Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Regency Picnic Dress Project - Underwear

As promised, here is (finally) a series of posts on the items making up my Regency outfit (now that you have seen pictures of the actual result as worn at the picnic). I know, I know, I should have posted progress pictures earlier, but hey, I’m pregnant, which is the best excuse to be lazy, whatever the situation!

First up, underwear.

For this project, I wanted to make period underwear for a change. As mentioned before, I love historical costuming, but other than some white t-tunics for my SCA wear, I have never bothered before with underpinnings, though I keep telling myself I will. And this time, I did! Since I am pregnant, I couldn’t go with a long corset or stays (which is also why I went for Regency instead of my favourite 1750’s look). Researching for this outfit, I discovered half stays, and I ended up buying Sense and Sensibility Regency Underthings pattern (in PDF format). I used it to make both my shift and half stays.


Shift & Short Stays

Another thing I should point out about this project is that I tried to use material from my stash as much as possible, to avoid spending too much on fabric. That is why my shift is made of poly cotton poplin, while I used draping muslin for the lining of my stays, some thickly woven polyester for the interlining and matte satin for the fashion layer (and I have no clue what these fabrics were used for originally – I just found them in one of my bins - though I think the matte satin is from the wedding dress I made a friend five years ago.

The boning used for my half stays is tie-wraps (I find they are the best – besides, it’s not like I get to wear these undies often anyways). I did “splurge” on bias tape for binding both my stays and the neckline of my shift, and I also bought plenty of cheap white ribbon to use as drawstrings, and even some shoe laces for the same purpose.

Not period accurate? I don’t care! I was going for proper shape, not historical accuracy – everything is machine sewn, and I even serged all the seams of my shift instead of making flat felled seams like the pattern suggested.

But hey, I did do the eyelets on my stays by hand; that must count for something! (It was my first attempt at making hand sewn eyelets, so not one of them looks like the other, but again, one learns through practice and experience).

Short Stays - Front 

Short Stays - Back

My biggest challenge for the stays was making it fit properly; try as I may to fit it tightly on myself, the end result is just slightly too big (but still wearable). And this is why I was happy I didn’t invest in expensive fabrics for my first attempt; you can’t feel too bad if you don’t do well with leftovers. Another thing is, those v-shaped inserts to make the cups terrified me - that is, until I figured out they were no more complicated than a welt pocket (of which I had to make many in fashion school), and then they became very easy.

All in all, I am satisfied with my first ever period underwear. And a plus: I can wear my shift with earlier styles as well! So my next period underwear project will be a pair of 18th century stays.

P.S. In case you wonder, I did not go commando under that shift. The half stays may have replaced a modern bra, but there was no way I was leaving the house without wearing some briefs. There is a limit (for me) to historical accuracy!

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