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Beaded Regency Court Dress (Part 1)

My current project is a beaded Regency court dress using Butterick B6074 as a starting point. Here is a sneak peek of the bodice; I took this picture before closures were added.img_0973

The dress consists of 3 layers: a sheer netting with beads, sequins, and faux pearls; a seafoam green chiffon interlining, and a cotton voile lining. I don’t know if the seafoam green is historically correct. Most of the extant Napoleonic court gowns I’ve seen are white or ivory, with most of the color in the embroidery and the sumptuous court trains.  However, I love that particular shade, and the way it looks against the bronze sequins in the netting. (The fabric is from Fabric Wholesale Direct and has gold embroidery, with round and cylindrical seed beads, round and leaf-shaped sequins, and round and oval faux pearls).img_0802

I did find this portrait of the Empress Marie Louise in what appears to be a light blue gown.lefevre_maria_luigia

Because the fabric I’m using for the outer layer of the gown is sheer and beaded I am trying to minimize seams. It keeps me from cutting through too many motifs, and saves me some time since I have to remove all the beads and sequins from each seam to reduce bulk. I altered the pattern by combining the two should strap pieces into one (eliminating the shoulder seam), and redrafting the back bodice and side bodice pieces to be one. The placement of the seams are no longer quite correct, but it did make sewing easier. I also raised the back because it is very low cut and my stays would have shown.IMG_0887.JPG

img_0803

Because of all the beading, and because the foot pedal of my sewing machine is having electrical problems, this gown is mostly hand-sewn. Thus, it is taking a while, especially since I am super paranoid every time I have to cut into this precious fabric!img_0998

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17 responses »

  1. That beaded fabric is STUNNING!! Can’t wait to see how this turns out 🙂

    Reply
  2. OH MY GOD THAT BEADED FABRIC! This is going to be so amazing!

    Reply
  3. The color is pretty and the fabrics drape well. Nice!

    Reply
  4. Such a stunning fabric combination, it looks very promising. Good luck!

    Reply
  5. Techinally not Regency, since it is French. Regency era court dresses had full hoops. (That didn’t change until the Prince Regent became King Geoge IV.) But it looks like yours will be absolutely gorgeous!

    Reply
    • Yes, you are correct! I should be using Napoleonic because I’m getting inspiration from some French portraits of the time, rather than the hooped English gowns. I am using “regency” rather too loosely, the way people often refer to garments from the 1850s as “Victorian” regardless of the country.

      Reply
  6. Pingback: Beaded Regency Court Dress (Part 2) | Fresh Frippery

  7. Pingback: Beaded Regency Court Dress (Part 3) | Fresh Frippery

  8. Claudette Donaldson

    I enjoyed your coustume making experience. Long ago–in 1968, I made Josephine’s coronation dress and robe (on a Barbie doll) for a college fashion merchandising class. I lived in a small east Texas town and this was way before the internet. So I went to the Dallas public library and checked out all the books about Napoleon and Josephine that I could find. The finished product gave the general impression of the dress from the coronation paintings. After staying at the college for over 20 years, she was returned to me when the department closed. Unfortunately the written report with the documentation did not return with her. I researched the back closing on her dress and could never find exactly how that was done. I saw a lacing on a contemporary drawing to this period so ended up using lacing. I couldn’t tell from the picture exactly the gold embroidery on the train but later read that it probably included a bee as Napoleon used it as a symbol. I have not figured out how to send a picture here but would send you one if you contact me.

    Reply

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