Sarah Jane M
Goodfield, IL, US


Short Paragraph about Myself:

I am a twenty-six year old mom to three little boys and one baby girl, due in August of 2012. I have been sewing historic costumes since I was thirteen years old, starting out with the 1860's period for Civil War reenacting and later expanding my interest and sewing experiments into other eras, including 14th century, 1780's, regency, "romantic", 1840's, early 1900's, 1920's, 1930's and 1940's. When I was fifteen I made my first regency style dress using Sense and Sensibility's original regency gown pattern. Since then, I have had more opportunities to research and recreate styles from this era. Last year I attended my first Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, KY and have fallen in love with the grace and elegance of the fashions 1795-1820.

Short Description of Outfit:

During this challenge I hope to create a wardrobe of items that would have been commonly worn by a woman of moderate means during the early 1800 period. My focus, geographically, is on my own area which in the early 1800's was a pioneer area (not yet a state) and just beginning to be settled. The main commercial trade routes included the Illinois River, which is located just a few miles from me. From trade on the river a woman would have had access to fabrics and trims and fashion from the east and would not have been terribly out-of-date in her attire, even if she was in a rural, pioneer situation. I plan to create a basic, white, gathered gown with fullness across the front. I have chosen this earlier, full skirted style since it is so very convenient to pregnancy and will also be fashionable to wear post-pregnancy. I hope to create several garments to wear over the gown for different looks, including a small "spencerino", a short gown and an open robe. I also hope to make several accessory items that would have been used by a lady during her day to day life, including a bonnet, a cap, an apron, stockings and mitts. In addition, I plan to make a basic petticoat that will accomodate my pregnant belly since my current petticoat is flat in the front for later styles.

List of Items:

1. Drawstring/gathered gown; three-quarter length sleeves, drawstring at neck and waist with full skirt to accomodate pregnancy as well as be wearable post-pregnancy. Self patterned based on an original gown.
Basic Gown

2. Petticoat; self pattened; pleated skirt to fitted underbust waistband and shoulder straps, based on petticoat in this original illustration from Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion:

3. Spencerino; drawstring neck and waist and small skirt, fitted sleeves. Self patterned based on original garment in Snowshill Costume Collection and the tutorial at Madame Dujards blog:

4. Short Gown, long sleeved. Self patterned based on original short gown:
Short Gown

5. Linen mitts, from Kannik's Korner pattern, documentation for item included in the pattern, similar to these original mitts:

6. Simple day cap of sheer cotton or linen, suitable for a married woman, self-patterned, inspired by images in Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion:

7. Sewn stockings from Kannik's Korner pattern 

8. Bonnet from Timely Tresses Lucia pattern:

9. Apron, self patterned based on this painting:

10. Open Robe, self patterned, based on original open robe and the V & A open robe in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1:
Open Robe

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity!

May Regency Project: Petticoat. Part 1. Draping.

It always comes back to draping as the first thing I need to do for any project. I really wanted to use my 1780's gown pattern, slightly altered, for the bodiced petticoat but I was too lazy to dig through the drawers of patterns to find what I needed. I trace all my patterns off onto brown paper and although I label them, it takes f.o.r.e.v.e.r. to unfold each brown paper pattern piece and look at it to see what exactly it is and to eventually, hopefully, find what I am looking for.

So I decided to just drape a new pattern. I put it off for most of the day since I didn't want to actually go to the trouble of putting my stays on. (did I say I was lazy?) But I did at last and a half hour later ended up with this:

It is based on the 1798-1800 bodiced petticoat in Costume in Detail. The bodice is very simple, having a very short bodice, low neckline and shoulder straps. My version came out a bit wider in the straps and lower in the back but that will be easy to fix.

There are some wrinkles at the back here, but I think that is because this mock up fabric has ZERO stretch. In the linen I think the wrinkles will just melt away. Hope so anyway.

I washed the fabric yesterday, both linen and lightweight cotton. I am thinking I will go with the linen for the bodice (since linen is highly moldable and will be ideal for a very fitted bodice) and the lighter cotton for the actual petticoat. I think some tucks in the petti would also be good to put in, to add some stiffness at the hem to prevent petticoat-leg-wrap.

What I like about the original petticoat is that it opens in the front with hooks and eyes. I was kind of panicking since I couldn't remember if I had ever seen an original petticoat (or illustration of one) that had a front opening. I was so glad I remembered this one! A front opening is almost necessary for breastfeeding.

UPDATE 2: MAY 2012
May Regency Project: Petticoat. Part 2. The Skirt.

The petticoat is coming along quite nicely. Yesterday I was able to sew up the skirts and hopefully today or tomorrow can get the bodice done, then it will just be a matter of attach the skirts to the bodice. I am really enjoying the fact I don't have a close deadline for this project. It is so nice to work on something without being in a rush. I never take time to think much about petticoats - I mean, it's just a petticoat, right? - but it was fun thinking of the different ways I could make even a simple project look a little nicer than just being the plain "sew fabric panels into a tube, hem, and gather to a waistband".

Before I made the skirts, I did go ahead and trace out my bodice mock up onto paper for the final pattern. I made a few adjustments to the mock up to make it look more like my inspiration bodiced petticoat, below:
From Costume in Detail by Nancy Bradfield

I shortened the strap and made a little strap "stub" on both front and back bodice pieces. I also curved in the bottom of the front bodice a tad more, since in the mock up the underbust fit a bit loosely and I wanted a snug fit. I also raised the neckline of the back bodice so that my chemise will not show when the petticoat is being worn.

To make the skirts, I measured from my underbust to desired hem length (right around ankle length). I added 5" to the measurement for five 1/2" tucks at the hem. I added allowance for a 2" hem and 1/2" for the top seam allowance. I tore two panels of 45" wide fabric to that length and sewed the sides together, forming a tube. I left the selvedge edge as a natural finish. While the skirt was still flat and tubular I did the hem and the tucks. The tucks are meant to add a little body to the skirts, as well as to look pretty if a sheer gown is worn over top.

The tucks are sewn on the machine but I did decide to do the hem by hand. A hand done hem just lays better, I think:

For the front opening, I found the center of one of the panels and cut a short slit into the top of the skirt and hemmed it all around:

The finished hem circumference is just under 90". I was afraid of this being too narrow but with the tucks, the bottom part of the skirt is quite stiff and stands out away from my legs. Come to think of it, the petticoat I made last year was also made with two panels of 45" fabric and I had no problems wearing that. The gown that will be worn over the petticoat will, however, be quite a lot more full.

Next up is cutting out the bodice from the linen. I think I will cut two layers and sew them up separately, then press under the seam allowance at the armscyes, neckline and front opening and match the edges of both layers together and stitch through all layers at the edge to secure them to each other.

UPDATE 3: MAY 2012
May Regency Project: Petticoat. Finished Photos!

The petticoat is finished!

Final thoughts on it: I am not totally happy with it. The back fits nicely now but the front is just a little too loose. Thankfully that should be an easy fix by just unpicking the seam at the front opening and decreasing the angle of the bodice. And having a snugger fit across the bust should help with the wrinkles I am experiencing at the straps. After I make those adjustments, I think I will be very satisfied with this project. As is, it is definitely useable but until I make those changes they will bug me every time I put this on.

Here we can see the ubiquitous I-am-pregnant-so-look-at-my-belly shot: (and a side view of the petticoat as well, although that is of lesser importance, right? Because it's just so amazing and awesome to see the almost-29-week bump?? :D)

Back view. You can see that even though the skirt is fairly narrow it still has a nice fullness to it and the tucks help add a lot of body.

The only thing I would probably change next time, besides the slight fitting issues mentioned above, is the seam between the shoulder strap and the front bodice, which you can see better in this closer picture:

I think moving it down on the shoulder to just above the neckline would look a lot better. I briefly contemplated taking the skirt off, making a new bodice with the longer shoulder strap, but then discarded the idea as folly. No one will see this petticoat when it is worn and I don't think the seam placement will affect the look at all once a dress is over it. But still, something to keep in mind for next time.

I now wash my hands of this May regency project. I look forward to getting started on patterning the gown in the next week or so. But I can take my time as there is no rush for it, as long as it is done by the end of June!

June Regency Project: Apron ~ Skirt and Finishing

The apron is done. It is June 26th. I made it. I did it, with four days to spare. Woo-ha. Now that certainly will inspire me to get next month's project done *early* in the month! Because, who knows, maybe sometime in the late part of next month I'll be kinda occupied with a new little person. (Although, knowing my luck, she won't appear til the latest possible date sometime in late August! Which would totally stink because we have two events late next month to attend and I'd prefer to be somewhat comfortable by that time. . .)

So anyway, to pick up where I left off, we start with the skirt. I don't know the actual dimensions of the skirt. I just eyeballed it. It is a plain rectangle and I hemmed it narrowly on the sides and with a 1.5" hem at the bottom. As per usual, I did all the stitches that will show from the outside by hand:

I decided to leave the front of the apron flat as it seemed to be more flattering than having gathers or pleats all the way across. The extra fullness in the width of the apron was taken up in three pleats on either side, and the waistband was sewn to the top edge:

Then the bib was sewn on:

To finish the waistband on the inside, I cut a strip of white cotton and sewed it to the outer waistband, creating a facing. This also helps strengthen the waistband and prevents it from stretching.

And lastly, to fasten the back, I sewed on two hook and eyes:

I TOTALLY love this apron! It works just as well over modern clothes as it does over period garments and it covers everything that normally would get stained. I am pretty sure I am going to be making another one to use for modern life. The two aprons that get rotated in my kitchen are sadly past their prime.