costume is even remotely historically accurate. But that’s the fun of Renaissance fairs: they’re a great excuse for fantasy dress up! It’s kind of refreshing to wear whatever outfit you want regardless of whether it’s “correct.” (I think the researching part of historical costuming is fun–don’t get me wrong–but sometimes it’s a nice break to just indulge yourself in complete fantasy.)

(Top photo in this post is by Leia)

Transition Stays

When last I blogged, I mentioned that I’d been somewhat sidetracked from the WA Challenge by a couple of historical costuming projects. This is the first: A “Transition Stay” Fashionable Circa 1796-1806 (#030) by Past Patterns. The booklet includes a few pages of historical notes, explanations of hand stitches, the actual instructions, and a paper doll(?!). I read over the instructions for sewing it completely by hand, had a chuckle, and sewed it mostly on my machine using the method I used for my Victorian corset (sew lining and fashion fabric separately, then join at center fronts with right sides together). All I did by hand was make the eyelets, finish the binding, and attach the breast band casing. Oh, I guess I also overcasted the center fronts because the reeds there didn’t seem to be fitting tightly enough. Plus, it kind of fakes that it’s handsewn, right?!

transitionstays_eyeletsOverall, this was a very quick make. I found fitting to be quite easy (for once). I made a straight size muslin (unusual for me, but since it laces with a gap I figured I’d try it) and ended up just taking in the top front a bit at the side seams. Since the stays end at the waist, you don’t need to worry about fitting at the hips at all.

transitionstays_backI used a heavyweight linen and lined it with a mediumweight linen. The pattern calls for “oval-oval” reed, but I couldn’t find that anywhere so I used flat-oval reed. It seems to work fine. I actually bought my pattern from Wm. Booth Draper, which also sells the metal bands that the pattern calls for.

transitionstays_metalbandBy far, the most tedious part was sewing all the boning casings, but it still didn’t take that long. You may also notice in the top photo that I crisscross laced it although the pattern calls for spiral lacing. Well, the pattern didn’t say to offset the eyelets and even though I know better I didn’t offset them, either. So if you try spiral lacing, one side ends up pulled higher than the other. Crisscross it is!

transitionstays_leftI admit, the two main reasons I decided to go with this particular pattern after having tried short stays were (1) it doesn’t have straps–for me, a bane of fitting the short stays–and (2) it laces in front (my cats are not very helpful when it comes to assisting me with dressing . . . ). I’m very pleased with how the finished stays turned out! Like I said, they were quick and easy to make (if you cheat by sewing on a machine, hahahaha), fitting was simple, and after wearing them all day today I can report that they were comfortable and held the, ahem, ladies up where they need to be for this style of dress.