Sunshine, Daisies, Butter Mellow

So, you might think that after finishing an insanely huge event like the 1822 wedding, I would take a break for a while, but while idle hands may not be the devil’s playthings, they do drive me mad. I can’t even watch 20 minutes of Parks and Rec without something to do with my hands. So when all of the wedding pieces were finished, I did a cross stitch piece for a friend’s birthday and jumped straight into another Regency dress. Not for me this time, that comes next, but a commission from another interpreter.

Several months ago, a friend of mine heard of a fabric store that was going out of business several towns over. That was sad of course, but it meant it was time for a road trip! I got six yards of some lovely yellow and white striped fabric for $5 a yard, plus it was meant for curtains, so it’s really wide. It turned out to be the perfect fabric for Marrie’s dress, and there will be enough to make myself a pelisse as well!

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I based the design of Marrie’s dress on this English dinner dress from 1815. I decided to make the ruffly neck-piece a removable fichu so that Marrie can switch up the look if she likes by wearing a chemisette instead for daytime or leaving her neckline bare for evening.

I should have taken pictures of the two rounds of mockups we did in order to get the bodice fit exactly right, but sadly, I did not. I’ll begin with the real bodice instead.

IMG_0578IMG_0580IMG_0581  This fabric is basically an extra-large seersucker. It is lightweight enough to be just translucent, but sturdy enough that it goes through the sewing machine beautifully. The stripes were nice to work with because they’re an automatic guide to whether you’re square on the grain, and lining up buttonholes has never been easier.

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This shows the smooth neckline edge once the lining has been sewn in.

From here I’m going to skip a few steps, because the basic structure of the skirt and sleeves is not particularly interesting. The fun of this dress comes from the embellishment!

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Here is the dress, finished and ready to be pretty-fied.

IMG_0594 IMG_0595 IMG_0597The skirt decoration is actually very similar to the poofs on my 1822 wedding gown (and made of the same material too!). I started with loops of fabric about twice as long as the circumference of the hem and creased each edge under, then ran a gathering stitch through both layers of the creased edge. The biggest difference is that instead of letting the strip poof out, it is pulled taut against the main fabric.

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For extra pretty (and to cover up those machine stitches), I hand-stitched yellow ribbon over the seams.

When the skirt was done, I took a quick break from the dress to create the fichu, which is also made of the leftover Swiss dot from my 1822 dress. It has matching ruffles around the edges which are gathered down the center and pinked on the edges instead of being finished with a hem–a very common time-saver in the period.

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Not sure why this is the only picture I got of the ruffles in process, but oh, well. The green thread down the center of the ruffle is just for gathering–it got removed once the ruffle was sewn on securely.
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Definitely not the prettiest buttonhole I’ve ever done, but they were better after that one.
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But they get covered up by the pretty buttons anyway!

Time for the last details:

IMG_0625 IMG_0626I originally bought this lace to use on the fichu, but when I pinned it on it was just too much. It was perfect, however, to create a ruffly detail on the cuffs, with more of that yellow satin ribbon as an accent down the center.

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The final step was to add a piece of ribbon all along the neckline as an extra little bit of interest if Marrie wears the dress without the fichu.

I absolutely adore this dress! I’m actually a bit jealous of Marrie, but I can’t wait to see it in action on her, either! Here are a few preliminary photos of her, and hopefully I’ll get more at an event in the future:

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IMG_0790 And now it’s my turn! I’m finally starting on a new day dress for myself with some block printed grey fabric that I’ve had in my stash for a year. About time!

Hannah

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