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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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