Finished: Empress Josephine Ballgown

8 Jul 19150076386_faefb25ab2_o



This gown has been a long time coming. I had been planning a gold taffeta ballgown since last Fall to wear to an event in January. When it became apparent that I wouldn’t get that done in time I shifted my deadline to a Regency Ball for June. With that shift, I also ordered this silk organza as an overlay to the taffeta. While not a replica of any of Josephine’s gowns, I used many of her portraits as inspiration.

I used the same Laughing Moon 126 pattern as the dotted swiss and made the adjustments for lengthening the front of the bodice. However, next time I need to start it closer to the sides as I need more length there as well. My biggest complaint with this style is that it tends to “poof” out at the hips due to the overlapping fabric where the slits in the skirt are. I’m sure part of it is the fabric and another part of it is I’m rather “hippy” as it is, but it’s something to keep in mind if you use a fabric with a lot of body to it (and especially if you use two layers like I did). The sleeves are the regular short sleeves with a small tuck taken in at the base. I intended to do the puffy sleeves, but this actually worked out better since I was running out of fabric and they’re probably more flattering on me. I lengthened the ties so they can go around my waist and tie under the bib instead of the back. I cut the medium length train for the organza and left the taffeta layer floor length so if I needed to pick up the train, I didn’t have to worry about two layers of fabric.


The time-consuming part of the gown was all the trim. The lace came in panels which needed to be cut apart, carefully placed on the organza, clipped around the curves and then hand-stitched. I added the pearls afterwards.



The shoes were trimmed using leftover lace and trim. They looked beautiful until I kept snagging it on the hem of my dress which pulled off the metal part. Lesson learned.


Even though I didn’t copy one of Josephine’s gowns, I did want to match the jewelry that she often wore in her portraits. I contemplated making it myself, but ended up finding an etsy seller that was willing to make what I wanted. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

Many thanks to Jen Thompson for taking photos before the ball. Here’s one last one of myself and Megan Martin (who has an etsy shop) channeling the Bingley sisters.


Pattern: Laughing Moon 126

Fabric: Renaissance Fabrics & Pure Silks (which came with a lot of creases, so I don’t know that I’d buy from them again)

Lace: Fabric Empire on etsy

Brooches: large one is vintage, smaller ones on sleeves and shoes: etsy

Jewelry: Custom order from Tudor Shoppe

Regency Pelisse

12 Jun Pelisse


Made November 2013 to wear to the DFW Costumer’s Guild Georgian Picnic.




Past Patterns: Lewis & Clark Empire Gown

11 Jun

I have made this pattern three times and it’s wonderful. It’s easy to fit due to the drawstring front and I love the small triangle back.

The first one is a green reproduction print on a quilting weight cotton. It’s perhaps a bit heavy, but it wears well. I was unsure how the back was supposed to be sewn and did it slightly different but it turned out okay.


The second one is made out of a shirting fabric and I gathered the back of the skirt instead of pleating because I didn’t want it to be obvious if I got off with the stripes. :) The net lace is a vintage find from etsy that works beautifully as a tucker.


The last one is made from a silk cotton from Mood. Unfortunately, I only got one wear out of it as it shrunk horribly even though I washed it on cold. *sigh*


Throwback Post: Ren Faire

10 Jun

My first foray into costuming dates back to 2007, when a friend and I decided to attend a Renaissance Faire. I had some semblance of a (now out of print) pattern, a basic sewing knowledge (albeit a bit rusty), but no dress form. I did manage to order a renaissance corset of sorts, so that was a plus. I remember the bodice being a complete flop, so I resorted to making sort of a “cover” for the corset by tracing the lines and adding straps of grosgrain ribbon. While not the most historically accurate costume, I at least used linen!


Three years later in 2010, another friend and I visited a different Renaissance Faire and I dug out my costume and remade the top part into something a bit better with some upholstery fabric.

IMG_4861 IMG_4864

In 2012, I took my sisters to yet another Renaissance Faire and added an overskirt in an attempt to dress it up a bit. Again, upholstery fabric FTW! (At least it’s washable…)


Here’s hoping I get to redeem my self in the future with this time period!

10 Jun

I’ve got a number of posts lined up featuring costumes that were made pre-blog. They are hastily thrown together, so please excuse any typos! The project that is currently on my sewing table is my most ambitious yet. Remember the Empress Josephine post? Yeah… that’s happening!

Throwback post: Gaston

9 Jun garretgaston


LINK: Gaston Reference

Back in June of 2013, my brother needed a Disney costume for a Disney themed piano performance so I volunteered to make one. I used a lot of fabric that I either had on hand or could acquire cheaply, since I knew this would only be worn once. I also cheated a bit by attaching the waistcoat to the jacket instead of making them separately and closing the gaiters with velcro. I’m most proud of the breeches, since they are the most accurate. It’s definitely a mix of historically accurate with the not-so-accurate-but-passable-from-a-distance. My only regret is that I couldn’t get him to wear a wig.

Patterns used:

Teal Regency Dotted Swiss

8 Jun IMG_8972



I’m not sure how, but this is the first regency dress I’ve blogged even though I’ve made about five so far. I think I need to find photos of the others and make a “catch-up Regency” mass post. Anyway…

This is essentially my wearable mock-up of the ball gown I am making for a Regency ball coming up. I used the Laughing Moon 126 and aside from narrowing the upper back piece slightly and gathering the skirt instead of pleating, this is without any major changes.


  • Pattern: Laughing Moon 126
  • Fabric: Dotted Swiss from Hancock Fabrics
  • Chemisette: from etsy (because I’m lazy/pressed for time)
  • Cap: from etsy (also for the above reason)
  • Straw bonnet: It wasn’t etsy because it’s not in my history and it’s been too long so I can’t remember. :(

The things I would do differently:

  • Narrow the sleeves slightly. I don’t have skinny arms and they are still a bit too loose on me.
  • Add 2″ to the bottom of the bodice tapering from the sides to the front. I just need more length from the “waist” to make it over the girls. I’ll also be adding another 1″ to the front of the bib if I don’t plan on wearing a chemisette for coverage.
  • Add more width to the sides of the front skirt piece from the hips down. Because the skirt is basically flat aside from the massive amount of pleats/gathers in the back, I thought the skirt pulled a bit at my hips. Tapering the skirt out should help with that.
  • Lengthen the ties. I’d rather have them longer so they can be tied around the front under the bib than hang down the back, but that’s a personal preference. I’d also make them narrower.

Things to keep in mind:

  • I got away with doing gathers instead of the pleats because my dotted swiss is quite thin. If my fabric were any thicker, I wouldn’t have gotten all the gathers to fit.
  • The skirt is a perfect length for me and I’m 5’8″ so if you are shorter plan accordingly.


Here’s one more at the event I wore this to, a concert at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, that shows the cap.



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