Musings of a Lady

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Le Modiste: Regency Gown and Spencer

In 2014, I am planning to attend the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, England.  I have a year to make a wardrobe to wear to this week long event.  I do have a couple of Regency style garments in my historical clothing collection but of course 'new gowns' are a must!  Therefore,  I begin with this post and the first of several ensembles that will travel to Bath with me.

The spur to get me into a trot on this particular outfit was to attend a screening of a new movie called, 'Austenland'.  First, let me say, that this movie turned out to be a spoof of the book of the same name by Shannon Hale.  Ms. Hale's book in turn is an Austen-like modern spoof of the manners and romance of Regency time period.  Secondly, the movie is so loosely based on the book that the movie has a voice of its own.  With that said, I went into the film with an open mind, and I laughed all the way through it.  I recommend both the book and the movie.  They are two totally different things but each is fun!

Now, on to the gown I made.  I used the La Mode Bagatelle pattern as my base.

The dress fabric was a damask dark blue cotton I bought ages ago for something else.  The spencer was made from a slubed silk that was 36 inches wide that I inherited from my maternal grandmother.  I used the remaining bits of fabric from a Directoire gown I made in 2009 to line the spencer as well as a dark blue silk taffeta.  Although, the gown and spencer turned out okay, there is more that I want to do to finish them.  My one complaint about sewing for an event at the last minute is that you only have enough time to make the garments but not really craft them with finished details.  Therefore, the gown is completely unadorned.  Its okay that it is very simple but I originally envisioned some detailing that didn't happen.  I want to add a bit around the neckline of the dress so I can use it as a dinner gown with out a chemisette.  The Spencer has a closure that is temporary and the buttons need to be redone.  But, for the screening event, the gown and spencer worked out and I am pleased.
Gown with Chemisette that I already had in stock.

Close-up of gown and chemisette

Spencer added.  My mannequin is a bit bigger than I, so not closed.

Close-up of the collar and chemisette.

The reticule is a gift from  talented friend, Catherine.  It matched perfectly!

The pattern from La Mode Bagatelle is one that I have used before.  It has a boned petticoat which works very well if you don't wish to wear a corset.  Ladies of a thinner body line and smaller bust can really make this boned petticoat work for them in stead of a corset. Those of us who need a bit more shaping can use this petticoat - I have seen it used with excellent results but gowns will cling in areas that may bulge where you don't want them to, so a corset may be the better option if you have that concern.  The pattern offers, two styles of dresses, and spencer.  It includes some variations for sleeves, collars and necklines, as well as a pattern for a reticule, muff and cap.  With that said, I think you have to purchase the pattern from companies that sell period patterns like: and

Here is a picture of us at the screening of the movie:

The movie link if you are at all interested is:
The book link is:

Again, FYI:  The movie is a total Hollywood spoof so if you are an Austen purest and not into modern spoofing I would just read the book. The book is fun and has its romantic comedic side that is more like an Austen read.  However, the movie is a 'bring on the tears' from laughing so hard at the absurdity of what they did in the film and how much fun they had making it.

Next up:  (and not necessarily in this order)
Redingote of green wool
18th century vegan chemise (handsewn)
1880's bodice Jacket

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Le Modiste: Corsets. Corsets. Part 3

A couple of years ago, I made a pretty little lightly boned corset out of an embroidered silk.   I really loved this little corset.  Well after two wearings, the boning came shooting out, ripping through the silk. I was very unhappy!

Up until this year, I didn't need to replace the corset.  However, events that focus on Victorian styles have happened and are coming up this year and the next, so, I decided to make a new corset.  Luckily, I could use the same pattern and fabric from my stash as well as use the bones and busk from the old corset.  Upcycling at its best!   The only thing I changed is that I used a double layer of the coutil backing of the silk.  The fashion fabric is a pretty Chinese woven silk damask.  I had a choice of silvery white with black flowers and the reverse side with white flowers, I chose the black ground with silvery white flowers.  To add a bit of interest, I embroidered the edges of the gussets.  Why?  No idea other than I love to embroider and it was a way to practice that art and give a bit of detail to my corset.  

The corset assembled and ready for embroidering

Details fo the embroidery around the gussets.

The corset on my mannequin.  (Sorry a little out of focus) I hate the metal front busks, but I was trying not to buy anything new.

The corset pattern I used was the Past Pattern #708

This particular corset was easy to make and fit and does the work I need to shape my figure to the styles from about 1850 to 1890's.  For newbie corset makers I think this one is a good one to start with.  If you are not a corset maker and don't want to be bothered, the best is have it made for you by an expert. This can be a bit expensive but is worth the investment as it will last for a long time!  One company I recommend is:  Dark Gardens.  I have a corset made by this company.  It is beautiful and well made.  I had some corrective surgery in 2009 and the corset no longer fits me in the bust and I do have the option to have it altered by the same company, but just haven't done it.  Silly me. 

Well, this ends the corset series.  I have three new corsets as a baseline for my Regency, 18th century and Victorian projects coming up.  What are they?  Well, let's see.  Ah, this is my ambitious project line up:

1. Regency day dress (finish a UFO) and a new Redingote, hat and accessories - deadline October 1.
2. 1880's day jacket bodice (I have a pretty black and pink 1880's ball gown and need a day jacket-bodice for the annual Christmas Tea at the Palace Hotel in December.
3.  Optional:  A George Barbier style 18th century gown for the Ball Carnival in Feb 2014.
4.  Optional:  Tudor Tailor kirtle, jacket and accessories - possibly for a Renaissance Faire in Sebastepol and Folsom, California. in September 2013
5.  Start a Regency wardrobe for the Jane Austen Festival in 2014, Beginning with the top priority item on the list.

Phew!  I have my work cut out for me and lots to post about.  Stay tuned, dear friends.