Monday, November 28, 2011

Re-working Gowns that are TOO Small!

I find myself doing this a lot lately.

As of right now I can figure out three alternatives to solving this problem.

Option 1. If you have some left over material from the original garment cut out a larger side pannel. it' isn't idea as you'll have to pretty much cut apart your whole dress and start over.

Option 2. Cut open the front of the bodice and add a contrasting fabric or similiar fabric to it.

3. Cut open the front of the dress and make it an open robe.

Monday, September 12, 2011

WIP Regency Day Dress

I've been a lapse blogger on this blog. But I have not forgotten it or my love for Regency.

In fact I've been working on two big projects- a pair of Regency stays and re-making an old Regency gown I made a few years ago.

This was the origional dress;

This is the dress I am modeling it after;

And this is my current progress on the dress;

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Regency Stays

I am yet again contimplating the ever so frightening task of making myself a pair of stays. I've attempted both a pair of long stays and short stays in the past with dismal results.

I keep attempting to build myself up to making a pair, I am determined that this year I shall make them but as of yet it has not happened.

My current motivation is being informed that one of our local museums will be hosting a dinner with the Costume Director of the 95 version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. And the idea of showing up in my evening's finest appeals greatly to me.

That being said, I still lack the motivation to make a pair and desperatly need support on this daunting task.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Cravat

As there is a sad lack of information available out there for men's fashion during the Regency era I thought I would dedicate this post to the gentlemen.

The cravat is a neckband, the forerunner of the modern tailored necktie and bow tie, originating from 17th century Croatia.[2]
From the end of the 16th century, the term band applied to any long-strip neck cloth that was not a ruff. The ruff, a starched, pleated white linen strip, originated earlier in the 16th century as a neck cloth (readily changeable, to minimize the soiling of a doublet), as a bib, or as a napkin. A band could be either a plain, attached shirt collar or a detachable "falling band" that draped over the doublet collar. It is possible that cravats were initially worn to hide shirts which were not immaculately clean.

The cravat originated in the 1630s; like most men's fashions between the 17th century and World War I, it was of military origin. In the reign of Louis XIII of France, Croatian mercenaries[4] were enlisted into a regiment supporting the King and Cardinal Richelieu against the Duc de Guise and the Queen Mother, Marie de Medici. The traditional Croat military kit aroused Parisian curiosity about the unusual, picturesque scarves distinctively knotted at the Croats' necks; the cloths that were used, ranged from the coarse cloths of enlisted soldiers, to the fine linens and silks of the officers. The sartorial word "cravat" derives from the French "cravate," a corrupt French pronunciation of "Croat" — in Croatian, "Hr̀vāt".
Considering the interdependence of many European regions (particularly the French) with the Venetian Republic, which occupied most of Croatia's coast, and the word's uncertain philologic origin, the new male neck dress was known as a cravate. The French readily switched from old-fashioned starched linen ruffs to the new loose linen and muslin cravates; the military styles often had broad, laced edges, while a gentleman's cravat could be of fine lace. As an extreme example of the style, the sculptor Grinling Gibbons carved a realistic cravat in white limewood which is now on display at Chatsworth House.

On returning to England from exile in 1660, Charles II imported with him the latest new word in fashion: "A cravatte is another kind of adornment for the neck being nothing else but a long towel put about the Collar, and so tied before with a Bow Knott; this is the original of all such wearing; but now by the Art and Inventions of the seamsters, there is so many new ways of making them, that it would be a task to name, much more to describe them". (Randle Holme, Academy of Armory and Blazon, 1688.)

During the wars of Louis XIV of 1689–1697, except for court, the flowing cravat was replaced with the more current and equally military "Steinkirk", named after the Battle of Steenkerque in 1692. The Steinkirk was a long, narrow, plain or lightly trimmed neck cloth worn with military dress, wrapped once about the neck in a loose knot, with the lace of fringed ends twisted togetherand tucked out of the way into a button-hole, either of the coat or the waistcoat. The steinkirk was popular with men and women until the 1720s.

The maccaronis reintroduced the flowing cravat in the 1770s, and the manner of a man's knotting it became indicative of his taste and style, to the extent that after the Battle of Waterloo (1815) the cravat, itself, was referred to as a "tie". Wikipedia)

When attending a Regency Ball with my boyfriend a few years ago we ran into problems when it came to his clothes. For starters, he doesn't reenact so a military uniform was out of the question. Secondly, making him his own clothes for one ball seemed a ridiculous waste of money and time for me to invest in. This left us with the option of renting a costume from one of the local costume warehouses. In turn this provided us with another obstacle- The men’s Regency clothes were way too costume-y and were poorly fitted to my boyfriend’s broad shoulders. After he tried on many bright blue and green colored tail coats I was ready to pull my hair out at the lack of refinement placed in the clothes. Finally I found myself a rack of black tailcoats that were formed perfectly for a refined Regency gentlemen. That with the proper pair of Regency pants, a white linen dress shirt, a black brocade vest and a top hat my gentlemen was beginning to take shape.

The last thing needed was a cravat- and of course here I was disappointed as the shop only had ruffs! What Regency gentlemen would be caught dead in a ruff! Certainly not mine. Luckily sewing a quick cravat was easy and could be done in a pinch. I allowed my gentlemen to pick which way he wished his cravat to be tied and away we went!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Regency Movies Worth A View

If you're looking for some Regency Dress Inspiration and are tired of the same old dresses being repeated in all the popular Regency movies, here are two movies that are worth a look;

War and Peace 2007

...and A Hazard of Hearts

You can also see pictures of the fashions worn in these too movies at my website which is still under construction so pardon the mess.

26 Ways to Wear a Regency Shawl

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Jane Austen Handbook

Currently reading this delightful book that starts each section off with a quote from a Jane Austen novel and shows how to net purses, ride sidesaddle, play cards, become engaged, and all the other important things a Regency Lady should know.

In other Regency news, my annual start of the year meeting for the reenactment group I am part of will be next weekend, I will be sure to report back what I've learned. And I am also being a resourceful and economical Regency lady and cutting down some of my old dresses to fit my sister who is 17 years my junior. How is that for clever?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Regency Bonnet Tutorial

"I don't think it's very pretty but I thought I might as well buy it as not,"
"It's vile, isn't it Lizzy!"
"Very ugly. What possessed you to buy it Lydia?"
"Well there wasn't much out there in the shop. I shall pull it to pieces when I get home and see if I can't make it up any better,"
-Pride and Prejudice.

You Will Need

1 4th of July from Target
Velvet or fabric of choice
Ribbon or trim of choice
Needle And Thread
1 Seam Ripper

Target was selling these beyond ugly straw hats for a $1. Start with something like this as your base hat.

Its lucky that the trim for this hat is sewn on- you can easily use your seam ripper to remove the trim.

(note: if you are using a different hat where the trim is hot glued on, use nail polish remover to remove glue)

Because of the edge of this hat being unfinished, it is important to add a trim around the brim of the hat. I used a braided trim but you can also use ribbon. Carefully hand sew this to your hat.

Cut a circle of fabric that is larger than the base of your hat. You could use the brim of your hat as an outline. Hem the circle and run a draw string through.

Place the fabric on your hat and pull the draw string tight around the base.

Add a ribbon trim around the base of your hat, carefully sewing by hand.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An Introduction to Regency Fashion

Lady Emma Hamilton

Lady Emma Hamilton (Born in 1761, baptized on May 12, 1765 died January 15, 1815)
Was born Emy Lyon in Ness near Neston, Chesire England, the daughter of blacksmith Henry Lyon, who died when she was just two months old and Mary Lyon. When Emma was 12 she became a maid at the Hawarden home of Doctor Honoratus Leigh Thomas, a surgeon working in Chester. She had been let go by the Doctor a few months later, presumably for poor work. She then took a job with the Budd family in Chatham Place, Blackfriars in London. There she met a maid named Jane who aspired to be an actress. The pair soon lost their job after their many liaisons with young men. Emma returned home to her mother who was living in poverty near Oxford Street. Emma began working in the Drury Lane Theater in Covent Garden as a maid to various actresses, however the pay was little and she took on side work as a prostitute. Emma soon secured a more permanent position at a brothel where she became a strip tease artiste. Her performances there required she strike lewd poses for the viewers.

At this time The Royal Academy was having great difficulty finding models for their artists because the work was considered 'unbecoming', Emma however became a favorite model of Sir Joshua Reynolds and George Romney. Many Hundreds of paintings were painted of Emma, especially by Romney who became obsessed with her. Emma took on pseudonyms such as 'Emma Potts,' 'Emily Potts,' 'Miss Emily,' 'Warren,' 'Beartie,' and 'Coventry'. Emma then worked as a model and dancer at the "Goddess of Health" for James Graham a Scottish "quack" doctor. The establishment's greatest attraction being a bed with which electricity was passed giving patrons mild shocks. This supposedly aided conception and many infertile couples paid high prices to try it.

One patron who paid for pleasure not conception was 18 year old George IV who sampled the bed with his Mistress Mary Robinson who had been one of the actresses that Emma had been a maid for.

At the age of 15 Emma took on work at 'Madame Kelly's' an exclusive brothel next to the Ritz Hotel. It had been reported in Town and Country Magazine that a woman looking very much like Emma had set up there. The magazine coyly referred to the establishment as "Santa Carolotta's Nunnery". It was there that Emma began to refine her lewd postures for her more refined clients. One of Emma's clients was Sir Harry Featherstonehaugh. She was hired by Sir Harry for several months from the brothel as the host and entertainer at a lengthy stag party at his country estate in South Downs. Sir Harry took Emma as his mistress but often neglected her for drinking and hunting. In late June early July of 1781 Emma conceived a child by Sir Harry. Sir Harry was furious by the unwanted pregnancy and placed Emma at one of his London houses. Sir Harry ignored Emma's advances after this point and she then turned her attentions to his friend, Charles Frances Greville. Her daughter, Emma Carew was removed to be raised by a Mr. and Mrs. Blackbburn after she was born. Carew saw her mother frequently while growing up but when Emma went to debtors prison Carew was forced to leave the country to work abroad as a companion or governess.

Emma agreed to change her name to Emma Hart to prevent her past reputation from following her and tainting Greville's reputation. Greville kept her from her past associates but sent her to visit his friend George Romney for her portrait to be painted. Romney painted many of the paintings of her at this time, sketching her both nude and clothed that he later turned into paintings when she was absent. Emma became well-known in higher social circles due to the popularity of these paintings by Romney.

In 1783 Greville became to 18 year old heiress Henrietta Middleton. Greville was in need of money and disliked being known as Emma's lover after her popularity in the Romney paintings. Greville persuaded his wealthy uncle, Sir William Hamilton, the British Envoy to Naples to take her off his hands for a while. He sent Emma to Naples under the impression that she was going on a prolonged vacation while he was on business in Scotland not bothering to tell her he was sending her to be the mistress of his uncle or that the business in Scotland was of matrimony. Greville had originally planned to fetch Emma after his wedding.

While in Naples, Emma refined her "Attitudes," combining classical poses with modern allure as a basis for her act. Her Attitudes, combining postures, dance and acting was revealed in the spring of 1987 by Sir William to a large group of European guests at his home in Naples, who quickly took to this new form of entertainment, guessing the names of the classical characters Emma portrayed. Emma had her dressmaker make dresses modeled after the dresses worn by peasant islanders in the Bay of Naples for her Attitudes. Her performances became a sensation across Europe, entertaining writers, artists, aristocrats and kings and queens. She set off new dance trends and fashion trends for draped Grecian-styled clothing.

On September 6, 1791, Sir William married Emma at St George’s in Hanover Square to the shock of Greville. Thus making Emma, Lady Emma Hamilton. Emma became close friends with Queen Maria Carolina the wife of King Ferdinand I of Naples. And in 1793 Emma played hostess Lord Horatio Nelson who came to gather reinforcements against the French. It was through her that he was able to secure those reinforcements and her connection to the Queen. Nelson returned to Naples five years later with his 18 year old stepson, Josiah, a war hero and legend after his victory at the Battle of the Nile. Nelson had lost his arm and most of his teeth during the five years he had been gone. Upon seeing him for the first time after his return she reportedly cried out "Oh God, is it possible?" and fainted against him. Emma and Sir William escorted Lord Nelson to their summer home, the Palazzo Sessa and Emma nursed him back to health. For Nelson's 40th birthday Emma hosted a party of 1,800 guests to celebrate. The two soon fell in love and the affair was tolerated and perhaps even encouraged by Sir William.

When Nelson was recalled back to England, the three meandered back to Brittan via Central Europe and eventually arrived later in 1800 to a hero's welcome. The three then openly lived together, making the affair public knowledge and Nelson was eventually sent back to sea to remove him from Emma. Emma gave birth to Nelson's daughter, Horatia on January 31, 1801 and Sir William rented a home on Clarges Street in London. That same autumn Nelson bought Merton Place, a small house on the outskirts of modern day Wimbledon where he lived openly with Emma. Emma's popularity soared, and the newspapers reported on her every move, looking to her to set trends in everything from fashion to dinner menus.

Sir William died in 1803 and Nelson returned to sea soon after, leaving Emma pregnant with their second child. The child died shortly after her birth and Emma, lonely and depressed turned gambling to distract herself. Nelson died at sea in 1805 by which time Emma had exhausted the small pension Sir William had left her and fell deeply into dept. Despite being a hero, Nelson's request for Emma and Horatia to be looked after were ignored and all of Nelson's estate and honors were given to his brother.

Emma and Horatia spent a year in debtors prison before moving to France to escape their creditors. Emma turned to drinking and died of amoebic dysentery, an illness she probably picked up in Naples (Sir William Also suffered from this), in Calais in January 1815. Horatia married Rev. Phillip Ward and lived until 1881, she had 10 children.