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How To Make a Reticule

This little reticule was first featured as a project in Petersen’s Magazine in 1857. As you can see from the Regency fashion plate, it is a style that was popular even then. By definition, a reticule (or ridicule as they were sometimes called) was a small purse. They became popular in the late 18th century when narrow gown styles prevented the installation of pockets. This is a very pretty design for a reticule. Materials: green silk, purple morocco [fine soft kid as from gloves] and pasteboard. Cut the bottom out of pasteboard the size you wish, and cover it with the morocco, bringing the morocco a little up the sides as a finish, the pasteboard having first been turned up for that purpose. Then sew on the four pieces of silk, and complete with a drawing string of sewing silk below to match the silk of the bag. Copied from Fabrics.net   Laura Boyle is fascinated by all aspects of Jane Austen’s life. She is the proprietor of Austenation: Regency Accessories, creating custom hats, bonnets, reticules and more for customers around the globe. Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends is her first book. Her greatest joy is the time she is able to spend in her home with her family (1 amazing husband, 4 adorable children and a very strange dog.) Save (more…)
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Create a Custom Hatpin

While there is some debate over the date of the original hatpin (vs straight pin),we do know that women have been using pins to secure veils, wimples, hats and bonnets for hundreds of years.  Until 1820 hatpin making in England was a cottage industry in which demand far exceeded supply. One solution was to import crafted pins from France. In order to support Britain’s crafters, in 1820 a law was passed allowing pins to be imported ONLY on January 1 and 2! Some suggest the phrase “pin money” was so called because it was spent by the lady of the house on her hatpins, dress pins and brooch pins! 2008’s The Duchess featured exquisite costumes (and hatpins) by Michael O’Connor. Photo by Nick Wall All pins were still handmade at this point, and remained so until 1832 when a machine was invented in the United States, which could mass-produce the pins. After this prices dropped considerably as machines made pins were crafted England and France, soon after. When styles began favoring the hat over the bonnet in the 1880’s, hatpins became both more fashionable and more elaborate. They remained as essential accessory until the age of flapper style bobs and cloche hats made them unnecessary. Still the Edwardian hatpin was regarded as a thing of fear among lawmakers of the day, who passed legislation in 1908 (in the United States) mandating that pins  not exceed 10 inches in length (lest Suffragettes use them as weapons) and later ordering that the (more…)
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Create a “Marianne” Style Bonnet

As many will attest, one of the delights of watching a Jane Austen film is the glory of the costuming. Jenny Beavan’s designs for the 1995 Emma Thompson version of Sense and Sensibility were no exception. Beavan, always noted for her impeccable historical designs, was rightfully nominated for both a BAFTA and an Oscar on this film. Marianne wears a delightfully poufed bonnet. Here you will find the instructions for my version of Marianne’s famous bonnet. This bonnet was designed for www.austentation.com. Materials: Needle, Thread, Scissors, pins 1 Round Brimmed straw hat (preferably with a downturned brim) 14×14” or 18×18” square of fabric (your choice for size of pouf) 18×2” strip of fabric 4×4” square of fabric 1 yard ribbon of your choice (I use ½” sheer with satin stripes) Instructions Fold the fabric in quarters and round off the edges. You will now have a circle of fabric. Run a gathering stitch around the edge of the circle and pull it as tight around the top of the crown (just below the line of holes) Tack or pin in place. Find the center of the piece of ribbon. Pin it in place over halfway over the raw edge of the gathered “pouf” in the center, front. Bring the ribbon around the bonnet on both sides, crossing it in the back. Now bring the ribbon to the front again. This time, cross them in the center, front, about an inch and a half away from the edge of the brim (more…)
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Make A Mob Cap

Make a mob capThe Mob Cap, synonymous with the early American “founding mothers” Martha Washington and Betsy Ross, was actually a fashionable accessory worn by many women throughout the Georgian Era. Named for it’s association with the French “mobs” of that Revolution, it could be as exquisite or serviceable as the the wearer could afford or require. “Washington’s Family” by Edward Savage, painted between 1789 and 1796, shows (from left to right): George Washington Parke Custis, George Washington, Eleanor Parke Custis, Martha, and an enslaved servant: probably William Lee or Christopher Sheels .   Jane Austen, herself, was fond of caps and wrote to her sister, “I have made myself two or three caps to wear of evenings since I came home, and they save me a world of torment as to hairdressing which at present gives me no trouble beyond washing and brushing, for my long hair is always plaited up out of sight, and my short hair curls well enough to want no papering.” So, how do we make a mob cap? To make your own cap, here’s a video by ‘Modesty Matters’. It’s simple without embellishment but is a great starting point. Have fun. (more…)
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Create a Faux Bandeau

The Bandeau hairstyle was favored throughout the Regency as a throwback to ancient times. Here is an easy way to “fake” the look of this period court head piece using a modern headband. Traditional etiquette for presentation at court required white ostrich feathers to be worn, but getting them to stay in place could be tricky! Court Dress, 1799 To create your own headpiece, you’ll need: one fabric covered hairband (satin or velvet works nicely) some feathers of various sizes fabric glue jeweled brooch. The “Louisa” style hairband is available in custom colors from Austentation.com Pin your hair up in your preferred style and slide the hairband into place. Pin the brooch onto the hairband where you want your plumes to begin. Experiment with your plumes to find the perfect arrangement. Remove the band in order to attach the feathers. Dip the ends of your plumes in fabric glue and slide into place behind the brooch. The pin should cover the ends of the feathers. Viola! A lovely Regency look in just a few minutes! Don’t have time or resources to create your own? Order a custom made “Faux Bandeau” from Austentation.com (more…)
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Make Self Fabric Trim for your Georgian Gown

With a number of costumed events on the horizon, it’s often tempting to try creating your own ensemble. One of the easiest ways to coordinate your trim to your dress is to use left over scraps from your gown. This is called Self Fabric trim, and was widely used during the Georgian or Rococo period, as shown in this extant gown: Robe à la Polonaise with Self-Fabric Trim, circa 1775-80 Liz, at the Pragmatic Costumer, offers a fabulously easy tutorial for creating trim like that seen on the gown above. Her blog is a treasure trove of sewing hints and tricks for turning over the counter patterns into historically (appearing) accurate representations of your chosen time period. It’s lots of fun to explore. Liz’s tutorial for making self fabric trim will have you embellishing your ensembles from head to toe (the technique also works for hat and bonnet trim, shoe roses, and more!) (more…)
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Create Regency Style Acrostic Jewelry

During the Regency, acrostic jewelry came into vogue. These brooches, rings and other ornaments used gemstones beginning with each letter of the alphabet to spell out sentimental sayings such as LOVE, DEAREST, of REGARD.

Georgian "Regard" brooch, circa 1810.
Georgian “Acrostic” brooch, circa 1810. Jewelers often used the French spelling of the gemstone name when creating their words and phrases, even when the phrases were in English.

First created by the Mellerio Jewelry company (they claim to be the oldest family company in Europe) in Paris in 1809, the idea was mentioned by Étienne de Jouy in an article in an 1811 edition of Gazette de France, which in turn led to the style being adopted in England.

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Create A Regency Style Turban

Turbans were popular forms of head decoration during Austen’s era, adding both drama and height to the wearer.

The Bingley sisters epitomized London style and elegance in 1995's Pride and Prejudice by A&E/BBC.
The Bingley sisters epitomized London style and elegance in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice by A&E/BBC.

Fashion magazines of the time displayed an amazing variety of style and form, all under the heading “turban”.

 La Belle Assemblee, April 1818
La Belle Assemblee, April 1818

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