Orange Regency for Wine & Peace

The Greater Bay Area Costumer Guild put on a regency event called Wine & Peace at Wente Vinyards. Despite the fact that 1) I can’t really drink right now and 2) I don’t really like regency, I hacked together a regency dress in about 1.5 weeks so I could go in costume.

Turns out since regency dresses make everyone look pregnant, they are really great for when you are actually 5 months pregnant, and entirely hide that fact! And I had some super helpful friends to be my designated drinkers aka stunt livers.

I was also able to use this as an assignment for the Intermediate Clothing Construction class I’m taking right now, so win/win situation all around!

I have no regency undergarments, but this era looks decent over a pushup bra, so I went with that and a tank top instead of trying to also make stays (remember, hacking this thing together). Instead of buying a pattern, I drafted something based on this wonderful description of how a bib-front/apron-front gown works from The Hungarican Chick.

Drawing by The Hungarican Chick

The only fitted part here is the back, and that’s just princess seams! So I pulled out my fitted sloper, and hacked around with it until I had a empire princess back and something that fit over my front with one small bust dart. No pictures, cause I was in a rush.

For the sleeve, I turned my sleeve sloper into a two piece with a poofy part up top and fitted down below.

My fabric was a mystery burnt-orange from Fabmo that I got for $10 total. I suspect it’s a silk or a silk blend based on the feel (but haven’t done a burn test), and that it is also a sari, given that it was only 36″ wide. I thought I had 5 yards, but it turns out I had more like 4, which was slightly problematic in the end. I was only able to make the front skirt half as wide as I wanted, and I had to piece it with a seam right down the middle. I also had to piece the apron front together from scraps. Despite my measuring, the dress ended up about 2″ shorter than I would have liked. The whole thing is entirely machine sewn and serged wherever possible.

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Literally the only scraps I had left when I was done.

Here’s the final dress:

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From a few feet away, you can barely see the piecing in front!

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And some closeups to try and explain how a bib-front gown goes on (although I think it’s better explained from the linked website above):

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First the bodice closes in front in some manner, I used hooks and eyes. I may try and add a band under the bust to stop this from riding up, which it really likes to do.

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The front comes up and the ties are brought around to the back.

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Where they go through loops on the back (in order to stay up) and criss-cross back around to the front.

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Then tie under the front to hold it secure. The apron is hanging down at this point, but the skirt is in place.

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The apron is flipped up, and buttoned or pinned into place! I really need to trim down the neckline of the under-bodice, since it shouldn’t be showing above the apron. You can also see the piecing I had to do since I had no fabric left which was big enough!

One day I want to mess around with the apron, since I gathered it at the top and bottom right above and below the bust to the lining. Except I should know better than that, because that doesn’t create a nicely gathered bodice the whole way through. It’s just going to pooch across the whole thing (which is what it is doing). I’m thinking of either adding tucks, or gathering/ruching the entire thing all the way across.

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Closeup of the pleats, since I like how they turned out. Because they are friggin knife pleats, I had to rip them out several times before it ended up looking nice…

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Sleeve closeup. If I had realized how little fabric I had, I probably would have done a plain sleeve instead of this gathered two piece.

 

Since I finished this in plenty of time the night before, I also banged together a super quick reticule to carry my stuff from some leftover peach taffeta and gold lace (because everything is better with gold lace).

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For the event, I popped on a pearl necklace, pearl earrings from Dames A La Mode, and popped a pashmina on my head for a turban. (Seriously, regency is super easy to hack together.) Over it I wore an amazing empire-waist vintage velvet coat I bought from Moon Zooom (a vintage thrift store) years ago. It definitely read as a fancy pelisse, and I really needed it because it was super cold that day. The boots are Robert Land, which I bought when he was heavily discounting shoes in his going-out-of-business sale.

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Sorry, no front pictures without the coat. It was *really* cold outside.

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A classic regency wedgie pose.

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All the orange ladies!

Overall, this is a little more costume-y than historical. While all the elements are historical¬†individually, not so much when you put them together. Puffy sleeves and shorter hems are seen together in the late regency period, but I don’t think they actually coexisted with bib-front gowns, which are seen earlier. But whatever, now I have a pretty dress to frolic around in for regency events!

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