Cotton Sari Gown

This is another catch-up post – a dress I made and wore at the Jane Austen Festival in Canberra in April.

Fabric: a ‘vintage’ cotton blend sari, with trailing machine-embroidered flowers, that I purchased on eBay for the grand sum of $15, including postage.

Pattern: The Sense and Sensibility Regency Gown, with some adaptations of the skirt for my pear shape.

The front half of the sari had the floral machine embroidery across the width of the fabric, but the back end of the sari had it only on the bottom twelve inches or so of the width.

As I’m short, I cut the skirt across the width of the fabric. I used the all-over part for the front skirt, and the back of the skirt was cut from the back end of the sari. I also used the back end for the bodice; the main bodice pieces cut from the embroidered edge, and the lining from the plain part.

Front bodice detail sari dress

Bodice detail, sari dress

The front and back bodice – the fabric is very fine, and although I originally was planning to have a button closure at the back, I would have needed to add some interlining for strength and I didn’t want to do that – so I ended up using ties supplemented with some hooks and eyes.

Although I machine-sewed the bodice, I did flat-fell the seams and I hand-stitched those where it showed.

Here’s the all-over embroidered end laid out to cut the skirt. I cut it with a flare, because my hips are much bigger than my bust – but not as much flare as the tape-measure hair loss position suggests!

Cutting the front skirt


Some quick photos of the finished dress (worn over frankenstays, and bodiced petticoat) taken outside one morning before G rushed off to work:

20150405SariDressFront2 20150405SariDressSideFront1 Sari dress - back

You can see the gaping back, to which I later added several hooks and eyes.

The Sense and Sensibility Regency Gown pattern does have a lower-cut back than other Regency patterns, and this is exacerbated on me with my very short waist. If I made this again, I’d cut the back higher.

On my list of things to make for next year is new stays, because although the Frankenstays are an improvement, I’m still not getting enough lift for my droopy girls – or enough firmness around my *ahem* soft body.

Overall, though, I was happy with the dress, and I wore it on the Friday evening at JAFA – the Georgian Variety Night. I ended up wearing it again on the Saturday night, for the Battle of Waterloo Ball, because of major costume fail with the ball dress I was madly trying to finish.

Here’s the official portrait from Friday night:

Portrait in sari dress

And here’s a photo from Saturday night, when I wore the dress with pearls instead of the ‘sapphire’ necklace:

Sari dress with pearls


(Things were pretty rushed on the Saturday so my curls are not curly, and my contact lenses are not in – but we had fun, anyway!)

I have some detachable long sleeves cut out for this dress and might wear it in the future as a day dress, with the long sleeves and a chemisette. But for my first evening dress on a budget it worked okay.


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