Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Experiment in pattern drafting basics

I'm experimenting with making a pattern from one of my extant regency gowns. Somehow my lines don't look right, and I'm seeking comments from people more experienced than myself at this. 
Pictured on the left is the back pattern piece, and then with rough lines drawn over it. It is originally a size 6 adult.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Regency Open Robe #2

I've been busy and could not work on this gown until now.
Since drafting the pattern I've come to the conclusion it is much easier to work with the Janet Arnold pattern instead of the Norah Waugh version.

I've used the back and side back pieces from The Elegant Lady's pattern, and the rest is drafted up to match.
The pattern is missing the front piece at the moment as I ran out of interfacing. It is basically pieces of fabric joined together at the seams.

Pleats pinned into place using the illustration in Janet Arnold as a guide.

Pinned to my dummy. The interfacing is very awkward. Looking forward to using some real fabric soon.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Regency Open Robe c. 1795

Next to be added to our collection is the 'open robe', seen in Sense & Sensibility and commonly referred to as The Picnic Dress. I've seen dressmakers call this as a half-robe, however Norah Waugh in 'The Cut of Women's Clothes' refers to it as an open gown.

I am considering using the pattern of an open gown c. 1795 from the Victoria and Albert Museum that Norah Waugh published in her book, The Cut of Women's Clothes and the drawstring gown from Jennie Chancey's collection.

The Gallery of Fashion at shows the open robe worn as an outdoor garment. "Robe a la Turque" [below] is from November 1794 and is a nice example of an afternoon dress.

Empress Josephine [below] wore a sleeveless open robe at her coronation in 1806.

1808 Princess Borghese

This brown open robe [below] is found at Fashion on the Ohio Frontier: 1790-1840.

"Dress (open robe) [English] (C.I.37.46.1)". In Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2006)

Below is a Wedding dress in 2 parts (overdress) dated about 1799

Marblehead, Massachusetts, United States
Center front: 134.6 cm (53 in.)
Center back: 177.8 cm (70 in.)
Dress: silk satin, embroidered with silk and metallic thread, silk trim;
Petticoat: cotton mull embroidered with silver

Classification: Costumes

Object is currently not on view

Wedding dress in two parts, worn by Eunice Hooper at her marriage to her cousin John Hooper, in Marblehead, Mass. Overdress of white satin (now cream colored), short waisted, surplice line in front, open down entire length of front, fullness in back in narrow pleats caught to high waist line, hanging free to form train, elbow length sleeves trimmed with folds of georgette crêpe caught with circlets of artificial pearls. Shoulder, center,and side back seams, edges of sleeves, and entire edge of overdress except for train finished with white silk fly fringe.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Gift of Mrs. Ward Thoron, 1948
Accession number: 48.1198a

Provenance/Ownership History: Gift of Mrs. Ward Thoron, to MFA 1948

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sewing Classes

Sewing lessons are now available for beginner/intermediate level sewers who wish to make a historical costume.

Hourly rates are as follows:
Private lesson, student brings all supplies (my machine may be used) $20.00/hr.
Semi-private lesson, students bring all supplies (my machines may be used) $15.00/hr./student.
Small group (3 students), students purchase/bring all supplies (my machines may be used) $10.00/hr./student.

Private lesson, all materials supplied $30.00/hr.
Semi-private/group lesson, 2-3 students, all materials supplied $25.00/hr./student.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Amy's Regency Gown

I made this regency ball gown, a size 6 in a lovely embroidered silk.

Gone With the Wind

I had the pleasure of organising a Gone With the Wind Ball last Saturday night. Pictured here is a group photo taken just after supper. If you would like to come to more of our balls, please visit our upcoming page.

We were very lucky on this occasion to have special guests from the Australian Costumers Guild in attendance, traveling from South Australia and Queensland specially for this event.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Online Regency Patterns

There are some wonderful online sources of regency patterns for those experienced in pattern drafting.

To list just a few:

Danish Museum:
Vintage Connections:

Regency Half Robe

Today I started work on a regency-era half robe.

Out come my two favourite books - Costumes in Detail and Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1. Both of these books are indispensable to a costumer's collection.

Left is the 1795-1800 half robe as illustrated in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 1.

Underneath the half robe will be a round robe (or round gown) that is presented in Norah Waugh's book, The Cut of Women's Clothes. Not being a frilly sort of person, I plan to leave the frills off for now.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Wardrobe Unlocked

I found this great website online today, it has some great stuff.

Your Wardrobe Unlock'd: the costume maker's companion

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Romantic Seamstress

My Romantic Gown is complete and I wore it to the Albert Hall in Canberra last Saturday night. All I need to do now is make a corded petticoat to keep the skirt out a bit.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Regency Gowns

I had a shock yesterday. I filled in a calculator to see if it was profitable to sell my regency gowns. I found that if I wanted to earn a base wage I should be selling them for approx. $400. I couldn't believe it!
I've already had to go and raise the prices on all my garments because of shipping rates getting the fabric here. I felt horrible doing this but it is not fair to my family to make these beautiful gowns for a loss. Don't worry, I'm still keeping the costs down as much as I'm able.
I've re-vamped my website to reflect the new prices and am adding new gowns to the collection to include ones made using the patterns from Janet Arnold's 'Patterns of Fashion'.
Last night I put a few up on ebay, for a much reduced rate than normal to see if I can catch a few sales while I have time up my sleeve.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Romantic Dresses

I managed to cut out, line and sew a bodice for another romantic era dress, using the S&S pattern, one of my favourites. I tried a different neckline and will have it close at the back. I've used the long sleeve option, as it is coming into Winter here and the days are quite chilly.
This is a most flattering pattern, particularly for larger shaped bodies, and is the one garment that I receive compliments on if I'm wearing it. This time I'm using a particularly lovely fabric, and will share it with you when I have a chance.
These style dresses are seen in the movie, Wives and Daughters. If you haven't seen it yet, you must! Its absolutely gorgeous and has a great storyline.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A week in feminine dress

Members from the Sense and Sensibility Forum are hosting a Week in Feminine Dress from Sunday, May 4th through Sunday May 11th.
I guess that I wear feminine dress most of the time, though it really depends on your definition of feminine.
Thinking that I should update my other website at In Timely Fashion I found this article on being feminine.

How to Be Feminine

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Follow these steps to become more feminine, but remember that this is a sometimes stereotypical view of femininity, and you should have much higher goals than just trying to look feminine!


Take care of your hair and make sure it smells good. Regular haircuts will keep it healthy and allow it to grow faster. Long hair is known to be feminine; however, short hair can look alluring as well (think Audrey Hepburn, Mia Farrow, Halle Berry, Cameron Diaz and Rhianna).
  1. Keep make-up minimal. Mascara, lip gloss and powder will make you look great on any given day. More than that and your skin will suffer for it, which will put you in a vicious cycle of having to put more and more make-up on. we shouldn't have to spend so much time on it we are beautiful anyway.
  2. Dress in what makes you happy, but make sure you present yourself in a positive light. Short shirts can definitely be cute, but not with torn fishnets, a crop top and a thong showing, for example. If you have trouble dressing appropriately, just think about whether you'd let your own kids out of the house that way.
  3. Don't be obnoxious, but being outgoing and feisty is attractive in a woman. If you're quiet and happy that way, just let your inner charm out once in awhile to remind everyone how great you are. As if they could forget!
  4. Don't fish for compliments. As a modern woman, you'll realize all the wonderful things about yourself all on your own, and compliments from others are just gravy. Enjoy those compliments when you get them, though!
  5. Realize that famous women get a LOT of help with their looks; it's a full-time job for them. If you were to spend that much time and money on your looks, you'd be broke and have no life, and be a very shallow person to boot!
  6. Remove any body hair that makes you feel less than confident, especially if that body part will be on display. By all means, grow that leg hair in the winter! Why not?
  7. Try not to use profanities. A good naughty joke or expletive when you stub your toe is acceptable, but regularly peppering your conversation with swear words makes you look unintelligent.
  8. Be aware of your posture. Good posture makes you look more alert, confident and approachable.
  9. Be smart. More women are going to university than men right now, but we are also getting paid less in the job force. We think we're over the juvenile 'dumbing ourselves down', but when you play down your intelligence as you grow older you are affecting your own career, and the careers of women everywhere.


Follow these steps for femininity, but make sure you have a well-rounded personality. In all honesty, no one's going to refer to you as 'that feminine girl', you're more likely to get 'that boring girl'. This list is a good basis to build on though.
  • If you have talents such as ballet, writing, art, etc., try and make it known without bragging. Stereotypically 'masculine' talents are amazing to have too, like being good at hockey or math, but they won't help if your goal is to be feminine.
  • Shower daily, wash your face twice a day, brush and floss your teeth twice a day, and use deodorant. Bad hygiene isn't an attractive quality in anyone.
  • Remember these key words: intelligence, confidence, personality. Think about all the woman you admire, they will probably have these traits.


This is a stereotypical view of femininity. Of course you can be girly and not follow a lot of these rules, but this is one way of definitely coming across as feminine.

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Be Feminine. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Late night sewing

I really do not recommend sewing late at night. After running around with the children all day it lures me in with its peaceful serenity, then takes a mean turn.
I have my trusty sewing machine in for repairs, and an old singer on the table that wants to act up, and goodness knows how many times I've had to unpick because of tension problems.
Someone told me once never to cut fabric after 10pm.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Audio CDs

My boys are lying in bed this evening listening to Marry Poppins, a BBC Audio 4 CD set read by Sophie Thompson.
This is a lovely production, well worth looking for if you have a chance. I purchased it on sale in a remaindered bookstore. The boys really look forward to bedtimes with these special treats.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Reminiscences of Bonnets (part one)

In studying the antique and comparing them with the modern fashions, there are no greater contrasts than in the styles of headdress.
Women always wore flowing drapery, of course varying with fashion's freaks, but still, from the time of the most antique statue to the present day, flowing skirts are found, sometimes suffered to fall in the folds of the material, sometimes drawn gracefully(?) over three or four tiers of hoops. Now in dressing the hair there is no set style of arrangement, "on the contrary, quite the reverse," as Paddy has it. We find, first, the classic style, then the pyramid, then loosely flowing, then a la Chinois, then in bandeaux, again in braids and puffs or curls, and occasionally a slight return to the classic. Of course, with the hair arranged as it was worn some twenty-four or five years ago, it would have been absurd to wear a modern bonnet, and so these pretty head protectors must vary with the style of coiffure they cover or display.

more to come... from Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine, October 1858

Hoops, more hoops...

A box of hoops has arrived and is currently residing in our lounge room. It will be such an amazing sight at our Gone With the Wind 1860s Ball on the 17 May. Everyone has been spending their spare time making sure their dresses are ready.

Yes, you can hire a hoop from me! There are plenty to go around @ $30 hire. Collection is to be on Friday 16 May, between 10.30am - 2pm.

Ball Tickets

Have you saved all of your ball tickets? I must admit to being remiss about tickets - normally I just let people pay at the door to our balls, but starting last month I've created a monster: collectible ball tickets.
Now when you pre-purchase a ticket to one of our balls I am posting it out in a special folder. It seems so much nicer.

Regency Dress Collection

My collection of 12+ regency dresses for hire are hanging in the trees drying. Quite an amazing sight, with the sun coming through leaves tinged with autumnal gold.
Making these gowns was a challenge, but seeing them put to full use during the Jane Austen Festival was an absolute delight. I have always wanted to have a collection available for those without a gown or time to make one.
Our next regency-themed ball will be on the 18th October, a Pride & Prejudice Ball.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Regency Reproductions is all about re-creating Regency costumes. Aylwen Gardiner-Garden has been sewing garments from the regency era for the last ten years, and has amassed quite a collection of fashion prints, patterns, books, antique gowns and fabrics.
Today she is the director of the Canberra Jane Austen Festival, and the co-organiser of dance classes and balls with the Earthly Delights Historic Dance Academy.