Monday, May 10, 2021

Regency versatility: 1 gown, 2 looks.

 Oops it's been a while, and there's a striped silk pet en l'air between this Regency gown and the last post about my quilted hooded jacket, but I haven't taken any good pictures of that yet!

Before I get too much farther into this, I'm just going to say right off the bat that I used Laughing Moon #130 for the gown and I do NOT recommend it without a great deal of alteration. The way it ties is frankly bizarre and not secure without a lot of pins, and it caused me a great deal of angst about the frumpyness of the silhouette. Even with pandemic weight gains, I didn't feel like I should look like that much of a potato (however excellent and boiled): 

This pattern does something bizarre at the waist...the apron front wraps around and ties UNDER the back of the gown, behind the back skirts. I read the instructions over and over but the pattern picture also makes it very clear that's what you're supposed to do. So I definitely changed that by adding self-fabric belt loops and tied around the outer back like I'm used to. I also strongly disliked that the bodice is so unsecured to anything (the little crossover flaps just supposedly tuck into the waistband and that's enough? Not for me!). I tacked down one side of the wrap-front to the apron waist to at least give me a little more security because pins just were not doing it for me. Love my fabric though, which was silk bought during a sale from Ensembles of the Past! Sara is lovely to get things from (and just as sweet in person).

So after making the gown FEEL a little more secure, I turned to extants to help me jazz it up a bit. Because of my long-term costuming goal of trying to make one outfit from each decade of 1620-1920, I wanted something from the 1820s as I already had other gowns to fit other Regency decades. Luckily, this beauty had popped up from the Cora Ginsburg Spring catalog.

Gauze Evening Dress with self-fabric trimming
(English, ca 1823-24)
Evening gowns in the early 1820s frequently had cross-over style bodices, puffy cap sleeves (often with a tulle or gauze overlay to make it look even more like a soft frothy cloud) and a design at the hem, also usually puffy. Because I was already starting to think of versatility, I decided against the hem design in case I wanted to dress it down for daywear, but felt the sleeves were a must-do.
Fortunately Sara also had an interesting sheer window-pane fabric in her shop as well and she was happy to match it to her remnant of the plaid silk I bought, and reassured me that it would work. I decided to make a detachable overlay that could be easily basted over the existing plain puffed sleeve for a little extra drama. They ended up looking like little dirigibles, which amused me greatly.
While the ribbon banding at the armscye is more fanciful than historical from this time, it does add a little glitz by candle-light. I also added a gold/olive/beige Indian-style ribbon trim to both sleeves and neckline: 
And the finished result for evening wear came out like this!

The tiara is from BeElemental (but I don't recommend them unless you're willing to wait months for shipping overseas) and the long pearl and moonstone earrings are from Lady Detalle.  I need to find some over-elbow gloves but I've been searching for ages with no luck, so I may have to eventually make my own. I also had to buy more trim for the waist because I liked the look of it on the Cora Ginsburg extant, but it hadn't arrived by time I was taking photos.

But wait, there's more! 

This gown was also begging to have a day iteration, and luckily I had just the extant gown in mind! 

The extant is cotton, but the color and the plaid made me feel confident this style would work fine with my current project. I think it works!

As you can see, I removed the evening gown's sleeve overlay (which was intentionally barely basted in) and added sleeve extensions. I also added a shawl collar with ruffle, which I tacked in very lightly with stitches that will be easy to remove. The shawl collar then hides the fancy trim of the evening gown version, which I left intact underneath.

In this way I have two gowns for different times of the day, and it only takes about a half an hour to switch from one to the other by removing or adding components. This was really an enjoyable process once I figured out where to go with the project!

No comments:

Post a Comment