Thursday, January 26, 2012

Regency Evening Gown 2012

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have some process shots of creating my dress for this year's Jane Austen Evening. My dress was inspired by this one from the exhibit Napoleon: The Empire of Fashion - I've drooled over the dress ever since I bought the catalog, and when I found some sheer striped fabric in the LA garment district I decided to give it a shot.



The below 3 images are found via Thomason Photography. I was happy to find this website, because the exhibit catalog doesn't show the sleeve clearly. I never found a photo of the back, so I just made it up based on my previous Regency dresses.



Earlier this year I bought my very first dress form, Beatrice, and she was a life saver for this project. I took all my measurements with my stays on, then put them on her, laced and padded her out to match. I draped the bodice directly on top and only had 2 fittings from start to finish, and honestly the bodice of this dress fits me better than anything else in my closet. 

I had 2 fabrics to work with, my base satin and the sheer striped fabric. First step was draping the satin underlayer - I wasn't sure exactly where I wanted the neckline, so I marked a couple options and picked one in my first fitting. I think(?) I picked the lower one.

I like to make notes on my muslins during draping or fitting, so that I remember what to do to the pattern. I decided to have drawstring closures at the neck and waistline, and because I wanted a slight gathered effect, I added a little extra to the CB of the pattern when I traced off my muslin.

I don't have a shot of the side view, but I kept the armhole really high, right under the armpit. High armholes are not the standard in today's clothing but they are crucial for good movement (especially in non-stretch fabrics!), and since I would be dancing in this dress I wanted to be able to lift my arms!

Next I draped my sheer striped fabric on top of my muslin. Luckily this fabric was not expensive, so I bought extra and decided to drape directly in the real fabric, and knew I could start over if I had too. As you can see, the bodice is bias like the original. Love directional stripes! (OK, all stripes are directional, but you know what I mean.)

 I don't even want to remember how long it took me to drape this darn bodice! Hours, literally. Getting all the tucks and poufiness placed correctly and flatteringly was really hard. I draped half, marked all the tucks, and then transfered it to the other side on the flat. The over layers of the bodice are flatlined to the satin.



The rest was fairly easy! So of course I didn't take process shots of it, grr. The neckline is finished with bias binding casing and trimmed with lace and a beaded trim, and I slipstitched the waistline seam allowance closed to create a casing. Here's the inside view of the front - yes, I overlocked the inside seam allowances!

For the skirt and sleeves, I used my modified Sense & Sensibility pattern from last year and just added the striped overskirt, which was a couple of rectangles with a bunch of box pleats. I did the CB placket wrong because the edges are supposed to butt up to each other, but my placket is for edges that overlap. Oh well, that's nothing a little hook and eye can't fix!

The Finished Dress!!

Whew! Thanks for indulging me that post, and congrats if you made it to the end! ;)


  1. Ooh! Love seeing the process.
    Your gown is AMAZING.

  2. What a beautiful gown and thanks for the process of how you created it!

  3. I saw this gown recently in Washington DC at a special Napoleon exhibit! Lovely job!


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