This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun. most of the time. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**



About Me

My photo
HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, member & Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, a representative of the San Diego History Center, & an honorary member of SITU (Someplace in Time, Unlimited) in Seattle. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of one.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.

Followers

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Breakfast with the Bennett’s- My Morning Robe

I think I broke my own personal record of making something in only three days. But at least it was something easy that didn’t require fitting like most of my dresses do. This would be my Regency morning robe I made to wear for the Breakfast with the Bennett’s at Costume College last weekend. I already had the fabric cut out a couple weeks prior to making it but I did have to cut out a lining fabric, and some strips to make my ruffles. I actually made it in TWO DAYS! Any of you who know my sewing speed know I am really slow, maybe only a couple hours at a time. But in a class at CoCo I discovered that’s a good thing! Charles Frederick Worth recommended sewing like a tortoise, not like a hare. So I’m claiming that as my standard now. Slight confession: I still had a bit of sewing on the morning I was leaving for CoCo, so my time spent was 2 days-3 hours, not counting cutting fabric. Still a record for me. And of course it’s not completely done. I want more ruffles on it, and lace.

The pattern, which I shared before, was this Butterick 5544, basically a bathrobe but under their Making History line. So it kinda sorta looked kinda Regency. 


With a few tweaks, I made View C more Regency-like. It had the cross-over bodice, and the side closure down the front, which matched my inspiration photos.


I just came across this one and decided to add it after this blog was posted. It's from the book, "Nineteenth Century Fashion in Detail, dated 1812-14 made of ikat muslin. 
This photo of a modern reproduction told me what fabric to use, a white cotton Swiss dot voile I had in my stash. Because of the sheerness of my fabric, I flat lined the bodice, sleeves, and skirt. Because I was in a hurry, and had some extra Swiss dot fabric, I used that for my bodice flat lining, mostly because I didn’t have time at that moment to cut out the skirt lining and needed to get the bodice done quickly.
I raised the waistline on the bodice by cutting about 2 inches off the bottom of it. When I tried it on me, I had to cross the bodice over a bit more in front but it still fit fine. It’s quite blousy in the front but you can pull in the gathers more to take that in.
The back bodice needed the most tweaking but again, it was minor and a piece of cake. It was a trick I learned from Heather McNaughton of Truly Victorian patterns. I didn’t know the bodice of my Victorian dress was supposed to have two bust darts, so after it was all done and she saw only the one on each side, she told me to take two tiny tucks in to fake it. To make the curved back seams that Regency dresses have, I drew a curved line on my modified pattern for the back.
 Then I transferred them by drawing them lightly in pencil on the inside of my bodice.  Then I took a 1/4 inch seam along the lines. The back is loose already so there’s lots of fabric to play with. And voila!  Perfect for a bathrobe.
I flat lined the skirt fabric with a solid lightweight cotton and sewed it to the bodice.
I still didn’t like how loose it was in the back so after I sewed the bodice and skirt together I made a drawstring casing using their seam allowances, and ran a ribbon through it. I sewed off the beginning of the ribbon going into the casing, and a piece of ribbon on the opposite side seam to tie to the end coming out of the casing.  I was able to draw it in tighter and tied it inside the dress so it wasn’t loose looking anymore. You also, after crossing over the front, tie the front to a ribbon sewn onto the opposite side. That’s your final closure. No buttons, buttonholes, or hooks & eyes to sew. Just what a mad sewing plan needs!
**Edited to add--someone mentioned the sizing on this. On the XL the measurement around the raised waist (2" cut off the bottom of the bodice) is 57", so that gives you a lot of room to move, and pull it in with a ribbon) 
Once those two parts were sewn together, I finished cutting out strips of my Swiss dot to make ruffles with. The pattern suggested using bias strips but I was running out of fabric so I just cut strips on the grain. The ruffles going around the neck and down the front of the bodice are made using 4 1/2 inch wide strips folded in half. This saved time not having to do a tiny hem on one edge. I cut more strips of the fabric to make facings to finish around the neck and front closure. I used some more of the ruffles on my cuffs and shoulder caps. I attached the shoulder ones directly to the armseye, then sewed the sleeves in. The cuff ones need to be re-done. I tried just gathering the sleeves to the ruffle but the ruffles kept getting larger, and in the end, which at this point was one hour before I was going to hit the road, I just did a quick attachment of narrow ribbons on the outside to tie them tighter around my wrist.
I used a white cotton day cap to cover my head, and basted a silky pink ribbon to the top. To finish that look, I clipped curls around my forehead to hang out the cap, and at the suggestion of a friend, tied paper strips around the curls to look like Mrs. Bennett had forgotten to take them out. Using my costumer’s ingenuity in the hotel room, I used bits of toilet paper, which held very well to my hair.
I only wore my Regency bodiced petticoat under this and I felt quite presentable going down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. 




As with many last minute costumes, this one isn’t complete. It needs ruffles down the front of the skirt; a second one on the sleeve cap; lace along the front crossover like in my inspiration photo; and then re-do those sleeve cuffs. It also makes a fabulous normal wear bathrobe, although not your standard one to be worn with fuzzy bunny slippers. But why not?

                                         ~~~Val~~~ 

14 comments:

  1. I've held off buying this pattern because I didn't have a vision for it. Now, I think I must have it!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's nice to have something quick and easy to make for once.
      Val

      Delete
  2. So adorable! I missed seeing you that morning as I had a class early, but thank you for sharing your photos and the sewing process. Very wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I kind of hope they might do a reprisal of a Regency breakfast next year, so I get more use out of it.
      Val

      Delete
  3. Loved the way you did the back to mimic the correct lines for Regency. I may try one too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My pattern is available but we need to shop for some.
      Val

      Delete
  4. Great job Val! I always enjoy seeing how creative others get with patterns. I love your
    morning gown. Nancy Farris-Thee'

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very sweet! And it looks so comfortable!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. It's very comfortable, and so different from the usual bathrobe.
      Val

      Delete
  6. This is wonderful, and so creative! I'm a novice seamstress ("sewer" just doesn't work in print!) and I actually understood 95% of what you did here. Gives me hope : ).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great! That's exactly what I'm hoping for, that the every day sewer/sewist/seamtress can understand what I write.
      Val

      Delete
  7. See? You've just justified my pattern buying obsession when they go on sale for $1 a piece. I got this a few years back and I'm glad I did.

    ReplyDelete

I would love to hear if this was any help to you. Pretty please!