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This dress is from the Regency Era, or, being a Jane Austen fan as I am, I prefer to call it the "Jane Austen Era". Think "Pride and Prejudice", "Sense and Sensibility", "Emma", and so on. Approximately 1790-1820, the lines of the dress reflected more of the classic style, with the empire waist. The dress itself could be long or short-sleeved, and vary in style from quite plain to the lace and trim of a fancier gown. Mine has a ribbon tied around the high waistline, and a little crocheted lace peeking out of the front of the neckline (the pattern called for lace to circumference the neckline, but I didn't have enough of the kind I wanted to use--only a 2" scrap, which goes to show why you should always save scraps, no matter how insignificant they seem!--and I ended up liking it better not having so much lace.)

The dresses of this time period are a stark difference from those earlier in the 1700s, with very rigid full-length bodices and often immense skirts. These dresses did not require as fastidious of corseting because the waistline was almost nonexistant; the skirts hung relatively flat, instead of being held out by massive hoops. While my pattern called for gathering the skirt all the way around before attaching it to the bodice (an easier procedure), I chose, instead, to keep the front of the skirt flat with all the gathering in the back, which was a common style of the time. This pattern also has a slight train, but many skirts were often the same length front and back.
This costume also includes a short spencer jacket, various styles of which were popular at the time.
The reticule bag was new to this era, because previously women were able to hide pockets within their large skirts. It closes by drawstrings, which also serve as its handles, and mine has a little wooden bead and handmade tassle.
I used the same fabric for making the outer bonnet as I used for the jacket, and the brim lining to match the bag. (The feather on my bonnet was luckily found on the floor of a craft store, near some "shedding" feather boas.)


1. A regency era walking dress and spencer jacket

2. Example with bag

Picture references

"O Fates, come, come, Cut thread and thrum" -Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream