Friday, August 10, 2012

Regency Picnic Dress Project - Accessories

Last but not least in Regency outfit project series is the accessories.

The shoes

Let us first discuss a sore point: the shoes. I will admit it: I hate them. They just did not turn out the way I wanted, and they did not exactly survive the event. I first began with a pair of cheap (10$) ballerina flats from Wal-Mart:

Ballerina Flats

While planning for this entire outfit, I hesitated between spray painting and fabric covering these shoes. After looking at a few tutorials for covering shoes with fabric and Modge Podge, I decided this was the best idea (what can I say, I am sometimes wrong). I was leaning towards blue shoes (to go with that taffeta I want to make into a Spencer jacket eventually), and was wondering which one of my leftovers to use, when I remembered I have lime green faux Shantung in my stash (read 100% polyester), which would look great with purple (now leaning towards matching my accessories to my purple Pashmina). Plus I have more than enough for the poke bonnet too, I thought… So lime green it was.

One night, I sat down with my fabric, tools and Modge Podge and a foam brush. After removing the bows from the shoes, I attempted to drape a pattern, but that did not work well. Instead, I cut a piece of my lime green fabric big enough to cover one shoe and I began painting Modge Podge on the toes before sticking my fabric to it. On and on I went, trimming fabric away, painting Modge Podge, but the fabric was not sticking well. I took out some clothespins to keep the fabric sticking to the inside of the shoe, I added more Modge Podge, I panicked when I saw some glue stains appearing on my fabric. I left shoe number one to dry while I attempted a similar operation upon the next shoe. The next day, I was still trying to get the fabric to stick nicely all the way under, to the sole’s edge, and around the opening. I tried to paint Modge Podge on top of my fabric to hide the stains.

(Badly) Fabric covered shoes

On and on and on I tried. On Friday, the day before the event, I just got my hot glue gun out. The results were no better, but at least that fabric was now sticking damnit! I added some trim, hoping the decoration would help. I had intended to make fake seams to the side with gros grain ribbon and to add the same ribbon in centre back and around the opening of the shoe. I was inspired by this American Duchess tutorial for Pemberley shoes. Note to self: gros grain ribbon does not follow curves that well. The trim around the opening of the shoe just looks bad. Finally, I added gathered purple trim to the front (found at Club Tissus for 1.59$ while looking for the lace trim to fix my dress) and some satin ribbons to the sides to wrap around my ankle like period ballerina shoes (one of them came unglued before the end of the day).

Finished shoes

They look awful, I regret trying to cover them with fabric instead of spray painting them, but hey, you can’t always get everything right on the first try. At least I made my learning mistakes on cheap shoes, and they were not for a Mascarade, so I’m not stressing about anyone judging them. I don’t really know what I’m going to do with them now (does Modge Podge come off with lots of soap and water?), but right now, I’m just going to ignore them.

The Poke Bonnet

I actually had to make two poke bonnets: one for me, and one for my daughter. I used the videotutorial by Stephanie Johanesen of the Oregon Regency Society to make both.

I used hot glue to fix the lining (leftover dress fabric), the bias tape around the brim, the bonnet, the trims, the lace, etc. Actually, considering the entire hat is holding with hot glue and I am happily surprised at the result. I made the bonnet part of my using the lime green faux Shantung, trimmed the brim with burble bias tape, covered the edge of the bonnet with purple satin ribbon added some of that amazing pleated ribbon to the top of the brim (it made such a difference, I am so happy I found that trim), added some leftover lace around the bonnets edge (another happy find – had it not been for the hole in my dress, my hat would have been boring) and glued a big purple bow to the right side of the hat, to which I added a lace flower from the lace trim.

Green & Purple bonnet - right side view

Green & Purple bonnet - left side view
In the case of my daughter’s I sewed the bias tape, by machine, to the brim of her hat. I also sewed the bottom of the lining inside the bias tape. The rest holds with hot glue. The fabric used for the bonnet is leftover pink English lace from her dress, and to match the red accents in her dress, I used red satin ribbons around the bonnet and as ties. I glued tiny lace decorations (leftovers from my lace trim) on the ties where they meet the brim of the hat, as well as two silk roses from the Dollar store which she had chosen herself. I had added a big red bow to the top of the bonnet, but she did not like it and I had to take it out for her to wear the hat (sometimes, something’s are not worth fighting over).

Pink Toddler Bonnet - without bow

Pink Toddler Bonnet - with bow


I shopped for a long time for the perfect necklace, but in the end, I wore this gold tone medallion which I found for 3$ at Zellers maybe two years ago (I wear it fairly often too). It may not be accurate for the period, but I decided it matched the other accessories well.

Golden necklace

As earrings, I wore faux pearl tear drop danglers. Simple, elegant, could have been worn in period.

Faux pearl tear drop danglers


For the longest time, in planning for that picnic, I figured I would curl my hair the night before with rag curls and do some sort of updo the day of. As it happens, I was sewing the buttons to my dress at 11PM the night before the picnic, and was too tired to spend over 1h curling my hair, so after some Googling, I decided to go for a braided bun instead.

My regency updo

The hair style I was trying to copy had two small braids starting on each side of the face and curling themselves gracefully around the bun. I discovered my hair is no longer long enough to achieve this; I was barely able to pull the two small braids around the bun to hide the bobby pins holding them in place.


The last of my accessory is my shawl. It is a beautiful purple, black and green Pashmina that a co-worker gave me for Christmas. Since it has a paisley pattern, I thought it was just perfect. As I mentioned, this was the inspiration for the colour scheme of all the accessories.

Purple and Green Pashmina

Phew! All done. Now you know all about my Regency dress project. I don’t know if I’ll make another dress any time soon, but I am very tempted to make accessory kits in various colours to change the look of my dress. There are a few things I’d like to try: Spencer jacket, open robe, turban… So many possibilities!


  1. I'm sorry to hear the shoes didn't go well :-( , but your bonnets look fantastic! The grosgrain ribbon around the top of shoes is such a pain - it's the confusion between grosgrain and petersham. The grosgrain doesn't bend, but the petersham does, because of the edge finish. Unfortunately petersham is not common in stores, has to be special ordered, but makes all the difference in the ease and finish of binding.

    1. Thanks! Next time, I'll try to look for Petersham. But as I said, one learns by making mistakes, so I have to make some sometimes!