I never did mind about the little things…

Slippers similar to ballet flats; several layers of underwear to enhance her bosom and disguise that she had legs; a gown appropriate for the time of day; stylish curls and a fancy but tidy up-do; a turban, bonnet, or hat, and perhaps a cap; a cherished piece of jewelry—what more could a Regency lady need?

From Costume de Promenade, 1804-1805, opera gloves

From Costume de Promenade, 1804-1805, opera gloves

Accessories, of course! Heaven forbid if she left her home without her gloves, and she’ll die from the heat at a ball without her fan! On a morning promenade, her parasol will keep her delicate skin from growing coarse and brown in the sun.

This post is about how to obtain these accessories for your Regency costume.

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Dudmaston National Trust (Claire Reeves) -- Embroidered kid gloves, circa 1800-1830

Dudmaston National Trust (Claire Reeves) — Embroidered kid gloves, circa 1800-1830

 

Gloves

Gloves were common apparel outside the home, though period art indicates they were not imperative during the day. It’s pretty simple to find Regency-appropriate gloves for day-wear: short, cotton gloves are acceptable, and stores carry them for hand care at a low price. I continue to watch for nicer ones, in finer cotton, and maybe with trim like seed pearls or lace, but simple will do. Of course, if you can obtain kid gloves, it’s even better!

For evening wear, the sleeves were short and the gloves were long. Super long, much past the elbow. Opera-length.

Circa 1810 kid leather, buff.

Circa 1810 kid leather, buff.

Not a problem, right? Long, synthetic, “satin” evening gloves are dirt cheap, and easy to find. One would think they’d pass for fancy ones from 1812. White sounds like the right colour, right? Unfortunately, they’re not the best choice.

Most Regency evening gloves were made of kid leather. They were often white, but also came in many colours, usually muted, softer tones.  Though vintage kid opera gloves in cream, buff, bone, pale yellow, pale pink, ecru, and similar colours are common on Etsy and ebay, with bids starting at $25 and up, read the fine print: they tend to be size 6 or 6.5 when most women these days wear at least a size 7. (In case you don’t know your glove size, this is a handy link: Your Glove Size.)

Glove lengths in inches.

Glove lengths in inches.

Beware: many vendors will say their gloves are opera length, but they may be as short as 11 inches! A true opera-length glove goes past the elbow: a minimum of 19 to 21 inches on most women.

In addition, vintage kid gloves can be stained, torn, worn, or otherwise damaged, especially if unlined. The three-button wrist opening is Victorian, so don’t be tempted to buy gloves with that style.

“New” in-package vintage opera-length kid gloves start at $150 on ebay, but are in small sizes, too. Brand new kid gloves made for coming-out balls are $200-$300 in Regency colours and modern sizes. If that were not enough to make this accessory difficult, many Regency gloves had embroidery along the back!

From La Belle Assemblee April 1808, opera gloves

From La Belle Assemblee April 1808, Opera gloves

As seen in Regency art, the fit tended to be relaxed, which meant the glove fell so it drooped along the arms, yet still wound up falling higher than the elbow. To accomplish this, a minimum of a 12-button glove (24 inches long) would be required, and the example to the left is much longer.

Glove lengths in “buttons.” Opera gloves are 12 buttons or longer.

An alternative, new lambskin gloves, come at reasonable prices ($25 starting bid on ebay for unlined 21-inch gloves) for black (mourning gloves in Regency), white, brown, or bright, saturated colours. Faux leather is about $10 for the same colour ranges.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston--Women's Gloves, early 19th century, silk.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston–Women’s Gloves, early 19th century, silk.

Fabric evening gloves in the Regency were cotton or silk, and they weren’t shiny. If all you can find are those shiny satin ones (they are 19 inches long), some people use sandpaper them to dull them, then dye them if desired. The colour selections in dyes these days are bright, basic tones, so watch to limit dye time so the colour isn’t too saturated; though if I recall correctly, that type of fabric takes dyes poorly.

Cotton fabric embroidered gloves, circa 1790-1810, bias cut for stretch, gold and sequinned scrollwork pale pink floss silk detailing

Cotton fabric embroidered gloves, circa 1790-1810, bias cut for stretch, gold and sequined scrollwork, pale pink floss silk detailing.

my glovesI purchased 19 inch (8-button) matte-look synthetic gloves for $7.99 at Dressew in Vancouver, BC, in pale pink and white, on top of the original white satin pair. They also had purple matte, but I felt it was too bright. The nice buff yellow colour was only in the shiny satin finish. All these gloves fit the arm snugly, and just barely cover the elbow, but many Austen costume wearers feel they’re a reasonable enough choice. Like with my stockings, I may try to mimic an embroidered pattern using fabric paint.

In the meantime, I’m still watching ebay and Etsy for ball gloves in size 8 and any colour but black, brown, or loud! If I can get 16-button (31 inch) gloves in a nice soft yellow or cream, it will be like heaven! If they’re kid leather with no wrist buttons, I’ll have to pay more than I did for any of my dresses!

~~~

Fans:

A Regency ballroom can become very warm. Fans were a must-have accessory for one’s comfort. Chinatown, thrift, vintage, and budget stores are possible places to buy your fan.

The one fan I purchased was part of a $2.99 grab bag at Value Village. Though I adore it, it’s rather simple for its purpose: a medium-toned wooden brisé fan with a line drawing of a Chinese scene printed on the leaves, and a satin-looking sleeve.my first fanIt took months to find this fan. The available fans were all cheap-looking or had non-Regency features. Most wood fans had paper leaves that were plain or had very Asian motifs, and pale, plain wood sticks. Fans with silk/satin leaves had sticks and guards made of cheap plastic, no matter how pretty or elaborate the painting on the leaves!

Ten or so years ago when I shopped for a gift for my sister, fans with dark, rich wood or enamelled sticks, with inlays such as mother-of-pearl on the guards, were available at a reasonable price, but I didn’t see one fan like this in months of searching. It doesn’t help that, though the Chinatown in my current city is the second-oldest on the West coast, it’s also the smallest, at two blocks long.

Brisé fan, circa 1790, wood.

Brisé minuet fan with blue silk. Dutch, 1810. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Regency fans came with sticks and guards made from ivory, mother-of-pearl, bone, tortoise shell, metal, ebony, and horn. Ribs and leaves could be of the same material as the sticks, or the fan could have leaves made from gauze, silk, paper, or feathers, and trimmed in gilt, lace, ribbons, or sequins. They could be inlaid or piquéd, painted, pierced in a pattern, or embroidered, and any scene depicted would be English. For full size images, click on the thumbnails.

Battoir fan, 1800-1830. Silk, ivory, and metal. National Trust Collections, UK.

Battoir fan, 1800-1830. Silk, ivory, and metal. National Trust Collections, UK.

Fan, 1800-1815, French. Bone, silk, metal, wood. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Fan, 1800-1815, French. Bone, silk, metal, wood. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Folding fan of ivory sticks with a silk leaf embroidered with sequins and painted with a female figure watering plants. English, circa 1810. Fan Museum, Greenwich.

Folding fan of ivory sticks with a silk leaf, embroidered with sequins and painted with a female figure watering plants. English, circa 1810. Fan Museum, Greenwich.

Folding fan. Carved, gilded mother-of-pearl sticks, silk leaf decorated with gold sequins, embroidery, mezzotint. Two girls with a cat. English, circa 1800-1820. Fitzwilliam Museum.

Cartouche fan, from a plate in Ackermann's Repository for Art, 1808.

Cartouche fan, from a plate in Ackermann’s Repository for Art, 1808.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The coolest fans (not meaning efficacy, but in eye-catching quality) are the cartouche fans, which open to 360 degrees.

If you can find a fan with an attractive non-plastic material for the sticks and guard, and a pretty painted or embroidered design that isn’t too Asian, it will do well.

 ~~~

 

Parasol:

If you’ve followed this blog from the start, you’ll know one of my catch-phrases is “Parasol in a Ballroom.” This originates from a scene I wrote in the original Alias Thomas Bennet before posting it in serial form at A Happy Assembly.

While in London, Jane Bennet writes to her sister Elizabeth, who is at Hunsford:

“Mary and I attended a private ball at Miss Morris’ home and it was all that was spectacular. The ballroom was the largest I have ever seen, and the candles were so brilliant that the room was almost as bright as day. The ladies were in beautiful dresses and held lovely fans or parasols.”

Cassandra, the final cold reader, tagged the final word with a simple comment in a balloon: “At a ball?”

Indeed! Why would they use parasols indoors at night? In my mind, I could just see Cassie’s head-tilt! It’s been a joke between us ever since.

tumblr_na3t53ZkSc1s5i6ido3_1280Although a parasol is an optional item, mainly for when the headwear doesn’t protect the Regency lady’s face from the sun, it’s seen in many fashion sketches of the time, leading me to believe it was for show, as well.

Walking dress, parasol with knotted tassel fringe, 1810.

This item comes in so many variations, it’s not nearly so difficult to procure something that is a good facsimile. Deep or shallow scallops between the ribs, either rounded or pagoda shaped, deep or shallow curve to the parasol body, but not flat: all are appropriate in almost any colour except black, unless you are in mourning.

Parasol, 1805, Metropolitan  Museum of Art

Parasol, 1805, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Parasol, European, circa 1805. Silk knit with glass and steel beads, wood, bone, and metal.

Parasol, European, circa 1805. Silk knit with glass and steel beads, wood, bone, and metal.

Multiple modes of decoration enhance the parasol cover, such as stripes, prints, tassels, embroidery, and all types of fringe: eyelash, brush, ball, and multiple-knot tassel fringe. Others are plain. Most handles were straight, though a few curved ones existed, and they were sometimes decorated and inlaid not unlike the guards on the fans. A fascinating Regency specialty is the hinged parasol.

Hinged parasol, Costume Parisien, 1810

Hinged parasol, Costume Parisien, 1810

Lace is not common, though, and the ones I’ve seen with lace use it as trim similar to fringe. The Battenburg lace parasols sold as Regency are Victorian, so don’t waste your money!

Of course, a real Regency parasol frame is made from wood or baleen (whalebone), and the cover from silk. Modern Asian parasols of wood frame construction tend to have too many ribs; Regency ones had four to ten, though six to eight were most common on the plates I’ve seen, and many had seven.

Pagoda parasol from Ackermann's Repository print, 1814

Pagoda parasol from Ackermann’s Repository print, 1814

If you’ve followed this blog from the start, you know my obsession with the idea of a pagoda parasol, which has a second upward curve on the canopy of the parasol. They were common during the Regency period, in fact, up until the 1960s. Vintage pagoda parasols on Etsy and ebay are usually mid-20th century, with a metal frame and handle made from bakelite, a non-melting plastic that’s still used for items such as billiard balls today. The fabric is often in a “modern” pattern for the era, so it may not work well for a Regency costume.

A vintage pink nylon-covered non-pagoda umbrella, with a matching fitted sleeve complete with a grommet for the spiked end, was purchased for $9.99 at WiN (Women in Need Vintage and Thrift Store). It has an interesting, curved, patterned aluminum handle. I’m not a pink person, yet I manage to repeatedly find the best items in pink!

Silk parasol, ca. 1811, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Silk parasol, ca. 1811, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Two-inch wide white fringe was one of the items in my amazing budget purchase of multiple types of trim for $5 in Mazatlán, and the idea was to tone back the pink and make the umbrella look more like a Regency parasol.

Garden promenade dresses, 1809, Fashion Plate Collection. Tasseled parasol on the right and parasol with knotted tassel fringe on the left.

Garden promenade dresses, 1809, Fashion Plate Collection. Tasseled parasol on the right and parasol with knotted tassel fringe on the left.

Later, a local Indian fabric store (K T Boutique and Fabrics) was selling certain colours of tassels at half price, and I liked the idea of tassels better, as the parasol would be less bulky when folded. I got eight in a muted violet for $1 each.

But I kept looking for my pagoda parasol with a straight handle, in materials that looked like they could be from the Regency.

Then I read an article on how to make a regular umbrella into a pagoda parasol, using a length of milliner’s wire twisted into a spring and inserted inside the canopy of the umbrella, around the part of the stick that’s above the frame. Some time ago, I’d been curious about the inner workings of a pump cosmetics bottle, and had two short, fat springs on hand as a result, so I didn’t have to use my questionable wire-bending skills.

 

 

First spring inserted above the upper rib of the umbrella frame.

The beginning of the pagoda shape from the first spring, and second spring displayed (just hanging on the end of a rib) to show how it looks before installation.

Inside the open umbrella, I placed my fingers around the umbrella stick between the canopy and the frame, then easily slid the canopy up the spike so I could thread the spring on, much like you’d put a key on a key ring. Click on the thumbnails for larger images of the instructional photos.

Second spring in place.

Second spring in place.

After the first, I decided it would look better with two springs. The second was much harder to install. You could not do this with an umbrella that does not have a long enough spike on top.

A slimmer spring would be better, as these tend to slide down over the ribs when the umbrella is closed, and I have to reach in and wiggle them up to get the umbrella to open. In addition, the extra bulk means the matching sleeve no longer goes on all the way. I’m going to wait until I finish my hand lotion to procure the alternate spring!

I found it difficult to figure out how to tie on the tassels, so I’ve shown the steps I eventually used to save you all some trouble. I did a better job of showing the “How-to” steps by using captions this time! Click on the thumbnails for larger images.

Tighten the top knot on the tassel (left). Tie a second knot about 2-3mm or ⅛ inch above it (right).

Loop string between rib and fabric, inside of where the cover fabric ties to the end of the rib.

Push tassel through loop to tie to rib.

Push tassel through loop to tie to rib.

Pull the tassel to the end of the rib and push the gap between the knots over the ball at end of rib.

Pull the tassel to the end of the rib and push the gap between the knots over the ball at end of rib.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final pagoda shape of parasol, with eight tassels. Matching sleeve is shown below.

Final pagoda shape of parasol, with eight tassels. Matching sleeve is shown below.

Parasol closed, with sleeve. You can see all the tassels here.

Voila! A pagoda parasol with tassels for my Thrift Shop Regency Costume! I’m so pleased, I barely care what else I wear!

 

 

 

 

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NEXT POST: One of the easiest items to find for your Regency costume is a reticule. A small drawstring bag (at least 5 inches wide, but under 8 inches in each dimension) of almost any shape, in a rich fabric, will suffice. If the bag you found is too simple, we have ways to dress it up! I have six examples, and three came to me in fine condition with no need for upgrades. Three need simple, typical modifications that are super-easy for the non-crafter.

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Pop quiz: Did anyone know the source of the title without looking it up? In what other movie did the same guy play a sort of a “cleaner?” What Regency-era movie was he in?

I’d adore some comments! (The Meryton Press blog page version of this post is the best location for this.) I’m trying to decide how to do a give-away, and feedback would help me to know if anyone besides me is reading this shiz.

~~~

Updates: If you’re interested in learning more about Regency fans, or just seeing some more beautiful designs, check out this blog post: Special Exhibition: The Unrivalled Beauty of the Hand-held Fan in the Romantic Age 

Thanks to Zorylee Diaz-Lupitou, who solved my problem with the comments box. Hopefully, it should be working now!

Shiny things expose my inner crow!

I was second last in the gift draw. I took the brown paper bag, reached my hand in, and felt around. Unable to discern by touch what the small items were, I grasped one at random. When I extracted my hand and opened it, I found BIG SPARKLE.

It turned out to be a key chain, roughly four inches long, and gaudy doesn’t begin to communicate its assault on my eyes. About 8 huge plastic gems hung in a cluster from large gold links, and below them dangled a tiny metal purse that would open were it not linked into the rest. When it moved even a tiny bit, it rattled. Yeah, I thought, it should have made the warning sound before I pulled it out of the bag.

I peered at the magnetic post-it grocery list note pad another participant won and felt the world was truly unfair. Yet when I examined the face of every other person, I realized it would not be in good form to say so. No one seemed to think my gift was the most awful, tasteless joke that was ever played upon someone. The sneer twitching at the corner of my lip was held in check, and instead, I said, “Oh, bling!” in an affected tone.

Thing is, I can’t bear to throw the thing away. I keep trying to think of someone to give it to who would appreciate it, or a way to give it some sort of useful employment. It moves from container to container as a “potential” and most recently, wound up in my kit of beads and baubles for my Regency costume. But once again, it’s proven to itself as a useless, gaudy thing. It has a few friends in that bag, but none as sparkly.

Like the crow, we’re all attracted to sparkly, otherwise there would never have been a gold rush or jewel thieves, and MJ’s glove would be boring. Many like to look at beautiful jewelry but don’t wear it. What I choose tends to be simple but unique. When I checked my own stash for potential items for my Regency costume, I found a few items that looked right to me. Then I did my research, and realized they were close, but some needed help. It was not impossible.my jewelry

Citrine jewelry 1820

Citrine jewelry 1820

Necklace 41.9 cm long, circa 1810.

Necklace 41.9 cm long, circa 1810.

In addition, I saw things in the period examples that I liked but would not normally consider wearing. Just as I’m not one to wear a hat with feathers, they became desirable when thought of as part of a costume, an act. A sale purchase from Joe Fresh was added to the small group of costume items of my own: a “diamond and freshwater pearl” choker in a floral pattern, as seen at the top of the photo above.

Numerous perusals of discount and second-hand store costume jewelry racks did not offer a suitable pair of ear-bobs to go with it. Anything close was on studs, and in the Regency, stud-backed earrings didn’t exist; they were all hung on wire hooks. I knew a simple way to modify them, and even had the right earring parts—years ago, I made earrings, hence, my experience with cam-shaped circles of metal. But I couldn’t wear the ones in my stash, as they were cheap gold imitations. Like many, I have a nickel allergy, and most inexpensive jewelry contains nickel as a hardener. I can wear costume jewelry for short periods of time, but my skin becomes inflamed easily.

Earrings "The Three Graces" 1810

Earrings “The Three Graces” 1810

Last week, I found some lead and nickel free earring parts on a two-for-one sale at a fabric store. Two pairs of earrings I owned were modified using an earring snap hook and a very small split ring. The split ring is like a super-tiny version of a key ring, and similar to work with, but saves using needle-nose pliers and making a cam out of a loop, or accidentally leaving the tiniest gap and then losing the earring, both of which are my constant experience.

I clamped the earring to the split ring, using a plastic back in one case so it was less visible (I’ve left one loose so you can see the construction), and a large back in the other, due to the weight and shape of the earring. I also have a new pair of labradorite and aquamarine earrings on silver hooks, a gift from my husband that I hoped would be appropriate. However, I could not find any examples of a rough-cut stone, so they won’t be part of the Regency costume. No big deal, since they’ll get plenty of showtime on regular days.

There’s also a leaf-themed barrette and a purple-jewelled elephant that you’ve already seen with turban-making, and they’ve become brooches. The elephant came from a card holder, and is symbolic of the final scene in my latest story (though the blog has been taking my writing time!), Letter from Ramsgate, which will be posted at A Happy Assembly. (If you’ve never been there, it’s a Jane Austen fan site, full of Austen-inspired fiction and discussion threads. Registration is required, but membership is free. Many published authors post their stories there first, and free unedited versions often still remain, alongside many unpublished and often better stories.)

A Magnificent Georgian 0.75ct Old Cut Diamond Snake Ring In 18ct Gold Circa 1800

A Magnificent Georgian 0.75ct Old Cut Diamond Snake Ring In 18ct Gold Circa 1800

But what’s with the snake stuff in my collection? This was one of the things that I found amazing and fascinating when I started to pay attention to Regency jewelry. As mentioned before, floral patterns were popular, as were crosses made with elongated stones, astronomical symbolism like moon and star themes, and the serpent. Hands on bracelets were another theme that I found unusual. I’ve selected a few examples for you to compare.

My snakes were $1 for the ring at a thrift store and $12 for the bracelet on sale at a drugstore. I used to have a brooch with the moon and stars that I gave to charity years ago, so maybe you still have one lurking about!

Silver mesh snake bracelet with garnet eyes. French c1800. Tadema Gallery.

Silver mesh snake bracelet with garnet eyes. French c1800. Tadema Gallery.

A ninenteenth-century carved coral bracelet, formed as a coiled serpent with gold-set emerald eyes; the snake biting its tail is a symbol of eternity.

A ninenteenth-century carved coral bracelet, formed as a coiled serpent with gold-set emerald eyes; the snake biting its tail is a symbol of eternity.

A Georgian diamond crescent brooch, diameter 4.2cm,  circa 1800

A Georgian diamond crescent brooch, diameter 4.2cm, circa 1800

Georgian Foil-backed Pink Topaz and Pearl Riviere with Cross Pendant, circa 1820

Georgian Foil-backed Pink Topaz and Pearl Riviere with Cross Pendant, circa 1820

Gold and coral bracelet, length 185mm, early 19th century.

Gold and coral bracelet, length 185mm, early 19th century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The square-cut stone with its ring of “diamonds” came from a pair of gloves; one was lost, but this one will clamp over my own modest ring. It was not uncommon to wear costume jewelry. Paste and real stones were seen in many shapes, as were pearls of all types. Turquoise and red coral were also popular, the latter seen in one of the snakes and in many bead necklaces of the time. Multiple strands tied together with stones were an interesting design seen on several pieces.

Faceted table-cut emeralds in borders of brilliant-cut diamonds; briolette emerald drops; open-set in gold and silver, 1806

Faceted table-cut emeralds in borders of brilliant-cut diamonds; briolette emerald drops; open-set in gold and silver, 1806

Gold, enamel, seed pearl, and lapis lazuli parure consisting of  comb, three strand necklace, and ear-bobs, circa 1810.

Gold, enamel, seed pearl, and lapis lazuli parure consisting of comb, three strand necklace, and ear-bobs, circa 1810.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wealthy women wore more elaborate jewels, and people of more modest means may only wear a pendant on a chain, like the topaz crosses Jane and Cassandra Austen wore, a gift from their sailor brother Charles. In Mansfield Park, Austen included a plot point where Fanny Price is given a similar amber cross from her brother William, and Mary Crawford charms Fanny with a gift of a chain to wear it with. You can read more about it in the article “A Very Pretty Amber Cross.”

Topaz and citrine cross, circa 1820

Topaz and citrine cross, circa 1820

The costumers for the A&E/BBC Pride and Prejudice series in 1995 had Elizabeth and Jane Bennet wearing crosses like Jane and Cassandra Austen’s, but with red stones that many viewers have imagined as garnet or ruby.

When deciding on your jewelry, make sure you’re not wearing a silk gown with no jewels, or a cotton one along with too many large stones.

Various "lovers eye" pieces of jewelry.

Various “lovers eye” pieces of jewelry.

Romantic themes were played out in the “lover’s eye,” a miniature painting set in a brooch, pendant, or ring. If you’re an artist, this would be a cool thing to reproduce on an old brooch, locket, compact, etc.

Pieces containing strands of hair were often worn as a sign of mourning.

Mourning brooch with paste jewels, circa 1800

Mourning brooch with paste jewels, circa 1800

Georgian-era seed-pearl-surrounded locket with a lock of hair.

Georgian-era seed-pearl-surrounded locket with a lock of hair.

Pendants, chokers, bracelets, rings, arm-bands, ear-bobs, as well as hair jewelry like combs, tiaras, or diadems would be part of the essential accessories of the costume.

Not for the faint of heart crafter, the Mistress of Disguise shows how to make a Regency diadem from used lamp parts! No sewing necessary, but soldering or hot glue is part of the the process. I’ll pass, but I can look at all the pretty, shiny things!

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NEXT POST: Must-have Regency accessories are gloves, and most ladies want a fan for cooling in a candle- and ton-filled ballroom. To round out that post, because one of my signature expressions is “Parasol in a Ballroom,” I’m including the parasol I purchased, and I’ll try to make all three look Regency. These ones are much harder than some of the others!

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While it has nothing to do with this blog series or the Regency, today I’m giving a shout out to an upcycler from Israel, Urban Raven, who makes jewelry from old phone tokens, computer chips, and many other items.

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I’m looking (cross that out) begging for feedback. If anyone has seen any areas of improvement for this blog series, please forward them to me. As I’ve said on multiple occasions in the past, I’m new to this, and may have mistaken any aspect of the Regency costume based on clues that I misinterpreted. In addition, I may not have communicated something as well as you would have liked. Any help is appreciated!

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I’m officially signed up for the JASNA AGM in Louisville, KY in October! There are still a limited number of registrations left. I’ll have some give-aways to hand out to followers of my blog while I’m there, so pay attention for clues!

Convertibles aren’t just for Road Trips #thriftyregency

A Regency-costumed event that’s longer than a 21st century afternoon poses a problem: you need at least two gowns! From waking until dinner (at 4pm), you’ll wear a morning gown, which is modest, with full- or three-quarter-length sleeves and a high neckline. As the day wears on, you’ll be allowed short sleeves and a lower neckline, until the ball, when the bodice is brief. This is called “full dress,” as in the lady is fully dressed up in her best!

Sometimes a gown for “later in the day” was worn with a lightweight, white fabric insert or cover at the bodice and/or long sleeves, temporarily sewn under the short sleeves, for a morning gown look.

Chemisettes, Tuckers, and Fichus

A chemisette is similar to a dickey in fine white fabric: it tucks into the gown neckline to make it high cut, and cover the chest, shoulders, and back. It has a collar to suit a morning gown look.

A flat, sheer fabric panel called a lace tucker can be worn to artificially raise the neckline a few inches for an afternoon or dinner gown. It’s like the chemisette without the collar.

Alternatively, a lace triangle like a small shawl or scarf can be worn atop the gown and tied at the centre front, and this is called a fichu.

All of the above were made of light, translucent or sheer fabrics such as fine Regency muslin, cotton, or heavier net. They tended to be white with lace or whitework (white embroidery, drawn thread techniques, or darning) accents, not unlike the lace caps we saw in an earlier post.

Removable long sleeves took care of the other aspect of modesty, and these were often made in the same fabric as the gown.

In the late Regency, there was also a “summer bodice,” which was a high-necked, full bodice with long sleeves. It was super-light muslin, and sometimes had stays incorporated into it.

Re-purposing to make any of these items for yourself is an easy project. Some of the alternatives suggest “sewing,” which can be accomplished by use of no-sew tape.*

chemisettechemisette metMake your own chemisette:

The top of a white, sheer, natural fabric blouse can easily become a chemisette: Excess fabric is cut away to leave a dickey-like garment.

Fabric for the chemisette should not be stretchy or look synthetic. The chest should not be covered with ruffles, and a tuxedo style is not Regency, but fine pin-tucks, sections of smocking or ruching, simple lace, or embroidery on the front are nice. Embroidery designs should be reasonable for Regency. Silver or white are the best colours, with natural or simple geometric patterns. Please, no psychedelic stuff!

The blouse should have a collar that fits close to the neck. Almost any style but double lapel, drapey cowl, or boat-neck will be fine, and ruffled collars were common on chemisettes. If there is no collar, add some lace to achieve the look.

To make your chemisette, put the blouse on under the gown, mark the neckline in a wash-out product. Trace a parallel line to the neckline about 1 ½-2” wider on each side and cut off excess. Finish the cut edges.**

Disguise or replace modern-looking buttons and button holes on the blouse.*** Remove zippers and, if necessary, replace with ties, easily made from a pair of matching narrow ribbons about 6” long, tacked at the edge of the opening. Hand sewing is recommended for this. Make sure visible stitches look neat. Note one of the examples uses ties to hold the chemisette in place, too.

Lace Tucker, 1820's, French

Lace Tucker, 1820’s, French

Make your own lace tucker:

This is like a chemisette, but simple, collarless, and flat. The fabric should be similar to the caps we saw in a previous post: white-on-white super-fine cotton or linen, so it’s sheer.

A lower kitchen or bathroom curtain with a nice lace design will be more than enough fabric. Remove any flounce. As in all areas of the Thrift Shop Regency Costume Experiment, if you use polyester, it must be of good enough quality to appear as if it is fine cotton, linen, or silk.

If you can’t find a nicer curtain panel, a scrap of fine, sheer fabric with a lace insert, or a panel of a sheer silk scarf with an interesting design can be made into a tucker if trimmed, hemmed, and remade into a shape like in the photo above.

Underwear and convertibles, tTSRCEThe second pillowcase from the set of two for $1.99 (lower right in photo; the other was to be made into my cap) will be my tucker. If the outside edge of the lace pattern is wide enough, I can cut right up to it, and the heaviness of the Battenberg tape will suffice for an edge, otherwise I’ll have to leave a hemmed panel to tuck in.

It’s up to the wearer to decide the coverage, i.e., depending on preference, the neckline can be looser about your neck. For a morning gown look, it should be close to your neck, so I would need to add a back slit with ribbon ties on mine. Otherwise, a bigger hole is required to fit my head after hemming. Finish cut edges as needed.**

Make yourself a Regency fichu:mid-18thc-fichu whitework embroidered met museum fichu

A light shawl-type garment, the basic design of a fichu is a white or light-coloured lace triangle in natural fibres. Its size can vary, but it must wrap over the shoulders to cover any the back to the neckline, then tie or tuck at the centre front neckline: in most cases 30 inches on the long side will suffice. Either an all-over lace design or something special on the two short sides of the triangle is desirable. It should be white on white, or at most, minimal pale or silver embroidery.

A square silk scarf with an intricate border, folded or cut in half on the diagonal;** a sheer triangular evening shawl; or similar garment will work.fichu 3

The corner of a lace or sheer curtain panel or tablecloth with a wider embroidered, lace, or applique edge is a good choice, if you can find one where the fabric looks natural and not plastic. I had no luck there, but I know I’ve seen them.

Another option is a doily or lace table runner. The rectangular doily at top centre in the photo is 16 inches on the long side. It can be cut on the diagonal, then the pieces moved and the short edges attached so it makes a triangle. Similar to the Regency cap I made, this lace is a bit heavier than true Regency, and I suggest working to find something lighter weight.

Fake sleeves:

Dress with long sleeves removed, 1818, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dress with long sleeves removed, 1818, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Matching detachable sleeves from gown of 1818, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Matching detachable sleeves from gown of 1818, Metropolitan Museum of Art

In the same vein, it was not uncommon for a gown to have removable sleeves to create a morning gown from an evening gown. They fit over or under the short, puffed sleeves. Sometimes, they were made in the same fabric as the gown.

Basic sewing skills are recommended for making a convertible gown by removing long, puffed sleeves from a thrift shop gown and remaking both sleeves, or making new sleeves to be added.

If you choose to cut a long sleeve off, co-ordinating fabric will be needed for the cuff of a new short sleeve. It may be possible to steal it from elsewhere on the dress: a wide hem, a too-long skirt, moving a seam, the cuff of the long sleeve, etc. If you’re lucky, you might find a scrap elsewhere in the same colour and texture—but unless you made the original dress, that’s almost impossible. Cuffs were narrow, so it’s not a lot of fabric, but it should co-ordinate well, and match any cuff on the long sleeve.

If a match proves difficult, a complimentary fabric that’s obviously unmatched can enhance your gown if you use it elsewhere, for example, make the cuff from the same complimentary ribbon at the gown’s high waist or new trim you’ve added at the neckline or on the skirt hem. Another alternative is to put coordinating flat lace over the cuff to disguise a slight mismatch.

If the original long sleeve was puffed, the part you cut off should be narrowed a bit, and the end to be tucked under the new short sleeve should be finished with matching bias tape so you can keep as much length as possible, yet have a sturdy edge to whip-stitch inside when needed. Don’t make the cuff or new long sleeve too tight!

If you’re making new sleeves, keep in mind that Regency long sleeves tended to be very long and close-fitted. Take advantage of making them new, and have them go from inside the cuff of your short sleeve to your fingertips, flared a bit to go over your hand. Wear them slightly tugged up along your arms.

New sheer long sleeves can be added over a puffed sleeve, too, as in the example from this article in Jane Austen’s World.

When you want to wear the long sleeves, you baste or whip stitch the tops of them inside the cuffs of the short sleeves.

My cool idea for an alternate!

An interesting additional option makes it super-simple to create a convertible gown: A very lightweight, white, sheer or lace, long- or three-quarter-sleeve blouse with a high neckline and collar, in cotton, silk, or similar fabrics, can be worn under or over the corset of a ball gown!

You now have a combination of a chemisette, a set of removable sleeves, and the top of the chemise. You can see the effect under the fuschia under/overdress in the photo of my selections, above.

Add a floor-length half-slip or your version of pantalettes, pop on your ball gown, and you have a morning gown, and you’re ready to make calls!

But watch out—the “morning” didn’t start until 11 am, and a fifteen minute stay was all that was polite unless you were close to the hostess. Of course, you didn’t want to risk offense by making any assumption, so at fourteen minutes, you began to say your farewells! It took more time to travel between calls than was taken chatting!

The AHA Chat Chits could not handle that. At least they would be able to ghost a bit in the carriage. I wonder what priorities in conversation would be chosen if they had to minimize their chat time? Austen’s novels? Novels based on Austen’s work Hot men? Chocolate? Dodgy history topics?

When the night time comes, of course, the add-ons come off and you’re left with the abbreviated bodice again! Roll that top down, honey, it’s a convertible, and it’s time to have fun!car looking back cropped for header

~~~

NEXT POST: I’m running out of time in this series, because I promised to show the whole costume by the end of June, and we still have to do reticules, bling, show the final outfit, and provide the quick checklist. I’m pretty sure reticules will be two posts, unless I can figure out how to show how to make the clever designs without showing the whole process.

Anything I don’t absolutely need for a base costume will be in bonus posts, though: Outerwear (spencer, pelisse, shawl), additional accessories (fan, parasol), ball gown, the “tricks” to fake Regency, In addition, I had an idea for give-away’s in Louisville.

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Notes:

* “No-sew” or hemming tape is a non-woven tape that can be used instead of machine or hand sewing where there is not too much load or stress on the seam. It must not be used alone for such things like setting sleeves, bodice seams, crotch seams, or attaching a skirt. It works well for hemming and finishing cut edges. It comes in two types: iron-on (fusible) or no-iron, which is similar to double-sided tape, but the tape is fabric and not plastic.

** When you adjust the product you buy or salvage at home, you should finish the cut edges by machine or hand stitching, or with ¼” wide hemming or “no-sew” tape. Invisible cut edges can be hemmed with a double fold pressed in before attaching. If the edge is visible, a narrow ribbon, flat lace, or matching narrow bias tape is nice.

*** The Problem of Regency Buttons

Pearl and metal buttons, 1780 to 1820, Luckcock Collection, Birmingham Museum of Art

Pearl and metal buttons, 1780 to 1820, Luckcock Collection, Birmingham Museum of Art

In what remains of her letters, Jane Austen commented to her sister, Cassandra, that buttons were expensive. Examples from the Regency can be seen in the photo. It’s not easy to find inexpensive buttons to match, and reproductions come with a hefty price tag. There is also the issue of hand-sewing buttonholes or eyelets to be authentic.

The good news is that buttons and laces appear to have been used in only about 20% of gowns: ties were more common, as well as hooks and eyes.

If your chemisette (or gown) has modern buttons, you should replace them. Oyster-shell buttons or kits for self-covered buttons are inexpensive and common in fabric stores. The self-covered button-making kits are easy for the novice. They were common on waistcoats for men.

green and sapphire blog dorset buttonsThe craftier costumer may like to try making buttons from cording, such as knot buttons or Dorset buttons. It takes a fair bit of experience on larger sizes to be able to make Dorset buttons well. Small plastic loops in bags of around 20 are inexpensive in draperies departments of fabric stores. Sea Green and Sapphire has a tutorial.

button knot from paracord knots on youtube croppedIn my old sailing days, I tried making a Monkey’s Fist knot one rainy Saturday, and it took far more time and patience than I had, and I was working with rope large enough to make a knot a little large than the size of a ping-pong or squash ball. This is a bit simpler, and Paracord Knots’ video shows how to make it.

If you’re sensitive that the existing button holes on your chemisette or gown look machine made, either hide or remove the button hole panel, with alternatives as follows:

  • Remove the button-hole panel, re-hem, and add fine ribbon ties or make loops for the buttons at the neck, plus more locations as needed. The edges do not have to overlap: the layers of other underthings will hide skin!
  • 56971c90f8e009296c2e1547df3b8135In front, hide with trim such as a co-ordinating flat lace panel. When you attach this trim, leave gaps to allow access to fasten buttons. Replace buttons with flat ones if they make lumps on the trim panel. For a gown, check out historical pieces with decorative panels on the front of gowns, such as the example.
  • For back buttons, use period-looking buttons large enough to cover most of the hole.

Note that frogs are not the best choice for this type of garment, but are good for outerwear in the Regency.

~~~

I had a good shopping day today. I found satin ballet flats in white and in pink, plus buff-coloured flat, laced ankle boots, with a light sole and heel, for Regency half-boots.

Ribbons were on sale in a craft store, and I got a dozen colours of varying widths. Some will be for the tricks that I’ll show as a bonus post after this series ends the end of June, and some will be used for that Lydia hat.

All this modifying of gowns has made me consider making a simple one or two, and there just happened to be Regency-looking fabric for $7.99 for 2.5m at Value Village. I hope it doesn’t wind up in my closet for 20 years like the last time I said I’d make a dress!

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Twenty Layers of Unmentionables and no Panties!

I read bodice rippers! In the steamy scenes, the Regency hero is forced to wade through layers upon layers of underthings as he tries to seduce the heroine. The poor guy might find an overdress or an underdress as part of the gown. Once he had dispensed with that, he would first find petticoats and/or drawers/pantalets, then a corset or stays, and finally, a chemise and stockings under that enticing gown.

Okay, it’s not twenty layers, but I’m sure it seemed so to the impassioned, impatient fellow!

Chemises, petticoats, and drawers:

Chemise

Chemise

Chemise with owner s initials, A.F. c. 1820 to1830 at Vintage Textiles

Chemise, 1820 to 1830

We start closest to the body, with the chemise (shift). It’s like a light, straight full-slip, worn under the corset to prevent chafing. It often had short sleeves.

 

 

 

 

Petticoat, Metropolitan Museum of Arts

Petticoat, Metropolitan Museum of Arts

Regency petticoats are not heavy crinolines to pouf up the dress, rather, another slip, either a half- or full-slip. Worn over the stays or corset, the petticoat’s function is to make certain your soft, pretty skirt doesn’t bunch up around your legs. Some are heavily gathered and some are straighter, depending on the fabric and style of the dress they’re intended to shape.

Petticoats, Metropolitan Museum of Arts

Early 19th Century Petticoats, Metropolitan Museum of Arts

Some Regency petticoats had stays built in; you can buy a new bodiced petticoat custom-made to fit you for $90 from vendors at sites such as Etsy. If you are a sewer, Merle Brown of the Victoria BC chapter of JASNA recommends La Mode Bagatelle pattern  bodiced petticoats. She has made at least 6 of them.

1815 petticoat

1815 petticoat

1810 underdress or overdress

1810 underdress or overdress

Other petticoats were cut so they hung open-busted from narrow shoulder straps to the dress “waistline,” to ensure they did not show in the opening of the low-cut gown.

In the mid-Regency, when the gown length became shorter, the petticoat was intentionally longer than the gown, and had beautiful lace decoration on the bottom that was intended to be seen. If anything got dirty, as in Elizabeth Bennet’s case when she walked to Netherfield, it would be the petticoat, which easier to wash than the gown, and cheaper if ruined by a stain.

Pantalets, Metropolitan Museum of Arts

Pantalets, Metropolitan Museum of Arts

Drawers or pantalets are like a pair of legs of pants tied at the waist. They serve more or less the same function as the petticoat, and are in similar fabrics. Like the petticoats, their bottom lace trim was allowed to be seen at the bottom of the skirt.

The two legs weren’t joined at the top section until 30 years later, and briefs/panties/knickers as we know them didn’t exist until the 1930’s. (Even then, early panties were only used during menstruation!) For the pre- and post-Regency woman, this made sense, as the dresses had more layers of hoops and petticoats, and it made it easier to urinate if nothing had to be removed. I know, I know; you don’t want to imagine that!

 

 

The alternative: A full slip

For the purposes of your Regency costume, a floor-length full-slip should perform the function of all three. (You can add whatever underpants and shapewear you’re comfortable with.) If you’ve chosen a corset that hasn’t been lined for comfort, you may want to wear the slip underneath, otherwise, it can fit over top.

Slips used to be ubiquitous: in the 20th century, every lady had so many, she needed a “slip drawer” to hold them all. The slips inside would include regular-length and floor-length full-slips and half-slips (skirt only). Some would be bra-slips, and have side slits or back slits, and there may be mini-slips or ¾-length slips, as well. In all likelihood, each would be duplicated in black, white, and écru, a beige-y colour.

Elizabeth Taylor in a "regular-length" slip, in BUtterfield 8 (1960). She won her first Oscar for the role.

Elizabeth Taylor in a “regular-length” slip, in BUtterfield 8 (1960). She won her first Oscar for the role.

They were the 20th century version of petticoats: they helped skirts to sit flat across the legs, so no indication of a split was evident. But that taboo has gone, and floor length full slips haven’t been sold in regular stores for a good 10 years.

If you can’t find anything in your closet or your mom’s, or in thrift or vintage shops, a very light dress or nightgown, or the lining of an evening gown will work as well. This is where that dress that didn’t have enough fabric for a gown would be useful! It should have enough fullness to the skirt to support the gown and keep it from draping between your legs.

The colour must not show under your dress, so with a sheerer gown, it should be a similar colour, with no pattern. The exception is where you have a sheer overdress and want this as an underdress of a specific colour.

I purchased two cream-coloured nightgowns at small thrift shops for $9.99 and $7.99, and a fuschia slip-dress at a vintage store for $19.99, for use as an underdress.

Underwear and convertibles, tTSRCEThe slip neckline must be at least one inch larger than the gown neckline so it won’t show, so you may have to cut it back. Lace, trim, or any heavy edges on the undergarment that could be lumpy under any fitted area of the gown should be removed as well. Any new edges should be finished.*

You could consider a common Regency petticoat cut, as seen above in the 1810 underdress/overdress: Remove the entire front to the empire waist except for an inch or two at the sides (clear of the neckline) as shoulder straps.

If it’s just petticoats you need (your bodice is lined or of heavier fabric, and your corset alternative does not chafe), a floor-length half-slip or lightweight skirt can be tucked under the bosom instead of at the natural waist. It may be on the short side, but unless you need it to show at the bottom of a too-short gown, it should serve the purpose. If you have some sewing skills, a ¾ slip can be trimmed and modified to fit.

A special alternative for pantalets:

If you normally wear pants all the time, and this dress is quite the stretch for you already, a pair of lightweight cotton pajama pants or loose-legged capris can be worn as if they were pantalets, instead of the slip. Any colour or pattern must not show through.

I found a pair of capri-length cotton pajama pants (above) for $1 (everything was 50% off!) at a charity thrift store, and some very wide lace trim from a fabric store in Mazatlán (as part of my $5 trim purchase spree there) will make them more Regency. I’m leaving the crotch sewn together; I’m not that much of a stickler for exact period correctness!

You can use a camisole or sleeveless/short sleeved blouse with the half-slip or pantalets if you see the need, e.g. if the fabric of your gown’s bodice is lightweight and light-coloured, or if you need something under a corset. It must be cut back to suit the gown’s neckline, similar to the slip instructions above.

Stockings:

stockings and garters kyoto 1810 stockings england french acid green silk stockings early 19th c stockings early 19th c stockings met 1800-1829(Click on thumbnails for larger images.)

These went higher than the knee, and most were opaque, silk, and tied with ribbons or garters. There was no elastic of quality for this type of use for another 50 years or so. Many examples of Regency stockings in the museum photos have beautiful designs on them, and a wide range of colours are shown, similar to the shoes.

I plan to wear tights, and got three pair, as seen above. Since they were on sale for $1 at Joe Fresh, the colours of two pairs are pretty wild, and I may not find I have an outfit to wear them with, but they work for everyday in any case.

The third is white, bought on holidays for $1.99 brand new at the Goodwill in Portland, OR. Had I been successful in connecting with Meryton Press author Linda Beutler for dinner during the unplanned stop, I wouldn’t have had the time!

The tights could be trimmed to a more authentic length, but care would need to be taken to finish the edges well to avoid runs. In addition, I’m worried they’d keep falling down, and I don’t want to spend my entire time at any Jane Austen function trying to hike up my hose. I’m afraid I would look less than ladylike!

If I find time, I may try to transfer a simplified version of one of the designs onto the tights, and use fabric paint. If you like this idea, but don’t want to be crafty, Betsey Johnson has floral printed thigh-highs for $18 a pair!

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NEXT POST: Make your evening gown convertible!

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* For finishing edges or hemming where you have to adjust the product you buy or salvage at home, you can machine sew, hand sew, or use hemming tapes, which come in an iron-on type and a type that’s like double-sided tape. If the edge will be visible, a prettier edge will be achieved by attaching a very narrow lingerie ribbon to just cover the edge, in lieu of the hem.

Update for non-Upcycle (new) Products:

  • Victoria’s Secret has a Heritage Cotton Gown (nightgown) that works as petticoats for $38.
  • Sears sells Vanity Fair half slips and pants liners called “Snip-It” that can be used like the skirt of petticoats or pantalets, at $19.99.
  • Various companies sell Regency-looking silk or cotton stockings for $25 and $15 respectively. Google “historical silk stockings” or “clocked silk stockings.” Please take care when looking at other products at these companies, and don’t purchase Victorian-era products or expensive shoes sold as Regency that don’t resemble true museum examples.

How-to Times Two: Variations on Dressing up a Bonnet

Hat 2 underside and shape

Underside of hat to show brim shape and braided trim.

A bit of an impulse buy, as a few of my items were, the Pink Hat has a beautiful, perfect Regency shape and some nice trim. I was so pleased with those aspects, I overlooked the fact that it was overpriced for what it is and for the intention of this experiment, at $25 from a little second-hand store.

It’s so very, very PINK! I almost never wear pink!

I was uncertain whether to include it in this blog. I decided it represented a normal part of this type of project, and if my readership knew I could eat my mistakes, they may have less fear of showing up in an item that was slightly incorrect. The idea worked so well for me that I used the Pink Hat as a bit of a mascot!Hat 2 materials used

This post shares two quick and easy ideas for enhancing this hat and making it appear like a Regency bonnet. The materials for both are in the photos above.

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The Pink Hat Design #1: A three-ribbon design is seen often in Regency hats and hairstyles. (Click on the thumbnails for larger images.)

  • Loosen the existing hat band around the front and sides.Hat 2 loosen band and loop ribbon under
  • Fold a ½” to 1″ wide by 2m long ribbon in half and tuck under the band from below, with the loop heading to the back of the hat.
  • Arrange so the ribbon is at an angle with the tails at the middle of the hat band front to back, and the middle of the ribbon is just barely over the back of the crown of the hat.Hat 2 pin ribbon to band at halfway back both sides and loop over back edge of top where it sits best and smoothest
  • Use the band to help you fold each side of the ribbon up and back over the hat, one going straight across the middle, and the other at a slight angle across the front crown of the hat.Hat 2 fold ribbon up and over top of hat, one end over middle and one over front of hat
  • Each tail can go under the far side of the hat. Adjust so the hatband is down and the ribbons are roughly in the middle, though they won’t be neat at this point.Hat 2 remove pin holding in place and add one at the fold of the ribbon
  • Safety pin the ribbon at the “V” made when the ribbon is folding under the hat band (the first fold you made) on each side.
  • Remove the ribbon. Re-install, but this time, do not wrap over band, instead, use the pin to help you place the fold behind the band.
  • Adjust until the bands are equally spaced and smooth over the crown, the hat band is down and in place, and the “V” is hidden.Hat 2 Remove ribbon, then put back in place only under the band, using the pin as a guide as to fold location
  • Pin in place from behind.
  • The ties will come down the middle of the side of the hat to tie under your chin, and the bonnet will sit back of your ringlets.

 

Additional ideas:

  • If desired, you can flip the front of the bonnet up, using steam to shape it, but be careful of burns.

    July 1812

    July 1812

  • I’ve left the existing fabric flowers in back because I like them, and they hide a gap in the brim trim.
  • A strategically placed ostrich feather, curved forward, with some smaller items at its base, would work instead of the fabric flowers.
  • Additional trim is optional, but a ribbon flower, a few clusters of flowers, a medallion, or whatever pleases you can be placed on the joint of the three ribbons. Remember, simple trim means early Regency, and embellishments became more elaborate, especially in the teens. Match to your outfit’s time period.

This bonnet cost about $28, plus any additional trim.

Hat 2 pin in place from behind and trim as desired

Note that a similar hat, in natural straw, without the hatband or trim, is $5 at major craft stores. I’d recommend going that way. A ½” to 1½” wide hatband should be attached at the centre back to facilitate the instructions in this post. Ribbon, braid, beaded band, or similar material can be used.

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The Pink Hat Design #2: Inspired by hats in the Napoleonic Collection, with a sheer panel of fabric stretched over the hat and tied under the chin.Hat 2 design 2 fold scarf in half and slide under band from rear

  • Fold an oblong scarf (about 5 feet long) in a co-ordinating colour in half. A sheer or solid scarf can be used.
  • Slide down the front of the crown of the hat, under hatband, in a flat position.
  • Adjust so front (folded) edge of scarf is under hatband.Hat 2 design 2 roll edge of scarf and tuck under band
  • Roll up corners and tuck along sides under hatband. Adjust to your choice of fit: tight over crown of hat; with soft, regular folds; or puffed like a Capote hat.Hat 2 design 2 cross ends of scarf over back of hat
  • Pull tail ends of scarves so they cross to opposite sides and the back of the crown of the hat is covered.
  • Tug tail ends of scarf forward under hat band until they are midway between the front and back of hat.Hat 2 design 2 tuck scarf ends under band at about halfway point and adjust to hide extra fabric
  • Adjust folds and edges that are tucked under the band.
  • If necessary, pin, double-sided tape, or glue sections of the scarf under the edge.
  • The existing fabric flowers, with the frayed edges trimmed, are good embellishments for this hat. But each person has their own ideas, so add extra trim as suits your fancy!

Hat 2 design 2 completedThis bonnet cost about $32, plus any alternative or additional trim the owner selects.

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Why are these called bonnets and not hats? The only difference I could figure out between a bonnet and a hat was that a bonnet was tied on and a hat was not. These are called “cottage” bonnets.

Luise Kleider der Konigen 1810

1810

Cottage Bonnet ca 1810, Meg Andrews

1810

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ~~~

I still have three—count ‘em—three more potential Regency hats/bonnets!hat basicsTwo hats in the original “group of seven” didn’t make the “Okay for Regency” grade indicated by an open parasol: their shapes and fabrics are intended to show contrast.

The brown synthetic fleece hat might be okay as a base, if wrapped with fabric almost like a turban; tulle or net might work.

The sad little baseball cap visor has no parasol, as it’s not worth the effort. Not even a tea cosy will revive it.

Close-up of painting, Portrait of a Woman--François Flameng

Close-up of painting, Portrait of a Woman–François Flameng

1814, Metropolitan Museum of Art

1814, Metropolitan Museum of Art

I want to make the larger-brimmed visor (far right, $4 from a Wal-Mart in Mazatlán, Mexico) into a Lady Catherine stove-pipe or leghorn bonnet, which involves a curved tube. After a lot of searches, I found a site that gave me an idea how to start it. There will still be lots of trial and error, so I’m leaving it to after the main blog series, in the “bonus” posts. (Click on the thumbnails to see larger images.)

Fez and rollupI’m not sure if I’ll create something with the roll-up hat from the San Diego zoo from 10 or more years ago (upper left), but I bought a little purple felt fez I could prop on top! It would assemble/disassemble well for travel! Hahaha! This hat is also suitable for a Capote-like covering or a tube, just like the other two topless hats. (Hmmm. That sounds nasty.)

The big reveal: the Lydia Bennet special! (Click on thumbnail for larger image.)

Lydia hat before

The “Lydia Bennet” hat, before.

“Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better.”

And when her sisters abused it as ugly, she added, with perfect unconcern, “Oh! but there were two or three much uglier in the shop; and when I have bought some prettier-coloured satin to trim it with fresh, I think it will be very tolerable.”

—Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 39

French, 1800-1805, Boston Museum of Fine Arts

French, 1800-1805, Boston Museum of Fine Arts

At first glance, this hat is quite pretty. But looks deceive: it has good bones, but requires some serious deconstruction of braided plastic ribbons, then replacement with satin and sheer ribbon in a similar design. You can see the look in these museum hats; that’s why I was drawn to this one.

1820, Augusta Auctions

1820, Augusta Auctions

American, 1810, Metropolitan Museum of Art

American, 1810, Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There are more complicated hats and bonnets you can make, but sewing and more complex craft skills are required.

http://themerrydressmaker.blogspot.ca/2011/08/regency-bonnet-tutorial.html
https://teainateacup.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/how-to-make-a-regency-poke-bonnet-in-ten-steps/?blogsub=confirmed#blog_subscription-3

This video demonstrates the second of the more complicated sites above:
http://oregonregency.blogspot.ca/2008/04/how-to-make-regency-poke-bonnet.html

I can’t quite understand tearing apart a straw hat into its spirals, or cutting off the back half and having to cover it, when it’s more work than is necessary. Regency bonnets came in so many shapes; it’s odd to take a shape that would work, only to change it to another, rather than seek out the second shape in the first place. But these sites have other good ideas.

Modern reproduction Poke bonnet

Modern reproduction Poke bonnet

Even more complicated is a stovepipe bonnet from the late Regency, made with a buckram frame: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98vKEHfjOAA

If I do a stovepipe bonnet, I’ll likely use more traditional techniques as in the Regency: cardboard and/or papier maché. It’s not so much that I’m afraid of buckram (maybe I am) or have no clue where to obtain it, but I know my skills with wire, and I’d wind up with a bumpy cam-shaped thing when I need an oval.

 

 

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More on my pillowcase cap: A web site with a series of cap patterns for sale included a comment that the more uppercrust caps had more than one style of lace on them, as did the lovely examples in an earlier post. I’d like to find some finer pieces of whitework or lace to fill in some holes, rather than use the plain cotton of the pillow case. Shopping never seems to be done!

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NEXT WEEK’S POST: There’s more to undies than corsets! **Cue tawdry bump-n-grind music!**

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The Thrifty Regency Hat-trick!

No rabbits are involved in this type of hat-trick! However, once in cricket, four times in NHL hockey, and twice in rubgy, three hat-tricks, or three sets of three goals scored by the same player, have taken place in a single game. Other games also use the concept of a hat-trick.

Our Thrift Shop Regency Costume Experiment is also doing three tricks with hats this week—well, two are technically bonnets, and you’ll have to wait for them until next post.

You say, “What? You said three hats this week, now it’s only one?”

I reply, “Yes, because the post was a million years long, and your eyes would have glazed over. Instead, I’m doing two posts this week, and the other hats will be in the next one!”

And you say, “Two posts? YAAAAAYYYY! You’re our favourite!”

Of course I am. And every fine lady holds a parasol in a Regency ballroom, too.

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1812 capote croppedEnglish, 1805-1808  manchester galleries cropped  capote with veil croppedCapote Hat1804 capote cropped

This is the most common type of hat at Regency costume events, probably because it’s fairly easy to make and is quite cute! It’s not nearly as common in Regency fashion plates or paintings, though; that’s where the poke bonnet shines. The capote is the one that looks like a tea cosy or shower cap over a brim that’s narrow in the back and moderate in the front, or goes about ¾ of the way around. The proper description is “a firm brim with a soft cap.”Woman's bonnet, 1807 Centraal Museum Utrecht croppedhat one potential materials of construction

I found the perfect shaped brim in a green and natural-coloured straw visor with a mid-weight cotton band and bow. You can see all the fabric and trim options for all my hats above, along with this hat. Some are too bold, others too plain, and some too matchy-matchy.

I’m not using the little green velvet hat, as I love it for everyday modern, and won’t modify it. I may dress it up as a turban, but I like the table-runner turban, which goes well with the gown I like best for the ball at the Louisville JASNA AGM this fall.

I chose one of the pair of 19″ square gold silk dinner napkins as the soft cover for my capote.

hat one materialsI removed the bow from the hat, but not the fabric, choosing instead to turn it up to help support the new fabric.

Here are the steps used to make the cover, with accompanying photos (click on thumbnails to see larger image):

  • Cut the napkin into a circle (procedure for an easy way to cut a circle is at the end of this post).hat 1 put tape at quarters one inch longhat 1 cut lining into circle too and remove ribbon from hat
  • Cut a matching circle of your lining material.
  • Measure distance around hatband level. Cut a length of 1″-1½” wide ribbon about an inch longer.
  • Place 1½”-2” strips of double sided tape about ½” above where the brim meets the crown of the hat (under where the hatband would sit) in four equal spaces; scrub/burnish with your fingernail to ensure they’re stuck.
  • Align the grain of the napkin fabric circle front to back and attach to the front and back pieces of tape; burnish with your fingernail. Repeat with the tape at 1/4 marks.hat one put top on tape align grain front to back fabric in quarters
  • Place another 4 pieces of tape half-way between the first four and press down the centre of the fabric between them. Scrub with your fingernail to make sure tape holds.
  • Continue putting tape half-way between previous positions and pressing down cover until tape is continuous or gaps are less than ½”.
  • hat 1 fold end of ribbon and tape underhat 1 put new tape between and continue until sixteen or moreFold in half and position fold at front centre, then wrap around to back. Fold one end under and tape underneath to ribbon below it.
  • Adjust folds in napkin fabric as needed to get the look you like.

hat 1 under brim lining ugly so add start center front pleating finger widthMy hat was lined under the brim, but it was unattractive. It added stiffness, so I decided to leave it and cover it. A pale gold 3” wide wire-edged ribbon was about the same width as the front of the brim, so I chose to use it, removing the wire edges first. It will be easier if your fabric is wider than the space you want to cover.

Here is how I attached a pleated lining to the underside of the brim:

  • Mask off the areas you don’t want to glue: masking tape works well for narrow spaces, and paper for others.
    • I covered the interior circle of the hat with a loose piece of paper, then made loose arcs of paper about 6 inches wide to tuck under the brim to protect the napkin cover.
    • I used 2″ strips of masking tape to cover the edge that matched the top.
  • Put newspaper on the floor of your work area at least 3 feet square.
  • Spray glue on the area you wish to cover.
  • Wait 5 minutes. The glue should be sticky enough to hold fabric in place, but not so sticky that it can’t be peeled back and adjusted: a bit stickier than “Post-it” notes.
  • Start at the centre front of the underside of the hat brim and fold pleats in opposing directions, with the outside of the pleat slightly wider than that at the crown part (centre). A nice size is finger-width. The stiff net material I worked with kept its fold nicely, so I would recommend a stiff but not heavy fabric.
  • Continue down each side, aligning the outside edge.
  • Cut a ribbon the same size as your hatband ribbon and fold in half. (You can also use bias binding tape, a cloth tape with lots of give.)

If you are not lining the hat:

  • Trim the brim lining to just inside of the hole for your head (inside of headband).
  • Run double-sided tape along the inside edge of the pleats, just barely on top of the pleats, and continuing past them inside.
  • Start at the centre front with the middle of the second ribbon or bias binding tape, and attach the outer edge of this ribbon along the edge of the tape just to hide the edge of the pleats.
  • Ease around curves, that is, slightly compress the short side of the length hat 1 add lining similar to top only can use longer lengths of tapeof the ribbon edge without folding, so the long side can match the curve.
  • At the end, fold the edge of one end of the ribbon under. Use double-sided tape to attach it over other end for a neat finish.

To line the hat:

  • Take the circle of lining fabric that was cut the same size as the napkin circle and place pins at each ¼ around the outside edge.
  • Using the second ribbon or bias tape as above, run double-sided tape along the length of the ribbon along one edge only. Mark ¼ lengths with pins.
  • Attach the circle of lining fabric to the ribbon about 1/3 of the way up, pinching pleats in along the way. Leave the ends free in case you need to adjust when attached to the hat.
  • Continue from the third point in the section above. Remove pins.

hat 1 cover joint between linings with ribbon and optional lace edgeTo add lace or ribbon to the outer edge of the brim:

  • I wasn’t crazy about the look of the unfinished edge of the pleats, so I decided to add lace.
  • This can be done from above or below.
  • Tape the brim edge with double-sided tape the entire width that you expect the lace to cover.
  • Start the middle of the lace at the center front, similar to how you’ve attached the ribbon in the previous section. Ease in the lace (push edges together slightly but don’t fold) so it does not “roll” over itself.

hat 1Final trim:

  • I used some small bouquets of fabric flowers purchased on sale at a fabric store, a bit of ribbon folded accordion-style, and a stick pin with a petit-point rose in it, made by Grandma Lauder!

 

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Total cost for this hat: Under $10!

  • hat 1 front viewThe visor was $1.99, and the napkin was in a set of two for $1.99, both from Value Village.
  • Value Village was also the source of the ribbon, in a “grab bag” of more than a dozen bits for $3.99, as well as a 2m piece of cream lining satin for $1.99.
  • The lace came from the spaghetti straps of a “Frankenstein” dress that was $14.98 and still has about 4m of other types of lace, plus some large panels of embroidery I plan to use on an evening gown.
  • The little flower sprigs were $.50/each times three.
  • I used a half package of double-sided tape for $2.99.

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Trimming your hat or bonnet:

Flowers, foliage, feathers, and such are common on the sides, and sometimes on the back or the front of Regency headwear. We can’t tell from photos whether both sides of the hat were trimmed the same, if they were asymmetrical but both trimmed, or if only one side had adornments.

poke bonnet metThese days, it’s really up to the wearer, as long as you make an effort to have a Regency look. Like gowns, the amount of fussiness and elaborate details increased as the Regency went on.

A little garnish does go a long way, so here are some ideas to whet your appetite.

http://historicalsewing.com/trimming-regency-bonnet-ideas-instructions
http://www.janeausten.co.uk/trim-your-regency-bonnet/
http://www.songsmyth.com/hatsandbonnets.html

hat 1 side view~~~

To cut a circle from a square:

hat one fold three

Fold into quarters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hat one fold 3

Keeping centre point on top and open edges towards you, fold again, twice.

hat 1 fold 4

 

hat 2 cut top into circle

Cut off uneven ends at an angle so two long sides are about the same length from the centre point (top).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hat one top made into circle

Unfold and look where it needs to be trimmed. Refold if it will make it easier to trim. It doesn’t have to be perfect for this situation. Press out the creases before you use it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NEXT POST: the Pink Hat goes all bonnet on tTSRCE!

Signature  file for tTSRCE

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