Monday, November 28, 2011

Retreaters, some last-minute reminders from Charlotte:

A reminder list for the retreat. 

1. We’ve been informed this week that the retreat center no longer provides bath towels, so if you like to be able to dry off post shower (I sure do!), please bring your own. Also remember to bring your sheet set and blankets.

2. Teapots! If you have a set you’d like to bring, this would be a charming way to create the ambiance of the Regency

3. Raffle items. If you have anything to donate to the raffle, please bring it. Also, if you intend on purchasing tickets for the raffle, you should bring money. Cash or checks only please.

4. Snacks. We will have a communal snack area for in between meals, and are asking that people bring foodstuff to contribute, including beverages aside from coffee, tea and cocoa. Please remember that alcohol is not permitted on the grounds.

5. Boots in case there is mud. One can always bring and change back into your nice shoes upon arrival or return, should we go adventuring outdoors.

6. Room decorations are encouraged and the favorite will be awarded with a lovely prize. If you would like to use candles in your room or to walk around with, you should bring the appropriate candle holders and candles.

7. Any workshop requirements that you might need, including a sewing machine for those workshops which might require one.

8. Remember to change into your Regency wear upon arrival to your rooms; all other things can be accomplished post change.

9. Entertainment. For yourself such as embroidery or crafts, or to be shared, such as games, readings or your musical talents.

10. Also, we do have a few spots available should you know anyone who would like to go. Please let them know to contact us straightaway!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The 'Pemberley' Regency Shoe Available for Pre-Order!

Heads-up, Regency enthusiasts! American Duchess has released another model of period shoe and this time it's Regency. A beautiful Regency slipper complete with the side seams.  The shoe is from the early regency (1790-1810), with the pointed toe and a tiny, precious little heel.  At pre-sale price, they're only $80 and they're made of dyable white leather. Regular price is $95.

Pre-order today so she can continue to sell these shoes in her boutique! Every lady who does Regency costuming needs a pair of these. :) Gentlemen, this is a lovely Christmas gift idea.

Order yours here:

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Fabulous Fichu

Miss Jane Porter apparently wore a Fichu.
The Fichu, the chemisette—false sleeves... these are little fripperies that can change the look of a gown dramatically.  When you are into costuming, you can spend a lot of time sewing gowns and amassing a massive wardrobe of gowns simply because you want a variety of options. Sometimes having the right accessories can really change up looks that you already have.

The fichu comes in a variety of forms. Its purpose, as was the chemisette, was to fill in the neckline and to add a little je-ne-sais-quoi to your clothes.

Some pretty chemisettes.
A chemisette is a small 'dickie' of sorts; a sleeveless, or sometimes sleeved light-fabric blouselet that was put on before the gown as a neckline filler. Some were simple, some quite elaborate. A fichu serves a similar purpose, but is not an actual shirt. It's a piece of fabric wrapped around the neck and shoulders to cover and also highlight the decolletage of the wearer.

It is my experience, looking at the images of extant garments over the years, that items of Regency clothing, although similar in silhouette and style, were often constructed quite differently by different people. As people are today, they were also back in those days, imaginative, inventive and thrifty. They would use and reuse fabrics, and they would find ways to make their items particularly special.  Since the only thing that was mass produced were the fabrics, there’s no end to the variations in construction.

The Fichu is a perfect example of how the simple act of filling a neckline became a sort of competition of creativity, starting with the thickly ruched necklines of the early Regency to the froo-froo ruffled collars of the late Regency.  They are really indispensable necessities for any regency wardrobe, and lend a touch of authenticity that wearing just wearing a gown cannot achieve.

This is a different application of a fichu (left).
Tied 'round the neck, in front of the arms
and then around the waist. It is also a coloured fichu.
All you really need is your imagination, some very nice sheer fabrics and laces, and a couple of hours if your good in order to make some little accessories that will change your gown’s appearance completely.

Fichus were worn underneath the bodice and over the bodice. They varied in shape from a rectangle to a triangle.  Some covered the exposed neckline, while others only served to dress the existing neckline. Some were long, others were just slips of laced netting. In portraits, you see a variety of opacities in fabric, from the sheerest of the sheer, as delicate as dragonfly wings, to only slightly transparent, densely woven laces and embroidered nets.

The trick is to decide what looks you want for yourself, and then using the very basic shapes to construct those desired items.

For chemisettes;  there are a few patterns available where you can construct the basic garment, and then build upon it in lace and ruffles and such.  

Regency Neck Ruffs were often added on over chemisettes. Here are some tips on how to make a neck ruff:

Elizabethans were not the only ones who thought lace-ruffs
were the pinnacle of fashion.

Neck ruffs got more elaborate
as the late Regency wore on.
fashions were getting frillier and frillier.
As for the Fichu, it does not necessarily require a pattern to make one.  You can build them right on your dress-form or you can just use general measurements and cut them from there. Depending on how much you want full you want your ruching around your neckline, you can adjust the width of the fabric accordingly.  Your key measurement points are your shoulder width, and the distance between the back of your regency waistline and the front.  If you’re going to wear it on the outside of your gown, then you can make the ‘lapettes’ as long as you want them to be.  I’ve seen lots of images of older women with fichus on their shoulders with panels that hang down the front the full length of their dress. It’s very pretty.

I'm slightly crazy about the hat,
I must say.

Here are a few styles of Fichu I’ve seen in either fashion plates, costume mining in adaptations or portraits.  These drawings are open for interpretation, because again, these were made individually and to a person’s tastes. You can add and subtract from the basic shape to your heart’s delight.  Each image has a number. Below all the examples is a key with the very basic shaping of the chemisette drawn out on it. Keep in mind, I measured these based on my body--there is NO substitute for your OWN measurements. If you don't have a dress-form, then measure it on yourself.  And measure twice, cut ONCE. If you make something too short, you can always add lace edging, or ruffles--it's not a science, it's all about creativity.  If you use the foundation shapes and measurements, they sky is the limit in what you can do from there.

The simplest form of fichu. A rectangle,
ruched and then tucked.

Another rectangle, with a cut for the neck.

The tuckable triangle.

The triangle worn on the top of the gown.

With long 'lapettes' in front. I've seen these
made to the length of the dress.
This can be made, and set with drawstrings
to set the shape and gathering.

Recommended fabrics for Fichu 
(as a strong recommendation I suggest you try to stick to silk and cotton products) :
  • Cotton or silk netting.
  • Voile.
  • Batiste
  • Organdy (although it can be crunchy and stiff but it works wonders for ruffled collars)
  • Silk or cotton gauze
  • Cotton Lawn
(please pardon my hasty, and quite awful drawings!)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A night at the opera.

This evening at the opera organized by Miss Stephanie Robertson was a triumph.  A small group of us ladies attended the Portland Opera’s production of The Marriage of Figaro.

The set was a star on its own, a delicate dance of perspective, light and colour that transported the audience into this delightful comedy.  The artistry and taste was flawless in the design of the stage, and the light cast in from the windows painted a golden hue onto the actors as they plied their artistry.

The cast was tremendous, the principals true stars. The handsome David Pittsinger swaggered across the stage in his flowing frock coat, the very essence of the Count Almaviva, pursuing the elegant Susanna (Miss Jennifer Aylmer) whose clear, bell of a voice trilled out over the audience in song.   The sly Figaro, played by Daniel Mobbs, handsome in side-curls and a striped waistcoat, was performed with expertise by the actor, and the voices of all were resplendent.  Jennifer Holloway’s portrayal of the mischievous Cherubino was comic genius.

The orchestra was so unbelievably good and on-point, so beautifully intertwined with the singers on stage. The musicians were conducted to perfection by Ari Pelto. 

There was not enough time to sit and absorb all the wonderful details hidden throughout the production; from the beautiful costumes to the talent and humour of these wonderful actors and operatic artists.  The ten of us were delighted by the performance. It has been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a good opera, and the Portland Opera did not disappoint. 

There are still performances available for those who have not seen this wonderful production. There will be shows on November 10 and November 12 at the Keller Auditorium.  The Keller Auditorium was a generous and kind host to our group, and welcomed us kindly.  We hope to return to see more beautiful performances soon with other members of the ORS.

We took few photos, but once we do gather the one or two of them together, I will place them on this post.