Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Regency Shift

Regency shift

Here is my completed project for Challenge #1 of the Historical Sew Fortnightly. This challenge was to make something from a year ending in -13. I chose 1813 and made a simple shift to wear under the Regency gown I will be starting soon. I finished the shift on Monday January 14th, just in time for the challenge deadline, but didn't get the pictures uploaded until today. Here are the details:

The Challenge: Bi/Tri/Quadri/Quin/Sex/Septi/Octo/Nona/Centennial
Fabric: about 1-1/2 yards of lightweight linen from Discount Fabrics 
Pattern: The shift is constructed entirely of rectangles and triangles, arranged and cut with period techniques designed to waste as little fabric as possible. I used the cutting instructions on this blog as a general guide, though I cut my sleeves slimmer and shorter than she did. My sleeves have no fullness, but are set in flat. 
Year: This style of shift was common throughout the first quarter of the 19th century, but for the purposes of the challenge, we're going with 1813. 
Notions: 100 wt. cotton sewing thread, cotton drawstring cord
How historically accurate is it? Quite accurate. The pattern shape and dimensions are taken directly from period sewing manuals, and my version is completely handsewn with period techniques. All seams are sewn with tiny running stitches, then felled with equally tiny whip stitches. The hems and neckline casing are sewn with running stitches. 

The one slight inaccuracy is the fact that I have only one side gore on the back panel-- period shifts usually had gores on both sides of the front and back panels. I was able to cut mine the way I did because my linen fabric was much wider than period fabrics would have been. I could have cut the shift into more pieces, then sewn them back together in order to have all the period-correct seams, but I chose not to be so persnickety about something that no one will actually see when I'm wearing it. Cutting it the way I did saved me about 6 hours of sewing time. 
Hours to complete: I was bad and didn't keep track. My best estimate is 10-12 hours. 
First worn: This will not be worn until March 2013. 
Total cost: ~$20

Regency Shift Back View
Back view -- see the triangular gore added to the back panel? This makes for very efficient cutting.

Regency Shift closeup
Neckline closeup

Shift Sleeve Gusset
Sleeve detail -- shaping is achieved through square underarm gussets. 

Now that I have my base layer completed, I'll begin working on things to wear with it. I have a set of corded stays that I sewed last year that need a little tweaking before they are wearable. They will be my Un-Finished Object  for HSF Challenge #2 UFO

As for the dress, I've begun researching and planning what style I want it to be. I think I've decided to make a simple white muslin dress ca. 1810 -- something I could dress down for daywear and dress up for evening. I don't expect to have very many opportunities to wear Regency clothing, so I want to make something versatile that I can accessorize to suit different occasions. 

Here are some dresses for inspiration:

Lovely muslin dress from the Metropolitan Museum (more pictures)

Day dress, also from the Metropolitan Museum (more pictures

Stay tuned for more details!

    1 comment:

    1. Looks great. Very neat. I made my first shift the other week...took me several days to do the gussets (accidentily put in the wrong way. lol!)
      But I made a 2nd one to use as a night dress and with was so easy I may make a few more.