JAFA 2018

The Jane Austen Festival Australia is over for another year, and it was a wonderful four days of music, dancing, workshops, talks, costumes, and catching up with friends. I drove down to Canberra the weekend before the festival started with a friend from here (it was her first festival). Just as well my car is large, as with workshop materials for the two different workshops I taught, costumes for four evening events and three day events, plus ‘Muggle’ clothes for a week for two of us, the back was quite full – although I could have squeezed a few more things in if necessary!

I stayed with Lauren for a few days and then shared an apartment very close to Lauren’s with my friend Jane and Beth, Lauren’s soon-to-be sister-in-law and now my honorary niece.

My sewing focus this year was on evening wear, and I finished three new gowns -a white muslin gown I block-printed myself (Friday evening); a dress from a pink silk sari (Saturday evening); and the re-made mauve satin apron-front gown I totally stuffed up before my first JAFA in 2015 (Sunday evening). I’ve already posted about the mauve satin, and will post about the other two soon. On Thursday night, I wore the front-closing muslin dress and blue open robe that I made a couple of years ago.

Here are a few iPhone photos – as usual, the light in the Albert Hall has a weird green shade which had to be edited (with varying degrees of success.)

Lauren in a mauve satin dress and Bronwyn in a white muslin-blockprint dress Bron in mauve satin gown with purple shawl and tiara

We did have portraits taken on two evenings but they aren’t yet available – I’ll share when they are.

For day wear, on Friday I wore my hand-sewn block-print day dress. On Saturday I wore the first Regency dress I made, back in 2014, and re-made in 2015 – my blue wrap dress, with my only (so far) chemisette. I wore that dress again on Sunday morning, as I went in super-early (6.30am!) to help make breakfast for 50+ people, and then led a block-printing workshop straight afterwards. My aprons cam in super-handy this year! There was just time for a quick change after the workshop for the promenade and picnic, into my new muslin draw-string dress and red cotton over-robe. However, as it was quite chilly I also wore my indulgent purchase for the year – a beautiful and cosy-warm pure wool red cloak!

People in REgency dress with cloaks and shawls promenading to the picnic

(I only wore my ill-fitting short stays that day, hence the tummy!)

Lauren was beautiful every day and evening, but I’ll consult with her before I post a selection of photos. She’s flat out finishing her PhD so may not have time to post them herself.

I taught two workshops during the festival, each of them twice – block-printing, and cutting a feather quill. Both very successful – it was inspiring to see the designs people came up with for their block-printed shawls!

People blockprinting muslin shawls

All in all, a wonderful Festival. I’m already looking forward to next year’s! Once our PhDs are done and submitted, Lauren and I are planning on some Georgian gowns. We both have the recently-released American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Sewing, and suitable fabrics in our stashes, and are keen to get started as soon as we’re free to do so!

 

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JAFA on a budget – a quick guide

The Jane Austen Festival Australia starts in just over a week. If this is your first time attending, and you’re last-minuting your wardrobe, here’s a quick guide with some hacks and suggestions.

Unlike some events overseas which aim for a high standard of historical accuracy, there aren’t any costume police at JAFA. The emphasis of the Festival is on enjoyment, not re-enactment. Costume is encouraged, not required, although people are asked to aim for at least an empire-style dress for the Saturday ball, or formal dress for the menfolk. However, it does add to the enjoyment to be dressed up, and those who’ve been coming for a few years have usually developed a wardrobe of garments and spend all weekend in costume. Don’t let a lack of wardrobe put you off – you’ll still enjoy yourself! – but if you have some time in the next week, here’s some ideas to help.

Gentlemen

It is dashed hard to find a decent Regency tailor in Canberra. So for gentlemen who have yet to ascend to the family fortune and have a strict time and monetary budget, a pair of moleskins can approximate the spirit of Regency trousers or breeches. Add a white shirt and a waistcoat for day wear. For evening, particularly the Napoleonic Ball, formal dress is encouraged. Neat trousers, white shirt, and nice waistcoat are recommended as a minimum. A waistcoat with lapels is ideal, and can be accessorised with a long strip of fine cotton wrapped and tied as a cravat over a turned-up collar. If you can find a Mr. Darcy style gathered shirt, even better. It is not necessary to plunge into the lake nor wear it wet.

If you are handy with a needle and thread, and can find a knee-length, double-breasted woolen coat in an op shop, you could transform it to a Regency style by cutting and shaping the front panels to waist high, and cutting a slit in the back skirts. The fabric cut off from the front can be added to sleeves for cuffs, and to make pocket flaps. See this blog post at Fresh Frippery by Vivien Lee for more details about how she did this.

For those whose tailors are booked out for the Season, modern tail coats are a little later than our period, but may be easier to hire or borrow and are in the spirit of the evening. Alternatively, a dress kilt, jacket and jabot will be dashing and not out of place, and should also be easy to hire in Canberra. Or find a handy Scottish friend about your size.

(And in a side note, I can assure gentleman, as a former theatrical wardrobe mistress, that the two outfits that look splendid on any man, regardless of shape or size, are tailcoats and kilts. They are designed to accentuate your manly bearing.)

Should your wardrobe not be able to furnish any of the above, do not despair. A shirt and trousers, with a courteous manner, a genuine smile, and a gallant bow to the ladies you invite to dance will suffice to transform you into a veritable Mr Bingley.

Ladies – Dresses

Ladies, this is your chance to let your inner Elizabeth Bennet (or Jane or Lydia!) sparkle and shine. Regency fashions are feminine, graceful, and have a simple, understated beauty that provide a perfect style for you to be you.

Minimum:  An evening dress for the Ball on the Saturday night is a recommended minimum. There are a few dresses available for hire, but these are limited. You could make your own, or raid the op-shop or hippy aunt’s wardrobe for vaguely empire-line frocks. Look for high-waisted dresses with a lightly-gathered skirt (so your skirts will swish as you dance). If the bodice is strappy, see if you can mock-up a simple bolero jacket out of a scarf or some complementary fabric to cover your shoulders, or shorten a blouse or shirt into a high-waisted spencer jacket.

If you can’t find something suitable, wear the softest, loveliest dress that you have. Skirts that move while you dance are always graceful.

If you’re making your own dress:

  • Fabric options: Spotlight premium muslin, 5 metres @ $8 metre (you’ll need a petticoat with this fabric!); or a light cotton lawn. White is good, and perfect for evening wear. Yes, even if you’re mature, short and fluffy – see mine!
  • Pattern options: The big pattern companies have some regency-style patterns, but I also recommend the more historically-accurate Sense & Sensibility patterns, which can be bought as e-patterns and downloaded. You can print them on your home computer, although it does involve taping multiple A4 sheets of paper together. The web site is http://sensibility.com

 

(Yes, I know there’s only just over a week before JAFA. That includes a weekend. Keen costumers will blithely decide to make several outfits in that time. But if you’re a beginner seamstress, focus on one. Or two. And aim to have everything but finishing touches done by Thursday, because you will have no time after that.)

 Desirable: At least one day and one evening dress. A white dress with an open robe, and maybe a spencer or sleeveless evening spencer, provides multiple options. Check the op shops for jackets (day or evening) that can be cut down into spencers, or empire-line dresses that approximate the Regency look.

Really fun: At least two evening and two day dresses, with other elements to mix and match, so you can be comfortably in costume the whole 3 days.

Ultimate: (Aim for this in a year or two’s time!) Three day dresses and three evening dresses (four of each if you’re going to the Thursday events) with outer layers such as spencers, pelisses, shawls, cloak.

Undergarments

Shift/Chemises

If you’re planning on dressing in costume all three (or four) days and nights, several shifts might be a good idea – with a fresh chemise, you can wear the same dress several times. Cotton voile or batiste from Spotlight or Lincraft is fine. A fine linen is even better – but proper linen, not ramie which is sometimes sold as linen.

Check op-shops for cotton nighties or petticoats. Or find an old cotton sheet and make a quick sleeveless shift with a scoop neckline – if you make it long, it can serve as a petticoat.

A cotton camisole can also work, or a light cotton t-shirt with the neck cut down low will absorb underarm perspiration.

 Stays

Minimum: A firm, uplifting bra. You’re really aiming to lift and define the girls, so that the skirts fall softly from the higher waist line. You may find that shortening bra straps assists to achieve a well-defined bosom.

Desirable: Preferably period stays to get the right silhouette, with the bust lifted up. The Sense and Sensibility Short Stays pattern is a good place to start, unless you have a large cup size. You can easily lengthen the pattern to waist length, which is recommended for those who are soft and cuddly.

Another alternative is an underbust corset, teamed with an uplifting bra. This will give some support for softer figures, and help lift the girls, especially for those of us of a certain age, whose attributes are challenged by gravity. An inexpensive white one like this one from an Australian Ebay seller is available in many sizes and might even be purchased in time for the event (if you hurry), or check lingerie shops.

Note: For ladies who have had surgery, and who may find uplifting bras or stays impossible or painful, you may prefer the slightly earlier dress styles of the late 1780s and 1790s, which have a softer silhouette for the bust. The Chemise a la Reine style, for example, is perfectly relevant as it would have been familiar to Jane Austen in her earlier years. Some firm support around the torso is still recommended for soft figures, but this style does not require the high defined bosom. The Sense and Sensibility Portrait Dress downloadable e-pattern includes a pattern (view 3) of this style of gown.

Ultimate: (aim for this in a year or two!) a couple of different pairs of Regency stays – e.g. a lower-cut pair for evening wear, a higher one for day wear. Or  Georgian style for the Friday, a Regency style for Saturday, and a Victorian style for Sunday . . .yes, you can get carried away!

 Petticoat

Depending on your dress/es, you may be able to get by without a petticoat, but the silhouette will be much better with one. They’re not hard to make. A fine cotton sheet from the op shop works fine for petticoats. You don’t need frills and flounces until you’re doing 1820s, post Regency.

Shoes

Ballet flats are probably the easiest approximation to Regency shoes, and they can be dressed up with ribbons etc. Or flat/very low heel lace-up boots for promenading in autumnal Canberra. For dancing, well-fitting comfortable ballet flats with ribbons around the ankle like ballet shoes to keep them on would be fine.

 Stockings and gloves

White for stockings. Ideally, Regency stockings fastened above the knee with a garter – but I’ve been wearing white cotton knee-length socks from Kmart, which were something like $5 for 2 pairs. However, plenty of ladies at JAFA don’t wear stockings. No-one will be inspecting under your skirts.

Gloves would have been worn outdoors and for evening functions – kid during the day, silk at night. Keep your eye out at the op shop, as nice quality gloves do come up reasonably often. The cheap option (which doesn’t look as great, but we have to start somewhere) is gloves from the costume section of Spotties or the bargain shops.

Accessories:

Reticule – the bag in which Regency ladies carried their hankies, fan, coins, iPhone, car keys, etc. Usually a drawstring bag, often embroidered or decorated, not necessarily matching outfit. Check for Chinese embroidered bags in bargain shops, and add a tassel or three it you have time. Ultimate aim: a reticule for each outfit, day and evening.

Shawls – Rectangular shawls are best, the bigger the better. They can dress up an evening dress and provide protection against evening breezes should you step outside with a gentlemen, or on your carriage ride home.

Evening head-dress – caps, turbans, lace – heaps of ways to decorate one’s hair and head – or you can just use combs and pins to make a lovely hair style. Soft curls on your forehead and around your neck with an up-do are perfect.

Caps – Only a few people wear them at JAFA, so you don’t need to! But if you want to be historically accurate, married ladies and ladies over about 27 always wore a cap; linen or cotton, decorated with lace, ribbons etc – and they do look lovely! Caps were also worn under bonnets by everyone.

 

Bonnet – always worn outdoors in historical times (your complexion will thank you!) You can get an inexpensive cap brim from an op-shop of Kmart, and add a baggy circular piece of fabric, gathered in and stitched to the brim. Decorate with ribbons, feathers, and/or flowers. You can also cut down a straw hat: cut off the back part of the brim, bind it with ribbon to stop it scratching or fraying, then add decorations and a wide ribbon to draw the brim in closer around your face, and tie under the chin.

Fan – handy for crowded ballrooms, cooling flushed cheeks, and whispering secrets behind.

Parasol – optional but handy – sunshade rather than rain proof. (Unless it’s threatening rain!)

I hope this quick guide is helpful and inspirational! If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.

 

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HSM2018-2: Regency Stays

The second Historical SewMonthly Challenge this year was ‘Under’, so these Regency stays fit the theme perfectly. As with the January challenge, I’m late finishing this one, but I did finish these stays last week.

I have an awkward shape and this is the fourth pair of stays I’ve made – and the first one to finally give me a good shape and good support. Unfortunately, it’s actually a bit big, and the lacing closes right up in the back so they won’t be much good when I lose any weight! However, for now they’re fine and they are comfortable to wear; I just now have a great excuse to not deny myself cake between now and JAFA next month!

Ideally I’d like a bit more lift, but these are an improvement on my previous attempts and will do for now.

White cotton Regency stays

The Challenge: Under: Make something that goes under the other layers

Material: Cotton drill, two layers

Pattern: Adapted from the Laughing Moon Regency stays pattern – the theatrical version

Year: early 1800s

Notions: Cotton thread; plastic boning; metal eyelets; lacing

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is fairly accurate, and the fabric. However the stays are machine-stitched, and I used metal eyelets for the lacing. I did hand-sew the eyelets for the strap though!

Hours to complete: I didn’t count.

First worn: Last weekend for a costume group meeting.

Total cost: About $50AUD? (including the lacy and boning)

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HSM18-1: Re-Made Regency dress

I’m almost 2 months behind finishing the first Historical Sew Monthly Challenge for the year, although I did do a fair amount of work on it during January. But now, apart from a couple of tiny finishing touches, it’s done.

Bron wearing a mauve satin Regency ball-gown with Pippin the border-collie at her feet

The Challenge: Mend, Reshape, Refashion. This is a dress I started to make for the first Jane Austen Festival Australia I attended in 2015. But I was rushing, and used a pattern I’ve not used before without measuring or reading the instructions properly, and as I was rushing to finish it the day before the ball, I realised how badly I’d stuffed it up, and wore my only other ball dress for the second night in a row. This dress languished as a UFO for more than 2 years. However, I  love the colour and pulled it and the remaining fabric out again in January. I have added an extra width of fabric into the skirt, and made a new bodice (that actually fits me.)

Material: polyester satin

Pattern: A mix of Laughing Moon 126, and the Sense and Sensibility Elegant Lady’s Closet patterns.

Year: c. 1805

Notions: Trimming, thread – all polyester

How historically accurate is it? The style is accurate, the fabric not, and the long seams are machine-sewn. All visible seams are hand-stitched.

Hours to complete: Didn’t count

First worn: For photographs; will be worn at JAFA in Canberra in April

Total cost: About $80AUD? I bought the fabric 3 years ago (and luckily bought enough for the remake!)

Bron in satin ball gown looking at Pippin the dog at her feet.

No, Pippin, you can’t be in the photo if you’re licking your bottom.

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Linen apron – documentation

Back in late 2016, I made a couple of linen aprons to wear at the Jane Austen Festival when I’m helping in the kitchen. I blogged about the first one at the time, and started writing this documentation post, but it’s languished as an unfinished draft since then. Until now . . .

In researching aprons of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, there seems to be a number of styles. In the mid-late eighteenth century, before the fashionable waistline rose from the natural waist to under the bust, aprons come in two main styles: an apron without a bib, tied at the waist, and the ‘pinner’ style of apron, with a bib pinned to the bodice.

The apron tied at the waist was a utilitarian item for the working class, and a decorative item for the upper class:

Painting of girl in a straw hat with white apron over her skirt, raking hay in a meadow

Haymaking by Francis Wheatley, 1800. British Museum 1856,0712.919

Portrait of Mary Wilkes wearing a pink polonaise gown over a green petticoat with a sheer white embroidered aprn

Detail of portrait of Mary and John Wilkes by Zoffany at the National Portrait Gallery, UK

Illustration of Mrs Maltby, wearing a blue-checked apron and holding a mop

Portrait of Mrs Maltby drawn by Isaac Robert Cruikshank. British Museum 1870,0514.1951

When we move into the Regency era and the higher-waisted dress styles, a common form for working women seems to be the waist apron, often worn with a large fichu or neckerchief, sometimes tucked in to the apron. The neckerchief presumably protects the bodice of the gown or jacket, as the apron protects the skirts. Here are women threshing, a detail of a print published in a series of Costumes of Yorkshire in 1814:

Deatila of 1814 print of women threshing

However, aprons with bibs were definitely worn. Although the pinner stye – i.e., the bib pinned to the dress bodice was still worn by some, aprons with some form of shoulder straps and back fastening were also worn. I’m going to hazard a guess that the lighter fabrics of the Regency era were more easily damaged by frequent pinning, and as waist ties don’t work so well with higher bodices, hence the adoption of shoulder straps.

Here’s a Danish cook circa 1805 (image from pinterest). Her apron clearly has straps that go over the shoulder. It also is likely to be linen or cotton, and easily laundered.

And a Costume Parisien fashion plate of 1807, showing a frilled muslin apron as a fashion item:

Black taffeta aprons were quite fashionable for the upper classes; the dark background making particular sense if one was doing fine needlework – or writing letters!

My challenge for the Festival, though, was that I don’t dress as a working woman. Particularly in the evenings, I’m in evening dress. But I do need an apron that protects all of my dress – because I can be a klutz.

I’ve made mine in a similar style to the black taffeta one above, but in far more practical linen. I can’t necessarily document that for women of middling class, assisting at an event, but then they weren’t often painted. Let’s just imagine that Lady Parry rushes to the kitchen to avert a crisis during an evening function, and borrows an apron from the cook to assist in serving the dainty queen cakes . . . and fortunately her tiara and pearls match the apron!

Bronwyn arranging caked on a stand while wearing her linen apron over Regency evening clothes and a small tiara

I’ve got a half-written tutorial for making a hand-sewn apron and I will try to get that finished and posted before too long.

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Block-printed muslin shawl

I’ve volunteered to lead a block-printing workshop at the Jane Austen Festival in Canberra in April. I’m not an expert, but have done a little here and there over the years. However, I figured a test-run (or two!) would be useful to check which blocks, paints, and fabrics would be best to use for the workshop. My sister has been visiting, so we had a lovely couple of hours out on the veranda with paints, prints and assorted fabrics.

I already had some pieces of muslin cut up to make produce bags, so we printed those as test pieces. We are going to have the most beautiful produce bags the supermarket has ever seen!

Muslin produce bag block printed in red with alternating patterns

After the test pieces, I brought out a length of muslin from my stash. It’s about 140cm wide and 2m long, so I tore it in half lengthways and block-printed each end of one piece, to make a (very) light muslin shawl. I hand-sewed rolled hems along the long edges and a narrow hem at each end.

White muslin shawl with block-printed border in blue

It was a hot day and our paint and sponges were drying out, so I worked very quickly and didn’t measure anything, relying on my eye for placement. So it’s a tad wonky in places but when it’s being worn, beautifully draped, no-one’s going to notice – I hope!

Detail of block-printed border of muslin shawl

I plan to put together a tutorial but it won’t be until after JAFA in April. In the meantime, I have a different brand of fabric paint to test out – and I think I need a shawl with purple printing. Or maybe red . . .

As far as documentation is concerned, I haven’t (yet) actually come across a block-printed muslin shawl. Muslin shawls, yes, beautifully embroidered. Like this one in the Antique and Vintage Dress Gallery:

Large white muslin shawl embroidered with paisley borders

I can’t therefore claim a block-printed muslin shawl as being historically accurate; but for the purposes of the workshop at JAFA, where there are no costume police, it’s a practical item that can be used for Regency-inspired wear, as well as for contemporary wear.

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Jane Austen Picnic

A very late post about the Jane Austen Picnic we held in Armidale last October. It was a first event to bring together people interested in costuming in the region, and there was a fair amount of interest on Facebook, but unfortunately the weather was cool and threatening rain that weekend. However, about 35 keen souls ventured to Central Park despite the clouds, and we did have a good time!

We were delighted that my friend Fiona, an accomplished musician, brought two of her musical friends to entertain us with music while we enjoyed our picnic lunch.

The rain held off long enough for us to enjoy a short promenade around the park and a picnic lunch. As the first rain drops fell, we retreated to a nearby community room where we engaged in tea duelling – directed by our Steampunk friends, Kat and Pete – and dancing.

All in all, a lovely day despite the weather, a chance to spend time with old friends and new ones, and a perfect way for me to celebrate my birthday eve! It was especially lovely for me that Lauren and Jeremy made the long journey for the weekend.

Three ladies in Jane Austen and Victorian costume chatting in a park.

Exchanging the latest ‘on dits’

Group of ladies and a few gents in Regency costumes promenading in a park.

A promenade in the park

Rear view of a group of people in costume promenading in a park.

Following the graceful promenade in the park.

A group of people in historical and steam punk costume on the steps of a rotunda in a park.

The group portrait in the Victorian Rotunda

A close-up of a woman in a white Regency dress playing a harp

Lissa, one of the musicians who generously came along and entertained us with beautiful music.

people in costume eating at an elegantly-set picnic table in a park

Our elegant picnic table

Kat and Pete in Steampunk costume directing Angie and Richard in Regency costume in tea duelling at an elegantly set table

The serious art of Tea Duelling

A group of eight people in Regency costume dancing inside

Dancing in our wet-weather venue

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Corset/Stays Making Day

I’m organising a Corset/Stays Making Day for our new local costume group, on Saturday 28th October. (See the Facebook event for more details. Download the ‘What to bring‘ guide.)

Corsets or stays are the critical underpinnings of women’s historical and steampunk costume – but are very difficult to fit when you’re working at home alone without assistance! (As I have found multiple times in recent years…)

This won’t be a formal workshop, but the day is intended to get a good start on fitting and making a corset or pair of stays for each participant’s chosen historical era. We’ll work together and share experience and ideas and help each other with fitting mock-ups and cutting and sewing corset pieces.

I’ll be taking along my patterns and books, and my own stays-in-progress. As well as helping others, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to borrow another pair of hands and eyes to help fit mine!

This may only be the first of these sessions, as several of our group can’t make it that day, and others may need more than one day’s assistance to finish their corsets. (Plus, there are three stays/corsets I want to make from different eras!)

I collected several photos of extant stays for the Facebook event header. These are great inspiration – although I doubt that any of mine will end up looking so beautiful!

Three extant corsets

 

 

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Muslin round gown and open robe

I cut out the muslin gown months ago, but ran out of time to finish it before JAFA in April. I’ve used the same adaptation of the Sense and Sensibility drawstring dress that I summarised here, and which I also used for my handsewn blockprint day dress. However, I did make the sleeves shorter this time, and perhaps it’s that, or the white muslin that changes the look, but this is my favourite of the dresses I’ve made.

Muslin Gown Front

I did cheat and machine sew skirt seams and other hidden seams, but all visible stitching is done by hand.

I also made an open robe to go over the dress. The fabric is a quilting cotton, with a geometric print which may not be entirely historically accurate, but is in the general spirit of the times. As with my earlier open robe, I adapted the Sense and Sensibility pattern, basing the bodice front around the bodice lining piece, but adding a little width to the upper sides, and cutting it lower at the bust. I used the 3/4 sleeve pattern, cut a little bigger as usual (as the pattern is tight in the upper arm otherwise).
Pattern pieces laid out

Lauren came up to visit for the weekend of our Jane Austen Picnic, and we had Saturday together for sewing and photographing before the Sunday event.
Crimson print open robe over white muslin gown  Back view of crimson printed open robe

 

Lauren and Bron in Regency dresses

We had a bit of fun with photos, taking a stroll around the (very dry) paddock! Lauren is wearing her muslin gown, with a front-closing bodice and apron-front skirt. (She may blog about it one day, but she’s currently flat out and shortly going to head overseas for 6 weeks, so it may be a while!)

I’m very happy with the dress and open robe, and particularly the dress. The open robe isn’t especially historically accurate, as the skirt comes around more than most of them did, but it’s in the spirit of the times and looks a little more flattering on my short, round shape. Although I’m interested in historical accuracy, the events I attend aren’t reenactments, so I can lean a little more towards personal preference.

I’ll post about our picnic soon. And now that this outfit is done, my next project will be another go at stays – one day I’ll get great stays that really work for me!

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JAFA 2017 – finally!

We went. We had a great, flat-out, full-on time. We didn’t take many photos – and yes, it’s taken me almost 6 months to blog about it!

Life just gets in the way of costuming . . . and it may surprise no-one that I didn’t get all the things finished in time for JAFA that I mentioned in my previous post. Oh, well . . . there’s always 2018!

So, here are a few photos.

At the fashion parade on the Friday night, I wore my somewhat rushed, trial version of a  1797 fashion plate (I’ll blog about it in full when I’ve made a better version.) Lauren wore her yellow muslin dress with a stunning velvet spencer with sleeve details and piping.

Bron in a recreation of a 1797 fashion plate

Photo courtesy of Steven Shaw

Lauren, fashion parade, JAFA 2017

Photo courtesy of Steven Shaw

Here we are together:

At the ball on Saturday night, Lauren wore her mauve satin bib-front gown, and because I didn’t get the opera gown I’d hoped to make done, I wore my white muslin dress and blue open robe from 2016 again. We’re photographed here with Lauren’s dashing partner, J (who has totally got his Mr Darcy look perfected!) and J’s sister.

Photo courtesy of Steven Shaw

And yes, my aprons were very handy . . . because every Baroness should wear an apron with her tiara!

At the picnic, Lauren wore her new spotted dress, with a brown and cream satin bonnet. There was a great photo somewhere of her and J leading the promenade, but I can’t find it.

And here’s a lovely view of the dress, when JAFA’s Dancing Master, John, invited Lauren to lead the opening of the Waverley Ball with him on Sunday evening – after she’d kicked off her shoes and couldn’t find them quickly!

Photo courtesy of Steven Shaw

I did wear my new hand-sewn block-print gown, but didn’t get any decent photos of it.

Next up, a Jane Austen picnic in my home town – more coming soon!

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