Wednesday, 4 February 2015

HSF January: Regency Foundations

If you've just arrived to the HSM-nee-F party and aren't sure what's going on, you'll find a button on my sidebar which will take you to the page for the Historical Sew-Monthly (formerly the Historical Sew-Fortnightly) on Leimomi's blog 'The Dreamstress.' It's great fun!

January's challenge was "Foundations," and I'm only a couple of days late! Well, four...but the stays and petticoat were both done by the second week of January, and the undergown was done on time except for one of the hem tucks and the sleeves; I just didn't have a chance to get photos until this morning. But anyways, here it all is.

I interpreted 'foundations' fairly literally, as I made all the undergarments necessary for my 1815 ball gown, which needs to be ready by the 14th of this month (sdkjfkdsjf!!!). However, these garments also provide the 'foundation' for a whole new era in my wardrobe, as I have never done early 19th century before. To this end, I made each of the garments quite versatile, and able to cover everything from around 1800-1830. Everything is hand-stitched, and made as accurately as possible.

The Challenge: Foundations

Fabric: Mostly cotton, of several types and weights.

Pattern: All my own patterns, draped based on museum garments and with some pattern-shape cues from Janet Arnold.

Year: 1800-1830, but for my current purposes, 1815. The stays and petticoat are the most versatile; the undergown is best suited to around 1810-1830, as it is quite stiff and full.

Notions: Cable ties for boning the stays and the lacing panels on the undergown, a wooden paint stick busk, some hooks and eyes on the petticoat, and a bunch of cotton twill tape.

How historically accurate is it? Around 90%, I think. All the patterns are accurate and based on museum garments, the fabrics are accurate, everything is made of natural fibers, and I stitched everything by hand, but the boning is plastic and I did use polyester thread because I hate sewing with cotton and I didn't have any linen fine enough.

Hours to complete: I never keep track. Not as long as I expected, actually. But a while.

First worn: Only to take photos. But it will be worn on the 14th of February!

Total cost: The undergown is around 3 yards of mercerized cotton at $5/yard, the petticoat is 2 yards of muslin at $2/yard, and the stays are entirely stash fabric. The paint stick was hanging out in my basement, the cable ties are from my considerable selection of various weights and widths, the hooks and eyes and thread were all stash, and the cotton twill tape was purchased for about $10 altogether. So for the entire set, around $29 Canadian. Pretty good!

And here are some photos!

Stays - began stitching December 27, finished in the first week of January.

I put a blog post up about the short stays and the petticoat about a week ago, so you can click back a couple of entries if you want to see worse photos but more information on those. =)

Right now I'm being lazy and just posting the pages from my portfolio, because they're all nice and formatted with the best photos, but if you're curious about construction photos or shots of the insides, please do let me know and I'm happy to post a few!
Petticoat - began stitching in the first week of January, and finished about four days later.

The bodice is double-layered, and the skirt is a single, very sheer layer.

These photos are from a photoshoot I did with my friend Greta, who was lovely enough to come over and take good photos for me even though she's super busy. I'm afraid the photos of the undergown are not nearly so nice.

Undergown - began stitching about half way through January, and finished yesterday. Made of 3 or 4 yards of mercerized cotton (I actually can't remember how much...woops). Drop-front construction with lacing under the bib and a tucked hem. Hand-stitched. Made so it can be worn under both day and evening gowns. This was my first ever attempt at the bib-front construction, and although there are a couple of things I would change next time, I'm pretty happy with it.

Below, you can see a close-up of the front when all done up (sorry for having the tie in front; I had no one to help me and I can't get it tight enough behind my own back), and a photo of just the lacing under the bib done up, with all the other pieces and ties hanging loose. First the back piece wraps forward, and the twill ties go through little thread loops along the bottom of the bodice to tie at center front. Then the front comes up, the bib gets pinned through all the layers at the top (I pin it right through to the stays straps to keep everything in place), the ties go through more little thread loops along the back bodice edge, and tie (usually) at center back.

Overall, I'm quite happy with everything. I guess the true test will be in 10 days, when I put the finished ball gown over top of everything...

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