Chemise - Done
Corset - Done
Dress - 0%
Spencer - 0%
Bonnet - 0%
Boots - Aquired
Slippers - Yet To Aquire

-White Cotton    Lawn: $6.99yd
-Cotton Coutil: $12yd
-Wood Busk: $9

TOTAL: $53.97

This is an independant study on regency era garb. I'm going to try and make it as historically accurate is possible, and I'm posting all my research here. I don't guarantee that it's 100% accurate, but I try to find extant garb to base my design off of. Also, I am using pictures from other sources and creditting them, I don't mean any copyright breach, so if there is a picture on here that is yours that you don't want on here, just let me know. This is for educational purposes only.

Chemise | Corset | Gown | Shoes | Spencer Jacket | Bonnet

The Regency era is the short period between 1790-1820. Probably the best regency movie I have seen to date is the 5-hour long version of Pride & Prejudice, the one put out by A&E. It's excellent and captures the book very well. Women's dress of the era was inspired by the drapey clothing of the greeks. The women's gowns were empire-waisted (for the costume novice, the waistline was under the bust) and usually made of a super-thin cotton fabric that was nearly sheer and was usually called 'muslin' (not muslin as we know it today, so don't go out and buy 'muslin' at JoAnn's and thinking it's period). Women always wore a chemise under their outfits, and especcially was necessary as the outer-layer was usually very thin and required something underneath for modesty. I have seen some sources with different information on corsets. Some say they always wore a corset, and some say that few women did. If you don't need support and construct the gown in a way to give the proper boostage, one could properly go without a corset. Corsets are not the rigid, waist-cinching torture devices that they were in the previous era. They range from a simple fabric almost sports-bra like contraption, to a shaped piece that goes to the hips. Corsets were mostly soft, they had a drawstring at the top and small gores added into the bust and hips to accomodate shape, meaning they were pretty simply cut. The trick is in putting the gores in the correct places to give shape. They usually (or in all the examples I have seen) laced up the back. The front had a sleeve for a thick wooden busk that served to both separate the breasts and to keep the posture straight. They were made from plain fabric and were often only quilted for decoration. I will be posting pictures shortly of my research on the undergarments.

[Chemise] The first layer of regency garb is the Chemise. In this era, the fabric most often used is a very finely woven cotton that is nearly sheer. Even though technically Cotton Lawn fabric wasn't invented yet (Earliest reference I found was Victorian Era), it is the closest fabric in production today. What they called "Muslin" and "Calico" is a lot different now than what it was. Cotton lawn is a bit expensive and harder to find, but it is a very fine and soft fabric. I found plain white cotton lawn fabric at [DHARMA TRADING] for a pretty good price. They also carry printed cotton lawn at Fashion Fabrics Club but you just have to pick a fabric that's close to a period print. Simple florals, not too cluttered, evenly spaced and not overlapping is usually the best bet. Most I've seen, the print is spaced far apart. Most regency gowns I have seen is a print on top of a white or light color. I haven't seen much in the way of dark colors.

I did find one picture on [DEMODE COUTURE] (which is an excellent source for seeing extant garments), that were sourced from [MFA.org], of regency era shifts, but they are American in origin and I have been unable to find any other resources. Since America got it's fashion influences from Europe, I'm just going to assume that English chemises (which is what I am going for) are the same as American. It looks like the design is pretty simple just like the old Italian Rennaissance chemise. The body is rectangular, the sleeves are rectangular, and there are triangular underarm gores. The difference is there's a flat yoke that the body is gathered to. It's not quite as full as rennaisance chemises (though, it's a thinner fabric than the old linen chemises, so you can fit a lot of fabric without all the bulk, though the one pictured is linen). The sleeves look like they just cover the upper cap of the sleeve with the rest of the sleeve body being the yoke. There looks to be a slight gather to the sleevecap too. I believe regency shifts only go to maybe mid-calf but I'm not positive.

-update- My Chemise is done. Based on the American regency chemise, it is a pretty simple chemise to construct. It has a small yoke that is about an inch and a half wide (before seam allowance). The cotton lawn gathers beautifully without bulk. The entire body for mine was made up in one 60" width cut in half. I will need to add small gores to the side to make it wide enough to run in (maybe I wanna frolick in a field or something, so sue me), but still keep it's straight shape. The sleeves seem to have arm gussets built into them, and slight gather. Drawings to come...


-update 03/28/07- My draft corset is done! This corset actually wasn't too hard to drape. My first draft of the front didn't come out too well, but my second was perfect. Let me start with a couple pics of Regency stays I found. I based mine off the one to the right with the yellow stitching. You'll note that the front is one piece of fabric, with a couple of gores inserted in each bust. The hardest part I found in draping the front was getting it smooth enough on the torso to be done in one piece, but once I clipped the bust gore and clipped the sides so it would form, I was able to do it. Since I am tiny, I did not need two gores in each bust, I only needed one. What I did was make one cut from about center bust down and folded out the gore section triangularly (see first two pictures below) until I got the least amount of pull and everything laid smoothly. It is harder on a dummy with rigid boobs because squishy human boobs will go *up*, as we want with the corset, and mannequin boobs will not, which is why it's very important to do a full muslin for the corset. Once the front was basically how I wanted it, I moved to the back, which was much easier. These corsets lace up the back, so the back is in two pieces. This picture does not show it, but there is a gore in the hip region to allow enough room for the hips. I made a cut on the princess up to the waist and folded out the triangle. To fill these gores, I simply placed a square of fabric behind the triangle opening and simply pinned it down. The front is a little different as the gore will not totally touch the dummy at the top without a tuck. Just leave it like that as a casing with cording will be put along the top for gathering so it will cover the top of the bust. I have seen both corsets with sewn-on straps and tie-on straps. I chose to do mine tie-on for this one since I need the mostly finished corset with the tension of the lacing to see how long the straps need to be. I made the pattern from my drape and sewed a complete corset together (with a 1 1/2" busk channel in the front for when I get my wooden busk in) and slipped on my chemise and put the corset over. You do need to "fluff" a bit so the corset lefts the bust instead of squishing it. I pinned two straps to the back of the corset and brought them around and pinned to the front. Then I pulled them tighter until I had the lift I needed. Regency corsets put the bust up VERY high, but still keeps them rounded, unlike older corsets where the body looks cone-shaped with half-round busts spilling out the top.

My book, Fashion: Collection of the Kyoto Institute, has some wonderful pictures of Regency garb and corsets. Two of the corsets were made of cotton sateen. The Sateen I found was too light-weight and shiny. One of the corsets said it was made from Coutil, which I found on CorsetMaking.com. I also ordered my busk from there, I ordered the 1 1/2 inch wide because I am tiny, so I ordered the skinniest wooden one. They do have a skinnier steel one, but for some reason I want wood. I also ordered some additional boning. I see two boning channels going out from the center busk channel, and for mine I am putting a couple in the back so it doesn't pull the way it does around the lacing. These corsets shown are cord quilted, meaning there are channels stitched into the corset with cord run between them for a raised affect. These are straight, but you can make the channels in basically any shape you want.

-update 07/09/07- I finished my corset and it turned out great. I based my embroidery and cord quilting off one of the corsets above. Here are my images:

[SHOES]- There are really two types of shoes worn by women in this era, slippers and boots. I've had a hard time finding images of shoes from the era. Slippers are usually what were worn indoors and for dress occasions, while boots were worn outdoors. I haven't seen any good pictures of boots, so I'm basing mine off of the 1995 version of Pride & Prejudice. I stalked some ebay auctions for real Victorian Era boots. These boots are maybe 80 or so years older, but boots are boots, they'll be covered most of the time, and they are very similar to the ones in Pride & Prejudice. Here's a picture of the boots I bought.

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