A Regency Picnic and a Morning Dress

 (Morning, not mourning.)

It's been so long since events, and since making new things and therefore updating ye olde blogge...how do I do this? Let's give it a shot!

The occasion: Playing dress-up and being able to see friends without masks! Cause enough for celebration, I think. Our region's case numbers have been on a steady decline and the tri-state area is lifting restrictions, plus our little group of friends is all vaccinated. So we felt pretty good about having a dress-up event finally, especially out-of-doors. For a variety of reasons we all agreed that Regency seemed like a great idea when we were planning for it - so Regency it was!

3/5 of the party

And this is the first outfit I've managed to start and finish in a reasonable amount of time in over a year, so...that's nice too.

Practically perfect in every way! ;)

It ended up being just a very small group of us - five people - set up on the lawn at Valley Forge National Park, near the Washington's Headquarters house, last Saturday. The weather was somewhat perverse and insisted on being 91 degrees (oof), but relented a bit and gave us cloud cover and low humidity. So, although we were definitely warm, it was by no means unbearable...in fact we ended up staying for about six hours, just chatting and taking pictures and eating our Wawa picnics. (This was by no means an Accurate Interpretation kind of day!)

Although nylon picnic baskets and cotton candy grapes ARE very accurate to the Regency.

The Making of...on Instagram
I had completely different plans for a new Regency dress when we decided we were doing this era for a picnic (and yes, I needed a new dress because we haven't done this era for...at least four years if not more? and in the interim I've made new stays that put my bust at a totally different point and therefore most of the old dresses don't fit any more!). I had a few lengths of fabric that would work for a variety of Regency outfits, but then...I was poking around the cotton section of Fabric.com looking for fabric for someone else...and this one said, hello, please buy me, you need me...and I said, well, okay, you are on clearance! 

First bodice progress pics, and a closeup of the print.

And you're going to get a bunch of links to Instagram in lieu of progress pictures here, because I'm compromising between the Old Ways and the New. Also I'm too lazy to rewrite everything I already put in IG, so there you go. 

I was mainly inspired by this dress in the V&A, c.1810, although I didn't try to copy every little detail. I thought the style would translate nicely to my stripe, I wanted a high-necked and long-sleeved morning dress (hello, sun cover), and I'm a big fan of front-closing dresses! 

More bodice construction progress

I draped and fitted the bodice and sleeves patterns myself; I sort of started with an old Regency bodice pattern of mine, but it had to be fairly heavily refitted due to the aforementioned new stays. (I should make a post on those stays too. Um, someday...) The sleeve head ended up a bit more voluminous than I wanted, but I only noticed while looking through the pictures post-event, so it shall stay.

More bodice (post sewing day with the girls!), and a closeup of the neck ruffle.

As usual for Regency dresses when I have the time, it's all hand-sewn, with a combination of earlier 18thc construction techniques and more mid-19thc approaches. Which makes sense for this kind of era!

Skirt pleats and a bit of how the drop-front works, if that's unfamiliar to you.

The sleeves are pieced, because the pattern piece for them is rather excessively long (to get that fashionable scrunch!), and I only bought 5 yards of 44" fabric, because I hate having three-quarters of a yard or whatever left over, and I can't possibly get rid of it, but what can I do with that small of a piece...etc. etc. Plus I hadn't 100% settled on my dress design when I bought the fabric - always a bit of a dangerous thing! I'd really rather piece than have that stupid bit of fabric leftover, anyway. SO, yeah, then you get things like this. Not very noticeable til I point it out, really.

Sleeve piecing evidence!

The bodice is lined in linen, and the sleeves are partially lined in linen - I've seen that partial-lining on a small handful of originals (including my inspiration dress), and it always seemed like a good idea for a warm-weather dress! By this point, many gowns are lined in cotton rather than linen, but I'm a big fan of linen and I always have a ton of linen scraps hanging out, so linen lining it is.

Sleeve lining and Oh Look, Almost a Finished Dress.

And that's it, really! It's not anything new or crazy construction or sewing-wise...but sometimes that's a nice project to have. Everything I make doesn't have to be furthering a new skill or a big challenge; this is supposed to be a fun hobby, right? 

One might say fun was had.

Accessories & Other Bits
Chemisette is also new but unexciting. Hardly visible in most of the pics, but it's one of those little things that really completes an outfit! I'd miss it if it wasn't there. Made of cotton lawn and also hand sewn.


Shoes are American Duchess - they were called "Nankeen", I believe; style's a good few years old and they aren't currently offered. Very cute, very comfortable, but I really need to put the little rubber non-slip thingies on the leather soles. I think that every time I wear them...this time it was almost wiping out on the public restroom floor while a very confused kid judged me silently.

Scandalous knees. Oh my.

Bonnet was a treat for my birthday this past February (to me, from me. Well, I know what I like!), from Timely Tresses, and worth every penny. It's absolutely charming. As you probably know, 95% of the time I make my own hats, and I'm not too bad at it if I do say so myself...but sometimes it's nice to pay a professional, you know?

"Hellooooo, anybody home??"

And a few more pictures for your consumption, because let's have at least a few non-silly pictures, right? I am capable of it!


  1. It's sooo nice that gathering is possible again! Love the stripes. They make for a charming dress. It's fun to the see the strunchy sleeves made up, too.


  2. Love your new gown! I was eyeballing that fabric when Thousands of Bolts had it in stock...it certainly makes for a lovely Regency print here!

  3. Do you ever sell your photos. I do cover design and would like to know. Thank you.


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