I love English Country Dance. Despite some of the other dancers (who are very moody) and despite my multiple health issues, I have been going to weekly dances for 11 months now and I love how the right dance can make me feel like a Lady.
The reason why I wanted to start sewing Regency clothes last year was for my first Ball. This dress is my upgraded version of a “dream” gown (last year’s was pink and nice, but didn’t have the movement and cut I prefer).
This year I attended two costumed Balls for which I “needed” my first white Regency gown. I know that at some point I’ll find a dress that will be my dream, and that I’ll have the skills to sew it, but for now I wanted to make a pretty dress that would make me feel elegant and effervescent.
I prefer the look of “early” Regency gowns; Empire-waist gowns that are from the period before the “official” Regency. I like the fuller, longer skirt. I enjoy the puff sleeve that isn’t too puffed, and a simple, less decorated look. I also wanted a V-neck.
The Challenge: #9 Black & White
Fabric: Cotton Swiss Dot
Pattern: Some pattern pieces from Sense & Sensibility’s Elegant Lady’s Closet, serious modifications
Notions: Thread, ribbons (for ties)
How historically accurate is it? Very Good: Cotton semi-sheer fabric, all hand-sewn, and I have seen period illustrations of very similar gowns
Hours to complete: 30+
First worn: Late March and early May to two Regency Balls
Total cost: Approx. $30 for fabric, $1 for ribbon (thread from stash)
I found this fabric months ago and purchased it without knowing what exactly I would make with it. I knew I wanted a Ball gown, but I didn’t know what style.
I ended up using the sleeves, back, and crossover front (highly modified) from the Elegant Lady’s Closet pattern, with a rectangle skirt. I love the rectangle skirt because I can do an even hem all the way around (I don’t often have help for fitting).
I loved the sleeves. They looked too big, until I put on the dress. If I had used a narrower skirt they still may have been a bit big looking, but they fit with the skirt I chose (all 150 inches of it!).
I ended up using ribbons to tie in the back, which I like, though I still waffle over if I aught to have made a front-opening gown based on the front of the Danish wedding dress.
The false crossover front I made didn’t quite fit me as I’d like, but I don’t want to “fix” it until I finally (some day) finish my stays.
I really like this dress. On it feels large, but in photos I think it suits me. I do hope to trim it up in future. Maybe ribbons at the hem and a ruffle at the neckline? If I could embroider, then I would white work it.
I wore this with my finished bodiced petticoat (with 100 inches of skirt), to which I added some lace at the top to dress up the visible bit. I wish I had a photo of this part, because I think it looks nice, but then again I’m glad no one got a “good” photo of my rack.
At the first ball I used a wide pink ribbon (I ended up not liking the width, and I chose the wrong shade) and the pink coral necklace and earrings that my sister had made for me.
At the second ball I wore a thin purple ribbon (which isn’t perfect, but which I liked a lot better) and my wedding tiara (which made me feel like a visiting princess!).