A few months pass and I realized that in the amount of time I would spend converting this dress I could make myself a new one in ball-ready fabric. I remembered that I had a lovely iridescent bronze raw silk Dupioni in my stash. It and a matching sheer velvet floral cutout fabric were purchased years ago and intended for a 50's style cocktail dress that never got made. I had 5 yards of each. Perfect for the gown I was now envisioning. Of course, lots of time was also spent on Pinterest looking at ideas.
This picture shows the start of the collection of materials. Folkwear pattern for period-correct dress and McCall's for sheer overlay option. The shiny gold fabric at the bottom of the picture was intended for a shawl that never happened.
These are other bits I had to gather as I went along. Ribbon for ties, bias tape, buttons, horsehair for hems, woven trim for decoration, etc. And, yes, armpit pads for sweat protection!
I started with the underdress. I bought a soft white cotton fabric. So many pieces for just the bodice.
The skirt was 3 pattern pieces, center front, side and center back panels. I French seamed these pieces. Long straight seams are easy to do this way. The bodice raw edges are all overlocked. I know, not period-correct but easy to sew!
Most Regency garments have center back openings. I thought it would be a good idea to convert to a side opening so I could dress by myself. I moved the neck drawstring opening to the center front. I also moved the center back placket to the side along with the underbust drawstring. It took a bit of finagling as I made the alterations as I sewed the pieces together instead of re-drafting the pattern. I wanted to see how the garment fit without having to rip out too many stitches if it did not.
Bodice before the neckline drawstring was inserted.
Close up of the tiny button hole I sewed in the center front.
Close up of finished side opening. Small hooks and bars keep the side closed.
Bodice with neck drawstring pulled.
Finished underdress. Turned out it fit perfect. No adjustments needed.
I used my sewing machine to assemble the dress. It occurred to me after the garment came together quickly that had I been making this dress in 1789, I would have sewn all the seams by hand. That would have taken MUCH longer to do.
Jane Austen Ball part 1 can be found here.