Well, I’m a Gemini so…

…I’ve decided that I don’t want to choose between Regency and Victorian. And so I shan’t.

I can’t bear to abandon the 1797 Chemise Dress from Nehelenia Patterns. It will be nice to have a hand-sewing project and, given the nature of the pattern, there will a lot of hand-sewing indeed. Plus, I love the gauzy homespun woven check fabric I found on sale at a ridiculous price. It’s a more muted blue-grey than the photo and it is just so…summery. And I will do just about anything to avoid making “another” white Regency gown.

So I’m going to work on the Regency Long Stays/Transitional Chemise dress and the Victorian Bustle dress concurrently. If you see smoke rising from this little corner of the world, you’ll know why.

Anyway, I know nothing about making Regency-style clothing. Fortunately, I have finally figured out that reading instructions can often prove helpful in these situations. So I brewed a cup of tea, snuggled into the corner of the sofa, opened the pattern, pulled out the instructions and started reading.

Which brought me to an immediate pause in the action.

First, the pages are numbered 1-3-5 and the back page is not numbered. Page 1 is a standard introduction with yardage requirements and fabric recommendations. It also includes this interesting comment: “Always try the dress on with proper period underwear – a chemise and short stays. Since stays were frequently omitted at the turn of the 19th century, a high waisted (sic) sleeveless petticoat might prove a good alternative, especially if you’re using sheer fashion fabric.”(The italics are mine.)

Muslin petticoat/underdress without stays

Muslin petticoat without stays

I’d never before heard that stays were optional and that threw me. As some of you may recall, my initial “outing” in my Regency petticoat was a bit unsettling. Although I feel better about it now I still can’t imagine wearing just the petticoat without stays. There simply isn’t enough lift. And, short of a massive reconstruction which would essentially consist of incorporating built-in stays of some sort, I don’t see how I could get enough lift. So the Long Stays are back on the plate.

The second problem occurs on page 3, which has numbered instructions however they start at #11. I’m reasonable certain that ten fairly important things must be done first. I just don’t know what they are.

Page 5 has close-up photos of construction detail, but there is explanatory text printed over the photos and there is so little contrast between the type and the pictures that I can’t see either clearly. Bother!

So I e-mailed Stephanie and Christina this morning to see where the rest of the instructions are and what is written over the photos on page 5.

I will say, however, the pattern is printed on heavy paper that will last a long time – it’s a huge thing, since the pieces are big.

I’ll let you know what happens next.

In the mean time, I’m clearing my sewing room and making space for this time-warp sewing challenge/adventure/insanity I’ve created for myself. Good thing I have two dress forms. Too bad one of them is 2 sizes too small…

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6 thoughts on “Well, I’m a Gemini so…

  1. I’m a d cup and two layers of thick linen, unbounded, will hold me in a very regency shape, the trick is to make sure it laces very tight beneath the bust

    • Saundra told me her friends used layers of very stiff tailors interfacing, but your method sounds a lot more comfortable. I figured the lacing will have to be wicked-tight to get the girls cantilevered out to where they’re supposed to be…thank you for confirming! This is so different from Victorian corsets – very interesting physics involved. 🙂

  2. > Good thing I have two dress forms. Too bad one of them is 2 sizes too small…

    Try wrapping it in a couple of layers of quilters’ cotton or polyester batting. Once the corset is done, the batting should (mostly) stay in place, and in shape. (Though huge stitches across the raw edge will help it stay on the dress form long enough to get the corset laced up. 😉

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