Purple Regency Sari Gown


I know, I know, I’ve already made several Regency gowns out of saris, but they’re just so perfect for this kind of thing! Besides, this one isn’t for me, it’s for a friend of mine who is (luckily) short enough to use the width of the sari as her skirt length, so I used a slightly different cutting layout than I have in the past.


We did a standard rounded-neckline bodice with small gathers under the bust, since it seemed the easiest design. The back closes with buttons, and the placket in the skirt has a snap to keep it from gaping open. I considered doing drawstrings at the neck and waistline, but since my friend isn’t going to be wearing period-correct stays or a shift under her dress (which would otherwise fill in any gaping holes) I decided to keep things as firmly closed as possible.

We used the pallu of the sari to form the decoration at the front of the skirt, splitting the skirt panel and swapping the edges so the decorative borders formed a wider line of embroidery down the center. I did leave the very center of the original sari out of the skirt panel– both because I didn’t need the skirt to be that wide, and because I didn’t want to have to split the central beaded area in two. (instead she used it the scraps to make matching accessories). While the embroidery at the hem of the new front panel didn’t quite match the embroidery around the hem of the rest of the skirt, it was close enough to pass muster.  I will note that the front panel, unlike the tapered front panel on my blue brocade sari dress, is rectangular in shape to avoid the perils of trying to re-shape the hem to account for slanted side seams.

The back panel was pretty full– 60 inches wide for lots of movement, and pleated rather than gathered to avoid puffiness. Since the density of the tiny golden embroidered dots varied over the length of the sari, the back of the skirt didn’t quite match the front, but with all of the pleats it didn’t make much difference. I ended up using some areas of the sari without any gold dots at all, as the lining for the bodice and sleeve cuffs.

We did have extra border pieces to use as embellishment for the bodice and sleeves, so we ran a strip of trim along the neckline and down to a V in the center, and used more for the sleeve cuffs. This style of trim was a lot more trouble to applique onto the bodice, since it doesn’t have a natural straight line to fold at the edge– you can definitely see the seam attaching it to the bodice.

Anyway, this was a lovely dress, and I was happy to have been able to make it for my friend!


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