My Regency white muslin dress is well underway. I decided some time ago that I wanted it to be a drop-front dress. Also known as a bib-front, this style of dress was popular from around 1795 to 1812 or so. The construction allows the dress to close in the front (making it easier to dress oneself) without a visible closure to interfere with the smooth Grecian silhouette that was popular in those years. One of my inspiration dresses from a previous post is a nice example of the style:
Lovely muslin dress from the Metropolitan Museum (more pictures)
For a good explanation of how this dress style works, and some excellent illustrations, take a look at this post from The Hungarian Chick. This extant dress at Vintage Textile also shows the style in action.
Once I decided on the general style, I spent hours poring over Costume in Detail and Patterns of Fashion to pin down exactly what I wanted my dress to do. My favorite inspiration dress is this one from the Snowshill Collection, documented in Costume in Detail on pg 89-90:
From the National Trust Collections (more details here)
There is nothing spectacular about this dress — it is perfectly typical. It has a bit of interest added with drawn-thread work on the bib, but is otherwise very simple. The shape of the bodice pieces is very close to the 1798-1804 Morning Dress in Patterns of Fashion, so I decided to base my bodice on that pattern. The pattern also has the sleeve I want: a short puff sleeve that is suitable for evening wear with a detachable long undersleeve for day wear. The skirt, however, will be more like the dress pictured above (less full, no train).
For fabric, I found a lovely spotted muslin at Britex. I am lining the bodice and sleeve puffs with the white linen leftover from my shift. Here are the two fabrics side-by-side:
Since I have no experience with drawn thread work, I will probably use lace insertion to decorate the bib instead. For now, I am working on putting together the bodice. Did I mention that I will be sewing the entire dress by hand? As soon as I have the bodice finished, I'll post some pictures.
I've spent a lot of time this week on another project: my Gibson Girl evening gown, but I'll save that for another post.