Regency

New Regency and Regency Redux for Jane Austen Fest

This year I made my first visit to Jane Austen Fest in Louisville, Kentucky. If Louisville has a specific connection with Jane Austen, I can not say, but they put on the largest Jane Austen event in North America. The festival is held on the grounds of Locust Grove, a Georgian mansion and estate built in 1790. It provides a lovely, shady and picturesque backdrop for the event.

Janefest includes two full days on site, an evening of early bird shopping, high tea service and a ball. If one attended all events and evenings, three outfits plus a ball gown would be required. At the minimum, you could get by with two dresses if you do not attend the ball nor dress up on the Friday shopping night (many do not). At the time I decided to go, I had only two Regency dress and one was a ballgown. I’d also worn them both to a couple of events last year. Clearly, a new dress had to be made!

I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I don’t really stash Regency appropriate fabrics, although I’m loving the ease of the Regency so much I’m starting to. Previously I found two panels of Target Shabby Chic Voile curtains at a thrift shop. These curtains have proven very popular with historical costumers. They were in very good condition if a bit dingy. I picked them up with the Regency in mind so I set to soaking them in Orvus Paste while I figured out what to sew.

IMG_5431A friend of mine recently did some massive destashing due to a move to Manhattan. One of the pieces she gave me was a good length of (I assume) embroidered upholstery trim. The blue gray classical style embroidery had also put her in a Regency state of mind. I thought it would go great with the curtains, but it was far too heavy to use as trim.IMG_5472 I decided to use it as the front apron of the dress and sewed it together to create fabric for the dress sleeves. It turned out to be a smart and pretty move because with only two curtain panels, I was a little too short of fabric for sleeves anyway.

I used Laughing Moon #126 with the ballgown puff. It was a little bit of a fuss to figure out how long to cut the skirt pieces since the curtains have an embroidered hem. But, hey no hemming needed!

IMG_5536I used Festive Attyre’s Regency Shawl Hack and two pashminas to make a trip hazard shawl for swanning about.

IMG_5522I didn’t have a reticule either so I made the one from La Mode Bagatelle. The fabric is a remnant of a kimono bolt.

With the short sleeves, I technically made a ballgown. But as this event is held outside, in July, in the mid-south, most people aren’t too picky about exposed arms as a concession to weather. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with my hair or head beyond hoping I could buy a bonnet, ribbons or something once I got there.

Once on site I bought an adorable bonnet from Shocking Bad Hats. It was an great stylistic match to my new dress and will also look great, if a bit matchy, with my blue burnout stripe lawn dress. I had a great time swanning around dragging my wrap behind me but so many people kept telling that my shawl was on the ground that I finally picked it up. Don’t these people look at fashion plates? Who cares if it gets dirty? Fashion!

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Here I am in my Shocking Bad Hat with Julie, The Fat Reenactress. She also took the great full length shot below.

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I had to beat off an unsavory gentleman to boot! They will let anyone into this festival!

IMG_5653IMG_5647IMG_5644So that was my new dress! On to look two!

With this year being the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, many people were planning mourning looks for the big mourning procession that happened on Saturday. I only really had plans for one new dress and mourning was never a serious consideration for that. But my ballgown from last year was made from a lavender and black sari!

IMG_0704I felt like I could somehow make this half mourning appropriate so I posted about it to a Facebook group to get some crowd sourcing ideas. The two most popular suggestions were to add sleeves and a black fichu.

The fichu was easy. I found a piece of vintage embroidered net on etsy for $14. It wasn’t the biggest piece of fabric so I tacked it into the neckline to keep it in place versus trying to make it into a triangle.

While looking for the solid silk I used for the apron front I found a leftover piece of the sari that I didn’t remember that I had. It was perfect for sleeves, which I also tacked in.IMG_5474

I topped the outfit off with my black and silver bonnet hack, the vintage style sunglasses I got for the Gatsby picnic, black vintage gloves, black and silver lion earrings from Dames a la Mode and an antique french jet pendant.

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I was really surprised how much the dress sombered up. I thought that the silver trim at the neckline would bring too much bling. I really enjoyed wearing this. I felt very Lady Catherine de Burgh or Caroline Bingley, ultra fashionable but ready with a withering putdown at the expense of the dearly departed. I think the sunglasses helped.

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Thanks to Stephanie for this photo. I love it, even if you can see the non historic serging on my turned up ruffles. They were getting in my chicken salad!

And despite what everyone had been saying about the heat, sun and silk, I was actually as, if not more, comfortable in this outfit than the short sleeved one.

What I was missing though was a proper Regency chemise, something I sewed as soon as I got home. Kentucky heat and a lack of a proper chemise just will not do!

I just become more and more enchanted with Regency fashion. Next year is the 10th anniversary of the festival so I’ll just have to attend again!

 

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A Most Disreputable Regency Whist Party

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I love to play cards. I grew up in a card playing family with the most favorite game being Pinochle. Sadly, most people I know now don’t really know how to play cards at all. But some people I know now really like Jane Austen and the Regency. And what often gets mentioned in Austen’s books? The playing of cards and more specifically the playing of whist. In order to play more cards and also wear my gowns, I decided to have a whist party.

There are a few blogs that have covered Regency card parties. I found The Georgian Index especially helpful. As for how tos on rules and play, consult Hoyle! It also always seems like whist is either disreputable because of gambling or an activity that characters get stuck playing because of want of a fourth to complete the table. At my party we had both!

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I decided to set up a small tournament with a $5 ante for each player. For this party I removed myself from eligibility to win as I was the host and the most experienced whist player. We played two games simultaneously and switched partners at the end of each game. The winner was determined by total points across all games. The pot was split between two guests who had the same total. My husband, who was actually supposed to be out of town for the party, was press ganged into playing and also taking all our group photos.

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I served a fairly broad repast of food and drink that was regency appropriate. I had a cheese board of almost exclusively British cheeses, fruit, meats, olives and rustic petit fours. Wine, Pinor Noir Champagne, Tea and Port were served.

Over the course of the evening, I did the most to make things disreputable. I ended up breaking three champagne flutes over the course of the party. We also had puppy shenanigans as Mr. Ollivander had just joined us.

Once the guests were good and lubricated, we finished the evening by playing the no skill dice game bunco. While bunco is not of the era, it seems like something that they could have enjoyed. We again played with a $5 ante and winner take all.

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Everyone seemed to really enjoy the party and those who were invited but unable to attend seemed quite remorseful about missing it. I’m absolutely on board to host again and this time, I’m playing to win!

Regency Bonnet Hack

I’ve taken a couple of Regency dance classes this summer. My dancing group had a picnic over the weekend. I had some ambition to make a new dress for the occasion but being a week past Dragoncon the motivation just wasn’t really there. Being a picnic it did seem like I should have a straw bonnet though. I poked around online and found a great bonnet hack. It promised to be fast and cheap, two concepts I can get behind!

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Behold! A very easy and quick Regency bonnet or hat from The Cheats Costume Guide by Hathaways of Hawthorn. The cheat is using a faux straw sun visor as your base. In essence you:  1) sew a fabric crown to the base 2) add ribbon, ties and feathers 3) wear to your event and look fabulous. The hat you make can look very similar to this one in Sense & Sensibility. 

I ordered these to use as frames, mostly because they were on Amazon Prime so I could get them fast. They arrived on Friday and the picnic was Sunday. Since this was a first time experiment all other supplies were from my stash. I ended up going a little avant-garde with all silver, grey and black. I did check around to see if a black straw hat was even a thing in the Regency. The only ones I could find were specifically referenced as being for mourning. Not really what I was going for but historical enough on short notice.

While the cheat doesn’t tell you to do this, I opted to sew self fabric bias around the edge of my brim. The visor is already bound so I just covered over it. I thought it might lighten the look of the bonnet and also make it fancier. Despite my not that great hand sewing, I did achieve that.

From there I sewed on the silk crown. The cheat tells you to cut “a piece fabric around the size you would use for a cushion cover” which really isn’t terribly specific. I measured my couch throw pillows and then went a little bigger. I cut a 22 inch square into a circle. It seemed to work but maybe was a little too big.

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Apparently oddly riveted to something beyond the frame. Also, not totally loving the side profile of my bonnet.

For whatever reason, the straw part of the crown seemed kind of tall in my version. I don’t know if that’s because the head band on my visors actually was taller than the ones in the cheat. I made the size of the head opening a little bit too small. That might have forced the brim to want to naturally curve lower down. Because of that I ended up using a quite wide piece of silk leftover from my Edwardian Chinoiserie gown to make a hatband. One width of ribbon just would not have sufficed! I think it looks fine from the front and back but a little weird at the sides. I will definitely address this when I make up the other visor I got. I may also add some other ribbon or decoration to that expanse of crown.

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Looks pretty OK from the back.

I started the hat Friday night while watching The Harvey Girls and finished it Saturday night after a round of day drinking. It was 85% hand sewn. I did the fabric ties on the the machine and bits here and there.

We had great weather for the picnic and the heat wasn’t too brutal for early September in Atlanta. Here’s a couple photos of some of the compliment.

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A Starter Regency Wardrobe

I previously posted about my test dress from Laughing Moon #126. I’ve now finished that dress, a ballgown with the same pattern and a bodiced petticoat from Laughing Moon #132. I pretty much have a starter Regency wardrobe. Regency is really fun to wear. It’s so easy and comfy in relation to Victorian. I don’t think it suits me as well but it’s a lot more flattering than I thought it might be. It really is like wearing a couple of nightgowns.

IMG_0486My 1st Regency outing was to Dress Like a Georgian Day! a picnic at Fenton House in London. It was pretty exciting to actually wear Regency clothes to a house that had its last major renovations during the Regency.

IMG_0503I felt right on target even thought most of the other people who attended were wearing clothes from earlier in the Georgian period.

IMG_0502.jpgThe London weather that day turned out to be glorious. It was a bit warm but breezy and sunny. Really a perfect day for a picnic in a lovely manicured garden.

IMG_0494I did not have my bodiced petticoat done before my trip to London. I bought a white cotton nightgown to wear as a sort of shift / some sort of undergarment. I made a capote (tutorial info here) by hand during an impromptu craft night with my London friends. I made the chemisette in a class at last year’s Costume College.

For my Regency ballgown I planned to use a vintage sari as my main fabric. It is purple and lavender with black embroidery that looks like wheat. It just seemed so perfect and it was $20 from this eBay seller. Being vintage, it did have a couple of flaws but they were easily worked around. I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do for the gown though so while in London I went to Goldhawk Road to look for some companion fabric. I found some lavender silk that was both the perfect color and the perfect level of sheen to match my sari. While the price was not bad I certainly blew out the economy of the sari with that purchase. I didn’t end up using anywhere near the yardage I bought so I have more than enough to make a Victorian bodice or something with the rest.

When I got home, I first finished my bodiced petticoat. This turned out really long. I ended up cutting seven inches off the hem which obliterated 3 of my five tucks.

IMG_0619The ballgown went together quickly. I meant to make puffy ballgown sleeves but I ended up cutting the wrong view. Since I used the pallu end of the sari there wasn’t enough additional fabric to recut the sleeves. Not really what I was going for but it looked fine enough.

IMG_0672I used what was left of the pallu to fashion some sort of turbanish headdress. I decorated it with gold trim and gold feathers from my stash. The silver bodice trim is also stash and was purchased from Barnett Lawson on a previous London visit. I bought olive colored jewelry from Dames a la Mode trunk sale to complete my ensemble. I wore black Ghillies from Payless (they are on sale right now).

IMG_0704I’m pretty pleased with this dress. I think the apron front needs a little tweaking and the neckline of my bodiced petticoat is still too high. I think I may just make another pettiocoat rather than re-engineer the one I have. It seems less frustrating and I can fix a couple other small annoyances.

IMG_0700I wore both dresses at Costume College. For my blue day dress look I added a wide ribbon with a greek style motif to my capote. I also wore my blue Manchester boots from American Duchess. My roommate Stephanie wore Regency the same days I did so we made a nice pair. We even played German Whist in the lobby in our Regency gear. Sadly I don’t have a photo of that but it was super fun!

 

 

I finally “persuaded” myself to start my Regency gown.

(Did you see what I did there? I know, groan, groan.)

After much trepidation, I finally have begun work on my Regency gowns. I’m using Laughing Moon #126 for the gown(s) and Laughing Moon #132 for my petticoat. I had Anthony Canney of House of Canney make my short stays. I guess I’ll need a chemise too — again Laughing Moon.

This is a new historical era for me. I have been interested in Regency for a while but never tried it. As a busty, hippy gal, the empire silhouette didn’t strike me as one that would really do me a ton of favors. I wasn’t inspired either. Over time I looked at more Regency plates and examples and finally got inspired. I’m also ready to branch out from Victorian and Edwardian.

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My plan for Regency is to make a test day dress / undergarments and then, based on what I learn there, to move forward to sewing a ball gown from a vintage sari. I’ll be doing it all with the machine. Modern methods only for me! My plan is to have the ball gown ready for Costume College at the end of July. I’m leaving for the UK in about a week. A friend just told me about a Georgian picnic at Fenton House. This picnic sounds really cool but the only thing I have vaguely from that era is Rococopunk. I just don’t feel like hauling that to the UK this time. Then I realized I could probably push myself to complete my Regency test dress. I never think of the Regency as being part of the Georgian era but, of course, it is!

I already had done a little Regency work by mocking up the bodiced petticoat. I found that I needed to go up a size all around on that piece. I took that information to the test gown and made my mock up accordingly. Things looked pretty good except for right in the front. With my narrow back and generous cleavage I didn’t feel like I had enough coverage under the bib of the gown. Rather than going up another size I opted to extend the fronts by 1/2 an inch. This seemed like a workable solution.

For the test I’m using a really lovely 60 wide wedgwood blue burnout lawn from Fashion Fabrics Club. I got a super deal on it at only $1.99 a yard. I also bought the same lawn in black for a planned Edwardian mourning ensemble. The black wasn’t on super sale though but it was still a good deal at $4.95. The hand and drape of this fabric is perfect for Regency. It’s not bad to sew but a bit on the delicate side versus what I’m used to. It also prefers a very sharp needle.

So far the construction on this dress is going really well. I’ve found the instructions to be pretty easy to follow and the pieces to match nicely as long as you use all the dots and notches. The pattern instructions are actually all printed together on one giant sheet. You can use them that way or cut them all apart (cut lines are printed). It is way too unwieldy to try to use them all connected. Plan on cutting them out some evening in front of the TV.

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Not surprisingly, I found setting the sleeves difficult. This is one place where I found the instructions a bit vexing. It is very easy to get your left and right sleeve reversed. I suggest you baste these on and check before proceeding. My fabric is opaque enough that I am doing french seams with the serger in places where it matters (like the skirt seams). It’s a nice, if a bit bulky, finish.

The pattern tells you to understitch the neckline. I’d never actually heard of this technique but it’s really great. This keeps your lining from rolling and peeking out at the neckline. Colette has a very nice and easy tutorial on how to do this. Clever!

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Right after I took this progress photo I figured out that I’d sewn the skirt on incorrectly. Whoops!

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I put a good 5 or so hours of sewing in today and a couple the other day. I’ve made super progress. I’ve heard this is a fast sew and once you get on with it, I tend to agree. I’m ready to sew on the front bib, some ties, the hem and hand sewing. That’s pretty much all I need to do to finish. I’m not sure if I’m going to do any trim or not. I’m considering a bit of self trim at the bottom of the sleeve but that’s about it for this guy. The fabric is very pretty as is. I can always update anyway.

I hope to get this done in the next day or so!