Sunday, September 11, 2022

My Sister's Peacock Blue Regency Wrap Dress

 As I mentioned yesterday, I made my sister a new Regency era dress to wear to her Regency Dinner Party birthday party.

I basically made her a regency era inspired princess dress, because she was the birthday girl, the princess of the evening, how could I not?

After months of dreaming and brainstorming, coming up with ideas and rejecting them, this dress finally began when I sent my sister to my fabric stash and told her to pick a fabric. 

She chose a peacock blue taffeta. I picked this taffeta up on a day trip with my husband last spring. It's a polyester, but one of the nicest polyester taffetas I've ever handled. It was a great price and a gorgeous color, so I think I picked up 12 yards. I could certainly use about 4 yards for a dress for my sister!

Once the fabric was picked, we started discussing the design. We looked through my pattern collection and talked about different ideas. We looked at extant taffeta regency dresses on Pinterest. We considered trim options. After all that, our favorite dress was this 1810's dress we found on Pinterest. I have no idea where this picture originated, but it's been shared on many different blogs.

We also quite liked this late 1790's fashion plate from the Rijks Museum.

A regency wrap dress - that's what we wanted! There was just one issue, I didn't own a pattern for such a thing. Now I'm pretty sure I could have hacked a couple of the patterns I did have to get something passable, but I was a little limited on time, so I took the easy way out and bought the Sense and Sensibility Elegant Ladies' Closet pattern. Nice size range, exact style we wanted, reasonable price, quick to download and print out - it would do!

I allowed myself 2 days to make the dress, then I needed to get back to working on my dress for the fashion show. I cut out the dress and assembled the bodice the first day, then attached the skirt and trimmed the dress the second day.

My sister specifically requested that the dress have her favorite style of regency sleeves.

Short puffed over sleeves and long straight under sleeves. Since the pattern included 3 different sleeve options that was an easy request to accommodate. 

I flatlined the back of the bodice with a sturdy white cotton. For the bodice front lining flap thingies I used a blue cotton from my stash. (Left over from my sister's Japanese Festival costume from many years ago.) Due to my tight time frame, I didn't bother finishing most of the sleeves. This fabric didn't seem to want to fray too much. 

These front bodice flaps are meant to be pinned closed, but I thought that would probably annoy my sister so I decided to add buttons and buttonholes instead.

As far as the outer bodice goes, the waist/underbust seam is bound in grosgrain ribbon, and the underlap fastens at the side seam with a ribbon tie.

The overlapping side fastens with a hook and eye. The neckline is finished off with bias tape.

The sleeves, front opening, and hem are all trimmed with a white flowery lace from my stash.

I had just barely enough to go around the whole front opening and hem. 

I was quite pleased with how quickly and easily the dress went together, but there are a few things I wish I'd done differently, and might want to go back and change later. 

I ignored the skirt pattern pieces and just made the skirt gathered all the way around, like the 1790's fashion plate we liked. Honestly, I wish I'd made the front skirt flat like the pattern recommended, I think it would look nicer. The pleats on the bodice front along with the gathered skirt just makes things look bulky.

 The second issue I have is with the shoulders.

They're just too wide. the pleats at the shoulder seams really need to be tacked down rather than left free. 

This is an easy fix I can take care of later, but I wish the pattern instructions (which I did actually reference a few times throughout construction) mentioned this. I was a bit surprised when my sister tried on the dress, the night before her party, and the shoulders were too wide. 

Annoyances aside, my sister looked absolutely beautiful in her dress!

I'm so glad I got to make it for her!

And her birthday party was a lot of fun!

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