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My next project will be a 1805-1810 white evening dress made from very sheer and fine muslin cotton. I want this dress to be outstanding and am going to take as much time as possible 😀

The occasion of this dress:

1) Balls, Jane Austen Festival, Regency parties
2) Daily special occasion when I can dress up a little bit but not exaggerating. It should be convenient for walking.

I don’t want to spend so many hours making an art piece and then just hang it in the wardrobe. Fashion for me has to be practical. 

The Style

After doing many research in libraries and museums, I have chosen my favourite following styles:

Sleeves and shape of skirt: puffed, short sleeves, skirt without train. Waistband may be embroidered. No sash! (I so dislike the shining things) Hem and the front panel will be embroidered (this is going to be such a long project…)

1810 British Cotton and Linen Dress: Met Museum. Sleeve with and without filling

1804-05 French Evening Dress: V&A Museum

 
The embroidery of the dress above is my favourite style 🙂 As I have taken the whitework embroidery course at the Royal School of Needlework,  this project will be perfect for me to practise those Mountmellick stitches!

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My Hand-Stitched Regency Gown

Start date: Feb 10, 2012
Finish date: Feb 23, 2012
Fabric: for the size 12 I made, 4 Yds, 51″wide; Lining: 1 Yd
Adjustment points: Length of skirt: Cut 37″(upper skirt)+11″(lower skirt) instead of 39 1/2″ + 12″ suggested by the pattern

#031: Circa 1796-1806 Lewis & Clark Era: Empire Gown - Courtesy: Past Patterns

 As my first attempt for the La Mode Bagatelle Bodiced Petticoat went on very well, I decided to challenge myself for an authentic period look, using the Front Closing Gown pattern from Past Patterns. According to the good reviews on GBACG by many costumers, this pattern should be very professional and reliable and this is proved to be true. To be honest, if I have had used this pattern before the LMB one, I wouldn’t be able to bear with the drawings and wording of the LMB…Not because that LMB is too bad, but just Past Patterns is too good. (In fact the result of LMB petticoat looks great) The pattern is very well researched, correctly illustrated and very clearly texted.  I have only found very few points where the outcome doesn’t match the instruction, and I will list them below.

My fabric for this gown: Green-grey cotton as the fashion fabric, and linen as the lining

The fabric I use is a very light weighted Italian cotton. For lining I simply used my leftover 100% white linen fabric from the LMB petticoat, which is a bit luxious as that linen costs about £10 a metre :p. I took a little bit risk here as I didn’t test the pattern on a cheaper fabric first, but I was kind of confident and  had a bet on my skills. Thanks God it comes out well!

Bodice Lining

As sewing machine was not invented at that time, hand-stitch is required for the whole gown. I have tried my best to hand-stitch 90% of the gown, except for some terribly long lines on the skirt. (It’s really too tiring to sew several 88-inch-long back stitches by hand!!! :p:p:p)

Trianglel: Back Piece

The design of the back is the eye-catching part of this gown. The front part of the lining is separate with the bodice, and will hang free and be pinned when being worn.

Bodice: Fashion Fabric and Lining Together

When it came to the cord, the pattern suggested to use candlewicking yarn to make your own cord. I couldn’t find this yarn/thread either in my local craft shops or harberdashery departments in John Lewis or Liberty, so I digged some 100% cotton knitting yarn from my stash, which happen to look nice with the fabric, and twisted them to make the neck cord.

Cotton Knitting Yarn as Cord 🙂

So far the pattern has done really well for the bodice and I didn’t meet any difficulty except for a tiny mistake on page 7: when it says to press the seam allowance to the wrong side for the lining, it should be the right side. The illustration is correct but the texts are not. The second issue is when it came to the knife pleats of the skirt, I had some problem with the pleating template. Not sure if it’s something to do with sizes, but the pleats made according to the template don’t match the center back of the bodice – the right side (close to the CF) is much shorter than the left side, making the possibility of having at least 9 pleats on the left, but only 5 on the right. I had to move the template the width of 1.5 pleats to the left, starting from the CF, to make it look about equal. This is the only problem I had with the pattern.

Making Pleats and Front Crescent Tuck

For the hem of the skirt, I deliberately left the selvage side of the lower skirt undone. So here is the completed gown!

1796-1806: Front Closing Gown

I’m not very sure about the front tuck…Although it does make the length right. And also the neck cord should be hiden inside, but I think it’s ok to let them out since they add some brightness to the gown.
 

1796 Gown: Side View 1

Although this is how the back should look like, I think I’ll prefer a more high-waist back. Until next time!

1796 Gown: Back View

Basically I am quite satisfied with it and think it is a very pretty day dress 😉  I’m supposed to wear a chemise, transition stay and a neck kerchief underneath, but they haven’t been made yet :p

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