Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Regency Beaded Dress

Regency Beaded Dress

If you want a big, over the top, detailed, insane dress, it's going to take time. A lot of time. And commitment. And deciding just what else can be put aside. When I first saw this Regency beaded dress in the Met on April 8th, 2013, I knew I had to have it. I also knew that when I started it, it would take over my entire costuming life. And three years later--except for one brief break to finish a kitty sock, it did just that! I started the dress on February 4th, 2016 and finished it on May 20th. It went out of town with me twice, to work just in case I had ten extra minutes at lunch, and most days I worked on it for four to five hours. Occasionally more, and sometimes less, but to say it took all of my time is somewhat of an understatement! I rearranged my entire costuming schedule around this dress, and thankfully enjoyed every minute of it.

Regency Beaded Dress Regency Beaded Dress

I'm wearing it over a linen chemise from Burnley and Trowbridge's lightweight linen, the underbust version of Sabine's short stays, and a bodiced petticoat in the first pictures--taken in Bath--and a strapped petticoat in the second pictures--taken at the Louisville Jane Austen Festival.

My bonnet is the Ophelia from Timely Tresses. It's trimmed with ribbon from Bulldog and Baum and flowers from A Pink Swan.

Regency Beaded Dress Regency Beaded Dress

Regency Beaded Dress Regency Beaded Dress

The beading weighs quite a bit! The skirt is on the narrow end, around 80 inches, because I didn't want too many of the beads to get lost in the width. Walking in it is a little like walking in a hobble skirt because of the way the beads press against your legs.

Regency Beaded Dress Regency Beaded Dress

Construction on this dress was very straightforward. It's fitted with darts in front and closes with drawstrings in back. It's made of sheer cotton from Farmhouse Fabrics and the bodice is lined in cotton from Dharma Trading. The beads are 15/0 rocailles from Fire Mountain Gems. A lot of beads--while I didn't keep exact track, I did need about two and a half boxes of light green, two mossy green, two yellow, and two white in addition to partial boxes of other colors. There are 8,500 or so beads in a box.

I'm incredibly pleased with how this dress turned out, and I'm still a little stunned that I made it! Though I've worn in three times this year, in addition to wearing it in Bath and to the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, I also wore it to Costume College, I'm hoping to have many chances to wear it in the future!

I don't have any actual construction pictures of the dress since it is so straightforward, but I did take many pictures while beading! You can see them below.





Regency Beaded Dress

I was thankful that, if careful, I was able to put the beading directly into the hoop. You can also see a skirt seam in this picture. I decided that because there was so much beading that would be going over seams, I would make the skirt first, leave enough at the hem to support the hoop, and then do the beading.

Regency Beaded Dress

One thing that made the dress easier--the beading directed the embroidery. I traced the design on with a mechanical pencil, and only needed a few outlines instead of the entire pattern.

Though there are tricks--such as going through the last bead in a row--to make beading straight, after being able to count how many beads were on each stitch in many places on the original, I decided to do it without worrying about it. It's much faster!

Regency Beaded Dress

For the flowers, I just drew a line to mark the center of the centers, and twelve lines radiating from it to sew the petals. The stems and round buds in between the petals were done without marks.

Regency Beaded Dress

A detail of the neckline. I started by drawing the scalloped edge, beaded that, then the flowers, and then drew the tiny scallops above the flowers.

Regency Beaded Dress

For the cuff, I drew the scalloped edge, buttonhole stitched, and used that as a guide. Ignore the pencil marks above it--I initially made the sleeve too short.

Regency Beaded Dress

To make things seem like they were progressing more quickly, I chose elements to bead. In this case, the center and the small stem that the large sprigs attached to--this way I was able to draw in the big sprigs.

Regency Beaded Dress

So much beading!

Regency Beaded Dress Regency Beaded Dress

And the completed bodice front!



19 comments:

  1. This is so lovely! I was so glad I got to see it in person at the Jane Austen Festival!

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  2. I would love to see this in real, it already looks impressive on your pictures. Plus you look lovely wearing it :-)

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  3. I am in total awe of the time and skill you put into this dress! It's a masterpiece!

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  4. Fantastic work and beautiful result! A work of art, as always.

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  5. I was following your progress every day, because the embroidery is just amazing. I love all the details and the effect of it...in close-up the colours seem so bright and modern, but when you look at the finished embroidery it certainly says "Regency".
    Very well done and a feast for the eyes!

    Sabine

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  6. Amazing job! So great to see the process of the beading! I'm still working on embroidering a border for an 18th century petticoat so I can appreciate all the time and energy that goes into such a detailed project as this!
    -Emily

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  7. It's a stunning work and I'm so glad I got to see it in person at CoCo!

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  8. Amazing! And the bonnet looks great with it, too!

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  9. Woooowww I always love seeing the meticulous work you put into your beautiful creations! And doesn't it make projects ten times more satisfying when you enjoy the process all the way through?

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  10. Beautiful, Katherine! This is truly a work of art and a labor of love. Wear it in good health, and may you have many, many years of enjoyment with it.

    ~R.R. Goodwill~

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  11. WOW! This is incredible! Most of those beads are so small! Did you almost go blind during this project? I am afraid my eyeballs would have walked out on me! So very stunning and the design is so wonderful! I love your sweet hat as well!
    Blessings!
    g

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  12. The dress was stunning at the Jane Austen Festival, without being flashy. Such an achievement, and something to pass down.
    Very best,
    Natalie in KY

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  13. What a latest Design of the white costume is this that she had wear in it.Cartincoupon.com

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  14. Such an achievement, and something to pass down.

    คาสิโน

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  15. I've followed your sewing for roughly ten years, though sometimes I forget to see what you've been up to for several years--and then am amazed at what you've been making! You are very talented. Also, when I told my husband about this dress and showed him pictures, he commented that you'd have spent less time planning a heist to steal the museum dress than making your copy. Ha!

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