Sunday, February 24, 2013

I do things- drawstring dress (in progress)

So back on the 'I really do do things' track, I find myself here in Regency/Federal Land- and what a marvelous excuse to make all kinds of delightful things! I already have the gold dress from last summer and the set of stays I made for it, of course, however now that I am here I needed to begin building my regency wardrobe in earnest.

Since I already have the stays, and a passable (if not great) shift, this begins with a dress. Yes, I know, I already have *a* dress, but that one is specific. What I needed was the all purpose, white, long sleeved drawstring regency dress. It's the 'little black dress' of the regency. The basic wardrobe piece from which all else may build.

Luckily I already had fabric. When I went down to the garment district with Laura at costume college last summer I had regency on the brain, and came back with five yards of some lovely woven white striped cotton.

Maggie approved. 
(It was produced, as demanded, to be rolled in upon our last visit to Birdsall Cottage)

What I needed next, of course, was a pattern. Enter the amazing Maggie Waterman; having pleased her with my offering of fabric to be rolled in, I was rewarded with my very own draped-by-Maggie (tm) pattern! The awesome part about this is that she traced it over my stays, so it covers them nicely. I wish there was a picture of this process, because it was fun and awesome, but just imagine Maggie bustling around and positioning me and working her magic. 

All that was left for me to figure out was the shoulder strap and making the sleeve pattern she had traced me off something else fit. Then followed an OBSESSIVE amount of staring at fashion plates, paintings, pictures of extant garments and books to decide if I wanted to have a separate shoulder strap of make it one piece with the bodice front. Examples of both abound. Maggie's advice was that having it separate gives you two places to adjust from and keeps it straight on the grain line. I think I eventually went with it because it doesn't look right to my modern sensibilities, (but dear lord have I now stared at enough examples to know that it is right).  I like things like that. 

The sleeve also required some adjustment to go from fitting Maggie's arm to mine. 

This is a way bigger pain in the ass in practice than anyone will tell you.

This involved Brian holding the computer with Maggie on Skype up over this thing on the floor while I cursed and fucked with it. It was awesome.

Since the fabric is see-through, I did french seems on everything that isn't curved. I will end up clipping down the sleeves and center back seems, but I'm waiting till I am absolutely sure I don't need to fuss with it more. Right now there is just a little bit of extra fabric pooch in the sides, but I think once I have the weight from the skirt pulling it down it will be fine. 

I also hand stitched down the top seam for the drawstring channel and the sleeves. 

Making this work over all the angles is a major pain in the ass at first, but as you go along it gets easier. 

Et voy-la. 

It's a look. 

Now I just need to finish the sleeves, add the skirt, and the back closures. Then, on to Spencer-town!


  1. I love the shape of the neckline!

  2. Thanks! It was custom made to show the exact amount of cleavage I wanted ;-)

  3. Lovely! You and Maggie make me want to make regency stuff.