Friday, December 30, 2011

Regency Christmas Picnic

This year for the Regency Christmas Picnic I was lucky enough to have no sewing backlog so that I could start a new upper class dress for the occasion. Two years ago I purchased a few meters of a lovely embroider anglais fabric in an ivory voile. The embroidery went about a meter high so it would be perfect for the bottom of a regency dress. To get ideas I looked at many different dresses and went to the visual expert (my husband) to pick a final dress to copy. His choice was the 1804 dress worn by Elizabeth Patterson in the Met Museum online collection.


I had not previously made a Regency dress from that time period so I had to fully draft the pattern toile from scratch. The neckline is lower at the front and the bodice starts higher.Another problem was how to design the back of the dress as I was unable to find any close up images of the back. From the distance image I was able to find a dress that looked similar at a distance, which had a close up view from the same time period. After printing photos out, lots of drawings... I finally came up with a concept of how I could construct it. by using a standard side back and extending the centre back I could create the gathers in the back, which would be held down tight from the weight of the train. The skirt is then attaches straight to the side back and gathered under it, tacked down then stitched straight to the extended centre back. It used 3 strings one top drawstring, one lower and a thicker decorative string to pull the sides in to create the lovely V shape.

The front was far simpler to create, but it did take a few toiles to get it to sit right as it still has a gathered front on the square. The front decorative waist panel also had to be measured to fit in with the design of the fabric and the fit of the dress. I was also a little more modest in the fabric used...  Im not overly keen on exposing too much front.

The sleeves also created an issue with their double ruff. In the end I created a short puffy sleeve and taked on a gathered tube. This created the desired affect very nicely. 

The completed dress.

The dress was mainly hand sewen, all but the long seams that I machined sewed. This is quite an achievement for me and I am very proud as I had not drafted a dress from an image before. Its really nice to hit another milestone in my sewing journey.

The picnic itself was wonderful. The weather was lovely and warm and the food was devine. Our small group allocated dishes to each couple to prepare that were all Regency appropriate. We also took a tea set, rugs and cushions to enjoy the day in style.

Wendy laying out the table with Derrek's assistance.

Nic preparing himself for lunch with a light refreshment of port.

Full view of our dining and reclining area.

Nic and myself after the picnic.

The back of my dress in fully glory.

And the front.