Thursday, May 29, 2014

Regency Costume: Period Inspiration

Here are a few images I've collected here and there for inspiration. Neoclassical and Regency fashions were pretty simple, so there's not a whole lot of detail I'm focused on. I generally don't go 100% accurate on things anyway. I like to get a good idea of the time period, then make reasonable modifications to suit my personality.

Afternoon dress, 1794
This is almost exactly the overgown I am making. Even though it is early, I have no problem with making a form of it for 1810's.

Leipzig fashion plate, 1796
A similar overgown, with what looks like a brooch clasp. I also like the detail at the bottom of the skirt.

Painting of a family playing checkers by Louis-LĂ©opold Boilly, c. 1803
Simplicity of early 19th century gowns. The young lady in the foreground has a plain dress with a drawstring neckline, while the woman in the background has a crossover front dress. The pattern I've selected has both options.

Painting by Marguerite Gerard, 1804
Very similar to what I want to make, with an open overgown over a simple dress.

French stays, 1809
I found an earlier example of long stays being worn!

Mrs. Harrison Gray Otis, Massachusetts, USA, 1809
Period example of a sheer dress over white underpinnings.

Dance dress, 1811
Noted for neckline and hem lace details.

Neoclassical dresses, 1812
Noted for detail on the back of the dresses, in the seams and the pleating, and the hem detail.

Outerwear, c. 1813
Noted for the detail down the front opening of the pelisse.

Stays at the Kyoto Costume Institute, 1819
Both short and long stays shown.

I've selected the Sense & Sensibility "The Elegant Lady's Closet" pattern. I got it in e-pattern form and spent yesterday taping it together. I have an idea of the colors I want to use, but I'm not 100% sure which styles, fabrics, or personal modifications yet. I have some time to think, since I'm still working on a chemise and long stays. I get SO impatient when I have to make underpinnings when I want to make the pretties.

This is pretty much the least fun blog post I've made so far, since period research is so tedious when I already have an idea of what I want to do and want to get to it.

To Do:
— finish taping pattern together
— finish chemise (super easy as soon as I get on it)
— continue long stays
— work on hat
— stop being distracted by Netflix


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Regency Costume Inspiration: Sense and Sensibility (1995)

I've managed to reduce over 800 screencaps from Longbourn's Jane Austen screencaps down to ten that best represent the look I'm going for. My main idea is for a summer picnic ensemble, hopefully to wear to the Time Travelers Picnic I want to host this summer (historical or futuristic garb encouraged but not required!). In this post, I'll share the photos and notes. In a subsequent post, I'll share period inspiration.

Sisters, amirite?
This is a good shot of pretty much the main idea. Marianne (right) is wearing a sheer 3/4-sleeve dress that I would like to recreate. Elinor (left) is wearing a similar sheer dress with an overgown that is open in the front and fastens under the bust. You can see that it is fitted in the back down to underbust level. Both ladies wear simple straw hats (Marianne's is more like a bonnet) with ribbon decoration. I like the idea of decorating mine with feathers. I already have a crappy, long-hated straw hat I'm going to repurpose into something I can hopefully wear with joy.

This is a good view of the fronts of both underdress and overgown. I noted this screencap for the even pleating detail on the shoulders and bodice of Elinor's overgown.

I love me some Colonel Brandon.
This is a good view of the dress in motion. It looks like Marianne has blue unders on beneath the sheer gown. I haven't decided on a color for my ensemble yet and the contrary side of me wants to keep it a surprise until the picnic, only posting in-progress photos in black and white!

Pretty sure Colonel Brandon was my first crush.
A full-length view of the dress. You can tell she's wearing a couple petticoats. I will be making a bodiced petticoat with possibly two skirt layers. A bodiced petticoat is essentially a high-waisted sleeveless garmet with straps that provides coverage and modesty over the chemise and stays on top and bottom, under the dress.

Another good view of the overgown. I amazingly couldn't find a screencap of the fastenings, but in watching the movie again, it looks like it fastens in center front with buttons.

A 3/4 view of Marianne's nearly-identical overgown. Hers seems to fasten with hooks and eyes. The pleating on her shoulders looks narrower and concentrated farther out on the shoulder. I think I like that technique better. It seems less bulky that way. The fabric of Marianne's overgown seems thinner than Elinor's, so it probably lends itself well to smaller pleats, whereas Elinor's would need wider pleats sewn down at the edge as well to lay flat. We also see Marianne's other hat with floofy feathers. Usually I'm not a floofy person but I kinda like it!

Willoughby! Boo-hiss!
She wears her open overdress over a sheer dress as well, over white underpinnings. 

I included this to show her shoe(s). It's a slipper, like the Highbury slippers at American Duchess. (Yes, I plug other people's stuff! I have a pair of "Gettysburg" Civil War boots from American Duchess and my shopping experience was easy peasy, the boots are amazing, and I have heard nothing but good things of Lauren, so I will plug them for sure!) This scene may have been set up with slippers rather than boots (like the "Hartfield" boot) so it was easier for Willoughby to pull off her shoe and inspect Marianne's injured ankle, but I take it to mean that slippers are fine for a picnic and outdoor games. Especially if you are like me and very unladylike and prone to run barefoot.

It's hard to see in this screencap, but in the movie as the camera pans and Elinor moves slightly, it looks to me like she is wearing long stays. I am making long stays as well. I prefer them to short stays for posture and for back support. I have found several blogs with tutorials to draft your own Regency stays, but I have opted to use the 1820-1840 corset pattern from The Fashionable Past. It's a bit late, since Sense and Sensibility was published in 1811, but it fits the silhouette and the look and comfort I desire.

Marianne is wearing underpants in this shot, possibly to avoid a wardrobe malfunction while falling down the hill, since women didn't really start wearing them until early Victorian era, if I remember correctly. Feel free to set me straight! I plan on making underpants to wear too, because, well, unladylike behavior!

In Progress So Far:
— Short-sleeved chemise in white muslin, drafted and modified from the Elizabethan Smock Generator, since chemise form and construction didn't change very much, and the generator has never steered me wrong in the several times I've used it.
— Long stays in white twill and white muslin. So far I have resized the pattern and cut the mockup out of an old pillowcase.

(Work at a hotel or make friends with someone who does. Take thrown-out linens. I haven't bought fabric for mockups in almost three years, and as long as you're okay with poly/cotton, you can make beautiful "real" pieces too! I have garbage bags full of white poly/cotton sheets and duvet covers I can't wait to cannibalize and dye into lovely pieces.)

Onward, home to make more coffee and sew more! I found the S&S soundtrack on YouTube and I've been playing that until I can get the CD from Amazon as musical inspiration. The track "Miss Grey" is one of the songs from the ball and it makes me want to dance every time! I found a great website for Regency Dances and I REALLY want to try them!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

And Now For Something Completely Different!

Long story short, I eat my words.

Long story long, we begin further back than I would like to admit. My mother impressed on me, inadvertently, only through example, an intense love of literature. Her passions are the English classics: Austen, the Brontes, Wharton, the whole lot of 19th century novelists. Thus, I grew up with the film adaptations, and I have very, very fond memories of myself, my mother, and my sister watching them, and Dad falling asleep shortly into them and yet somehow later doing a perfect imitation of a character.

Fast forward many years to Monday, and I'm lying in bed with a chronically busted knee and Netflix. I found and watched the 1995 Ang Lee adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, my all-time favorite Jane Austen film. I laughed, I cried, I remembered inside jokes my family and I made out of it. It was a great personal reminiscence. But I also watched it with my adult, costuming eyes. I noticed how easy the costuming looked, both in comfort and construction. It looked fun to wear! It seemed effortless with the lack of rigid underpinnings, flashy trims and materials, and weighty jewelry. Simple elegance, for sure. It was also easy to see the construction details in the costumes, and it was accurate to what little I know of Regency costuming from various costuming blogs and forums.

Specifically, the scene where the Dashwood sisters were playing lawn bowls with the Sir John Middleton and Mrs. Jennings clan really made me stop and think, "I want to wear that to the Time Travelers Picnic that I want to host this summer! I want to play croquet in it!"

And it began, the seed was planted: the daydreaming, the plotting, the planning, the search for screencaps.

Now, mind you, despite my love of Jane Austen films, I have never had any particular love for Regency. In regards to the fashion, I have usually preferred more structured, corseted styles: Renaissance, Georgian, Victorian, skipping Regency, especially with the ridiculous masses of curled hair. I've also felt that the whole Jane Austen movement is over-hyped and over-romanticized in the modern world. I mean, really, not everyone can hope to land a Mr. Darcy nowadays, can she? (Personally I've always had a soft spot for Colonel Brandon.) Let's be realistic. People don't live like that. People don't act like that. People like that don't exist anymore. You're just setting yourself up for disappointment. BUT the Regency revival movement is made up of people who feel about that time period the way I feel about the Middle Ages and Renaissance, so I have no room to talk.

So the next day, I set up my sewing space in my Dad's house, where I am currently living, and I've been printing off patterns and tutorials all night at work. I usually have a character to play with and to make an outfit for, and I don't really have one in mind yet, but here we go!

(I also watched Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow and I have the following notes: I dislike her on every level. It was just poorly adapted with an unsettling amount of what I would consider modern behavior. I want to go back in time and burn down their costume shop. Ewan McGregor's hair is ridiculous. BUT when he sings, it redeems the whole mess.)

Deep breath.

I admit it. I'm a girl. I'm a romantic. I love Regency.

And I need a hat.