Regency Daytime Promenade dress – part 1

Barb and I are headed to the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville in July. We went last year and it was fun enough to go again.  Time to get cracking on costumes!  Sometimes I get my costume inspiration by looking through fashion plates and I then go and try and find a fabric.  But a lot of times I find a wonderful fabric and start from there.  I had the idea to do something with an overdress this year as I’d never done a Regency era dress with an overdress or tunic, and there are so many lovely fashion plates with some sort of topper.  I honed in on a few plates for inspiration.  

I then looked in my fabric stash and had this silk gold and rust check – I thought fabulous tunic or overdress.  I used Winego’s overdress pattern

I adapted the front to have a more of a rounded shape rather than squared off.  

I then followed the directions and attached the skirt:

I decided that the back wasn’t full enough, so I took the top off of the skirt, and cut another panel to add fullness. But before I sewed the panel in, I started to waiver in my vision.

I liked the fabric so much that I started contemplating making the check into a dress.  It wouldn’t be hard to add sleeves and a drop front bodice, using the current closing structure in the front as the closure under a drop front.  I defintelty had enough fabric, but I couldn’t make up my mind.

I decided to work instead on the underdress—as I thought seeing the check over a dress might really help me decide.  I had found this great sheer white cotton with an embroidered and cut out border,  the shapes were reminiscent of paisleys and looked very good for the time period to me.  

The only bad thing was that there were only 3 yards left of it when I found it. Although it was 54” wide, 3 yards isn’t enough—especially for a long sleeve day dress.  I found another just off white cotton that was a similar opacity and weight.  So I used the border for the skirt.  I had just enough left after cutting the skirt panels to eek out the front of the drop bodice for the dress.  The rest of the bodice pieces and sleeves I cut from the other fabric.  I used Laughing Moon pattern 126   Unfortunately, I mislaid the big direction book that comes with the pattern, so I had to wing it.  But it actually went together pretty easily (although I may not have done how the drop front bodice works exactly the way they intended – but it does work).

I think the border bodice looks good. 

I just have handwork to do on it now – but since I used the border at the bottom – I won’t have to hem it!  But I do have to do the handwork before putting it on again and trying it on this time with the potential over dress – the pins I’ve added around the neckline to hold it in place to do a hand sewing topstich—well they stab too much for comfort as you put it on.  I got it on enough to know it fits well (and there is some play in it because of the apron/drop front gives a touch of flexibility (which is always nice).

So that is this project in progress—in part 2, I’ll make the call whether the checked stays as an overdress or becomes another dress in its own right.  I’m leaning toward the overdress right now because that was my original vision.  Stay tuned!

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