April 9, 2012

Glories of the Past: Girl's Regency Dresses for Joelle's wedding (2010)

Today I will introduce a new feature here to tell you every week or so about a project done before this blog was started. Some of these are partly produced elsewhere on the internet, some are not, but I want to bring them here and add them to the collection in an easily navigated form for my reference, and your amusement. This week I'll tell you about the dresses I sewed the girls for my sister Joelle's wedding in 2010.

This is from my submission to the Show & Tell section of Sense & Sensibility Patterns, the place I got the pattern from. If you have not checked out this website, I highly recommend it. The designs are nice looking and come with good instructions and graded patterns on heavy paper.

Submitted to Sense & Sensibility, October 2010

I wanted to make some nice dresses for my daughters Ultraviolet (Violet for short, 4yrs) and Millivolt (Millie for short, 2yrs) to wear to my sister Joelle's wedding. I had drafted a pattern myself for empire waist style jumpers for them in the spring, but I didn't feel that I had time to work out a good puff sleeve and sleeve hole design in time for the wedding in October. My wife Becky had bought some regency dress patterns a few years ago which I remembered and I thought I would look for a girls version. After a very little bit of searching, I found this amazing site and quickly bought the regency girls pattern. Thanks for a wonderful site and great patterns Jennie!

My kids are on the small side of clothes, and the measurements could have gone in different ways, so I started with muslin versions of the size one and three. These ended up being tight, and the wedding was still months away so I went with the size 2 and 4. These were a bit big, but at least that meant they would be worn two or three times instead of one!

I liked this color scheme a lot, though my wife Becky said the right way to achieve it would be to do the whole dress in red and then have a white apron. Plus white fabric for little kids is really asking for stains. But I went ahead and did it this way anyhow. The skirts are white cotton/linen blend we had bought a bolt of for curtains a while back. The red is a regency era print from Reproduction Fabrics my wife got a few years ago to make herself a dress out of but had not used yet.

The skirt and bodice are lined with a plain white cotton fabric. I lined the sleeves too. I added button in removable sleeves, but the button holes in the bands got too close to the edge of the sleeve and so won't hold the buttons very well. Also I only put in three buttons which wasn't really enough. Maybe I'll redo them someday with snaps. Its too bad since the wedding was in Carmel and it was actually very chilly. Violet left hers in for a while, but Millie wouldn't stand for them to get buttoned in and so had to wear a jacket over her dress.

It was very difficult to do what ended up being 4 muslin and 2 final dresses in the 3-4 months I had to do the project. I spent numerous Saturday afternoons working on them with 'help' from the girls, which was fun but of course resulted in limited progress. I had to take a break in August and sew them some black jumper dresses to wear to my grandmother's funeral. So I ended up spending many very late nights working on these after the kids were in bed.

I can't emphasize enough how excellent the online pictures and construction guide were in combination with the instructions. That was very helpful for me since I wasn't familiar with some of the techniques used to make the dress. Now it seems natural and in fact I used some of the same construction methods for the funeral jumpers I made them in August.

The last picture is of our family at my sister's wedding. My suit is also mostly from stuff I made myself some years ago for another wedding. The jacket is a modified 1890s style morning coat from a pattern I drew from a draft in a book and then changed around a bit. I also made the removable collar and my tie. If you can't tell, my wife is pregnant with our third, due at the end of March. Its a boy, which will be an exciting change from two girls. But I'm despairing of making boy's clothes since they seem like they will take a lot more time and I already have trouble finishing projects before the kids grow out of them!

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