Mrs. Parks Sew Along: Mrs. Bennett’s Week Two, or “Fake It til You Make It”

from Mrs. Bennett

Hello dear Sewists and Friends!  This week has been eventful and busy and as such I am ALREADY BEHIND! Well, such is life. So, I’m doing half of my Week Two now and half next week. Mr. Bennett and I are going for a weekend at the shore and so I won’t have time to catch up this weekend.

But I AM here to talk to you about UNDERGARMENTS and a bit about MEASUREMENTS.

make it work

As I said before, I haven’t sewn regularly (other than small, lazy projects) in about five years. So my undergarment wardrobe is shamefully neglected. So I’m going to share with you how I am doing a little fakery to help get me closer to a Regency shape than my natural assets would get me!

*Please note my regular disclaimer right here and now: You should never feel pressured or required to dress perfectly period in all ways and wherefores when participating in historical costuming events for pleasure (barring historical performing or historical interpreter requirements). Some people really strive for that perfect period feeling and shape from the skin out, but others aren’t there yet. And some of us may never be! So don’t feel pressure to spend more money or time than you have. Dress however you’ll feel the most comfortable and in line with your own personal goals in historical costumes.

Because I don’t have the time or inclination to make new underthings right now, here’s how I’m faking a Close-to-Regency-Shape with none of the Regency Things:

Layer #1: Chemise, bra, leggings.

"Chemise", Bra, Leggings

“Chemise”, Bra, Leggings

Normally, there wouldn’t be much but skin and stockings under my chemise if I were a Regency lady.  But I’m getting a little help from my favorite push-up bra. This gives me a little lift and separation that I need. I’m wearing leggings in lieu of stockings and I’ll add trouser stockings and flat shoes on the day. The bra and leggings I’m wearing in this photo are black, but I’ll switch to white or cream when the time comes.

Plenty of people will stop here with their underthings and that’s fine! You do you.

I do like to add some semblance of a chemise, though. This pretty-ish piece I’m wearing is really just a cotton night-gown I purchased on I bought three, in fact. If you’re not into making undergarments yet, buying a short sleeved or sleeveless cotton white nightgown is an easy alternative (ruffles and lace optional!).

Layer #2: Corset.

The Go-To Corset

The Go-To Corset

This is my go-to corset. I have a newer one, but this one is broken in to my shape so it is more comfortable for dancing. It also stops at the middle of my bosom, so it gives me just a bit more lift under that surreptitious bra.

The thing about the corset for me is that it solves a lot of my “belly problem”. I’m quite thick around the middle and my belly often gets in the way of the line of my dress. So a corset helps smooth this out. For some people, a pair of high-waisted shapewear shorts will do just fine. And some people are comfortable letting it all hang out. It’s Liberty Hall here, folks. Be free.

If you’re not likely to make your own corset any time soon, but might like to try one for future historical costuming, I purchased my newer corset from which specializes in plus sized general corsetry up to a 52 inch bust (their sizing goes about 4 – 5 inches smaller than your regular bust size). I was very pleased with the silk steel-boned corset I wore for my wedding – much sturdier than a fashion corset and a good shape (but still more affordable than most high-end corsets). They have silk and cotton steel boned full corsets and underbust corsets here.  (Note: these are IN NO WAY historically accurate corsets. But if you’re just getting started wearing a corset for costuming purposes, these are solidly made and a good option for plus sizes.)

Layer 3: Lazy Petticoat

Lazy Bedsheet Petticoat

Lazy Bedsheet Petticoat

This is a quick and lazy petticoat I made from a sheet a few years ago. I like it for Regency dresses because it gives a little support to the skirt without being bulky on ME. And it smells great when it comes off the clothesline! Here’s the recipe for this petticoat if you’d like to try your hand at it. For a newbie, it may take a few hours. For someone with a little more experience in sewing, an hour tops.


Once I got all of my undergarments on and myself in the relative shape I was going to be for the Rout, I took my measurements in this get up. (I usually take my measurements in a get up similar to this yearly and keep them in my phone for reference.)

Measurements page from the pattern book.

Measurements page from the pattern book.

And now that that’s out of the way, when I return next week, I’ll be ready to follow Mrs. Park’s Week Two Guide on Pattern Preparation and Mock Up!

I hope you have a splendid weekend!




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