Saturday, July 22, 2017

My Little Sister's Regency Dress

She asked me for a regency dress. My little sister read an adaption of Pride and Prejudice, after my family watched the movie together, and she told me she would love it if I made a regency dress for her sometime. So, I filed that bit of information away as a future birthday or Christmas present idea. 

Black Friday rolled around and I found myself at Joann's, buying fabric for making Christmas presents, when a pink on pink cotton calico caught my eye and I remembered my little sister's request. 3 yards of that calico came home with me. Christmas morning, my little sister unwrapped her regency dress.

I made this dress using a pattern my grandma used to make a pioneer dress for me, back when I was my sister's age, McCall's M4547 . The fit of this pattern is controlled by drawstrings at the waist and neckline - period correct for the regency era, and perfect for a growing girl. To make the pattern work for a regency dress, rather than a "pioneer dress" I had to make a few minor alterations.  I shortened the bodice a couple inches, so that the waistline hit right under the bust instead of at the natural waist, changed the dimensions of the skirt panels so that the back of the skirt would be more densely gathered than the front, and lengthened the skirt to ankle length rather than mid-calf length. For a little extra growing room, I also added a couple of tucks near the bottom of the skirt. 

Upon opening her dress, my sister immediately ran to change into it for Christmas dinner (so, of course, I wore my regency dress to that afternoon as well), but the dress really got worn a few months later, when my sister needed to dress up as a famous person from history for her homeschool co-op.
I happened to be in Peru when that occasion came around, so my sister had to figure out her costume on her own. She decided to write a paper about, and dress up as, Dolley Madison, the First Lady who saved important papers from the White House when it was burnt during the War of 1812. Thus, my little sister's regency dress was perfect for her costume.

Now, no proper woman in 1812 would be seen without a proper head covering, so my sister needed a regency bonnet of some sort. She did some research and decided to make herself a turban-type hat to complete her costume, using supplies she found in my sewing room; tulle, ribbon, a feather, and some faux grass and leaves. 

She did such a good job making herself this hat that I'm half-afraid I will have lost my job as her primary costumer when I return home in November!

Honestly, I think the best part of having a little sister is getting to share my interests with her: reading, history, sewing, and making costumes. 

What would I do without this girl? 

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