It’s 3 pm on the day of Mrs. Parks’ infamous ROUT! If you don’t have your tickets, you can still attend and purchase your tickets at the door! Mrs. Parks and Lady Strong are hosting tonight’s Assembly for the benefit of the community, so please take advantage! It’ll be great fun! Remember, costumes are admired but not required!
I left off my Sew-Along diary at having completed my mockup and lined the pieces for the bodice. That is typically the point at which I really start tackling the sewing. I don’t have much time before I am due at the dance, so I’ll give you as quick an outline of putting together the gown as possible:
Friday: I put together the pieces of the bodice and tried it on again. Sometimes additional adjustments need to be made with the actual fabric. One of the best pieces of advice I can give is that if you are working with a very high quality fabric, listen to it. It will tell you how it wants to hang and how it wants to be crafted. In this case, the two darts I had in my mockup were less successful with the actual silk and lining I was using. So I played with it a bit and made the appropriate adjustments in the panel.
I also noticed that I had set a sleeve in backwards (remember me saying that this was super easy to do?). So I too my seam ripper out, took it apart, and reset it. Then all was right as rain. Once I saw how the bodice was going to look I got really excited about the dress. There is always a point when putting together the actual dress that you can see what it is going to do for you (or what it might not) and you get excited (or a little disappointed). In this case, I got excited.
I got so excited I decided I had to do a little extra than I used to do for dresses, and work at finishing the inside of the bodice. I had some burgundy double-folk bias tape in my stash that I finally broke out and used. I reinforced the armscyes (a place that can often come apart pretty easily), and the bottom of the bodice all the way around, so that there was something substantial to hang the skirt pleating off of. I’m pretty proud that I took this extra step, as this dress is probably the neatest dress on the inside that I’ve done in a long, long time.
Once all of this was done, my phone alerted me that I had 24 hours until the Rout. Oy!
My dear Mr. Bennett and I went for dinner and upon returning I tackled the skirt while he watched the first Star Trek movie. Here’s the thing about the skirt: A) I didn’t feel like I had the time to get super fussy with it, and B) turns out I was about 8 inches shy of fabric to manage the full skirt.
So I improvised. Here’s the piece of skirt I had left. . . one long rectangular piece.
(I don’t have pics of this section because I was pretty much pushing to get this done before going to bed!)
- I looked at the instructions again and saw that I needed a front piece and a back piece, with the front piece being about 1/3 the width of the back piece. So I cut a third off and called it the front.
- In the back piece, I measured the slashes on the pattern piece and duplicated that on my rectangular skirt back piece.
- I went ahead and sewed the front and back pieces together along the long, vertical seams.
- Then I attached the front bib piece to the front skirt panel, adding in a few small pleats to give the rectangular piece of fabric a more circular shape.
- At that point, I shifted my focus to the back. I figured out how far on the bottom of the bodice I would need to attach the skirt for full coverage. Marked those spots with white pins. Then proceeded to pleat the skirt onto the bodice from back to front, pleat by pleat.
- Then I sewed the pleats into the bodice. At this point the skirt and dress was mostly complete.
- I tried it on and noticed a weird place of pleating in the back center, but decided I could live with it. It was midnight, so I scratched out on a notepad: HEM! TIES! TRIM! IRON! to remind me what I needed to do on Saturday before the dance.
THE NEXT MORNING!
I had a long night because of some family matters to tend to, so I awoke bleary eyed. Luckily, some friends invited me out for breakfast and I went and got some coffee in my system.
Upon returning home, I looked at the pleats and realized that the weird pleating in the back center was an easy fix. So I fixed it! – Morning eyes are often way better at fixing problems!
At this point, it was a matter of the finishing details. I hemmed the skirt and added the ribbon tie at the waistline, as well as the trim at the neckline and sleeves.
A note about Trim. Trim is awesome for covering a multitude of sins in your sewing. If you have places where your seams don’t match up or where the hem on your sleeves looks terrible, putting some trim on it smooths over those rough edges. Braided trim is also very good for strategic spots for using straight pins – thick enough for the pin to get good purchase AND to tuck that sharp end into so you don’t stick yourself!
And it wouldn’t be a successful gown if I didn’t run out of bobbin thread right as I was putting the last length of trim on my second sleeve – literally, 8 inches of sewing, and the bobbin is like, “Yo, time to stop everything and change me!” Awesome.
But change it I did. And the gown is done, but for a light iron.
Here’s the inside of the bodice with the pinned “liner”:
And here’s the front and back – as best as I can get it with the mirror selfie:
And there’s the Sew-Along! I hope to be able to admire your fashions at tonight’s dance!
All the best,
What week is it again? The dance is in three days? and I’m sick again? (I’m always sick with something right before an historical event!). Lordy. “I’m behind” doesn’t even begin to cover it!
So, yes, I’m home with a sinus infection that came on mid-week. Yesterday, I took it easy, but did promise myself to keep going with my new Rout dress. (I could probably fake up something with one of my maxi dresses from my closet, if need be. . . but I’d really like to complete this project!)
So I moved forward with the mock up and bodice yesterday. I had the mock-up pieces cut out so I started by doing a quick “self-fit”.
Note 1: Fitting is nearly always easier with someone else’s help. They can make pencil marks more easily than you can and pin things together more accurately. For more elaborate costumes, I have Mrs. Parks help me fit (she’s quite a genius at fitting figures). But for basic bodices, a self-fit can be done in a few key places.
Note 2: If you are a larger woman with some fabulously unruly curves, learning to do a basic self-fit will come in handy. Most patterns will need to be adjusted for figures that resist straight lines. I nearly always cut out the largest size possible of any pattern and then fit to my body-eccentricities as needed. For example, I’m ample and round of bosom, am quite short-waisted, and I have fairly round, sloping shoulders and thick arms. But learning how to fit just a few key spots helps me look put-together!
First, I sew the mock up parts together. In this case it is the front/side lining, the back piece, the shoulder straps, and then (later) the front/bib panel. Then I try it on and take a look at what’s going on. First thing I notice is that the front lining portion fully overlaps so I pin it together. I decided I’m going to stick with this method instead of using ties. I really like using straight-pins as fasteners in Regency wear. Maybe its because I’m lazy!
The first issues I see are two very common ones for me. #1 the bust needs some darts on the sides to help it fit better to the side of my bosom. The darts help the fabric create a round, 3D shape for my very 3D body. #2 The shoulders have what I call “gaposis”. Often shoulder patterns have a bit too much up there and I have to trim them.
So, I create the dart in the side and affix it with a pin. Then I take a pencil and mark the bottom of the dart on each side. I mark this so that when I take it off and remove the pins, I can remember exactly where and how deep I made that dart. I’ll transfer these marks to the lining I actually use.
For the shoulder, I took up the slack and put in a pin and marked where the seam should go with a pencil. After I take off the bodice, I take the mock up to the sewing machine and sew in the darts and take in the bodice along the penciled in line. I try it on again and the issues seem as fixed as I’m going to get them.
I then go ahead and take the front/bib panel and test its general shape. Remember, I am vaguely inspired by the shape of this gown, but I don’t think mine will be exactly like it. On the mock up piece, I add the darts to the bottom of the panel, as instructed in the pattern and pin it to my person. I then play with darts or gathers in the top of the panel to achieve a shape I like. I’m going with only two darts at the top. I like the general shape and coverage of the panel. So I mark with a pencil all of the darts on the mock up.
Next is the sleeve test. Sleeves are notoriously difficult for a lot of people to set. It is very easy to get it turned wrong side out or set in backwards/upside down. Don’t feel bad if it happens to you! I’ve learned to turn the bodice inside out, tuck the sleeve piece INSIDE the bodice, and pin the sleeve in that way. After it is pinned in, when I flip the bodice back to right side out, the sleeve and bodice are both right side out. It’s just how I remember to do it.
The other thing I do is decide where I want the sleeve seam to start on the bottom portion of the armscye. In this case, I lined up the sleeve seam almost with the side/back seam. I then put a white-pin at the top shoulder of the armscye so I know better show to space the pinning. I tend to put more gathers or pleats toward the top. I then play with gathers or pleats on the sleeve until I know how I want to do it. (I didn’t play much on this one because I was running out of steam!)
At this point, I have to take apart the mock-up with the seam ripper – reverting it back to just four individual pieces. I remembered to trim off the excess at the shoulders first so that the pattern piece reflects the alteration in my self-fitting. These four pieces are now the REAL pattern pieces for my own, fitted bodice.
I cut out lining for all four pieces and marked where things like darts would be added. (I like to line the whole of the bodice because it think it supports the silk better, feels sturdier on my body, and smooths out the appearance of lines from my undergarments – like corset lines.) After I cut out the linings of those pieces, I went ahead and cut out the silk pieces as well.
I attached the lining to the silk pieces and set them aside for assembly.
- Fabrics I’m using: Garnet silk dupioni fashion fabric. Garnet cotton for lining.
A few lazy hacks I’m doing on this pattern. Please note, I’m absolutely positive that there are very real reasons for the methods this pattern gives for the things I’m omitting. I think it has to do with the piece being so much more historically accurate and just for good sewing practices. I, however, am making a costume for a dance, and at this late date, I’m making this in a way that makes sense to me. My costume goal was to get this done and for it to look nice enough for a Regency party. If your goals are to have a garment of clothing as close to historically accurate as possible, please ignore this section. In fact, ignore me altogether!
- The pattern has a side-front LINING piece and a BODICE SIDE piece. I believe the lining goes under the bodice side piece and extends out further, so that there is a section of lining from which the ties extend. Like so:
But I will be using just the side-front LINING piece. I will add my fashion fabric overlay to it ALL THE WAY across so there is no lining readily showing. Similar to this:
Except, mine will overlap a bit in front so I can just pin it, instead of adding ties.
- I’m not using the skirt ties pattern piece and will instead use ribbon.
I’ll be working on the dress more on Friday, obviously! Whether I’m still sick or not!
Tootle pip from Mrs. Bennett!
NEXT UP: Assembling the bodice and affixing the skirt!
Hello Regency Sewists!
Have you ever wondered why we use the word “sewist” instead of “sewer”? Well. . . really, just look at that word “sewer”. . . it can be mistaken for something entirely unpleasant. So we say “sewist”.
I’m a little behind on the Sew-Along there is NO DOUBT. There are all kinds of reasons for it. I mean, life happens, right? But if I’m honest with you (and I shall be), all of those reasons are really just a bit of procrastination on my part. I often get busy with other things (which are important, too), but then use the “I’m too tired/need to relax” excuse to put off my sewing.
As I’ve gained a few decades of adulthood under my belt, I’ve discovered that my particular brand of procrastination stems from insecurity and a deep fear that I will be unsuccessful in the project set before me. This also happens to me when I should be preparing for a play I’m directing or when I avoid writing projects. I don’t know where it comes from, but I know it to be the truth.
However, since I know this about myself now, I can at least remind myself that once I get started in a creative endeavor, I will feel stimulated and energized. And I might actually be quite successful if I take it one small step at a time.
HOW I HANDLED IT:
Tonight, I was very tempted to stay in front of the television with my Negra Modelo and chill. I would have told myself that I could make up the time this weekend.
But do you know what actually made me get off my duff and open up the pattern? The fact that my dear Mr. Bennett had a task HE was procrastinating on. He has a gig this weekend (one of his one-man shows on Friday night), and I knew he was putting off going over the script to re-memorize it.
But he was as happy as I was to sit in front of the tv with HIS Negra Modelo and hold my hand. So after watching one hour of tv (“Home Fires”), I said that I REALLY needed to go over that pattern, hoping it would inspire him to take the time for the script. And then he said, “Yes, I should look over my show.”
So, since I needed to nudge him to work on his project, I nudged myself. It can be very helpful to have a spouse who is also creative and needs to carve out time for projects!
ON TO THE PATTERN:
My goal tonight was just to start small and get into the swing. So I only wanted to read through the pattern book and just cut out the actual pattern pieces. And finish my Negra Modelo.
In the pattern book, I circled the numbers of the pieces I needed for the version of the pattern I was doing. I then read all of the instructions and tried to get the basic gist of how the shapes and pieces were going to go together. Then I found them and cut them out.
Well, that was easy. But I still had a little procrastination left in me. So I did a little celebrity twittering.
I then finished prepping the pieces. I kept looking at the skirt pieces thinking, “That’s a LOT of skirt! But I double checked and yes, there is the center seam where the two sides will sew together to make the full back of the skirt.
And look at all of that pleating! One of my goals is to be a bit more exact than I usually am with the pleating on this dress, so I make a note to mark the pleating spacing on my mock up.
THE B of PATTERN PIECE 16C
Then I have to stop to figure out that whole “16C Top Left Overlay” thing. “What is that FOR? What’s its PURPOSE?” So I went back and read the instruction section on that and just did what it said. And I think I get it now: It’s so that those sizes have a guide on where to put those pleats to hide the slash lines. The slash lines are the opening in the sides of the skirt where the skirt will open up a bit and the bib front will drop down. This pic gives a decent drawing of the purpose of the slash lines. In fact, the whole blog post is a good overview on putting together a bib front Regency dress.
So, yeah. . . totally tape on 16C in that corner!
At this point, I stopped for a few minutes for a mental break. I went to my Pinterest to look at a pic of the gown I find inspiring for my own dress. It’s made from the same Laughing Moon pattern. When I did this, I reconsidered my earlier decision to go with ¾ length sleeves and committed to the shorter, non-puffed sleeves. This procrastination had decent results, but I won’t let it go to my head.
THE FINAL 20 PUSH
At this point, my clock said 9:35 p.m., so I did one thing I used to do when I sewed more often. Just when I think I want to say, “Well, that’s enough for right now,” I decide to set a timer for 20 minutes and commit to continuing for just a little longer.
In this case, I decided to take 20 minutes, set my pattern pieces on my mock up fabric and cut out those pieces. I got everything cut out except the skirt pieces, saving the work of cutting on the floor for a little later.
I got them done with 5 minutes to spare, but there didn’t seem to be enough pieces. So I went back to my list of pieces I needed to cut out and double checked that I had them all. Turns out, I skipped piece #12. So I found it, cut it out in mock-up fabric, and put it with the rest.
Normally, I have a paper bag out for trash, threads, and offcuts of fabric, but I didn’t grab one when I started. So I wound up with a pile on the floor.
Because I work in a small space that needs to be functional for breakfast (and for my own mental well-being), I went ahead and retrieved a Trader Joe’s bag, swept the pile inside it, and now it is placed under the Project Home Table, where all of the cut out pattern pieces will patiently wait until Thursday or Friday to be put together.
PREPPED FOR NEXT TIME
Now that I’ve (hopefully) gotten over my procrastination hump, I’ll be more willing to dive in later in the week. I’ve read the instructions, handled the pattern pieces and cut out the mock up pieces, so I have a decent idea how they should go together.
And that’s what I’ll tackle next time on Sew-Along with Mrs Parks!
Hope to see you at the Rout! Do you have your tickets?
When last we left off I had tantalized you all with the promise that I would talk about a couple of sleeve variations you could do.
View C of the Laughing Moon pattern shows a very pretty short puffed sleeve. I think of this as THE SLEEVE of the Regency, the one most associated with the silhouette of the era. However the regency era has a vast array of sleeve options besides this simple variant.
I thought it would be fun to show a couple variations one could do with the SAME pattern piece just altering the way it is made up.
Here is the short puffed sleeve pleated onto my form and on to a dummy arm.
The pattern calls for the sleeve to be gathered into the armscye and a band.
So this variation shows pleats instead of gathers, and the length if one did a casing for historically inaccurate elastic (as opposed to the length and finish of a band as called for in the pattern).
I think this Variation is best suited for very drapey fabrics. The bottom edge is left free and the center point on the sleeve shifted back on the shoulder. A simple hem or decorative border of lace would be lovely here. Something about this feels very Grecian and mature.
Here we have left the bottom edge un-gathered but used a ribbon to loop up the center of the sleeve. This variation is much like the front to the bodice in View C, repeating that design element on the sleeve gives a purposeful feel to the gown as a whole.
Here it is with the sleeve caught up in multiple places, a very pretty effect. I think it would look lovely repeated at the hem of gown, which is good considering that this pattern runs a little long.
So here are three (ish) ways to use the same pattern piece to achieve a different effect. I like to think, “What my character would like? Does she dress a little young for her age? Is she a settled and imposing matron? Which sleeve would appeal to these different women?”
What other variations can you think of?
Here is a link to a whole slew Regency sleeve inspirations.
Next Time: I discuss fabric lay outs and touch briefly on the lay out variations I was forced to take. Also cutting out and assembling the bodice.
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.
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.
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 Amazon.com. 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.
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 http://www.hipsandcurves.com/ 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
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.)
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!
from Mrs. Bennett:
This is my LAZY Regency petticoat. I use it for a number of costumes when it just needs a light petti to help support the skirt and keep it away from the body.
Things you need to make it:
1 Queen size or larger flatsheet – preferably of that good, old-school cotton that gets a little stiff when you hang it on the clothesline to dry.
A sewing machine.
Helpful: scissors and seam ripper
I get my flatsheets at thrift stores and wash the heck out of them when they come home.
- I remove the decorative band of the flatsheet – the part that indicates the top of the sheet – from the sheet. I just grab a seam ripper and start removing the stitches. They go pretty quickly once you get started. It’ll come apart in one long band that will have the fold in it.
- Wrap this band around the largest part of your torso (for me, this is just above my natural waist). Note where the ends of the band meets to make a circle. Add a few inches to each side to make a slightly larger circle. (This is obviously not scientific measuring. This is LAZY, remember?)
- Once you’ve got your waistband approximately measured with a little bit extra for overlapping, cut the waistband down to size. Sew the bottom to close it.
- Mark the front middle of the waist band with a straight pin. Mark where the R and L side of the waist band will fall on your sides with straight pins. You’re basically dividing the waistband into 4 quarters (with a little extra at the ends for overlap).
Note: (I like to use white headed pins for the front-middle and red for the sides. This helps me keep track later.)
Set the waistband aside.
- The remainder of the sheet is a single piece of fabric that will become the skirt.
- Note the edge that already has a hem in it. This is the BOTTOM EDGE of your petticoat.
- Holding the TOP edge of the petticoat fabric, find its middle (basically, fold it in half to find the middle). Mark it with a straight pin (white).
- Find the one quarter mark to the left and the one quarter mark to the right (basically, fold it in half again and mark where those two folds land) with straight pins (red).
ATTACHING THE SKIRT TO THE WAISTBAND
- Line up the front middle (white) pins and attach them together (like so, if you’ve never done it) with pins.
- Moving to the right of center quarter, pin in 2-4 knife pleats along the front of the petticoat. (Quick tutorial on putting in a pleat). I tend to make these pleats larger than in back and I don’t measure them well. I eyeball these. Remember: Lazy.
- Repeat above pleating on the left of center quarter of the skirt/waistband. Important: Point your knife pleat in the opposite direction from the other side! It doesn’t sit right if they are all facing the same way.
- Now, move past your side red pins and pin more pleats all around the back quarters of the skirt/waistband. I make these smaller to try to fit in as much of the remaining sheet as possible. (If it gets too thick for you, though, cut off the extra when you get an inch or two from the end of the waistband.) It’ll give you a very full back half of the skirt.
- Once you have all of the pleats pinned to the waistband, sew the shitake outta that sucker! Attach the pleated skirt fabric to the waistband.
COMPLETING THE PETTI
- Once you have the skirt attached to the waistband, you can remove all of the pins.
- Fold the skirt in half with the fold down the front middle. Inside out (the rough, non-pretty side of the fabric should be facing out).
- Pin those side pieces together and sew it up. This is creating the back seam.
- Stop sewing 4-6 inches or so from the top of the skirt. That gap helps you get in and out.
- If you need to take it up (and many people will) you can do a very deep hem and fold it up and sew it. Or you can put some pleats (just like the knife pleats) around the bottom to take it up 3 inches at a time. I like the pleats because they give the skirt a little extra structure to help the costume.
At this point you have the petticoat, such as it is. It is probably quite. . . functional! (And maybe a little bit pretty.
Try it on for size. If everything has gone well, it should fit around you fine and have a few extra inches in the waistband for overlap.
Because I’m LAZY (and because my weight sometimes fluctuates), I simply put two large, heavy duty safety pins at the back of the petticoat and use that for closures. This keeps me from having to move hooks and eyes every time I lose or gain an inch.
And there it is. The Lazy Petticoat Recipe from Mrs. Bennett. Back to the Sew Along with Mrs. Parks!