NB Sewing Journal -The Information Gathering Stage

You know the saying “the more you know, the more you know you don’t know?” Well, that certainly applies to my Regency learning curve. This morning I awoke with a long list of questions. But first, I should back up to say I am calling this an information gathering stage rather than a reseach stage because with so much information and so little time, I don’t feel this is proper research.

On to the clothing questions I need to find the answers to. I’ll seperate these in “his clothes” and “her clothes”.

His Clothes

  • What year did this waist seam on the coat come in?
  • What is the evolution of the shape of the front, sorta waist line down into the tails? (I’m seeing 4 different versions.)
  • Collars… 4″, is this on both the coat and waistcoat?
  • Is there a significance in the the width between the button rows for occasion or material?
  • Is that side seam on the waist coat straight like it appears in some?
  • How much of a difference should be seen between the coat front length and waistcoat front length? I was guessing 2-3 inches. Then I saw some maniquin displays with much more space.
  • Where should the coat waist land, natural waist or just above natural waist.
  • Pants…. I still have the plaid question. Is it appropriate for this occasion? What would be my best replacement on a budget? the slightly heavy cream wool I have? a narrow wale corduroy? a twill cotton?
  • White stockings…. is it awful to ask him to wear one of my pairs?
  • Am I correct that stripes tend to go vertically or horizontally on waistcoats? I think I just saw one diagonal.
  • Is there a formality difference in pocket construction on waistcoats? Does it matter?
  • What are the overall fabric formality guidelines?

Her Clothes

  • With such a small bodice, where do I stuff all the fabric from the chemise if I do a straight cut chemise? Should I just do a lower cut yoked chemise?
  • Should my shoulder straps on my stays be attached or not? I think I’m seeing both. If I attach them, there should be less bulk. But, does this make wearing difficult?
  • I’ve seen bodiced pettis and pettis with straps. This just seems to add to the fabric under the bodice. What other methods keep the petti up at the ribcage? Did they button it to the corset? Maybe the straps are the best direction.
  • Does my petticoat go over or under the little tail on my short stays? I’m picturing bumroll, tail, petticoat or petti, bumroll, tail.
  • What are acceptable closures? I’m seeing ties and small buttons on the drop/bibfront bodices. Are hooks & eyes acceptable as well? For a cross-over bodice, I can figure out buttons if need be.

I’m sure there will be more to add to my list….. Is it odd that I find this part fun?

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So many questions. I have immediate answers to a few:

    My understanding is that waistcoats showed by about 1 or 2 inches. 3 seems too much. When you see mannequins where the waistcoat sticks out by a lot, I think it’s best to assume those pieces weren’t worn together or that the mannequin could be dressed with more care.

    I think the plaid will be fine, or the wool, but not corduroy! I’ve never seen regency corduroy things, and I don’t think you would like the effect in the end. A cotton twill would be another option, but you have to think about the opacity, and what sort of undies (modern or historic) Dan might have underneath.

    I think you can totally ask him to wear your stockings!

    The chemises are pretty straight. Yoked chemises come in later. Make sure the neckline is more open than the neck of your gown, or you will have problems with being able to see it. Most of the fullness around the waist is flattened by your stays and if it poofs in the skirt region that’s not noticeable under your skirt.

    I’ve only ever seen bodiced petticoats and petticoats with shoulder straps. The shoulder strap ones sometimes want to slip off of your shoulders, which can feel annoying. I prefer the bodiced petticoats and find that they don’t add bulk to my top, but again, I have to make sure the neckline is bigger than my gown.

    For your stays, if they have a tail in the back, they’re from the earlier regency period (closer to 1800). By 1813 the tail has gone away causing the back of the dresses to poof less. If you’re concerned about the poof in the back, consider eliminating the tail. On the same note, I’ve seen more stays in the 1810s with straps attached than with the tie in the front style. Regardless, the straps are very wide set and attach close to your arm, so make sure you try it out and make sure it’s comfortable and not cutting into your arm. I find that I can’t move my arms very far forward in my regency stays because there’s a strap in the way.

    Acceptable closures: ties, hook and eyes, lacing, buttons (more rare, unless it’s a bib front).



  2. Excellent questions. I can’t offer any certainty for the mens’ (I’d go to Quinn, Sarah Jane, and Jessamyn), but I’ll weigh in on the womens:

    * Chemise. It’s a “shift” at this point still. Yes, it’s all stuffed in there, but it fits under your stays and the sleeves aren’t big. Honestly, the whole thing isn’t that big compared to mid-century chemises. They’re all square-cut, but there are variations. The width was the width of shift linen. Don’t cut the neckline too big. I used the Simplicity version of the S&S pattern, and the neckline is enormous. There’s no point in a huge neckline; it should be big enough to not show, with a drawstring to pull it in at the bust as needed.
    * Straps are usually attached. I think you’re asking if they should tie at one end, or be solidly attached at both? Either works; I think tied is slightly more old-fashioned, but that’s not really a concern. The key is making sure the angle is right, whether at either or both ends. Posture is not stiff and straight, like it was in the 18th century, so rigidly-angled straps aren’t important for that. The straps on my stays are important to keep the bustline up high, instead of lower where it wants to be. Also, angle the straps to keep them from falling off your shoulders.
    * I’d go with straps on the petticoat. I don’t recall seeing any stays with buttons on them.
    * Tail on the stays? Depends on what style you’re making. Either way, if there’s a tail, it’s intended to add oomph to the back of the gown. This was a feature in fashion since the 1790s, when the waistline started to rise and hip pads weren’t useful any more. So put the petticoat over it. Speaking of, a “bumroll” as such isn’t useful, because it’s too low. You’d got to have a small pad attached to the stays or sewn directly into the gown. There are extant examples of both.
    * Closures include pins, ties, and buttons. I’m honestly not sure about hooks and eyes; I can’t think of an example right now, but it only takes one. I’m pretty sure a crossover would use pins for the exterior, and pins, ties, and/or buttons for the interior. Closures weren’t simple, but they weren’t terribly complex either. And they are very practical.

  3. Thank you Quinn and Ginger. Your comments are helpful in narrowing down what I need to look up.
    I’ll cut the shift as narrow as possible to keep the bulk to a minimum. I have enough natural bulk, I want to keep the extra minimal. I think mentally going from the full corset and bodice of the 50s/60s to these short stays and tiny bodice is the root of those questions. Once I get it all on, it should all fall or tuck into place.
    It will be interesting draping the dress bodice to get the look I’m seeing set on narrow shoulder with a short shouldered body. I have plenty of tricks for the middle of the century. I expect there will be a new set.
    Straps or a bodiced petti it is then. I want smooth and comfortable. I hate, hate the feeling of straps slipping off my shoulders. Your comment there will likely be a big influence.
    I’ll have to ask Gail what that tail is called. She draped my stays for me. I’ll read a bit more to see if I should just tuck the piece up inside or use it with the non-bumroll piece for the poof.
    I hope to have some reading time tonight…..

  4. Almost forgot. This is why I was thinking corduroy:

    (He will have drawers.)

  5. I’m pretty sure I saw something else in corduroy, on one of the boards I linked to you yesterday. Of course I don’t know which one it was!

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