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I Made a Regency Dress From 1805 for My Pregnancy

During my latest pregnancy, I was in dire need of some new clothes. But I dislike modern maternity clothes and buying ready made clothes in general, so for me this meant carving out time and energy to make a couple items that would work for me through the pregnancy and into the postpartum. Because if I am putting time, money, and love into sewing something custom fit, you had better believe I will be wearing it for years to come, not just the next few months!

regency dress historical women sewing
Regency dresses are one of the few historical garments that can easily be worn in a modern wardrobe

I love historical fashion, and although most historical dresses require major alterations to be able to work in a modern day wardrobe without looking like a costume, the Regency period of clothing, at least for women’s wear, is somewhat unique. Regency dresses and outfits are perfect for a modern day wardrobe, at least for me. They are especially great in pregnancy due to their classic and flattering empire waist. And let me tell you, there is nothing like an empire waist during pregnancy to feel as elegant as possible, even when you feel as large as an elephant.

green historical dress hand made regency winter
I love how both versions of this 1805 dress pattern turned out!

I found an awesome pattern straight from 1805 from the book Patterns of Fashion 1 by Janet Arnold, and it had some many interesting details such as removable long sleeves beneath short puffed ones, diagonal pin tucks on the bodice, a fall-front bodice which fastens with buttons and makes this perfect for breastfeeding, and some built in bust support. It was seriously the dream dress for pregnancy, breastfeeding, and for looking elegant in that Regency way without needing to wear actual Regency undergarments.

historical dress book patterns of fashion 1 new edition janet arnold
I used a pattern from an extant historical dress from 1805 in Patterns of Fashion 1 by Janet Arnold

So, in this video I will be sharing with you the making process of this dress - a little of the patterning process, the sewing process, the unique closure method, and finally sharing with you the finished dress, how to fasten and put it on, and how I like it! I have actually made two of these dresses in different colours- so you may see both of them in the course of this video. Let’s jump into it!

How To Put on This Dress?

Go ahead and watch the video for the complete making process. I know many of you may now be wondering, 'okay Katherine, but how on earth do you put this dress on?' I get it. In fact, I wrestled with this question myself during the making of this dress, and it wasn't something I fully figured out until the dress was finished.

green regency handmade dress long curly hair winter
This dress worked for me throughout my pregnancy and now into my postpartum

Basically, this dress has no zipper or buttons, but it has a side opening, and fastens in two different ways: the pins that hold the hidden bust support pieces closed in front, and the waist ties at the side. The front bodice panel that is visible over the bust does up with buttons, which means it can be undone for easy breastfeeding access.

Below the side ties, this is a several inch long slit opening, which can gape a little bit. I added either a placket to hide this gape, or a built in overlap of the skirt, for my two dresses respectively. I then usually use a pin to keep this slit closed during wearing.

And if you are wondering, no, I have never been poked while wearing this dress!

How Do I Like It?

katherine sewing regency handmade dress

I absolutely love how this dress turned out. I made it in two colours - a nice emerald green, and a white and blue pin stripe, and I love both of them. I prefer the green dress overall for its rich colour to helps me feel like royalty even when I was feeling huge and tired during my pregnancy. But the second dress I made with the pin stripes had some important tweaks that made the fit a little better.

Okay, that was everything I wanted to say! At the time of filming this video I was pregnant, but I am now one month postpartum and can say that this dress is still working for me! It does still feel a tad tight in my arms, so I typically only wear it for more special occasions, but I think I will like it more once I am more into the postpartum. As for breastfeeding, it works very well, but is not as comfortable as something with a low or wrap neckline. Again, I think this will become easier once I am out of the immediate postpartum and everything has "shrunk down" a bit.

If you found this information wildly helpful and informative and would like to thank me, consider "buying me a coffee" through one of the buttons throughout this article. Thanks! I appreciate it so much! Click here for the full list of sewing products I recommend. Click here for the full list of hair-care products I recommend. Click here for the full list of makeup and skincare products I recommend. I have personally used all of these products and can wholeheartedly recommend them to you. It also helps support this blog if you purchase anything through one of those links because I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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