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Men’s Shirts – 18th (and Early 19th) Centuries

September 24, 2020

Today I am sharing a very informative video about 18th century shirts, showing the differences, and incredible details, of the earlier shirts up to Regency and Romantic Era.

I really had no idea that there were differences, but it makes sense, when you think about it, as men’s fashions changed too, just not as obviously as women’s did.

When I make new shirts for Robert, this will definitely come in handy as a reference…but first, I am making a new chemise for myself, followed by corded long stays. But more of them later.

Why Petticoats and Chemises Were Worn Under Regency Gowns

October 24, 2019

A wonderful blog site full of interesting posts about Regency dress, and underpinnings.

Jane Austen's World

Copyright (c) Jane Austen’s World. Look at this lovely Regency lady in this image from 1814. Her petticoat peeps under her fashionably short gown, whose conical shaped skirt has been given a definite shape by the undergarment.

At the turn of the century, when lighter cloths were used to fashion gowns and when the dress silhouette was columnar and worn close to the body, the use of a chemise or petticoat was even more crucial, for the thin fabric would cling to the legs and work its way between them without the barrier of the petticoat. A few weeks ago, one of my posts created a stir when I revealed that drawers were regarded as optional underwear for Regency ladies, and readers wondered how a Regency lady could withstand the cold in winter.

While bloomers were optional,  a petticoat was an absolutely necessity. Dress fabrics were gossamer thin, and…

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Jane Austen Festival 2016

November 10, 2017

For me, to be a part of the Regency Promenade, in Bath, and not have a camera to take hundreds of photos, is just horrible!  So many lovely outfits, friends, awesome architecture (and Bath has some of the best!), so much missed…yes, I need a new camera, as mine died in Whitby, in April.  It is sadly missed!

But, it is always an adventure, to turn back the clock two hundred years, and join several hundred people dressed for a Grand Regency Promenade through the streets of one of Britain’s loveliest Georgian cities.

Suffice it to say, we had a wonderful day meeting with friends again, being photographed, and being part of another world record attempt at largest number of people in Regency costume in one place, as we were counted into the Assembly Rooms, where the Promenade was to begin…I will have to check to see what the numbers were, and whether we did it. 

Later, we headed back to the Assemble Rooms for the market, and refreshments.  I bought a beautiful white child’s sunbonnet, and Robert bought some buttons.

It was here that I realised that I had my phone with me, so I managed to get this photo of these lovely ladies, despite the crush of people…


It was rather warm in there, so we strolled into the ballroom, where people were chatting to friends and acquaintance, and where we bumped into Sarah, and a young lady in a lovely white dress.


Shopping and socialising done, Robert and I decided to explore some of the streets that we had not visited before, before heading back to Trowbridge… 


Rediscovering Regency

November 10, 2017


Since the two main events that we attended started to clash, because of date changes, we had a few years of missing the Jane Austen Festival, Bath, in favour of our local Weekend at the Asylum steampunk festival.  This meant that I did not make any new Regency outfits, as I was busy with steampunk.
Then, a wonderful thing happened…Asylum moved to August Bank Holiday weekend, and we were able to enjoy both again!  It was a joy to be back in Bath, in the September of 2015, and to be part of the Promenade, which had become an even bigger affair than it had been since last we were there.
The day had started off wet, but thankfully the rain stopped and the sun put in an appearance whilst people were gathering at the Assembly Rooms for the start of the Promenade, and it was lovely to see so many wonderful outfits.



The route had changed, taking in more of the fine city, but sadly missed out Royal Crescent and the Pump Room.  We did stroll down Gravel Walk, though.


It culminated in the Parade Gardens, where we could mingle and catch up with friends, take photos, and have refreshments whilst watching Steps in Time perform their country dances. 





Unfortunately, the clouds were gathering, and we were treated to another downpour, but like Captain Wentworth, many came prepared with their umbrellas…others decided to shelter under the trees…


Thankfully, the rain did not last long, so we were able to carry on socialising until people started to wander back into town. 

The lovely thing about wandering around Bath in Regency attire (notice that I do not say costume) is that it makes one feel connected with the Age of Elegance, and Jane Austen and her characters.  It is also lovely to see other promenaders just wandering, shopping, posing for photos, and chatting with friends and acquaintance…in fact this is the magic of Bath! 

Promenading certainly builds an appetite, so Robert and I headed to Hall & Woodhouse for a well-deserved lunch.


It’s not until you have been away from your favourite historical era for a few years, that you realise just how much you’ve missed it when you do reconnect…roll on the next event!

From Regency to Steampunk!

February 12, 2013

Many years ago I worked at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life in Lincoln, where I was happy to discover a world of dressing-up to demonstrate traditional crafts.  How I wished, then, that Victorian dress patterns were available, and if they were…where could I find them!

Not quite front page news, but front cover of 100th Lincolnshire Show supplement

Not quite front page news, but front cover of 100th Lincolnshire Show supplement

Happily, today I can go online and find historical dress patterns for almost anything!

Part of the job involved sitting in the office for hours drawing and measuring new acquisitions, which I enjoyed, and one of the perks was seeing and  handling costume items…and doing some drawings for myself!  A while ago, I was wondering why I had these drawings, and when would I ever get to use them…more of that in a minute.

As mentioned in a previous blog, I discovered the world of Regency dressing-up, and the Jane Austen Festival, so I had a go at making my first Regency dress without a pattern.  Then came the discovery of patterns galore, other Regency enthusiasts, re-enacting (friends, not us), and through friends we met at the Jane Austen Festival…Steampunk! 

Actually, I had seen pictures of a Steampunk convivial in America, several years previously, and wished that we had something like that over here.  Imagine my surprise when we found out that we do…right here on our very doorstep!  The Asylum is held in Lincoln every September, and takes it’s name from The Lawn complex, which was originally built as an asylum!  😀 

We only made this discovery in September 2011, so missed that one, but last year we attended our first Asylum…and it was an awesome experience!!

Helen, looking divine

Helen, looking divine

Cecile and Simon looking suitably splendid!

Cecile and Simon looking suitably splendid!

So, now I am back to looking at Victorian fashions, and all those wonderful patterns that are available, as well as studying my old drawings, like these I did of open drawers…

Three pairs of Victorian drawers

Three pairs of Victorian drawers

I have now decided to open a new blog for my Victorian and Steampunk adventures, as Roundgowns and Reticules is mainly Empire/Regency.  Wish me luck, I may be some time…

The new blog is now up and running, and called Sandi by Gaslight.

Butterick Making History Victorian Jacket (B52320

January 27, 2013


In November last year (2012), I started work on a jacket toile using Butterick’s Making History Victorian Jacket pattern.  Because of my size and shape, I hit a mental block and came to a complete standstill…until now. 

First calico toile with fur collar

First calico toile with fur collar

With the discovery of The Historical Sew Fortnightly Facebook page, which offers up a new needlework challenge every fortnight, I thought that I would have another go at this jacket for the UFO (Un-Finished Object) challenge.  Even if I don’t finish it, I will be a lot further on than I was. 



As I have already mentioned, I am not a standard size or shape, so the toile did not look or feel at all right when I tried it on.  At first I decided to partially un-stitch the centre back seam to see if I needed to add a bit, but this made no difference to the gaping at the back of the arm holes, so I have re-sewn it and un-done the side back sections and enlarged them. 

Then came a slight challenge with the sleeves… 

My silly mistake!

My silly mistake!

Inexperience with patterns had me making what I thought was a half-inch seam, which left me with the stepped piece on the sleeve and bodice.  How the heck does that fit together smoothly?  I just couldn’t see it…until it was pointed out to me that the stepped bit was the seam allowance!  DOH!  Once I had re-sewn the seams it all looked right.    

New pieces were then cut out and a second toile was sewn together, giving a much better fit, but still with a slight gape, so I will probably add small shoulder pads, as I have sloping rounded shoulders, but we shall see how it sits once the sleeves are in place. 

So far, so good!

So far, so good!

Bugger!  The second sleeve has been sewn in…inside out!  



Actually, the sleeve is the right way round, but I’ve sewn it in the wrong way round.  😦

Never mind, it made no difference to how it felt when I tried it on.  Now I have another little challenge…when I re-jigged the back, side-back and front pieces, it altered the size and shape of the arm-scye.  It looks fine on Mathilda, because she does not have arms, but I seem to have made it too wide, so the sleeve-head now pulls tight across my upper arm.  

So, although I haven’t even started on the actual jacket, and won’t fulfill this challenge, I  am further along than I would have been without it!  😀



2012 in Review

December 30, 2012
tags: ,

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Sense and Sensibility Elegant Lady’s Closet Pattern…The Drawstring Dress (Part 1)

August 1, 2012

As previously mentioned, in another blog, I made a start on a dark blue muslin drawstring dress from The Elegant Lady’s Closet by Sense and Sensibility, but, for some reason, went straight into making it rather than making a calico toile, so was not surprised when it didn’t fit right. 

Sense & Sensibitity Elegant Lady’s Closet pattern

With the Jane Austen Festival (2011) approaching, I put this aside to work on Robert’s trousers and my new spencer, bonnet, and reticule…which actually got finished in plenty of time, with no panic involved!! 

Two weeks after the festival, I sewed the sleeves on, and tried it on again, over chemise and stays, but this time I pinned the cross-over pieces properly, without pulling it too tight…it fitted perfectly!! 

This dress has been made as per the instructions, so the cross-over pieces are only a single layer of hemmed fabric, which I think are a little bit too big…but I will reserve judgement until it’s finished.

As I now have a dress form, which I have padded to match my size as far as is possible, I can carry on and make the skirt without having to keep trying it on and wondering if it’s straight…which is one of the reasons why it has been put aside and (almost) forgotten about!

In Part 2 I will post pictures of progress so far, but as this years Jane Austen Festival is fast approaching, I have other items to make that are more important…like a couple of commissions for a friend.

A Corded or Tucked Petticoat

June 6, 2012

First, I made a Regency-style dress.  This was for the 2009 Jane Austen Festival’s Grand Regency Promenade…without the use of a pattern, as I had no idea then that so many were available.  (Check out my Links page for addresses, as these do get added to from time to time). 

Anyway, after wearing that dress for three promenades, without a petticoat, and having it cling to my legs or stick out at strange angles, I have decided that I very definitely need to make a petticoat! 

My first promenade dress – 2009

Even during the period when flimsy muslin was the fashion, petticoats were an important garment for any self-respecting lady of fashion.  Not only did they add another layer to preserve one’s modesty, but they also gave the gown the correct shape.  There is an excellent article on petticoats in Your Wardrobe Unlock’d for those who are subscribers.

Back to my first attempt…I used the Sense and Sensibility Regency Gown pattern as a basis after reading their tutorial

S&S Regency Gown Pattern

S&S Regency Gown Pattern

Then I discovered this brilliant blog that explains the making of the bodiced petticoat in more detail

I then had a better idea of what I wanted to achieve, but I did not follow these instructions to the T…I did not line or bone the bodice, but have gathered the front onto the waistband, and have used a front-fastening with drawstings.

It took me several weeks to get the bodice done, because I had to think about each step and how to get the pattern right so that it fits my awkward shape!  As I have narrow, sloping shoulders, I have always had big problems when it comes to straps of any kind, so the back must be high enough to prevent them falling down.

The taking of photos as I make something did not happen this time, as I was trying hard to concentrate on getting costumes made for the first Horncastle Regency Festival.  Sorry.  As it was, I still did not get any new dresses made for myself, as I was making Robert a new shirt, neckcloth and waistcoat.

As for the hem, I decided to go with tucks, rather than cording, which I believe came a bit later as dress hems began to flare again.

I will add a photo when I have one, to show the finished garment.

Regency Stays…First Attempt

June 3, 2012

Having worn my first Regency-style promenade dress to the Jane Austen Festival in Bath a couple of times, I decided that proper underpinnings were necessary, to give me a real Regency shape, and to prevent my dress clinging to my legs when strolling about the town.

First Regency-style outfit…without under-garments!

I looked around for a suitable pattern for some Regency stays, when a friend said I could borrow her Sense and Sensibility pattern –  I then copied this onto dot and cross paper. 

I measured myself and chose the relevant size, cut the pieces from calico, and tacked them together…to find it just did not fit!  The reason is that I am not a standard size or shape, so a lot of re-jigging and fiddling had to take place before I was totally happy with it.   

The most obvious problem was the straps.  As I have very narrow shoulders, I had to re-adjust the back and side pieces in order to bring the straps in enough so they actually sat on my shoulders.    

The next niggly bit was the ‘cups’, as the pieces for my ‘size’ made no difference to the shape of the stays…flat…and were totally in the wrong place for me, anyway.  I had to move them inwards so they were not under my armpits!! 

The straps were not fixed, as in the pattern, but left free at the front with eyelets added so that I can adjust them…I might even add some more so that I can hoist it up a bit more!  😉 

Stays, almost finished

The length of the stays was not enough to be comfortable, so I added a couple of inches to the bottom.  The boning was added, then I spent ages top-stitching them like original examples were…

Regency Stays (KCI)

Another wee problem has now come to light…I don’t have enough bosom to create a ‘shelf’.  How can I rectify this?  ‘Chicken fillets’?  Maybe, but they cost money, so I made some crescent-shaped pads that I stitched into the cups.  Has this worked?  Yes and no.  I had a ‘shelf’ at last!  🙂  It didn’t last…after wearing the stays for a little while, my bosom began to disappear downwards.  😦

Wearing my new stays, before weight gain

I still haven’t worn them, as I have since put on weight, and they have become uncomfortable.  Oh well…back to the drawing board!