For long, I have adored Mr. Darcy and the characters from Jane Austen’s novels. As a fashion obsessed history nerd, I have also fallen in love with the fashion of their time.
The reason for my learning to sew was that I too wanted to wear as beautiful clothes as I saw in pictures and films. Because medieval clothes did not require advanced sewing skills, I started there. Then I went on to regency fashion, using “Recreating History” patterns. As an impatient, poor student, I chose to sew my regency underwear out of old bed sheets, on machine. In the corset I used plastic boning. Recently, I improved the chemise and corset.
The white muslin dress is the only part of the costume that I have bought fabric for. It is mostly hand sewn.In the hopes of making it my passport to a historic tailoring education, I made an effort to show my abilities, with correct materials, precise pleats and unnoticeable stitches. As I lacked experience within all other fields of tailoring, I was not accepted. I have enjoyed my dress at picnics though, feeling beautiful, but awfully cold. Two years ago, I made removable arms for it and a matching bonnet, out of an old sun hat and fabric leftovers.
Last year, I sew a regency outfit for my husband. For this, I used both bought and homemade patterns, to finally achieve a costume including a cotton shirt with cravat, fall front knee breeches in moleskin, a satin waist coat and a woolen frock coat. The shoes, stockings and hat were bought.
The regency fashion reflects contemporary events. The French revolution got rid of the “suppressors’” fashion and a new fashion was born. The Napoleonic war inspired military decorations. I suppose the popularity of the second Earl of Spencer explains why the accidentally created spencer became fashion.
My outdoor clothes are good representatives for my thesis; both the hat and the spencer are feminized (and off course) “unpracticalized” uniform pieces. The spencer is completely hand sewn. It closes with hooks and eyes, and a drawstring at the waist. I almost went mad when trying to attach the ribbon to the “long haired” velvet that constantly pushed the ribbon in the wrong direction. The inside of the spencer is lined with cotton leftovers. The hat gets its structure from cardboard from old notebooks. The pieces are hand sewn and glued together.
I have not made exact copies of historical cloth pieces, but translated my favourite things from the Regency Era to what might pass for contemporary and what suits me and my purse (and after I saw Vanity Fair, I could not refuse the stylish hat, even though it should go with the trainless dresses that came later). The outside is always prioritized before the inside, where I cheat as I like, when I sew for myself. This is a philosophy that actually seems to have been practiced even then. My primary aim, though, has always been to create something that I would want to wear, and I succeeded!