HSM #3 is done!


The HSM Challenge for March is Protection – make something to protect yourself (from weather or injury) or your clothes (from soiling etc.).  I had intended to make a Talma Wrap, but at nearly the last moment decided to tackle another UFO. So I pulled out the makings for a Late Georgian fichu and dove in.

I love the fichus. They are such versatile accessories: you can wear them over draped the bodice of your gown, tucked into the bodice, or wrapped around the bodice. They are usually white, but may also be in colors. They can be plain or embroidered or plastered with lace.

Women wore fichus for centuries for warmth, modesty and just plain fashion.

The Oregon Regency Society’s blog is a great place to learn about all thing Regency, including clothing. Here is their take on the many ways to shape and wear a fichu:

My décolletage is six decades in the making, so I want a fichu that will both protect my skin from the sun and wind, and conceal that tiny bit of crepe-y texture that is starting to show. One of my favorite looks from the Late Georgian period is this day dress, so I also want a fichu that can be worn tucked in (as in ORS #1) or left out (as in ORS #4).

1802, day dress of white cotton.

1802, day dress of white cotton.

Here’s how it came together. I used some fine white netting from my stash and cut it into a square with 36 inches on each side. It’s squirrely stuff and tends to shift and move every time you touch it, so I measured and cut one side at a time. I found some white lace trim which had potential, although it also had some very modern-looking flowers woven into the pattern, but I figured I could get around that.

I started by sewing the trim along the edge of the netting on two sides of the square. It was extremely difficult to sew by hand, so I resorted to using the machine in order to preserve my sanity.

Once the lace was in place on the first two sides, I folded the square into a triangle and used the machine again to sew the second two edges of netting to the first two edges. That gave me a nice, surprisingly flat triangle. Then I trimmed the edges of the netting back so the lace made a clean-edged trim.



Then it was time to deal with those modern flower motifs. The just don’t belong to the era so they had to go. I cut them out with cuticle scissors, one flower at a time. Each flower was attached at four points along the trim. There were 68 flowers that had to go, which meant a total of 272 careful little snips. To make sure the clipped areas don’t unravel, I used the point of a pin and dotted each with a tiny dab of FrayCheck.


Lastly, I went around the lace edges with a hand-sewn buttonhole stitch in order to hide the machine stitching. Goodbye 2016, hello 1795!

And that was that! Now I have a nice, sheer fichu to wear with a number of Late Georgian or Early Regency gowns and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. Here are the particulars:

The Challenge: Protection – make something to protect yourself (from weather or injury) or your clothes (from soiling etc.).

Fabric: fine white polyester netting with a soft hand and a nice drape

Pattern: none – just a square folded into a triangle and edged in lace

Year: appropriate for Late Georgian or Early Regency

Notions: cotton/poly lace trim, thread, FrayCheck

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is accurate but the components and construction are not. I’m allergic to silk so had to use polyester netting. I attempted to sew the lace edging on by hand the could not get it applied so that it lay flat and straight, so I ended up using a sewing machine. The lace had modern design components, which I removed. The end result is a piece which looks historically accurate, but is not accurate in its making.

Hours to complete: approximately 6-7 (clipping out those flowers and sealing the cut edges took a while)

First worn: not yet worn

Total cost: $3 for the lace trim, everything else already in my stash


HSM #12 – A Chance to Make Up for HSMs #1 and #4.


I can’t believe it – it’s time for HSM #12, the last of the year. Being her Wise Self, The Dreamstress recognizes that we all hit tough spots and struggle here and there along the way. And so she kindly has offered HSM #12 as a chance to catch up for lost time or amend errors made along the way.

HSM #12 is Re-DoIt’s the last challenge of the year, so let’s keep things simple by re-doing any of the previous 11 challenges.

I did not complete HSM #1 (Foundations: make something that is the foundation of a period outfit.) or HSM #4 (War & Peace: the extremes of conflict and long periods of peacetime both influence what people wear.  Make something that shows the effects of war, or of extended peace.), so I’m hoping to rectify both of those in a single month. Wouldn’t that be great? Twelve months and twelve challenges met – what a nice way to close out this sewing year.

My Re-Do for HSM #1 is a Regency cap of white cotton organdy. The pattern is from Miller’s Millinery, #2012-2.

It features a lining, and is intended for use in cold weather and drafty old houses. Rather than line mine in flannel, like the original, mine will be self-lined. And it will be sewn entirely by hand, in keeping with the time period. The organdy is stiff enough to hold some shape without being too rigid. I chose the shape because it mirrors the shape of the bonnet I’ll be making:

My Re-Do for HSM #4 is still in the planning stages, but the cap will keep my fingers and my brain well engaged for the time being.

Your Weekend Wow!

I am on the verge of cutting a muslin for my Late Georgian overdress so I’ve been scanning images of extant garments, looking for ideas on how to make mine a bit less ordinary, and I keep coming back to a handful that consistently catch my eye. This is one of them.

This Late Georgian evening overdress combines two of my favorite fabric treatments: pintucks and ikat weaving. While the colors in and of themselves don’t make much of a splash, their use in woven ikat stripes adds a bit of boldness and balances them with their boring beige background. The tidy vertical rows of pintucks on the back bodice add another layer of texture and the looped buttons are a delightful surprise.

Evening Overdress. 1797–99, British, made of silk and linen. Length at center back is 71 inches (180.3 cm). Accession number: 2009.300.2198a, b. Click on metmuseum.org for a link to the museum website. All photos copyright metmuseum.org. Unfortunately, there is no photograph of the front or a detail shot of the sleeves (which appear somehow folded or pleated or otherwise arranged).

Picture 029

metmuseum.org - right_side_back

Picture 008

Here’s what the museum curator had to say:

This lovely overdress indicates the fine craftsmanship and textiles used at the end of the 18th century to coordinate with the exaggerated fashions of the high waist, large headdresses and skimpy silhouettes.

The Empire silhouette is readily identified with its origins in the chiton of ancient Greco-Romans, which was a tubular garment draped from the shoulders and sometimes belted beneath the bust. Several re-interpretations have occurred throughout costume history but none have been as notable as the period bridging the rectangular panierred skirts of the 18th century and the conical hoop skirts of the 19th century. The neoclassic style was adopted in all forms of decoration after the French Revolution and was upheld during the Napoleonic Wars partly due to Napoleon Bonaparte’s (1769-1821) alliance with Greco-Roman principles. In fashion, the style began as children’s wear made from fine white cotton, but was adopted by women in the form of a tubular dress with skirts that were gathered under the bust with some fullness over a pad at the back. As the style progressed the skirts began to flatten at the front and solely gather from the bodice at the center back. The style persisted until the 1820s when the waist slowly lowered and the skirts became more bell shaped.

metmuseum.org - displayed_on_mannequin

As it appears on a mannequin with what looks to be a fichu that is crossed in front and tied in back at the high waist.