A road trip to Madame Gilflurt’s blog: My guest post on sneaky Regency hands.

I clicked the wrong link. I intended to email the organizer of a Jane Austen ball to tell her about the Thrift Shop Regency Costume Experiment, but I accidentally clicked a link that led me to Madame Gilflurt.

011-Mrs-Robinson-as-Perdita-246x300 as Madame Gilflurt“No problem,” she said, “but would you consider doing a guest post on my blog?”

Of course! I love to hear myself talk, and a busy blog sounded fun. I had an idea for a blog post that came up during my research on Regency gowns, and offered to post it on her blog. She loved the idea. It took a while for me to write the actual text of the post, and by then, Madame Giflurt was in the middle of her own series.

Today, the post is up: The Itch Exposed: A Special Report for the Admirers of Regency and Georgian Fashion. It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at an accidental observation I made while perusing hundreds of Regency gowns in museum pieces, historical paintings, and fashion magazine drawings—the position of some ladies’ hands in drawings from Costume Parisien and other art during the early 1800s. You can read the post at A Covent Garden Gilfllurt’s Guide to Life: Glorious Georgian dispatches from the long 18th century…, Madame Gilflurt’s blog.

La Miroir de la Mode gown from 1803, the inspiration drawing for Suzan Lauder's January 20, 2016 guest post on "A Covent Garden Gilflurt's Guide to Life" blog.

La Miroir de la Mode gown from 1803, the inspiration drawing for Suzan Lauder’s January 20, 2016 guest post on “A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life” blog.

Madame Gilflurt, also known as Catherine Curzon, blogs about the fascinating personalities of history, focused on the 18th Century and Regency periods. Her lively blog includes a number of interesting guest writers each year. She is also the online host for An Evening with Jane Austen, and may just get to see Adrian Lukis’s (Mr. Wickham from the BBC/A&E 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice) phone number come up on her call display from time-to-time. Madame Gilflurt will join road trips with the redhead for a guest post celebrating the release of her non-fiction book Life in the Georgian Court, which is being published by Pen and Sword books in June 2016.

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A reminder to catch up on chapters of Letter from Ramsgate, now posting at A Happy Assembly! We’re past the bad angst and moving towards mush. The comments thread is as much fun as the story!

Graphic art for signature design by L.L. Diamond using an oil painting by Johannes Vermeer: "A Lady Writing."

Graphic art for signature design by L.L. Diamond using an oil painting by Johannes Vermeer: “A Lady Writing.”

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As can be seen on the sidebar of this blog, Then Comes Winter has been selected as a favourite on three top JAFF book blogs! YAY!

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Please comment on this blog (below) at any time, or for today’s guest post, on Madame Gilflurt’s blog!

Regency men were not sissies, even in blouses and scarves.

1807 men's shirt from The National Maritime Museum

1807 men’s shirt from The National Maritime Museum.

A poet’s or pirate’s shirt will work well for a Regency man’s shirt, they say. I remember sewing a similar shirt for a boyfriend in the 70’s: long sleeved, loose body, placket at the front. Surely a few vintage versions in a light, flowing fabric still exist!

For months, I searched the thrift and vintage stores for a plain, white, light weight, long-sleeved, wider-collared shirt with a placket-style opening, rather than button-down. Long-sleeved white dress shirts of any type were rare, probably popular for job interviews.

All were button-down. At least half had a subtle pattern woven into the fabric that was non-Regency in appearance. A few had logos emblazoned on the front pockets. Military shirts with epaulets were constructed of mid-weight, crisp fabric, rather than soft and flowing, as were tuxedo shirts with their multiple pleats in front. The odd shirt was collarless, and I needed a collar to stand up and wrap the cravat around.

Man's linen shirt, 1790-1810. Augusta Auctions.

Man’s linen shirt, 1790-1810. Augusta Auctions.

Early on, I expanded my search to ladies’ wear size large and greater for that front placket shirt, but they were rare, and in addition to similar traits to those for men above, often had ¾ sleeves or ruffles in the wrong arrangement. Ruffles aren’t a bad thing, as the neckline of the waistcoat shows off ruffles.

The Blouse

This month, I gave up on the placket front and searched for a white dress shirt in Mr. Suze’s neck size, loose in the body, and simple in design. At Value Village, I found a ladies’ extra-large blouse that looked ¾ sleeved at first, but discovered it had button tabs on the sleeves. The cuffed long sleeves were scrunched up and could be easily let down.

I measured the collar, and it was just short of 17” around, so larger than Mr. Suze’s 15½” shirt size, but my measurement didn’t count overlap for buttoning. To ensure the sleeve was a couple of inches too long for me (the advantage of having borrowed his cool-looking jean and leather jackets in the past is knowing this fact!), I tried on the blouse on over my own t-shirt before purchasing it at $7.99.

It fit Mr. Suze perfectly in the neck and sleeve, and was loose in the body! Hooray!

The shirt was button-down, and Poor Mr. Suze lamented that it buttoned backwards—that’s how he discovered it was a ladies’ blouse upon trying it on. It had no top button, so I attached two 8” ribbons to tie it closed. The Regency shirt would close with laces or a simple set of string ties.

I could have sewn the front panel partly closed to make it emulate a placket-type, but Mr. Suze didn’t mind the buttons too much and, as the shirt was considered underwear in the Regency, no one was allowed to see it. Yes, you heard that right. Underwear.

The main modification to Regency for a plain white shirt is simple: since the collar is to be turned up so it is standing, the front points need to be trimmed back slightly so the line of the collar goes straight across. When purchasing, a wider collar is better so it looks good standing up.

Depending on how the shirt is made, you might be able to push the points into themselves and sew closed with top-stitching near the edge. Because of top-stitching on the blouse collar, I had to open a seam, so I cut the corners back. Don’t forget the seam allowance!

An optional but beneficial modification while you’re at the collar is to cut a slight curve out of the middle back to suit the head of the wearer, so the collar stands up and doesn’t crinkle. My curve was about ⅝” deep in the middle and tapered down, overall about 5” wide. The seam allowances in the curves were clipped and pressed inside. Rather than remove the collar and redo the seam, the opening was top stitched close to the edge, then a second row of top stitching, similar to the original, was added.

Ruffles can be added to the placket area where the shirt shows above the neckline of the gentleman’s waistcoat. A plain, straight piece of light cotton 3”-4” wide, with a simple rolled hem on three sides, will work.

I used scalloped border panels from a white pillow sham (the main area’s lace was for a cap and fichu in previous posts). The scallops had a finished edge, and I made a narrow hem on each end.tsrce shirt showing three ruffles collar reshaping and tiesEach ruffle started as 4” wide and 20” long. I gathered it to 5” long, which was plenty long enough for the V neck on Mr. Suze’s waistcoat. I covered the base of the gathers and sewed that to the button panel. A third ruffle was added later, as two didn’t seem like enough, but when the cravat was added, I realized it fills the centre area, so two would be fine. The finished ruffles should be pressed backwards at ¼” near the bases, so they prefer to stand rather than lay flat along the shirt front.

Similar to Regency ladies’ wear, men’s clothing had longer sleeves, extending over the base of the hand. If your Mr.’s tail coat sleeves are not long enough, you can also add a ruffle at the cuff of the shirt. It can be sewn inside the cuff so minimal fussing over finishes is needed.

If you want to use a shirt that will be reverted back to a dress shirt after the Regency occasion, the collar corners can be neatly pinned inside, as the cravat will probably hide the pins, and the back curve ignored. Neckline ruffles can be basted to the inside opening of the waistcoat instead. Sleeve ruffles can also be attached with basting, but make sure the stitches are not obvious on the outside.

The “Scarf”

The mystery of how to make a cravat or neck-cloth covers Regency costuming pages all over the Internet. There are three commonly suggested designs: a rectangle, a rectangle with tapered ends, and a triangle. Most sites explaining the triangle use the same wording, which is so poorly described that people have wound up with huge rectangles instead!

Suggested sizes for a rectangle are 50”-80” long by 4”-10” wide, but I found the finished length should be at least 60”, and the finished width no more than your Mr.’s neck length. Tapered ends on a rectangular shape make the tied cravat tails less bulky.

Another design uses a long, low isosceles triangle. The two short sides are 50” long, and the triangle is 10” high, with rolled hems on the cut edges. To wear, it’s rolled to a width to suit the wearer’s neck length. This is a very long cravat, but well-suited to complex tie styles or multiple wraps, as it has far less bulk at the ends.

White or off-white were the most common colours for a Regency cravat, and the only colours acceptable for a ball. Various ideas on fabric stiffness abound on the Internet: some say pliable, some suggest starch. From my experience making one cravat, if the fabric can keep a neat shape without collapsing, but not so stiff that it’s uncomfortable or won’t drape a little, it should work.

A Fabricland $1.99 remnant of light but not super-sheer white cotton at 53” wide was the source for Mr. Suze’s cravat. A 9” wide panel was cut the full width of the fabric. It was folded lengthwise and the ends tapered starting 8” back, with the tapers in opposite directions as seen in the photo. A blanket-type seam closed and bound the edges, with a 4” gap left halfway along the taper of one end. The cravat was turned inside out through this gap, pressed flat, and the opening sewn closed. The finished width was just under 4½”, as any wider made no sense with the length of Mr. Suze’s neck. Some sites suggest a rolled hem, which is better for heavier or stiffer fabric, but doubled up has a more finished appearance.tsrce cravatWith a basic tie style, this cravat is barely long enough. If I can find a longer piece of fabric, I’ll make another. This is why I suggest no shorter than 60”!

The cravat is tied over the shirt collar but inside the waistcoat collar. The easiest style is to start with the middle of the length of the cravat in front of your neck, cross over at the back and pull forward, cross one end over the other in a half knot in front and snug up, tidying edges around your neck and fluffing folds of the panel that falls down vertical in front. A simple pin can hold the front fall in place.

Tea in a Teapot has a summary from an 1818 satire on the cravat called “Neckclothitania” that appears on several other blogs as well. The complicated tie styles have been attempted by some modern costumers, with varying degrees of success. I think the author would be suitably amused that his work was taken with such a degree of seriousness!

The Art of Tying the Cravat by H. Le Blanc (post-Regency, 1828) is an interesting read via Google books (free e-book). It has additional designs for the neck-cloth knots, and the illustrations are below.plate-b-the-art-of-tying-the-cravatregency cravatYour Mr.’s cravat tie style should be no more complicated than he is comfortable with creating. A man confident in making a full Windsor on a regular basis, or who plays with knots—boat owners often are often hobbyists with knot-making—can fuss all he wants with styles from the links. For the rest, there’s no shame in simplicity.

 

 

A gentlemanly way to top off a blouse and scarf

Bicorne hat, Costume Parisien, 1819

Bicorne hat, Costume Parisien, 1819

Top hat, Costume Parisien, 1809

Top hat, Costume Parisien, 1809

Regency men wore a variety of hat styles, but a simple top hat was most common in art work. The bicorne was also popular, particularly for formal situations like a ball, and is favoured for faux-military costuming.

A top hat can be had for as little as $10 for one-size fuzz-covered plastic at a party store; $25 for a magician’s silk hat or one-size felt coachman’s hat (too tall and costumey) at Dressew; or as much as $200 and up for a vintage collapsible opera hat or actual beaver fur top hat on eBay, and you have to pay over $300 for good condition.

In vintage stores during my shopping trips, I saw two vintage felt top hats. A hat in great condition but a small size was $125, and $165 could get a hat showing a little wear but otherwise in good condition. These had superb shape compared to an inexpensive felt hat, were lined, had hat boxes, and silk hat bands.

Mr. Suze settled for a $35.99 (including shipping) wool felt hat from eBay. The sides of the pipe part are straighter than a milliner’s top hat, but its brim shape is nice, and the quality is excellent for the price. It came in small-medium-large-XL sizes, not one size fits all. It didn’t come with a hat box for that price, so it will go to Louisville in the rectangular box with Styrofoam inserts that it was shipped in. We’ve already accepted the requirement to take the giant suitcase from my set of three, which has only been used once before!

I don’t recommend magician’s collapsing satin hats. Back in May, I purchased one at Dressew as the first item for Mr. Suze’s costume, and presented it to him with an entreaty to consider a costume when he’d been resistant beforehand. The collapsible option seemed practical for travel, and the top hat looked well enough when open. However, it had a heavy metal frame inside to facilitate the collapse and easy “snap of the wrist” restoration of its shape for performance. As a result, it fit small. On my small head, it was acceptable—that is, if you don’t mind having a wire frame in your skull! But the hat perched atop Mr. Suze’s normal-sized head. It was returned the next day.

Beaver hats of the 18th and 19th century.

Beaver hats of the 18th and 19th century.

To show you the results, Millie wore one of Mr. Suze’s blazers, as her shoulders were too narrow for the shirt to hang properly. Mr. Suze is not this big around, as he fits inside the blazer, and the sleeves are also under the shirt! Similarly, Chili has a hat under the top hat.tsrce mens shirt with cravat, crystal stick pin, and top hatI sacrificed a ruby-red Swarovski crystal stick pin I’d used on my turban as it’s perfect for Mr. Suze’s cravat, and none of my other stick pins were right. It was also stunning on the turban, but I have a hat pin I’ll use instead.

Next post: Trousers, boots, and accessories for your Regency beau! Watch for it as a second post this week! YES! Double post week for the Gentleman’s Thrift Shop Regency Costume!

A pretty wrap to keep out the chill: Regency shawls.

Shawl, muslin cotton, white embroidery. Made in India, 1806- 1814.

Shawl, muslin cotton, white embroidery. Made in India, 1806- 1814.

Whitework Shawl, 1810-1820

Whitework Shawl, 1810-1820

The first Regency shawls I saw were summer-weight, wispy things, mostly white-on-white and all lacy-looking. Thus, I purchased a sheer Indian shawl, as it was as close as I could get. Made of fine net in a seafoam colour with silver embroidery, it was a compromise, but I knew silver embroidery was popular on clothing in the Regency period. (Click on thumbnails for larger images.)

Shawl, cashmere and silk, 1800–1820, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Shawl, cashmere and silk, 1800–1820, Metropolitan Museum of Art

At some point, I saw other shawls, and realized these delicate ones were the minority. The majority were the  Kashmiri shawls, with their ubiquitous wide paisley panel at the ends and a border along the sides. Paisley, paisley, paisley. Most were cashmere, some with silk for a magnificent sheen. Wool, silk, or blends were also seen.

Shawl, Spitalfields. Silk, England 1810 -1815. The workers of the silk weaving district in London were French Huguenot silk workers who had fled to England to escape a religious purge.

Shawl, Spitalfields. Silk, England 1810 -1815. The workers of the silk weaving district in London were French Huguenot silk workers who had fled to England to escape a religious purge.

Shawl, wool and silk, Scotland, 1815.

Shawl, wool and silk, Scotland, 1815.

Shawl. Silk and wool. England, circa 1815.

Shawl. Silk and wool. England, circa 1815.

 

1812, Costume Parisien.

1812, Costume Parisien.

1811, Costume Parisien

1811, Costume Parisien

The love affair with Kashmiri textiles went to gowns, too. You can see how they were matched.

 

 

 

1810, Costume Parisien.

1810, Costume Parisien.

1810, LACMA collections.

1810, LACMA collections.

Felicite de Durfort von Merry-Joseph Blondel, 1808

Felicite de Durfort von Merry-Joseph Blondel, 1808

What’s with the paisley? The bent teardrop was a popular “Tree of Life” design in Persia. When Scotland became a leader in the production of textiles, the town of Paisley became the place where cashmere shawls were made. In England, the design became named after the town.

I was ecstatic when I found two paisley Pashmina shawls at Value Village for $7.99. This turned into a facepalm moment in my shopping history. I chose the one I liked best, that would go best with my outfits, and set aside the other. The next day, I realized these shawls were uncommon, and I could have given the second to a friend, or even sold it to someone assembling a Regency costume. But when I went back, the second one was gone.

 

While paisley was popular, Regency shawls used other designs, in all the colours of the rainbow!

1801, Costume Parisien

1801, Costume Parisien

Shawl, silk and cotton, English, 1800-50, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Shawl, silk and cotton, English, 1800-50, Metropolitan Museum of Art

1802, Journal des Dames et des Modes

1802, Journal des Dames et des Modes

Spitalfields rectangular silk shawl with Chinoiserie borders, c.1810

Spitalfields rectangular silk shawl with Chinoiserie borders, c.1810

La Belle Assemblée, February 1811.

La Belle Assemblée, February 1811.

Silk shawl by Spitalfields, London, 1810-1815.

Silk shawl by Spitalfields, London, 1810-1815.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fiber Kashmir, or cashmere, is made from the down hairs of Nepalese capra hircus goats, also called Cashmere goats or Pashmina goats. The Pashmina shawl is the modern equivalent of the Kashmiri shawl, and they’re ubiquitous once again, but in different designs. Pashmina is a high-level cashmere, made from the thinnest threads.

However, most modern shawls labelled “Pashmina” have no Pashmina hair in them, but unlike the word “cashmere,” there is no regulation of the term. The best knock-offs are made from cashmere and silk and cost around $100; the cheapest are $20 for viscose and/or wool. The latter textiles may keep you warm, but don’t have the light weight of the fibers they’re mimicking. Real cashmere will pill with wear, and doesn’t have sheen or create static electricity.

I bought a real Pashmina in Turkey in 2001, and since have acquired two knock-offs. Below are my shawls. They’re folded in half both so you can see their true size in comparison with one another, except the Value Village shawl is scrunched a bit to flip it over so you can the pattern on each side.My shawlsThe parasol ratings show the real Pashmina (pale green) with a closed umbrella, meaning it’s okay, but not the best choice. There are almost no shawls in my Regency image collection that are plain with no pattern. Its large size and light weight in comparison to its warmth is great, though. It’s my airplane blanket!

The red and brown “Pashmina” is as soft and has a nice silk-like glow, but its perpetually smooth texture and $19.99 price make me believe it’s viscose. The pattern and the stripe near the ends make this shawl reasonable in a Regency costume.

The brown striped “Pashmina” with animal spots was a gift. It’s small for a shawl: I use it as a large scarf. The fabric is coarse and probably contains a fair bit of sheep’s or regular goat’s wool. Though this scarf goes well with many of my winter clothes, the pattern eliminates it from my Regency wardrobe, so no parasol.

The previously mentioned seafoam net with silver is like an evening gown wrap, and that will be its best use at any Regency event I’ll attend.

Shawl c.1820

Shawl c.1820

The Value Village shawl is two-sided, with the centre area having bold stripes on one side and a dark grey main field opposite. When I took the photograph, I had not recalled any Regency shawls with a bold stripe in the main field, and thought I’d use what is likely intended as the back as the outside of the shawl. When I gathered photos for this post, I found an historical example similar to the side of the thrift store shawl that got a closed parasol! The sun came out, so we need to open that little parasol perched on the stripes!

Shawl, British, silk c.1822, Metropolitan Museum of Art

An interesting historical shawl is one that has no paisley and uses a different traditional design altogether: tartan. It’s a pity the only piece of Lauder tartan I own is a small scarf! I’d love to find a way to work it into one of the costumes without cutting it up or modifying it. It would be lame as a turban. These days, over the shoulder and tucked into the belt is reasonable, but I’ve yet to see a Regency outfit with tartan in this way. Do any of you know?

 

More shawls: Though mostly post-Regency, Mimi Matthews’ blog has a selection of beautiful 19th century artwork with shawls.

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I’d planned to do a cushion reticule post today, but I haven’t made the last reticule for the set, and I had company this weekend from two different cities! Neither stayed with us, but my house needed to be tidied, and after that, our time was full with brunch, and The Bug Zoo, and skinny, former opium den streets, and other such tourist attractions!

I decided to do this shawl blog post first, as it was quick and easy. I know you don’t mind!

Next post: A twist added another design to my reticule arsenal, and three different designs will be shown, plus I hope to have the pdf’s ready for the patterns and instructions. After that, I still have at least three other designs I want to try making, but I may take a reticule break and show some of the “Faking Regency” tips.

My Regency Costume Cheat Sheet, by Suzan Lauder, Regency Romance Author

Example of Regency letter-writing by http://toracellie.blogspot.ca

With 17 verbose posts full of images, the challenge of an Absolute Basic Check List was a bit daunting. How does one summarize a lady’s needs for a full Regency costume suitable to wear at a function where people are knowledgeable about the era? Actually, some of the links shared at the end of this post do a pretty good job of it.

For procuring and creating the costume parts, however, the individual blog posts in the Thrift Shop Regency Costume Experiment series will be of much more use. That’s because of the numerous images of step-by-step construction of the re-purposed or upcycled items, museum examples of actual clothing from the Regency era, period fashion magazine sketches, and paintings of people in the era. There are also topic-specific links and how-to videos in many areas.

This post also has a number of overview links, links with more images of museum and purpose-made Regency wear, and a sort of “next steps” list for some readers: how-to links that require sewing skills.

For the Checklist, I’ve noted price ranges:

  • Lowest prices listed are the minimum you would pay for a good-quality finished version of the item (new, gently used, or repurposed/upcycled using minimum crafting or sewing skills), based on my experience with the guidelines set out for the Thrift Shop Regency Costume Experiment.
  • If there is a zero instead of a bottom price, it’s because this is an item you’d probably choose only if you already had one, and if purchasing, another choice on the list is preferable.
  • Highest prices are for purchase of a period-correct, attractive, good-quality (but not always top end), brand new item from a good vendor, custom-made to fit you in the case of clothing.
  • If there is a question mark instead of a price, it means the item is of such a personal nature, the top end cost is based on the buyer’s evaluation.
  • If you have the item on hand, it will cost nothing.
  • Most items can be obtained in the lower half of the price range.

Footwear

  • Simple ballet flats ($5-$20)
    • Fully enclosed (pump).
    • Round, pointed, or square toe.
    • Slim sole, separate heel under 1” high (not wedge), and any heel over ¼” should be a flared kitten heel.
    • Silk-look fabric, fine cotton, or soft leather.
    • Any colour except for black, dark brown. Wide stripes and large dots are fine.
    • No elastic, rubber, jute or coarse cotton, large trim items, folded leather detail, external seams, etc.
    • Ribbon ties up the leg with flat soles are optional (good for keeping shoes on while dancing).
    • Simple trim is optional.

      My second set of footwear for potential Regency Costumes: a pair of half-boots and two pairs of satin ballet flat shoes. The boots will have the buckle removed (perhaps for a man’s shoes!) and get dressed up with a ribbon and fabric rose across the base of the toes. The white and pink shoes will be cleaned, then the white will get white ribbons to lace up the legs. The pink shoes will have the fringe covered with a ribbon and the cut-away area disguised.

  • For day wear, flat, lace-up half-boots ($18-$155).
    • 8′-12″ tall, round toe, slim sole and ¼” heel maximum.
    • Light colours.
    • Softer leather, cotton, or denim.
  • Orthotics may fit if you buy a half size larger than normal.
  • Post: Put on Your Dancing Shoes!

Stockings

High-lift foundation garment for “the girls”

  • Custom made Regency short stays ($70-$190), for C cup and under, OR
  • Custom made Regency full corset ($95-$380), for D cup and higher, OR
  • Push-up bustier or modern corset that’s low cut and not too cinched in the waist ($0-?), OR
  • Well-fitted (or slightly small) demi-cup, push-up bra, such as a Balconette. ($20-$?), plus a waist cincher if needed for extra lift.
  • Post: Lift and Separate!

Chemise and petticoats or pantalettes

  • Authentic, custom-made, new, Regency undergarments from specialty stores or Etsy:

    Petticoat, early 19th c, American, Boston Museum of Fine Arts

    • Chemise ($45-$100) (worn under the corset for comfort), and
    • Petticoats ($35-90) or pantalettes ($35) (to “fluff out” the gown so it won’t stick between your legs), OR
  • In place of all of the above:
    • A floor-length full slip or nightgown, deep cut to match neckline of stays/corset/bra ($7-$38), or
    • A floor-length half-slip pinned to base of bra ($7-$20), or
    • Plain, lightweight, light-coloured cotton capris or pajama pants, or pants liners. ($5-$20), and
    • A low-cut camisole if needed with the last two items ($5-$25).
    • Super-fine woven cotton is best for comfort, but polyester will work.
  • Post: Twenty Layers of Unmentionables and no Panties!

Basic empire waist gown ($38-$400)no information

  • Floor length, empire waist.
  • Straight (non-fitted) skirt, flat in front and gathered in back.
  • Short, puffed sleeves and wide, low neckline for a dinner/evening/ball gown; long sleeves and high neckline for morning gown (to 4pm).
  • Simple-print finely-woven cotton, linen, or percale (not black-based), smooth silk, organdy, or synthetics that are good facsimiles.
  • 2m (6’-7’) by 1”-2” ribbon tied under the bust.
  • Don’t buy a pre-made “Regency” gown for under $100 on Etsy, as most are terrible!
  • $200-$400 should buy a nice, authentic, custom-made gown.1812 costume parisien
  • Posts: Floor length, Empire waist, and what else? Anne Shirley? (description of a Regency gown and examples); A Morning Gown plus some Frankenstein Gown Parts (what aspects of vintage gown styles to avoid; my gown purchases; morning gown modification from 80’s vintage); Were Regency gowns worn on the Titanic? (purchase tips for new handmade Regency gown; what to look for in a vintage gown to re-purpose).

Regency Hair Style

  • Centre parted, with ringlets around the face; fancy up-do with bun and curls or braids, worn close to the head. (How-to and video links in posts.)
  • If hair is too short for a fancy up-do, a hairpiece (bun maker, bun hair, and 1-3 braids for $10-$30), fall ($0-$50), wig ($0-$92), or a turban are options.
  • Ringlets can be purchased or taken from a doll or fall ($7-$60) and held on by a bandeau, or flat pin curls can be made.
  • For very short hair, comb forward in a “Titus” and hold in place with a ribbon, bandeau, or similar decorative item.
  • If desired, trim with ribbon, lace, bandeau, braided fillet, small silk flowers, feathers, tiara, diadem, combs, etc. ($0-?)
  • Posts: Faking Purdy Locks: The Modern Hairstyle goes Regency;
    Regency Bad Hair Day? Wrap a Turban! (my clip-on fall in an updo at end of post).

Headwear

  • Bonnet or hat ($6-$70)
    • Preferable if your hair looks nice when you remove your hat indoors.
    • Brim is sturdy, not floppy, and straw or satin-type fabric.
    • Capote hat or bonnet can be made from a wrap-around straw visor or hat, a 20” diameter simple, smooth, silk-like fabric cover, and a ribbon.
    • A good hat base is the narrower brim straw picture hat at Michaels, $5.
    • Add 1.5′-2.5′ of 1″-1.5” ribbon to make ties for a bonnet.
    • If desired, trim with several bunches of small fabric flowers and greenery; larger fabric roses; an ostrich, peacock, or other feather and brooch/medallion; hat pin; or combination, or other designs based on Regency sketches.

      Mock up of design of green and straw visor with green velvet cap.

      Mock up of design of green and straw visor with green velvet cap.

    • A nice range of new items can be found at the upper half of the price range above. Fancy items are double the top price listed here.
    • Posts: The Thrifty Regency Hat-trick! (Capote hat from visor and dinner napkin for under $10); How-to Times Two: Variations on Dressing up a Bonnet (The Pink Hat); Special Headwear for the Grown-up Lady (museum hat examples at the end of the post).
  • Lace cap ($2-$40)
    • Optional; for married or single-and-proud-of-it women only.
    • Similar to the idea of a turban, this will hide hair for women who can’t manage a Regency hair style and will be indoors where they must remove their hat.
    • Can be made from super-fine white cotton and/or fine whitework lace items such as doilies, handkerchiefs, curtains, cushion/pillow covers, or purchased applique items and ribbon.
    • Post: Special Headwear for the Grown-up Lady
  • Turban ($15-$40)
    • An alternative to the hat or bonnet that does not have to be removed when you go indoors.
    • A nice choice for evening wear if you’re unable to create an up-do.
    • Twist 2-3 silk or satin scarves (how-to and video links on this blog), or a length of silk or satin fabric (could be a table or dresser runner, a pashmina, small shawl or wrap) about 15″-20” wide and 40” long about your head behind ringlets; secure with safety pins and bobby pins.
    • A brimless, soft, natural fabric hat with a scarf or fabric wound around its base in textured waves works well also.
    • Fringe or ends with some type of embellishment or trim are recommended, and can be left to droop on one side.
    • Braid or cord can be woven around with turban cloth.
    • Add feathers, foliage, brooch, medallion, hat pin, or similar items.
    • Post: Regency Bad Hair Day? Wrap a Turban!

Jewelry ($0-?)

  • Simplest would be a medium-sized “jeweled” cross on a chain.
  • More elaborate choices include “jeweled” necklaces, armlets, bracelets, brooches, rings, earrings, and combs.
  • Almost all stones are are acceptable, but they should be cut stones. Costume jewelry is fine if it doesn’t look plastic.
  • Cameos and red coral were popular.
  • Drop earrings were on hooks not studs; clasped or open hooks are period.
  • Lover’s eye brooches were fashionable.
  • Post: Shiny things expose my inner crow!
Regency Opera Gloves, kid, Metropolitan Museum of Arts

Regency Opera Gloves, kid, Metropolitan Museum of Arts

Gloves

  • Cotton, silk, or kid leather.
  • Short or optional for day wear ($5-$25).
  • Evening gloves go above the elbow: 24”-31″ (opera-length) with a loose-fitted upper arm are period-correct ($8-$32 for synthetic; $50-$200 for natural materials); 19” minimum.
  • If synthetic opera gloves are worn, buy a matte and not shiny satin finish, as it looks fake.
  • Any colour but black. White and softer colours were most common.
  • Post: I never did mind about the little things…

Fan ($1-$10)

  • Optional, but necessary on a warm day or in a ballroom.
  • Folding hand fan.
  • Avoid plastic and obvious synthetic materials for the sticks and guards.
  • If the fan has any scenes on the leaves, they should be English.
  • Any colour. Trim can include feathers, sequins, metallic, mother-of-pearl.
  • Post: I never did mind about the little things…

Parasol ($20-$200)

  • Optional if your face is protected from the sun by a bonnet or hat, or you are in a ballroom.
  • Eight or fewer ribs is Regency-appropriate, but who’s counting? As long as it’s not a dozen!
  • Pagoda shapes were most common, but round parasols were also in use.
  • A shallow curve is fine, but avoid flat Asian-style parasols.
  • The fabric should look like silk or cotton if possible.
    • Patterns on the fabric itself were rare, and would be a wide stripe or large dot or similar.
    • Fabric on vintage pagoda parasols from the early 20th century might not be very close to a Regency look.
    • Do not buy a Battenburg lace parasol, as they’re Victorian.
  • Most trim was on the periphery of the parasol: fringe (almost any kind), tassels, or lace. Some had embroidery.
  • Any colour but black.
  • Post: I never did mind about the little things…

Reticule ($5-$65)

  • Small drawstring bag (under 8” by 8”).
  • Almost any colour or shape works, in a fine fabric, beaded, netted, or knitted.
  • Avoid printed satin, most open lace or crocheted styles, eyelet lace, or leather.
  • Beads or sequins should not look plastic.
  • No zipper, but metal snap clasp or gate closures are fine.
  • The smooth silk bat-wing or moon reticules on Etsy are overpriced ($15-$22) for what you’re getting. The beaded and embroidered ones are often very good deals.
  • Post: All the pretty little purses

~~~

A few good overview web sites for a Regency costume:

These sites are summaries of what we’ve learned during the 17 previous posts in the Thrift Shop Regency Costume Experiment blog series, and I refer to them regularly myself.

Best site (pdf version) for showing the details one should search for: It’s All in the Details: Making an early 19th Century Ball Gown, by Hope Greenberg.

Best site (pdf version) for applying the other to real life: Miss Lisa Brown’s Guide to Dressing for a Regency Ball—Ladies’ Edition.

BBC/A&E Pride and Prejudice, 1995

Less useful, but detailed, with lots of drawings and paintings is Wikipedia’s 1795-1820 in Western fashion.

An interesting article explaining Regency fashions while referencing the movie adaptations of Pride and Prejudice. Dressing for the Netherfield Ball in Pride and Prejudice: Regency Fashion.

Lots of links for buying stuff new can be found at Regency Attire: Purchasing Your Costume by Regency Dances.org  Not all these items are accurate, as they try to cover numerous costuming situations.

 

Sites for examples of Regency gowns:

Museum gowns:
Real people wore these, so they’re a bit more accurate than fashion plates such as Ackermann’s Repository for Art, La Belle Assemblée, or Costume Parisién.
The Vintage Thimble tumblr
Kyoto Costume Museum Archives 1800s-1810s

Ideas from others’ modern interpretations:
The JASNA AGM Regency Ball in Brooklyn, 2012. Most of these are probably handmade from modern reproduction patterns. There will be non-Regency clothing represented as well, as not everyone is immune to the marketing of those selling the Titanic/Downton Abbey gowns.
The Jane Austen Festival in Bath is a similar situation.

Erica Duncan's montage of Regency fashion plates for each year between 1809 to 1828.  Original art from Ackermann's Repository for Arts. Click on thumbnail for much larger image.

Erica Duncan’s montage of Regency fashion plates for each year between 1809 to 1828.
Original art from Ackermann’s Repository for Arts.
Click on thumbnail for much larger image.

Pinterest has a lot of good images, but I’d suggest searches by clothing article rather than just “Regency,” as the number is overwhelming even then.The site will often offer sub-headings at that point, too. This is an example of a huge board. Take care, as some images are modern and may contain misinformation; that’s why I like to stick to museum examples. But sometimes those are mis-dated by some pinner, too. It won’t be long before you’re picking them out yourself, though, as there’s nothing like 50 Regency gowns compared to one 1830’s gown. Warning: Pinterest is like crack.

Resources for making your own gown if you can sew a bit:

A video tutorial from Follies Past shows how to make a Regency ladies’ gown from a bridesmaid dress, a set of curtains, and a lace blouse. This requires beginner sewing skills.

Old Petticoat Shop offers their Regency Dress Online Class for $97 plus fabric, notions, etc.

My Regency Journey from Tea in a Teacup goes through creation of an entire Regency costume, but made from scratch.

Diary of a Mantua Maker has two tutorials on fitting a Regency gown: the first shows common mistakes and the second, sleeve and bodice fitting.

Sense and Sensibility Patterns has a number of videos with tips on how to fit your gown or modify the design of a pattern, as well as some sewing techniques.

~~~

Update: A nice little summary for evening wear, with some of the wonderful descriptions from The Lady’s Magazine and La Belle Assemblée: Mimi Matthews’ Elizabeth Bennet, La Belle Assemblée, and Early 19th Century Fashion.

~~~

turban 1 croppedNEXT POST: The grand finale! Photos of my completed costume, plus an overview of my learning experience with the “experiment” and brief notes on what the summer bonus posts will look like.

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.

~~~

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!

~~~

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.

~~~

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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