Regency Pashmina Dress, Part II: Bodice and Skirt

Let me just say at the outset that I am never going to make a dress out of pashmina shawls again. The fabric is so loosely woven that it’s next to impossible to cut straight, it frays if you look at it funny (I had to zig-zag every single edge to keep it from unraveling entirely), and it snags at the slightest provocation. Unpicking seams takes forever and leaves gaping wounds in the fabric, the weight of the skirt alone appears to be pulling the fabric itself out of shape, and I have no idea how I’ll wash this thing if it ever needs cleaning. Never again. Never. Again.

Anyway, back to a time when I didn’t know all this…

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Regency Pashmina Dress, Part I: Design and Fabric

A few months ago I was invited to join a friend at the The Governor’s House in Hyde Park, Vermont for a Sense and Sensibility Weekend, which is basically a weekend of Jane Austen-y activities at a historic house (built in 1895 but it’s a copy of a 1753 home), including tea, a dinner dance, and a sleigh ride! It sounded like fun, but I immediately knew that I would need to supplement my Regency wardrobe, which until now has consisted solely of evening gowns and springtime-appropriate daywear. Clearly, I needed something for winter!

I wanted to use a more winter-appropriate fabric than my usual cotton, not only for warmth but also because I just thought something more textured would look better in the setting. The problem was, it was difficult to find lightweight wool in a pretty color at any price point, much less one that I was willing to pay. But then it occurred to me– what if I made my gown out of pashmina shawls? After all, making gowns out of such shawls is actually completely accurate to the period, as textiles from the Indian colonies were hugely popular during the Regency.

Josephine Tasher de la Pagerie, Empress of France - Baron Antoine Jean Gros circa 1808. Oil on canvas. Musee d'Art et d'Histoire, Palais Massena, Nice, France.Photograph of French dress of red net with high waist, puff sleeves, and Kashmir-inspired motif at the hem, in the posession of the Musée Historique de Tissu de Lyon coiffure à la Ninon - robe de cachemire  journal des Dames et des Modes 1809

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Queen of Hearts Costume, Part IV: Hearts and Overskirt

q-of-hearts-hearted

Once the basic black and white dress was done, it was time for embellishment. To make the hearts down the front I cut out some heart-shaped templates from paper and pinned them to the dress to get an idea of the correct sizes. Then I tweaked them until I had the correct size and shape.

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