Regency Dress Plans

After finally beating my Bachelor’s thesis into submission, it is about time I return to you with a long-promised blog post. And, as I am feeling like being a bit mean today, it will not be about the top-secret project I promised to reveal to you last time. You will have to wait for it just a little longer. ;) But, today I will finally let you in on the plans and ideas about my first-ever Regency-era dress.

As it turns out, a blog buddy of mine is also just working on a Georgian wardrobe. So this post will be especially dedicated to her *waves at Susan*. Okay, let us start with…


The Fabric:

On Saturday, my friend, her boyfriend and I all went on a successful fabric hunt on the half-yearly Dutch fabric market in our city. We were all mind-blown by the variety of fabrics offered there. After three hours of jostling around the stalls we were exhausted and very happy. She found an awesome green-and-gold Russian linen with a woven floral pattern for a Medieval wedding gown and, after a lot of comparing, fussing and calculating, I found the most unexpected fabric for my Regency dress.

As I want to submit it to the HSF “Paisley and Plaid” challenge, I was actually more in search of a period-accurate small-pattern paisley cotton. But then, for the first time ever, I fell in love with a bale of checked fabric, which is usually not my thing. But, just look at it:


Both my friend and I had an inkling that it must be halfway Regency-appropriate. But we were wrong … about the halfway part. ;) Because yesterday, the following happened: In an 1811 issue of Ackermann’s, I found this plate of fabric samples and my jaw pretty much dropped to the floor:

1811 fabric samples. Source: Ackermann’s Repository.

Now look at the swatch in the top right corner. It’s a cotton sarsnet with what is called a “Moscow Check” pattern. And, before aging, it has actually been lilac, too. :D In the fabric description, the editors give a few suggestions as to what to make of this fabric. There it says:

Fabric description from Ackermann’s, 1811.

Hmm… demi-trained dresses with beaded lace. How did they know that was exactly what I had in mind, too? Could it possibly be I am living in the wrong time period? But wait, let us take a step back. Here is the whole Regency dress plan for this fabric:


The Dress Inspiration:

The dress I have reserved for this one is the first one I ever sat eyes on while working with original journals at the Library: A half-dress from 1809. The plate of it is actually quite popular and has also been reprinted in historical sewing books like “Historical Costumes and How to Make Them”. It is this one:

1809 half-dress from Ackermann’s Repository.


Aside from having a gorgeous neckline and a little train, it also has a lot of lovely lace. The Vandyke tucker at the bosom is also part of the gown and not connected to the long-sleeved chemisette underneath. This is just a little rare for a Regency dress, but I love it. Also, the tiny black and white dots on the lace trimmings have inspired me to use ribbon-beaded lace to double as a drawstring casing. Thinking of it alone makes me really excited. So, I better stop babbling now and leave you to your own imagination. ;) To add a little more to that, here are the other two dress project plans I am leaving for later:


The Future Gowns:

There are two further prospective dresses I would like to present to you. The fabric for both of them is already sitting in my stash, but it will probably be until late summer or fall until any of them gets sewn. First, there is our old friend, the red atlas promenade gown with the tucked shawl front from Wiener Moden-Zeitung:

1816 promenade dress from Wiener Moden-Zeitung

1816 promenade dress from Wiener Moden-Zeitung.


And the second, and last plan. will be a ball gown, to complete the Regency wardrobe. It is made of sheer white muslin and decorated with lots and lots of roses. This makes it the perfect excuse to finally learn how to hand-make Regency-style fabric roses. Here it is:

1817 muslin ball gown from Ackermann’s.

To be honest, the matching white feather hat also looks delicious. If I am feeling really courageous, I might try and make it, too. But we will see. Right now, the thought of patterning and making the half-dress has my heart fluttering enough. It will be some time till its completion, but I will keep you posted. After nearly two weeks of missing you all dearly, there will be more updates again, too. The list of planned posts is actually rather long now. It is about time you get to read them.

See you soon, Nessa



6 thoughts on “Regency Dress Plans

  1. kurajane says:

    Wow, very much enjoying seeing your plans. Don’t syppose you took photos of the fabric market? It sounds delightful – but (somehow) I am imaginging people bustling around all dressed in the style of the 19th century… lol! Probably not quite :)

    • Nessa says:

      Good to have you back here. :) I will try. Actually, I have just stashed a few straw hats from the dollar shop. They would make a good base but are already claimed for a bonnet and a bérgere hat. I should get more…


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