Mar 19, 2015

Midshipman Project

I have a lot of work on my plate, so finding time to write down much at all is very difficult. Instead I'm posting pictures of my inspiration and progress.

Dec 26, 2014

Historic Dance Tour of the US, mid-2015

All roads lead to dance! I am adding dots to the map of John's historic dance teaching tour of the US in June & July 2015.... We have only just started to put together ideas and we may need to firm up a few more ideas before we can say the trip is really viable (artistically—we expect to cover most costs ourselves). When we have half a dozen firm ‘dots’ we can see if they can join up easily in a timetable— and we’d happily work around each group's preferences too- anything you organise would be one of our main reasons for travelling.
John teaches historic styles from the Renaissance, Baroque, 17th & 18th Century, Regency, Victorian and Vintage eras. He'll bring some instruments but is always happy to work with local musicians. If you have a special evening dance planned, we'll add our costumes
Please contact me on if you would like to add a dot to our map. To read more about John, please visit his bio at

Dec 22, 2014

Christmas Carol Ball videos - having some fun in 2014

Two quick videos I took at the 2014 Christmas Carol Ball in Canberra, Australia. The dances are in John Gardiner-Garden's Christmas Carol Dance Book.

Post by Aylwen Gardiner-Garden.

Dec 21, 2014

Blue Regency Ball Gown

I finished my blue regency silk satin and lace gown just in time to wear it to our Christmas Carol Ball last night. The simple dress theme was "Christmas" so John and I went as merrymakers from Mr Fezziwig's Party.

Dec 11, 2014

Regency Court Trains

Some time ago I fell in love with Josephine Bonaparte's court train and wanted to make one for myself. I held off because it is so impractical and I cannot wear it for dancing.

Consecration of the Emperor and the Coronation by Jacques Louis David 
I found an embroidery design I liked and had a version of it digitised, and then embroidered on a two metre piece of cotton velvet. Yesterday it was lined and pinned onto my mannequin - ready for me to plan the next step - the back. Will I give it a back or will I simply sew straps over the shoulders?

My half-finished court train in my sewing studio.
I have lined it with white cotton sateen and used a metallic gold to pipe the edges.

Some reference pictures of my options:

Small back with shoulder straps, 1808.

Backs - these could be called 'robes' instead of trains.
Back view, 1809

MET Museum, 1809

Nov 23, 2014

Sleeveless bodices in the regency period

Every now and then I see a movie gown from the regency period that looks too modern and wonder how much artistic licence the designer has taken. Now that I have access to pinterest I am finding out so much more about regency garments and together with the wonderful regency/napoleonic/empire costuming community on Facebook I am realising that many of these garments are fairly accurate.

One such garment is a sleeveless bodice or sleeveless spencer, and today while searching online I found a pattern for one, though you could just alter a bodice pattern from a gown or spencer.
According to the source at

I have been putting together a folder of images of these sleeveless garments at Some prints below give a good idea that this was not an uncommon garment, and is a relatively inexpensive option to update a regency gown for a new event or to change the look of a gown when attending a few events in one day.

Nov 16, 2014

Regency Neck Ruffs

Regency-era neck ruffs are also called lace ruffs or frills; neck frills; double frills of worked muslin; fraise; cherusse and betsies. 


...Petticoat of worked muslin...Spencer of dark blue cloth, edged with scarlet. Ruff of white lace round the neck. Plain muslin handkerchief. York tan gloves.

March 1794, Gallery of Fashion. Morning dress

Lady Elgin wearing a fraise over a chemisette, 1804, by François Gérard

Countess Therese Czernin (1798-1896), drawn in 1819

Walking Dress: Ladies' Monthly Museum, August 1815:
Robe of Jaconet Muslin or Fine Cambric, made high in the neck; the back and sleeves made very full; a double Frill of worked muslin round the neck; bottom of the robe to correspond”

Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (2 January 1783 – 22 July 1853)
Portrait of Anna Maria Magnani
Oil on canvas, 1814 31 × 22 cm
The Hirschsprung Collection, Art museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

Fiche-guimpe, 1810
My Sewing Experiments

This was a neck ruff that I taught for a Regency Neck Ruff workshop at Jane Austen Festival Australia in April 2012. I used a sturdy cotton and did not teach whip stitch gathering as shown in examples below because we only had a short time to teach the fundamentals and get everyone sewing. In 2015 I'm hoping to teach a more involved workshop with whipstitch gathering and fine muslin.

Extant Examples

Since this workshop I have found more extant examples to base my work on. There is a neck frill documented in Nancy Bradfield's Costume in Detail, page 83.

National Trust Inventory Number 1350308

This one has a linen centre and a tiny bobbin lace decoration, ‘typical of the trimming laces of the very early19th Century’ The Lace Mentor. Found at

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