Regency dress sewing part 1 - the bodice

November 13, 2020


Hello lovelies,

it took me quite some time but my first regency dress is finally done. 
I have had my eyes on this period every since I saw the pride and prejudice adaption from 2003 two years ago. 
My friend made a regency dress a few years ago for a Lizzy Bennet cosplay and she gifted me her pattern (and her bonnet). 
The pattern she gave was from the company fig leaf, and it was the pattern for an apron dress, 1799.
I have to admit, I had my difficulties with the pattern. Not with the sizing or anything, that was just fine, but the instructions and the black and white pictures were sometimes really unclear. It's not the companies fault at all, but I am so used to japanese patterns where every small detail is shown in drawing, that even though I do not speak japanese, I can easily follow the patterns. But with mostly text, it is always a mystery, not only in englisch but also in German. This is why I absolutely dislike any Burda pattern because it is just too much text and not enough graphics.
Ok, rant over and now off to the good part.
The material of the dress is a linen/cotton mix with a (machine) embroidered floral pattern. I saw the fabric in the store and it just screamed Regency at me. The dress is completely hand-sewn and made in the historical way as described in the pattern. 

As it will be too long, I have splitted the making off into two parts. 
The first one will be all about the bodice, part will be about the skirt and completed project. 

I cut out the bodice from my floral fabric and the inner lining from a thin cotton fabric. I followed the instructions quite closely and started with the lining. Every seam is hand-sewn and I kept very close to the instructions. 

For the front lining I folded back the bottom seam and the front seam and sewed them. The shoulder piece was also added in this step.

front lining piece of a regency dress bodice

This is my back lining piece.

back lining piece of a regency dress bodice

 Then I folded back the seams on the front side of the white lining and sewed it. I use a hem stitch for almost 90% of the seams. 

 pinned front part of the lining of the regency dress

Front and part are then pinned and sewn together.

back and front lining piece of the regency dress pinned together

This is the outer fashion fabric, I started by adding the shoulder part, then sewing the bottom and then pinning down the front.
front bodice part of the fashion fabric

Once again the front side was pinned and sewn, these ar almost the same steps as the lining.

front bodice part in the process of being pinned

Front and back of the lining.
front and side lining of the regency dress sewn together

The back of the front fashion is then pinned to the lining. I probably ironed the back at least three times but it is still full of wrinkles. Maybe I should invest in a steamer or something like that.

lining piece of the regency bodice back

 floral fashion fabric put on top of the corresponding lining part

After sewing the neckline, I pinned the sides to both lining and fashion fabric layer. The seam allowance of the sides had been ironed back and it made it very easy to pin. I matched up the sides with the armsycle and no idea why, but the lining looks so tiny and uneven underneath it.

back bodice with the fashion fabric of a regency dress

After the sides I pinned the front to the lining and through three layers.

fashion layer of a regency bodice in a work of progress

 For most of the project I used a hem stitch, but for attaching the sides and the front piece, I used a half-back and a normal back stitch. When this was done, it was finally time to add the ribbons. The first ribbon was the one on top. I used a big, blunt wool needle to thread the ribbon into the bodice.

front regency era bodice
It already looked so cute with the ribbon.

ribbon tunnel on white linen fabric
I made a tunnel with the ribbon I had used at the top to make a tunnel, and then threaded in the same ribbon. 

The shoulder strap was my next step. I folded the fashion fabric over the lining and pinned it. Afterwards I sewed together the back- and front strap piece and cut away the extra.

front strap of the regency fashion with pins

front and back part of the regency bodice are pinned together at the shoulder strap on the left side

The sleeves were definitely not my favourite part, but they usually aren't. As I just made my first regency dress, I didn't want to go outside of the instructions. Even though I really wanted to make some extravagant sleeves with ruffles and overlays. But I will do so the next time.

 paper patter on fabric

The sleeve was cut out and the sides sewn together. At the top was a small area that had to be gathered, so I did that too.

Sleeve folded and pinned together at the middle

And this is the finished bodice, front and back. The sleeves look a bit weird on my doll but that's only because her shoulders are wider than mine.

front bodice of a regency dress on a black dress doll

back bodice of a regency dress on a black dress doll

It looks pretty on the doll and then I tried it on and came to the realization, that it was too short. (I coloured my hair pink in September, now I have to get a wig :D)

auris wearing the regency bodice, stays and white linen chemise

auris wearing the regency bodice, stays and white linen chemise

At that point, I almost lost my marbles. I made a mock up, I hand sewed everything and now it didn't fit? I went to bed and tried to calm down. 

Two days later, I decided to rip out the front part and re-do it. The back- and sidepart were okay so I didn't touch them. It really didn't take long to redo the bodice and after a few days, the bodice was done, again. And it fit! Hooray. 

If you want to watch the video I made, follow my youtube channel: Auris Lothol




Part 2 will follow son.

All the best,


Auris Lothol



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