Regency Construction

I’ve been itching to delve into Regency for a while now but it took me quite a while to find an embroidered lawn that didn’t look like all of the baby-dress eyelet I had as a kid. I still haven’t found a border-embroidered gauze or lawn that looks really right to me, but I did find some in an all-over diamond pattern with little flowers. $4.95/yd on sale at, and I’m on my way!1810bodiceconstruct1

I like the cross-front styles better than the bib-fronts, so after scouring Patterns of Fashion, Cut of Women’s Clothes, Costume in Detail, Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion, Fashioning Fashion, blah blah blah, and countless websites, I settled on the 1810 dress from The Cut of Women’s Clothes by Norah Waugh (Diagram XXXVI). I like the cross front, long sleeves, the ruffled edge, and it’s simplicity. I want to move on to those super elaborate sleeve caps but not on my first go.

I couldn’t very well make a dress without the right underwear, so I whipped up a set of short stays, described here, and a petticoat. I already have two linen smocks that will work for this era – they may be a little heavy-weight but I’ll wait and see.
This particular layout seems to have the least info and detail of any dress in the book so I am guessing a bit on the proportions and measurements. I drafted it up and started draping the block.1810regency day dress back1

The drawing in Waugh’s book does not have any info on where it closed, or any detail at all.It only shows the outline of the bodice, skirt, and ruffles. I made a LOT of assumptions in all this. I roll-hemmed the ruffle edges and the skirt pieces, and decided the whole thing would be a wrap-front gown. That made construction easier than if it was a bib-front and I dislike back closing garments I can’t get into myself.

I used every scrap of fabric and even had to piece one shoulder ruffle, but here it is.

1810regency day dress fron1