I started making the costume plans several months ago, to give myself a lot of time to make my own costume and some items for my husband. I've never done early 19th century before, so I took my time with this project. I managed to finish it all with more than a week to spare, so I was quite prepared!
My outfit consists of a gown and underthings: short stays (corset), chemise, and petticoat. The short stays were purchased from RedThreaded on Etsy. I found them well constructed and of good quality, but I chose to opt for a standard size instead of a custom order for two reasons: one, it's more expensive for a custom size and these corsets are pricey to begin with; two, I wanted to get working on the bodice patterning so waiting longer for a custom size would have held me up. The corset works well enough, but the bust is too small and the underbust is too big. I simply leave the top two eyelets unlaced so I have maximum room in the bust cups. If I end up doing a lot more Regency costuming later on, I'll make my own so it fits better, or make the bust gussets bigger on this corset.
I got out my 16th century kirtle pattern and decided to alter that instead. The finished pattern is nothing like what it started as. The side seams got moved to the back, the straps moved back, and it has some darts under the bust for shaping. Overall I'm happy with the pattern, but I would have done the darts differently. They're accurate for this era (see Norah Waugh's "Cut and Construction of Women's Clothes"), but I simply folded them over like a pleat instead of sewing them like a proper dart, so they pouf a bit. I didn't want to remove and then reattach the skirt to change the darts, and it worked well enough. But if I make more Regency clothes down the line, I will use another pattern. The sides of the bust also wrinkle and pull, so I would start over with the pattern. But not too bad for my first try at this era!
The fabric for the gown is an aqua/seafoam silk taffeta with gold embroidered Fleur de Lys. While the Fleur de Lys is the emblem for French royalty and therefore isn't a typical "Regency" pattern as the Regency refers to 1811-1820 in England, I decided that the 1814 restoration of the Bourbon monarchy would be excuse enough to wear that pattern. I was inspired by several gowns that had intricate embroidery or beading patterns, and didn't find many other patterned fabrics that would achieve that look. I did seriously consider buying a sari or African George silk fabric, but decided to just get the patterned fabric and sew trim onto the hem. Here are some extant gowns that were my main inspiration (I think most if not all are French in origin):
The bodice laces up the back with hand-bound eyelets in a spiral lacing pattern. Next time I would make the back a bit shorter. The sleeves are just a large, rounded sleeve head, very short, gathered on top into the armscye, and on bottom into a narrow band. The hem trim is from India, and was only $4 a yard on Ebay. It's marvelous, high quality, and has sequins and heavy embroidery. The waistband/belt is just narrow gold trim with sequins from Joann's. I had a hard time matching the wider trim, as it's a more antique gold, which is hard to find in stores, especially with sequins.
My husband and I danced about 5 dances. I found this gown to be much easier to dance in than my 1860s gown. I didn't really dance at all at the Virginia City Victorian Ball because my dress prevented me from lifting my arms, the hoops were cumbersome (I'm not used to or trained in dancing with hoops), and I was worried that someone would step on my hem and tear my gown. This ball had everyone dancing. It was rare to see people not dancing. There were easily 250 people dancing all at once in this room; it was a sight to see! I can't recommend this event enough. We will absolutely attend again.
Speaking of my husband, I did a little sewing for him as well. I made his waistcoat, shirt, and cravat. I bought his drop-front trousers from Gentleman's Emporium, and had a velvet tailcoat custom made from a seller on Etsy. We didn't take many pictures of him, but because the venue and backdrops were so lovely, I had him take a lot of pictures of me for the blog. The room with the pink damask wallcloth was the women's restroom lounge! It was my favorite room for pictures, much to my husband's embarrassment!