Thursday, August 29, 2013

Purple Plaid Regency Dress

Soooo...this was meant to be a quick project, just updating an old dress to spiff it up in time for the Costumer's Guild's outing to see Austenland next week. I thought the only thing that needed to be done to it was to change out the waistband, because I had used satin ribbon and the colour had faded a bit. Wrong! I failed to take into account that I had made this dress when I was 18 years old, and, apparently, MUCH smaller in the bust region. I took the dress out of the costume closet, slipped it on, and quickly remembered, oh's been 10 years since I've worn this.

My go-to pattern back then was Simplicity 9225, puzzlingly labeled a "retro" pattern. It's very costume-y on the package front, but the basic dress is a simple empire waist frock with fitting darts at the bust, and it was very easy to put together. I have at least a dozen dresses made off of that pattern.

Unfortunately, it is out of print now, and my copy is missing some key pieces, so I wasn't able to turn to it when I wanted to redo this dress.  I hemmed and hawed about how to go about making the bloody thing fit me, and then I thought, hm...why don't I check my Stash and see if I still have some of the fabric in there somewhere? Well, it pays to be a pack rat, because I had several large-ish scraps tucked away in a box of fabric, and it was just enough to make a new bodice!

The difficult part came in unpicking the old dress to get the skirt and sleeves from it. Apparently, my old machine made much finer, tighter stitches than my new one, because it took two hours just to wrestle the skirt away from the old bodice. Yeesh!

For the new bodice, I used my new standby pattern, Simplicity 4501, which I also used to make all of my Lolita clothes, and to make the bodice on my teens dress from earlier this year. It's a great go-to pattern that can be easily altered for all sorts of uses. I had to shorten it considerably for a Regency style dress, but it turned out well. I left the waistline a little lower, since the higher waistlines of the early Regency just are not flattering on me. We'll just say this dress was from closer to 1820.

The neckline had to be significantly altered, too, since this one came in very close to the neck, and had very wide shoulder straps. Most Regency dresses seem to have very narrow shoulder straps, so I widened and dropped the neckline to show more of my decollete.

Not bad for a night of work. I didn't finish it completely because I'm deciding whether or not I want to add a sash at the waist again, or if I want to leave it as-is. I sort of like it plain, but I feel like all that plaid needs to be broken up. 

I'm also thinking about making a spencer out of some lavender dull satin I have. It would be a quick project and it would compliment the dress well. It's also the same purple that's in the dress already, so it's practically begging to be made. 

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