Saturday, January 17, 2015

Red's Regency Dress, #1

I've a floral print material for Red's dress.  It's about a shirting weight cotton--lighter than quilting calico, but more opaque than a semi-sheer.  She's interested in clean lines and minimal trim.

Regency or Empire style dress, 1809-1810, in The Met.
Cotton dress, American, 1809-10, in The Met.
One of the pieces I'm looking to for inspiration.

Some period inspiration:
Cotton evening dress c. 1809 This one has the longer "short" sleeves preferred by my sister.  It fastens down the back with four dorset (thread-covered) buttons.  The side-back and shoulder seams appear to be corded, or to have small tucks of some sort.  The sheer material lends itself to some beautiful texture/shading effects, with horizontal tucks on the bodice and a diagonal tuck design on the sleeve. The right sleeve appears to have a draw-string 'cuff'.  The waist and neckline may also have drawstrings (or cording).  If I had sheer-er material, I would be very tempted to reproduce this.

Another cotton evening dress c. 1809-10 Very similar to the above.  The design is very plain, showing off the embroidered material.  Interesting 'gathering' on the center back.

Another embroidered muslin c. 1800
Cotton evening gown c. 1804
Cotton and Silk, c.1810 Gathered front bodice.  Fun sleeve decorations.
Silk, long-sleeved dress c. 1815-1820 Neck and waist drawstrings gather the back.  Still appears to have the 'four piece' back happening.
Silk Dress with contrast piping at the neck and arm.  It also appears to have a two-piece back (gathered front and back).  Self-fabric sash edged in contrasting silk.

For construction details, I consulted Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion I.  The half-dozen dresses dated c. 1795-mid 1820s included rectangular, gored, and hybrid skirts.  Gathering was the more common treatment, though some used pleats.  The narrowest skirt was around 96", the largest 128"; most were 100"-108."  If bodice piping is mentioned, I've missed it.

Lucy Johnson's Nineteenth-Century Fashion in Detail shows several bodices in the period 1800-1820, all of which seem to have either plain or bound seams (I see no cording, even at the arms).  The later 1820s and 1830s dresses show extensive cording at the seams, including contrasting cording and decorative effects. There was also a very intriguing sketch of a long-short sleeved dress, c.1800, with what appears to be seven tucks along the lower portion of each sleeve (unfortunately, the close-up photograph of that dress is on the skirt embroidery--fortunately, the VAM on-line collection has more pictures, though none of them features the sleeve prominently).

Short plan: Make a darted bodice dress (gathering seems more common on the cottons, but she prefers the darted look), with a faux-three/four piece back.  Back fastening with hooks and eyes, as I don't have any good period buttons for a dress. Closely-set "long short" sleeves.  Rectangular skirt of 2.5 44" panels (108" after seams) gathered to the waist, with the fullness concentrated behind, as discussed for the petticoat bodice.  Decorative tucks and self-fabric cording TBD; I'm currently thinking three 1" tucks on the skirt, three smaller tucks on the lower sleeve, and a few vertical tucks at the center front of the bodice, to add some subtle visual interest.

For the pattern, I'll be using the custom-fitted toile mentioned in the petticoat bodice post.  I draped a basic short sleeve, as well.  The skirt needs no pattern.

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