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


Anonymous said...

Hi! Lovely work! Just wondering what pattern you used for the spencer?

Madame Berg said...

I had not seen that outfit, it's absolutely beautiful! I will see that movie eventually, it really looks like fun :)

Kleidung um 1800 said...

I love that blue dress and I wouldn't alter anything! The style of the bodice is beautiful and it would look so pretty with a ruffled chemisette or a simple fichu.

The movie trailer was all over the net recently, guess it's lots of fun...but I'm truly yearning (lol) for a serious period movie ;)

Looking forward to seeing your Bath wardrobe develope!!!


Angela said...

Hi all. Thanks for stopping by. Madame Berg! It is so lovely to hear from you. I hope all is well. This is a new dress so you would not have seen it before. Anonymous, wish I knew your name but anyway, I used the La Mode Bagatelle pattern referred to in the post. The pattern is chuck full of stuff. It is worth the investment as it is about $50.00 here in the USA. Thanks Sabine, I will be posting regularly on my progress.

Angela said...

Look at all of you! I love your Regency dress - such good work!

Taylor said...

This is a really lovely outfit! I love the colors you chose.

Gina said...

Oh my is your outfit so very beautiful! I really like the white spencer on top of the blue dress...very sharp looking!