Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Green Saree Regency - the plan 1

After having fallen in love with the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (which was after having fallen in love with the book), my sister asked me to sew her a regency dress.
I decided to sew a regency dress for myself, too.
I browsed the internet for so long that I really don't remember anymore in which order I found out about the things I found out about. The result was - the best fabric to use, from what we could easily get, would be a cotton saree. Period.
Our source was this Czech shop:
My sister bought the sarees. I made her warm knitted socks in exchange for it.
She also bought the Sense and Sensibility pattern. Her dress is going to be just like that.
Mine is not. I always have to complicate things for myself...

You see, I'm not happy about the back of that dress. And not particularly happy about the shape of the neckline either. I want a slight boatneck neckline. Don't ask me why.
And as for the back, I fell in love with this style in the Metropolitan Museum.

See the interesting way the sleeves are set in? It's something called "grande aissette" or "assiette". (I don't speak French, but from what I could gather, it'd probably rather be "aissette". I think.) (EDIT: It's assiette) It dates back to medieval times, and it's strongly connected to the times of custom-fitted clothing. No wonder. I'm quite sure this project will involve a lot of custom-fitting. That's going to be fun and take a lot of time. Guaranteed.
Of course, with me wanting a boatneck neckline, the back pieces can't be so narrow, can they? Still, I love this straight-sleeved, grande-aissetted style much more than the puffed sleeves normally associated with Regency.
I also love the neat hand-sewing on that dress in the Met, and the colour. I can try at the handsewing, the colour maybe next time... because this is what I've got to work with now:

This was my first idea of what it's going to look like when it's finished - notice I forgot all about the boatneck:

"Háčky + očka?" means I contemplate closing it with hooks & eyes. I'm not keen on buttons, especially not buttons on the back of my dress. On the other hand, I'm not sure if hooks and eyes are any better in terms of ease of closing. Any other ideas? (Still, they're surely better in terms of comfort when sitting and resting my back on the backrest of a chair.)
"Šňůrka" means cord.

Here's my second, more refined draft, including the boatneck this time:

I'm completely happy with the way the back looks on this concept. I'm still not so happy about the front. It might be just my concept-drafting skills, or it might be something inherent to the design. What do you think? Should I drop the boatneck idea in the end? (Please, say "no"...) Or is there something wrong with the way the front is gathered? I think it's the case, but, for one, I don't think I'd like a plainer look, with all that business in the back.

There's more to be said about the plans and ideas I have for this, but I'll leave that for next time.


  1. Why a sari? I don´t understand, are you going to cut into that fabric...? :)
    I´m not sure about the boat neck, but the pattern your sister chose seems to be too "open" in the back. I love the dark brown dress you mention, but more from the back than front.

  2. Yes, I'm going to cut into that fabric. I know, it's almost a... sacrilege or what it's called.
    But we figured that sarees were the best fabric to use, because it's lightweight, easily drape-able and gather-able cotton with pretty, more or less period-accurate design, which would be hard to get otherwise. Plus they were discounted.

    Yeah, the neckline on that pattern is too low for my liking. It'll look good on her, though.

    I feel the same way about the brown dress. I think the fabric's too stiff to look good gathered, so the back, which is pleated, looks better. But this kind of front actually looks really good on other dresses, made from lighter fabrics. Like this one:
    Maybe I'll have to make it like that. I don't know. I like the boatneck idea, but not so much the way it looks when I draw it, plus all the earlier dresses I found (that would most likely have this kind of back) seem to have a lower neckline. So I guess I'd have to settle for a scoop neck and reserve the boatneck for something else... Either way, I guess the front of the skirt should be slightly gathered, too, to match the style.
    There's one dress in the museum of Bath that seems to have this kind of back and a high neckline. Unfortunately, only the back is shown on their webpage...

  3. Look at this (and her other regency dresses), so pretty.

    this :)

  5. Ooh, that's actually very close to what I had in mind!
    But I'm not sure if it'd work the same way on my figure.

  6. I am a historical costumer and reenactor for the regency period, so I hope what I say helps.

    The Saris are a good choice, but not your only one. They are beautiful and quite easy to drape and work with overall as long as they are cotton. Silk is wonderful and gorgeous as long as you've worked with it before.

    On the note of the pattern design, the boat neck was not popular. I've never seen a fashion plate or original garment with one, and I've never made one myself, but if that's your preference, there's really nothing wrong with that. The more common was the low rounded or square neckline. I have not used that particular diamond back pattern, but have heard wonderful things about it. Most of the diamond back patterns I've seen close in the front, though, as the diamond is a single piece. I'm more familiar with the low square back pattern, which closes with cords or buttons, commonly near the bottom of the shoulder blades, or as high as the neck. Buttons really are not uncomfortable as long as one is not sitting in a wood backed chair.

    I hope this helped, though I'm sure you've already finished the two gowns you mentioned.

  7. Thank you so much - and no, I haven't made them yet, because I'm a terribly slow sewer.
    I do not like the low neckline very much, so I'd like to come up with something different. But thank you for the pointers to the closure - I think I'd actually much prefer it to close in the front, if I can figure out how. It would be easier for me to put on anyway!