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Category Archives: Regency

Regency Diadems

The Napoleonic era is filled with gorgeous golden diadems, studded with coral, pearls, gemstones, or lovely cameos. What court outfit is complete without a tiara?

This garnet diadem was sold on Ruby Lane.Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 7.28.31 PM.pngThis coral diadem made from gilded brass from A. Brandt is very elegant.Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 7.23.31 PMScreen Shot 2017-03-10 at 7.23.51 PM

Here is a beautiful cameo tiara sold by Sotheby’s that inspired me to want my own.Regency2

This parure (matching set) that belonged to Caroline Bonaparte is stunning!Regency

Last month, I hosted a group of friends and we decided to try our hand at making our own, using this great tutorial from the Mistress of Disguise, for a Regency Tiara Making Day! Behold, crafting chaos.IMG_1157.JPG

We bought materials from a variety of places, including Michael’s,  Joann’s, and eBay for beads and wire; Hobby Lobby or Amazon for brass sheets and metal combs; and Whittemore-Durgin, Etsy, and Ebay for our brass lamp banding. It’s hard to say how much it cost to make each one, since some things were bought in bulk and we did a lot of sharing. Here are our tiaras!IMG_1159

There was some trial and error, and things we learned during the process:

  • Soldering looks better but hot glue is much faster than soldering, especially when you have a group.
  • High-temp hot glue is required; the mini glue guns used for crafting don’t stick as well.
  • Big tin snips instead of small jewelry snips are better for cutting through the brass banding. (Regular scissors can cut through the brass sheets).
  • If you have tarnish on your brass, use Simichrome polish.
  • Wiring metal combs to the diadem is more sturdy than gluing metal or plastic combs.

Here are my “practice tiaras.” They are not perfectly straight and there are some little issues I’d like to work on (such as the thickness of the brass, the overall proportions, and remembering to push the head pins down before the glue set!) but they were really fun to make and I want to make more! I’d like a thinner, more delicate pearl one, and a pink coral one to go with my court gown.IMG_1258IMG_1261IMG_1266IMG_1264

Beaded Regency Court Dress (Part 3)

I’m still working on the rest of the court ensemble but at least my dress is complete! B.JPG

I didn’t have all my accessories yet at the time so I wore a pearl tiara I had instead of a Regency diadem and did a quick updo. (My next post will be about Regency diadems; I got together with a group of friends for a tiara-making day).D.JPG

You can read Parts 1 and 2 for more information, but to summarize a few details, my dress is made up of one layer of beaded and sequined mesh, an interlining of seam foam chiffon, and a lining of cotton voile. It is made from Butterick B6074 View B, with some modifications:

  • I combined some pattern pieces to minimize seams in the beaded fabric.
  • I skipped the gathered overlay on the bodice which is recommended for solid fabrics.
  • I raised the back neckline about 1 inch.
  • I extended the bottom front bodice about 1 inch since I was not trying to achieve the tiny bodice/pushup bra look.

Note: Butterick B6074 runs large! It has a lot of ease built in for the modern wearer. I recommend going down 2 sizes.

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For undergarments I am wearing a shift, short stays, a corded petticoat and a ruffled petticoat. I normally would not wear a corded petticoat with Regency but this dress is heavy.

I have decided to go with a rose velvet for the train, and I have been spending far too much time searching for pink velvets, getting swatches, and looking for trim. However, I think we have a winner. IMG_1185.JPG

I still need to order the rest of the fabric and find the trim, but I’ve purchased lining and have the pattern ready. I’m mulling over whether I should use my leftover beads and sequins to decorate the trim, but that may be madness speaking.

By the way, in case you think my life is glamorous, here’s a peek at real life (bad posture, clutter, and photobombing) vs. the cropped version of a selected few pictures for the blog!img_1155

UPDATE:

I wrote a tutorial for this dress, which Fabric Wholesale Direct spiffed and made into this post on their website! 

All the fabric I used for this project is from Fabric Wholesale Direct. Thank you!

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

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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

2017 Costuming Plans

I have three large projects planned for 2017, although I’m sure little projects will pop up in between if I get invited to events or get distracted by shiny things. I’m happy to report that I already have most of the materials on hand for my three projects, much of it acquired through some lucky bargains!

Regency court dress

I am not planning to reproduce this exact outfit, but this picture is to give you an idea of what I have in mind. I will be making a beaded Regency evening dress, for which I already have the materials (courtesy of Fabric Wholesale Direct). I’ve started on the dress so that will be the focus of my next series of posts. The color and type of fabric I will be using for the train has not been decided and will depend on what I can get for a reasonable price.

1660s Cavalier gown

I’ve never made a 1660s outfit before, so this is an era that is new to me. Although I think satin might be a little more appropriate, I will be making this out of black silk taffeta because I happen to have it in my stash (from the wonderful $5/yard sale from Fabric Mart!) Although I had already picked out this dress to make for the gala at Costume College this year before the theme was announced, it ended up being the perfect choice. The theme will be “Dinner at Tiffany’s” so a black dress with pearls is quite appropriate!

Crimson Peak picnic outfit

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I already have the right color silk for the skirt due to a serendipitous find from a friend’s garage sale! I won’t be able to find the exact lace for the blouse but I have something with a similar feel. The biggest challenge will be sculpting the hand belt. This outfit is being planned for a spooky Victorian tea in October.

I hope your sewing adventures in 2017 are fun and fabulous!

Regency Pelisse

I have finished my navy Regency pelisse that goes with my bonnet.

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There are no progress shots to share since sometimes I worked on this for literally a few minutes here and there over the past year. Sometimes all I had time to do was sew on a hook and eye.

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The fabric is a jacquard woven with a subtle diamond pattern. I’m not sure of the fiber content since I found it as a remnant. I’m sure it’s at least partially synthetic, but I liked the texture.

The lining is gold and cream jacquard, and the sleeves are lined with satin. The coat is military-inspired, with cream braid down the front, on the belt and sleeves cuffs, and around the edges of the pointed collar. The front and back are decorated with gold-colored and faux pearl buttons, but the coat closes with hooks and eyes. The belt has a golden buckle.

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I used the Sense and Sensibility “Regency Spencer Jacket and Pelisse Pattern” as a starting point, but made new sleeves and collar. (A quick note about this pattern: I was disappointed to find it is not actually a pelisse pattern, although it is advertised as such. It is really a spencer jacket pattern only, with some instructions telling you to just add a skirt to lengthen it. Although that wasn’t terribly difficult to do, when I buy a pattern it is because I want to pay someone else to do the math).

The pelisse has some wrinkles to work out, but overall I am pretty pleased with it, and plan to wear it to Costume College.

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I still have to paint some shoes to match, but I think it will look nice with the bonnet.

bonnet side

Project cost (not including bonnet materials):

– 3 yards fabric: $29.99 + tax

– pattern: $12 + $3 shipping

– 8 yards braid: $7.60 + tax

lining, interfacing, buttons, thread, hooks and eyes: from the stash

Less than $60. Not bad.

Navy Regency Bonnet

I’ve finished trimming my straw Regency bonnet with navy and white striped grosgrain ribbon, which I used to decorate the brim with puffed loops, make chin ties and a cockade. The center of the cockade has a faux pearl button, and there are 3 white ostrich feathers.

bonnet side

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It is a stovepipe shape, although not a particularly elongated one.

bonnet top

The inside is decorated with venise lace.

bonnet inside

It is my first try at a cockade ornament of this style, and this tutorial at Idle Hands was very useful. I found pinning the cockade on a mousepad when arranging the loops helpful since I do not have a cork board. (I did not iron my loops flat though, because I wanted them to mirror the puffs on the brim).

Regency Dress

Earlier this month I attended a Jane Austen-themed Regency Ball. I did not have time to make a new dress, so I decided to retrim an old one. (I have not been posting or sewing much the last few weeks due to a series of eye appointments. It’s not easy to type or sew when your eyes are constantly dilated!)

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This is what the dress looked like before.

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It had a wine-colored sash and little ribbon bows along the hem. I wore it to a picnic, but decided I needed to dress it up for an evening party. I didn’t want to buy any new materials, so I used some black velvet fabric, velvet ribbon and cream-colored lace from my sewing stash. 

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The hem was just flat lace with the black velvet ribbon woven through the holes. For the neckline I pleated the lace and held it in place with the ribbon. Here’s a shot of it on my work table.

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And the top on my mannequin.

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I accented the black velvet around the waist with a vintage black and gold cameo I found at the Alameda Antiques Fair.

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I wore the dress with a green and black shawl that a friend of mine brought me from England, and a vintage opal and onyx cameo from my mother.