Friday, 3 June 2016

Regency Drop Front Dress

I recently joined the CoBloWriMo(Costume Blog Writing Month) group on facebook, which is encouraging costume bloggers to increase their blogging prolificacy with daily prompts throughout the month of June.  Today's prompt is to write about a new technique you've recently learned or would like to learn.

Since writing my to do list a couple of weeks ago, I'm pleased to say that I've made some progress, and now have my very own Regency day dress!  I certainly learned a few new things along the way.

Hungarian Chick Bib Front Gown
I decided to make a bib front dress; as The Hungarian Chick's tutorial (here) was very clear and easy to follow.  I wanted to make it more historically accurate though, so I poured over the fantastic close up photos of (this) gown at the National Museum of Australia, before discovering Katherine's Drop Front dress construction photos on her blog (here).  I ended up following her instructions almost to the letter.

1810-13 Silver and Blue Shot Silk Dress - Australian Dress Register

For the bodice I used the pattern in Patterns of Fashion as a guide, and draped on the stand, before checking the fit on myself.  This is the final pattern after alterations.

Cassie guarding the dress fabric for me.

The interesting thing about 18th and early 19th century bodice construction is that the lining is put together first, and the top fabric is then mounted on it in sections, and top stitched in place.  This is the new technique I wanted to try out for myself, so first I cut the lining in linen and felled the side back and shoulder seams by hand.

I then placed the brown cotton back piece over the top, and secured it with a running stitch within the seam allowances.  Next I smoothed one of the front pieces over the lining, and pinned it in place.  I turned under the seam allowance at the side back, shoulder seam, and front edge, and topstitched each one with a half back stitch.  I did the same for the other side, and secured the top and lining layers together with a running stitch along the neckline and hem.

I'd given the bodice a 1cm seam allowance all the way round, so I turned this under and slipstitched it down.  As you can see, the bodice top fabric doesn't extend as far as the linen flaps at the front.  When this is worn, the flaps cross over at the front, and the bib is secured over the top, hiding them from view.  Using only one layer for the flaps allow them to lay more smoothly over the bust.

Back view prior to slipstitching.

Cassie helping me cartridge pleat the skirt.

I don't have any more photos of the construction, or of the finished garment, as I've yet to wear it anywhere, and my dress stand is currently in use (next up, a chemise a la reine!), but as soon as I have some nice ones, I'll be sure to post them here.

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