For my first regency era outfit, I went with early in the era, with 1801-03 being the targeted style. For inspiration, I used:
as well as the books "19th Century Fashion in Detail" and "The Collection of the Kyoto Fashion Institute."
I like to start from the skin and work my way out with my outfits, both in sewing and explaining. I started with a cotton shift, and a rather trendy item for this time period, drawers. I used a high-quality cotton muslin for my underpinnings and sewed them by hand, as sewing machines had not yet successfully been introduced in 1801. I used the Kannik's Korner pattern for the shift and drafted the drawers off an original pair. Later I ended up discarding the drawers as I didn't feel they flattered my figure or felt comfortable under the dress.
I had some trouble getting my corset together. I first made the Mantua Maker's regency corset, but the fitting gave me fits! It was fiddly and the layers didn't end up matching up and... well , I ended up throwing the thing in the garbage in fitting frustrations. So I tried again, this time with the Sensibility Short Stay pattern.Underpinnings Pattern. These made up in a cinch, went together easily and fit great! In retrospect, I should have lengthened the waist for comfort and accuracy and redrawn the strap for fit. I did end up sewing them on my machine, for fear they were going to be as monstrous as my first corset. I may go back and make another pair with the changes noted above, sewn by hand. I also may try a "transitional" stay for this time period.
I drafted the petticoat and hand-sewed it out of some scrap white cotton I had. The skirt portion is fairly typical for the era, while the straps were of my own invention. It was falling down without them, and I didn't want to add a bodice to it. I stroked gathered the center back to create fullness, and gathered the front. It closes at the center back with a single china button.
For my chemisette, I used the Sensibility Underpinnings Pattern again, I did make some changes to it, however. My fabric was already a bit heavy and I didn't want do two layers, so I eliminated the lining and did a very narrow rolled hem. Instead of using buttons to close the front, I used ties at the waistline and a straight pin at the neck. Once again, hand sewn, with some scrap fabric. I think in practice, I will be more likely to wear a linen neckerchief with the dress.
A view of all the underpinnings on at once:
For stockings, I purchased a pair of knit silk stockings. I'm still at a loss for accurate shoes! I want a reasonably accurate pair of pointy-toe flats, but can't find any reproductions for under... well, under what I pay in rent every month.
My dress is made from a dreamy block-printed cotton fabric (with *border-print!*) from the seller Heritagetrading on Ebay. They claim they are printed with 200 year old blocks, which I have no reason to doubt. For my 1801 style, I decided I want a full back skirt with slight train, 3/4 length sleeves, and a apron-front. I had originally planned on using the Sensibility pattern, but found with the amount of altering I would be doing, that drafting it would be easier. I did use the base bodice pieces, with altered seam placements, however, and drafted the sleeves, apron-front, and skirt.
My inspiration (please note, I saved this image off of ebay. If this is your garment and you do not want the picture here, please notify me and I will remove it immediately):
And my version
The front of the bodice- The bodice proper closes at center front with straight pins. Over this is a buttoned-on center panel, which is attached to the front panel of the dress. This style is commonly referred to as an apron-front or drop-front dress. Some pictures of the dress in progress:
And the finished dress:
Trim- The buttons on the front panel are self-fabric covered, as per the original. There is drawn trim on the front panel, created with four rows of narrow piping, also seen on the original.
Spencer and Bonnet
My bonnets for this outfit has had three incarnations, the first was a drafted bonnet:
This bonnet was my own design, off of two originals in a book of mine and fashion plates. The crown is made of pink silk (leftovers from my 1840s bonnet) with grey silk (leftovers from my drawn 1860s spoon bonnet) and interlined with net, and lined with cotton muslin. The brim was an old hat a friend got me, which was wetted and re-shaped.
I really don't like the result, and want to do some re-something with the thing and turn it into something else... perhaps either and evening headdress or if I ever do a 1790s costume, a hat with that? For now, it's in the back of the closet.
I would also like to note, that there is little evidence to support straw-brim with silk body bonnet in this era. It seems to be a creation largely of the BBCs costume dramas.
The second, prettier headwear, is a little straw bonnet decorated with green ribbon. The trim was copied from an original bonnet in the Kyoto Fashion book:
While I like the bonnet, I have decided to make a third bonnet, this from one of Timely Tresses patterns.
My spencer is made of black wool pique and lined in a pink checked linen.
Here are is the spencer in progress, the lining is much more exciting than the outer fabric!
And the finished Spencer (I need to take it in a bit in the back):