The Little White Dress

An Embroidered Regency Dress with a Pink Silk Spencer, c. 1818

An embroidered Regency dress with a pink silk spencer, worn in the historic masquerade at Costume Con 23 in Ogden, Utah, and on Friday at Costume College 2005. The dress is embroidered by hand using tambour embroidery, French knots and satin stitches. The dress and everything worn with it is sewn by hand. I'm wearing it over the Mantua Maker pantalettes, Kannik's Korner shift, corded Regency corset based on my 1820-1840 corset, and a bodiced petticoat with a corded hem. The dress is made of Swiss muslin from Farmhouse Fabrics. The spencer is of pink silk taffeta from the outlet.

The pattern for the dress is a shortened version of the 1820s ballgown bodice in The Cut of Women's Clothes. The seamlines match that of a Regency dress in Costume in Detail that I wanted to copy because the simple shape would work well under a spencer. The sleeves are from the 1806-1809 Frock in Patterns of Fashion 1 and the skirt is the 1815 skirt from Period Costume for Stage and Screen.

The pattern for the spencer is the 1815-1825 from Period Costume for Stage and Screen, the undersleeve is the same pattern as the dress sleeve, and the oversleeve is from the 1818-1823 Pelisse in Patterns of Fashion 1.

The dress closes in back with two drawstrings. The spencer closes with hooks and eyes at the neckline and waistline. The belt fastens with a pin.

I won best in class workmanship and documenation, master division and an honorable mention for presentation in the masquerade for this dress.

A side view of the dress. The front of the skirt is flat, as was popular in the later Regency period. This gives a nice surface for the embroidery that goes down the front of the dress. The spencer opens slightly since it only fastens at the neck and waist, which copies a spencer in the Victoria and Albert museum. It gives the illusion of a slightly more rounded shape. The waistline on the dress is extremely high and I wouldn't be able to wear it without a corset.

The spencer has self piping around the belt, the loops on the oversleeve, the top of the oversleeve bands, the cuffs, the collar and down the center fronts. It's interlined with white cotton and fully lined with white China silk. The China silk lining was made separately and then put wrong sides together with the pink layer. The edges were then finished by piping, the collar and the waistband. The armscyes are bound with linen tape, and the sleeve puffs are looped with pink silk ribbon.

Many thanks to Jack Krolak for the above pictures!

Pictures from Costume College. In the picture on the left, the sun appears to be in my eyes, but it's the best picture I have of the shawl with the dress. It's a lightweight wool with paisley designs, and though I have no idea of how old it is, it's perfect for the dress. In the other pictures, I'm not wearing proper neckline fillers, but the more portraits and fashion plates I look at, the less convinced I am that they were worn all the time.

The dress is unlined. The skirt is sewn with French seams and the bodice seams are left unfinished. The armscyes are bound with self fabric. The ruffle on the neck is whip gathered. The shape of the skirt is slightly triangular from the corded petticoat below and the gored shape of the skirt. Dresses were losing their completely columnar appearance by the 18 teens.

And the dress with proper neckline fillers. I'm definitely not a fan of chemisettes, as seen on the right, so I made the fichu on the left, which is just a triangle of cotton netting.

Dress Construction
Spencer Construction
My Costumes
The Regency Era

I'd like to go home!