My Regency Gowns

Ever since I saw the BBC’s 5-hour Pride & Prejudice miniseries when I was 9 or so, I’ve been enamored with gowns from the regency era. They’re so beautifully simple, yet incredibly flattering. I especially love how versatile they are. The waist is just under the bust, but after that, there are a lot of variables that can be played with. Add another skirt—make it short, long, longer, or shorter. Add another bodice. Long sleeves, short sleeves, or both. Drawstring neckline or not. That list right there gives enough possibilities for an entire wardrobe.

The miniseries shows a lot of muted colours; beige, white, pale yellow, and baby blue, with some brightly coloured overcoats. It turns out, though, that the era was nowhere near as muted. The only reason we think it was is because all the extant samples are all faded out.

The regency era was right about when brightly coloured paints dropped in price and became available to the middle class, and they went flat-out crazy with them. By modern sensibilities, a regency room might have made your eyes bleed while simultaneously inducing a seizure.

This is the dress made with the vintage fabric for the skirt. Note how there are no gathers at the back. It’s not historically accurate, but I think it lends a beautiful, slender, and slightly more modern silhouette.

Despite this colourful research, I opted for a more reserved palette. I’m not very interested in extravagant colours, but I do love subtly detailed pastel hued fabrics. I made two dresses; one using vintage fabric from the 60’s or 70’s, and the other using something new from Fabric Land. I used some satin scraps for the bodice in one, and the trim on the other.

I used Sensibility’s Regency Gown pattern. I can’t speak highly enough about her patterns. Especially since she has a wide enough variety of patterns to easily create an entire, widely varied Regency wardrobe from the undergarments out. These patterns are immaculately researched, easy to use and follow, and all around wonderful.

These dresses are quite similar. The only differences are the skirts; one is far fuller than the other, owing to the vintage fabric being very narrow and limited.

All photos of me taken by the lovely Hannah P. Photos from the BBC miniseries are courtesy of The Costumers Guide.

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Wondering where I get my ingredients? I get almost everything from New Directions Aromatics (Canada, USA, Aus, & UK) and Saffire Blue!

9 Responses to My Regency Gowns

  1. Jennie says:

    What beautiful work you have done! I absolutely love how you’ve used my pattern and am thrilled you enjoyed sewing, too. Thanks for sharing!

    • Marie says:

      Thanks for stopping by and checking out my work, Jennie! Your pattern is by far the best I’ve ever seen for regency gowns. The first gown I ever made (back when I was 12) was supposed to be an Elizabeth Bennett Halloween costume… unfortunately the only detail I noticed was the empire waist, and the finished gown had a fully princess seamed bodice, a flared, gather-free skirt, and widely flared gothic sleeves. Whoops! It’s still lovely, but hardly Regency.

  2. Lyric says:

    Greetings,

    So glad you’re a force on the WWW (saw you on Pinterest). Just stopped by to support your website. Please keep up the most excellent work (blogging AND sewing).

    Do you wear Regency in your day-to-day wear? I am looking to convert my entire wardrobe to that of 18/19th century and 1950s garments.

  3. Jenn says:

    Beautiful! Both are very beautiful on you as well. Though I think I prefer the fabric you used for the fuller version.

    • Lyric says:

      Wonderful blog. I don’t remember subscribing to it but I have a notice sitting in my in-box. So glad it was there.

    • Marie says:

      Thanks, Jenn! These dresses are SO fun to sew and prance about in ;) Someday I’ll get around to making the underclothes and I’ll be all decked out, Pride & Prejudice style!

      • Jenn says:

        The underclothes are lots of material and elastic, so not overly difficult, just time consuming. I prefer Renaissance dress for me and have a favourite online/faire shoppe I go too. Though I made a purple velvet-y long sleeved Regency style dressfor my oldest daughter when she was about 3. She wore it till it wouldn’t fit any longer, which was about 3 years later. And is now requesting another for Halloween to be a princess, again. I’m thinking I will be needing lots of pain killers until she decides on a fabric she likes. And then I will have to make a second for her younger sister, who is thankfully much less indecisive on what she likes. :)

        • Marie says:

          It’s funny… I know undergarments are easy (in theory), but whenever I want to sew I want to make something I can wear right away, lol, and underclothes don’t usually qualify :P I love Renaissance dresses as well, though I’ve never made one. All the ones from Ever After are just stunning… especially the famous “Just Breathe” gown. Sigh!

          I remember all the costumes my mom made for me when I was a kid :) One in particular was a beautiful purple princess gown that I wore for years on end. I think I still have it in a closet somewhere…

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