Jessamyn's Regency Costume Companion: Introduction



April 26, 2009
It was about time I posted some of my more recent sewing projects for others. I've created a new page of Regency dresses, and even accessories, so enjoy!

Also, I've started wrapping up the details of the 1780 gown...sleeve tucks, neckline ruffles, floss-braid trim, and so on. I love the way these smaller touches really pull a garment together.

April 21, 2009
I have created a pair of engageantes (lace elbow ruffles) for the circa-1780 gown, and you can read all about it on the Accessories page. Nothing like a little fluff to dress up a gown!

April 18, 2009
The circa-1780 petticoat is just about done, with information given about period methods for mounting the ruffles to it, and finishing off the waist (pleating patterns, and linen tape). Check it out!

March 31, 2009
I am working on a number of updates to the site right now. For now, just a little thing: a 1780 hairstyle! I am completing the remaining elements of the 1780s costume and will have those pages up soon, as well as a large collection of more recent work. Stay tuned!

July 13, 2008
I have finally updated another pattern review page: Women's Underthings, which includes shifts, corsets, stockings, pockets, and more.
In addition, alert readers will notice a change to the format of the main Pattern Page. I have broken out the men's pattern content into three separate pages, like the women's, but the content has not yet been updated. It is, however, well underway. I beg patience, dear reader!

May 6, 2008
Well strike me pink! Read about my efforts to replicate curving 18th-century pinking with nothing but an ordinary pair of modern zigzag pinking shears for the flounce of my 1780s petticoat.

April 24, 2008
I must be on a roll. Read about creating the sleeves and pleating the skirt on the 18th-century gown, and detailed information about starting to put the petticoat together.

April 22, 2008
My apologies for not continuing sooner with the pattern updates (it's turned into a huge project of tracking down information on the latest patterns, examples of finished works, and a complete overhaul of the layout of the reviews themselves!) or with my 18th-century sewing diary.
      However, after not wanting to look at it for awhile after it suffered a dreadful injury (read all about it!), I have news on the 18th-century gown. Enjoy!

December 6, 2007
At long last, an update to the gown pattern reviews. I must admit that I don't use commercial patterns much any more - mostly I drape and draft my own. But a number of excellent patterns have come out in the past few years, and you should know about them!
      Also, thanks to everyone who's written to me over the years with your comments on patterns. I really appreciate it! I'm working hard on the other pattern pages, so stay tuned.

November 24, 2007
Get a crash course in 18th-century petticoat construction in my new diary page ... complete with diagram. Tracking down the appropriate period dimensions was surprisingly laborious, but fortunately, they work out very well on modern fabric widths.

November 11, 2007
I've been sewing much faster than I've been putting the diary together, but you can now see my 1780s gown cut out - crammed, I should say, onto the available brocade!

November 5, 2007
I'm launching a new diary!
      Yes, okay, I know. I have all those unfinished diaries already. And I have plans to get them wrapped up soon.
      But in the meantime I've got a short-schedule project that I'm diarizing: a gown and petticoat of the 1780s. I've been learning a lot in order to produce this outfit, and I wanted to share.
      There are still plenty of updates to the site in the works, too, so stay tuned!

October 29, 2007
I'm back!
      The last year and a half were largely absorbed by our wheelchair accessible remodeling project. It's finally done! Now I'm returning my attention to costuming.
      I've reworked this homepage and introduced a new way to support the site. Check back often for other updates I have in store!
      Lastly, I've realized it's been a DECADE since I started this site - in Internet terms, practically a lifetime. Happy anniversary to me and to you, my visitors old and new.

December 6, '05
I've cut out some of the fabric for the Florentine trunk-hose, and I've started on a nice warm velvet cassock.

November 11, '05
It's been a terribly long time since I've updated. Frankly, after my husband's health was up and down so much, and then improved to the point that we could get out and do things again, I was totally burned out on sitting around, including sitting at my desk working on this website. My costuming has been largely on the back burner, too - although I have made some modern clothes. However, a break seems to have been just what I needed, so I'm jumping in again, starting with the Florentine gentleman's outfit.

June 28, '05
Oh, my, I've had my hands full with non-costuming projects. I'll try to weigh in on the diaries soon (there's been progress, it's just undocumented!) Meanwhile, I have finally completed a massive overhaul of my Links & Sources pages, now revamped, reorganized, culled, and augmented. Plus I've added a couple of new July event listings to the Where to Wear page. Enjoy!

May 10, '05
Hey! I'm on a roll. Here's another installment on the Romantic day dress - it's not exactly finished, but nonetheless I offer photos of me wearing it!

May 9, '05
I have lots of catch-up diarizing to do on my Romantic day dress, so here's a good chunk about the bodice and sleeves. More to come as soon as I can write it up!

April 21, '05
I cut out pretty much all the bits of my Romantic day dress, and started work on a fetching straw bonnet.

April 13, '05
I've pretty much sorted out the muslin of my Romantic day dress, and I've figured out a way around the dreaded back fastenings. Oh, and I added the gold trim to my Florentine gown!

April 3, '05
Hey, I bet you thought I'd forgotten all about finishing my Florentine gentlewoman's outfit! Nope - I've finally finished those darned sleeves, and am beavering away on the other niggling detail of the gown. Plus, while I was away I started on a little blackwork project for the camicia - who knows if I'll get it finished before I declare the outfit "done," but it's an interesting experiment anyway.

April 2, '05
I've produced mockups I and II on my new Romantic day dress - I think the bodice is about right now, but I definitely still need to work on those sleeves...

March 28, '05
Follow my fabric research and see the delightful fabric I found for my Romantic day dress! Also, I've realized that it wasn't obvious that all the photos in the 1880s gallery could be clicked through to much larger images, so I've clarified that on the page. Be sure to check it out if you haven't already!

March 18, '05
I recently got word of a new Regency Picnic to be held in Hanover, Massachusetts. Check out the details on the Where to Wear page.

March 17, '05
I finally polished off the 1880s dress diary. Check out the last few changes, or head straight to the gallery. Either way, enjoy!

March 8, '05
Just what I need, another dress diary! Actually, I've finished up the 1880s dress and got some quite nice photos taken of me in it, which I will be posting soon. And the Florentine gown just needs taking in hand for a few finishing touches. So for my next outfit...a Romantic-era day dress, circa 1840.

March 3, '05
I'm back from the hospital bedside and getting back to work. I'll have some embroidery and a new dress diary to show you soon! In the meantime: About twice a year I try to update the Where to Wear page. Besides cleaning out defunct listings and updating existing ones, I've added three more: two in England and one in Seattle. Enjoy!

February 3, '05
Nothing like channeling one's stress into labor: I've created and more or less completed a page on the 1880s accessories. And that about wraps it up for that outfit, except for the final photos! (Those will have to wait until we get back and I have energy to spare for something so frivolous as a full-on dressing-up.)

February 2, '05
Well, David's health is declining, the neurosurgeons have finally stopped their dithering, and he's going to have surgery on February 9. Wish us luck!

Meanwhile, to keep my mind off things, I've been trying to get some projects done. In addition to some modern clothes not worth showing here (lining a jacket I got for Christmas, making a knee-length skirt, etc.), I've been clearing out my sewing room and working on my dress diaries. I need a clean slate for 2005! With that in mind, and with a new project on the horizon for the end of May (an 1840s gown, in case you're interested), I've done a massive update to my 1880s gown diary - both the bodice and the skirt.

January 4, '05
Reading Jen Thompson's new 1875 dress diary made me realize it's been an apallingly long time since I updated my 1880s gown diary - so I pulled out my pics and posted an entry about starting the skirt!

January 3, '05
Happy New Year! Unfortunately David's health sent us out of town for awhile, but I'm finally back with a few updates to the doublet.

November 28, '04
I've just made a few updates to the Your Costume page - and made it a lot prettier!

November 22, '04
I keep slashing my way through David's doublet, and creating a bit of company for my first shoe.

November 16, '04
Well, for heaven's sake. A reader's question led me to realize that although quite a while back I extensively overhauled my page on Regency fabrics, I didn't upload it properly! Oh, well, check it out - lots of new information and images, plus clarification of Regency and modern fabric terminology.

November 9, '04
After a few deep breaths to shake off election week, I make further progress on the sleeves of David's doublet.

November 1, '04
Happy All Saints' Day! Hope you had a lovely Halloween. Having finished up a Pirates-of-the-Caribbean Captain Jack Sparrow costume for a client, I finally faced the buttonholes on the Florentine doublet.

October 28, '04
I've been promising it for a long time, and now my page on Regency Weddings is finally up and running!

October 10, '04
Sorry about the long absence! Hurricanes, floods, no running water, power outages, a leaking roof - September was crazy! But at long last, I tackle fingerloop braiding for my gentleman's shirt, and have further progress to show on my shoes.

August 30, '04
At last the doublet has something that actually looks like a sleeve, and I found a wonderful tassel for the girdle of my Florentine gown.

August 10, '04
Finally, back to the diaries! I've been busy with a month-long visit from my stepson and a lovely Regency-inspired wedding gown for a client, but now I'm turning my attention back to my Florentine garb. I've updated my woman's shoes, and also my gent's doublet.

July 8, '04
It's been almost a year - high time I updated my Where to Wear page. I've cleaned up outdated links and included several new listings!

July 5, '04
June was full of projects that kept me away from this site! But at last I've posted an update to my 1880s gown diary.

June 7, '04
I've got my shoes cut out from leather and partially pinked; and an idea for a period-correct improvement to my gent's shirt.

May 20, '04
Making it all up as I go along, I start creating some mid-16th-century shoes for myself.

May 17, '04
I get David's shirt whipped into shape, plus tiny advances on my gown sleeves and his doublet.

May 2, '04
Just a bit of progress on my gown sleeves.

May 4, '04
I've added new pages discussing shoes in both the Florentine lady's and Florentine gent's diaries.

May 2, '04
The doublet is actually starting to look like one, and I've created 64 jewels for my gown sleeves.

April 26, '04
Progress made on the doublet, both while away and since returning; and the start of the shirt.

April 13, '04
I order a pair of periodish stockings for David's costume, and prep the doublet for pinking.

April 11, '04
I finally really and truly finish the kirtle (yay!), and make lots of progress and plans for the doublet.

April 4, '04
The fabric arrives for the gent's doublet and I make a start on drafting the pattern for it. Plus I get lovely new linen for the shirt, and order a much-needed book for its pattern.

March 28, '04
I order some fabric for the gent's doublet and make strides in putting a new guard on the Florentine kirtle.

March 21, '04
Just what I needed - another diary! I'm putting the French gown on hold because it's clearly less important for me to have a second gown than it is for my husband to have a first outfit. Check out my plans for his Florentine gentleman's garb. Plus I get going trying to wrap up my own Florentine gown, starting with the sleeves.

March 18, '04
About time I updated the 1880s diary! Added the process of making my bustle pad - and launched a page on the making of the bodice.

March 14, '04
Frantic pre-performance efforts focus on lacing holes and sleeves for the gown, followed by a post-performance review and pics of the accessories, camicia, and kirtle. I've also posted a bit about the French court gown's kirtle.

March 8, '04
I finish the embroidery on the coverciere, restring pearls and work up a makeup scheme on the accessories page, put the major elements of the gown together, and discover a couple of things I need to retool on the kirtle. Phew!

February 28, '04
I grit my teeth and cut up the damask for the Florentine gown!

February 22, '04
Finishing up construction on the kirtle, embroidering away on the coverciere, and further details of Florentine accessories.

February 16, '04
I've finally posted a long-overdue update to the Your Costume page. Now you can find links to all kinds of how-to information on Regency costume, right at the top of the page. Check it out!

In diary news, I couch up a storm on the Florentine coverciere and get stumped by the layout of the damask gown; and the fabric plans for the French gown undergo another change.

February 9, '04
I tackle the kirtle petticoat and get started on the Florentine accessories.

January 30, '04
I complete the kirtle bodies with lacing holes, create yet another cutting diagram, and set down my ideas for the coverciere.

January 28, '04
I have an epiphany about my kirtle, create a nifty cutting diagram, and put a silk shell on my boned foundation.

January 26, '04
Lots of progress! I'm sewing a lot more than I'm webbing, but here's a look at my nearly completed camicia and the boned bodies of my kirtle.

January 21, '04
Going nowhere fast ... struggles with my kirtle design.

January 19, '04
Follow the fruits of my research into 1550-70 Italian garb, and check out the new page on the camicia (shift or smock), all in the Florentine diary.

January 18, '04
I've updated both the 1880s diary (the making of the corset, from beginning to end!) and the Florentine diary (see my beautiful silk damask, and find out how little of it I really have...

January 14, '04
Well, I've added not one but two new diaries! Find out about my new Renaissance costuming projects.

January 6, '04
It's high time for a little remodeling! I've added Other Eras, a page of links to costuming sites with a similar setup to this one, but for other historical periods. I've been meaning to do this for quite a while.

I also added a dress diary to the site! Follow my creation of an 1882 reception gown.

And, of course, I added this "What News?" sidebar.

December 26, '03
Added an affiliate link to a great on-line resource for affordable linen fabric.

December 3, '03
Added brand-new pages on men's hats and men's hairstyles, and completely overhauled the page on period fabrics!



Do you wish to create a Regency costume? Here you'll find a collection of information, ideas, pattern tips, and images that will help you make your dream a reality.

THIS SITE IS A RESULT of my effort to create a couple of women's Regency costumes. I've always been a historical-costume nut, so when I set out to research the period, I pulled out a file where I keep clippings of costumes from magazines. I checked out every book on costume in five libraries. I surfed the web. I stuck my videotapes of Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion into the machine and hit Pause a lot. I ordered patterns, and wound up adjusting them more and more as I got more information.

I don't want you to have to go through the same thing.

So the point of this site is to consolidate the most useful of these images and pieces of information into one handy guide. Be aware that this is in no way trying to be comprehensive. There were articles of clothing and styles that were temporary fads, for example, that I'm not going to talk about. The point is to limit this to stuff you need to know to produce a costume, with a minimum of pain, that is still as accurate as possible.



    Note about my use of the term "Regency": although the English Regency (when the Prince Regent ruled) actually covered the years 1811 to 1820, from the standpoint of fashion and architecture it begins in the late 1700s and continues into the early 1820s - a period when an imitation of the classical Greeks and Romans was the reigning "look." My research shown here starts in the late 1790s and tapers off around 1825. Costume was remarkably stable during this period: the basic shape and construction stayed largely the same - only the details changed. Any earlier, though, and you've backed into the Martha Washington/pouter pigeon silhouette; any later and the outline becomes an upholstered, wasp-waisted lampshade. For a survey of Regency fashion plates that includes more of the late eighteenth century, please visit Cathy Decker's Regency Fashion Page. A number of images you will see at my site are used here with her very gracious permission.


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Copyright 1997-2009 by David and Jessamyn Reeves-Brown. All rights reserved.
Note: to the best of my knowledge, all images used are in the public domain
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