Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Red's Regency Dress, #2

Continuing from part I: the actual dress construction.

Custom-fitted bodice pattern for Regency dress.
Start: Fitted and/or Draped Pattern Pieces 

To make the bodice, I cut out the front and back pieces in the lining and fashion fabric.  Sleeves are unlined.  The sleeves were sewn along the underarm seam, then the (lower edge) hem was pressed and hand sewn.  I experimented with adding decorative tucks parallel to this seam, but decided it made the sleeve too visually "heavy". For the front piece, I cut the fashion fabric with extra space in the center front, and then folded out the excess in six knife pleats (or four knife pleats with a center box pleat), and stitched the pleats down by hand.  They are completely flat, but add subtle visual interest to the body.
Decorative tucks on front of Regency dress bodice.
Bodice Pleating
Hand-sewn tucks.
Hand sewing on the tucks
The back lining was darted out, for use as a guide.  On the back fashion fabric, I opted for a faux "three piece" (well, "four piece", as it's back-opening) effect, by making a small diagonal tuck running from the shoulder seam to the waist.  On the originals examined in part one, I noticed that these don't have to be as curved as on an 1850s or 1860s-style dress; some of the 1810s dresses have very straight side-back seams, making the back itself diamond-shaped.  This faux seam took up additional material towards the waist, acting as a dart.
Back bodice lining.
Plain dart on back lining
Dart concealed in faux-seam.
Dart concealed in faux seam
The front and back pieces were then joined at the shoulder and side seams; the lining was treated likewise.  The fashion fabric and lining were then placed right-sides-together, and joined along the center backs and neckline.  The fabric was turned right-sides-out, pressed, and the sleeves were set into armholes.  Hooks and eyes were added along the center back.

To make the skirt, 2.5 panels (of the fabric width, 44") were cut, and made up in the usual manner with the placket at the center back. [Usual manner: sew panels into a tube, fell the seams, press hem and stitch, narrow-hem the placket opening].  Three 1" tucks were made  near the hem, again adding subtle decoration and a bit of weight to the bottom of the skirt--the fashion plates I was looking at tend to favor trim around the bottom of the skirt, especially in the later 1810s into the 1820s.  I did the tucks by machine, as the matching thread made the stitching blend in, and my wrist was already protesting the hand-sewn hem.
Tucks in skirt of Regency dress.
Skirt tucks
The raw upper edge was gathering with two rows of running stitch, and then were machine stitched to the raw lower edge of the bodice.  As with the bodiced petticoat, the back gathers were set close and the front gathers were spread out (half of the skirt width over the back quarter of the bodice, the other half over the front/side three quarters).

Completed Regency/Empire/Neoclassical dress.

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