Remember the ca. 1799 gown I wore at Old Government House in Parramatta? The one I wasn’t that happy with?
If you are a very keen reader with an excellent memory and a good eye for detail, you may have realised that the dress re-appeared, now with a wrap front, at the Sew & Eat Historical Retreat, and at the picnic where I debuted my new Regency bonnet.
As I wasn’t happy with the dress as I first wore it in Australia, I had a go at re-styling it.
First, I fixed the fit issues: unpicking the sleeves, giving them a little more room, and re-setting them.
They are definitely more comfortable now. In their first iteration they cut into the front of my arm rather painfully: I had great posture, but couldn’t reach anything in front of me! Now I have full range of movement. First part of the re-make? Total success!
I’m significantly less thrilled with the second part of the remake. I decided to try a wrap front, instead of the gathered front the dress had had before. I used the few scrap of fabric I had left to create a wrap bodice, sliced the skirt up the centre front, and moved fullness from the back gathers, to create a new shape.
Unfortunately the wrap flaps open in the skirt, and refuses to stay sitting nicely on my bust. It’s most annoying, and I don’t like it.
I am, however, very happy with the back view:
The reduction in fullness is just what the dress needed. I absolutely love the effect of the new back view.
But I’d really like to get this dress right, so it’s headed into remake #3 (third time had better be the charm!)
For remake #3, I’ve unpicked the two panels that formed the wrap, and will turn one of them into a new front panel for the dress. I’ll split the other one in half, and re-sew it on each side, two form two narrow side panels, so the skirt won’t loose any fullness, but won’t have a big seam down the centre front.
I’m still working out what exactly I’m going to do with the front bodice. Either a bib front with sewn-down gathers, or a return to a drawstring front.
I also plan to add darts to the under-bodice. With my small bust, I really need all the help I can get in keeping the under-bodice under my bust – right now it likes to creep upwards.
If I do switch to a bib front I’m considering adding lacing (instead of the current overlap-and-pin situation) to the underbodice.
And I may shorten those sleeves to a bit above the elbow, and add a lace edge, as you see in so many portraits of the early 19th century.
But before I have to decide all of that I have lots and lots of skirt seaming to do!