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The Game of Graces

When I had reached my eighteenth Year, I was recalled by my Parents to my paternal roof in Wales. Our mansion was situated in one of the most romantic parts of the Vale of Uske. Tho’ my Charms are now considerably softened and somewhat impaired by the Misfortunes I have undergone, I was once beautiful. But lovely as I was, the Graces of my Person were the least of my Perfections. Of every accomplishment accustomary to my sex, I was Mistress. When in the Convent, my progress had always exceeded my instructions, my Acquirements had been wonderfull for my age, and I had shortly surpassed my Masters.
Love and Freindship
Jane Austen

The Game of Graces was a popular activity for young girls during the early 1800s. The game was invented in France during the first quarter of the 19th century and called there le jeu des Graces. The Game of Graces was considered a proper game benefiting young ladies and, supposedly, tailored to make them more graceful. Graces was hardly ever played by boys, and never played by two boys at the same time, either two girls, or a boy and a girl.

In 1838, Lydia Marie Child (American abolitionist, women’s rights activist and author of such works as Hobomok and A Boy’s Thanksgiving, which begins, “Over the River and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go…”) published The Girl’s Own Book, a volume full of entertainments for girls of all ages.  In it, she describes the game of Graces, thus:

This is a new game, common in Germany, but introduced to this country from France. It derives its name from the graceful attitudes which it occasions. Two sticks are held in the hands, across each other, like open scissors: the object is to throw and catch a small hoop upon these sticks. The hoop to be bound with silk, or ribbon, according to fancy.

The game is played by two persons. The sticks are held straight, about four inches apart, when trying to catch the hoop; and when the hoop is thrown, they are crossed like a pair of scissors. In this country it is called The Graces or The Flying Circle.
Continue reading The Game of Graces

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Regency Silhouette Christmas Ornament

 Colleen Babcock: Regency Silhouette Christmas Ornament

Colleen BabcockIt is a truth universally acknowledged, that a lone crafter in possession of a sewing machine, must be in want of a free tutorial. I’m Colleen Babcock, and I’m here as a guest contributor at the Jane Austen Centre’s online magazine to provide you with just that.

I am a cloth art doll and craft designer, as well as a Jane Austen fan, living in London. Originally from Canada, I teach and exhibit in the UK and across North America. With work featured in several books and magazines, I also write guest posts for popular craft blogs while keeping the creativity levels high with free tutorials on my own blog, The Magic Bean.

Colleen Babcock’s adorable Regency silhouette ornaments.

What you need Continue reading Regency Silhouette Christmas Ornament

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The Choker Necklace

This supposed drawing of the Austen family shows Mrs. Austen wearing a fashionable black ribbon choker.

Chokers (necklaces that sit tight to the throat) have been popular throughout history– from Anne Boleyn’s famous “B”, to Empress Sisi’s simple black ribbon. Today they can be found made of anything from hemp to diamonds.

choker necklace
Georgian Aquamarine & Diamond Garland Choker

During Jane Austen’s lifetime, chokers were worn in many forms, from this vintage Georgian aquamarine and diamond creation, tied on with ribbon, to strands of pearls, to a simple ribbon tied about the neck. During the French Revolution, female French expatriots used to wear a thin red ribbon choker as a silent testament to their own narrow escape and in memory of their many friends and family members who were not as lucky. Soon all of London wanted to wear the red ribbon, beginning one of the first times in history when a ribbon has been used as a gesture of solidarity and sympathy with a class of victims.

Ribbon chokers might also be accented by a jeweled slide or cameo pin.

choker necklace
Georgian society women had a penchant for black ribbon chokers. Left: Young Georgiana with her Mother, Georgiana, Countess Spencer (1761) Right: Actress Sarah Siddons, 1785.

Here are a few images of chokers throughout history, from Anne Boleyn (1507-1536), to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744–1818) to Queen Victoria (1819–1901) and Mary of Teck (1867–1953) who preferred the style with ropes of pearls.

choker necklace
Chokers have been a popular choice for Britain’s queens.

 

Laura Boyle is an avid Regency enthusiast. Find more fashion information or purchase your own choker necklace from her shop, Austentation: Regency Accessories

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Make Your Own Shoe Roses

shoe roses

Make Your Own Shoe Roses

If there had not been a Netherfield ball to prepare for and talk of, the younger Miss Bennets would have been in a pitiable state at this time, for from the day of the invitation to the day of the ball, there was such a succession of rain as prevented their walking to Meryton once.

No aunt, no officers, no news could be sought after; — the very shoe-roses for Netherfield were got by proxy.

Even Elizabeth might have found some trial of her patience in weather which totally suspended the improvement of her acquaintance with Mr Wickham; and nothing less than a dance on Tuesday, could have made such a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday endurable to Kitty and Lydia.

-Pride and Prejudice

During the Regency women’s shoes took a dramatic turn from the high-heeled bejeweled creations of the previous generation. Instead, simple kidd leather or satin slippers were worn, and dainty ankle boots protected feminine feet when venturing abroad. Adding to the over all effect these shoes were often adorned with ribbon, flowers, bows or rosettes.

When searching to complete your Regency ensemble, it can be difficult to find shoes that look period appropriate which are also comfortable to wear. The addition of shoe roses to an already owned pair of flats can transform the look from 21st century to early 19th century in a few moments. As shown in the photos of antique shoes, the trims added were the same color as the shoe they adorned, so keep this in mind while choosing your ribbon.

 

How to Make Ribbon Shoe Roses To Adorn Your Footwear

Wire-edge ribbon which can also be found as wired ribbon, is a very versatile ribbon to use in crafts. You can find the ribbon in craft and fabric stores or your local florist may have an ample supply. Wire-edge ribbon is most commonly seen in bows on floral arrangements or on fancy gift wrapped packages. The ribbon is called wire-edge because a thin wire is encased along the edges of the ribbon giving it body and the ability to be shaped.

My favorite thing to do with wire-edge ribbon is to make flowers, especially roses. You can find great ribbons sold by the spool or you can get some fancier ones by the yard. I like using variegated and ombre ribbons for the flowers. Variegated ribbons are shades of one color while ombre ribbons use a blend of different colors. The following photos show the different ways flowers can look by how they are manipulated.

This is a rolled ribbon rose that is made by gathering one long edge of the ribbon. Do this by pulling out part of the wire along one edge and then gather. You then roll the ribbon along the gathered edge.

show rose

This is a gathered rosette and a folded rose. The rosette is made by sewing the short ends of a length of ribbon together forming a continuous loop, then use a basting stitch about one third of the way from one edge and gather. The folded rose is shown at the end of the article.

These two roses are made from the same ribbon. The bottom one is the rolled ribbon rose while the top one is the folded ribbon rose.

Here are leaves made from various widths of ribbon. Notice how the leaves changed when using different sides of the variegated ribbon. I used the directions for boat leaves found in The Artful Ribbon by Candace Kling. The rosette instructions can also be found in this book but the roses are made a little differently plus there are several more types of roses as well as many other flowers.

Here are a couple of different looks to the folded ribbon rose by using checked and plaid ribbon.

Here are the steps to make a folded ribbon rose:

First cut a length of ribbon 18″ – 24″ (ribbon length will be shorter for narrower ribbon – 1″ and longer for wider – 1-1/2″). Begin by folding down one corner as shown in photo.

Second, roll the pointed end to the inside as seen in the next photo.

Next, fold the long length of ribbon down as shown. Then begin turning the small end toward you.

Continue to fold the ribbon down as you continue to turn the flower. When you reach the end pinch the bottom to temporarily secure the rose. Most instructions I’ve found say to use floral wire to secure but I find it stays better if you take a few stitches with needle and matching thread through the bottom.

Once your rose is complete, you can affix it to your boot or slipper with a few stitches or even glue. Voila! Instant Regency Fashion. You can also experiment with bows, jewelled buckles and other instant decorations. Have fun decorating!

Ribbon Rose instructions and photos by Donna Lannerd, for CraftCritique.com, July 9, 2007. Used with kind permission.

 

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Silk Ribbon Embroidery

Elizabeth took up some needlework, and was sufficiently amused in attending to what passed between Darcy and his companion.
Pride and Prejudice

According to Victoria Adams Brown, author of several silk ribbon embroidery books, silk ribbon embroidery made its first appearance in England in the early 18th century when London dressmakers began copying the French technique of broderie de faveur. The famous French couture house, the House of Worth, increased the popularity of silk ribbon embroidery, when Charles Worth’s master embroiderer, Michonet, began using roccoco ribbons to adorn the gowns of the rich and famous.

Before that silk ribbon embroidery first adorned the vestments of the clergy. From there it could be seen on the gauntlets of high-ranking soldiers, and then filtered into the fashion arena. During the Industrial Revolution, the Nouveau Riche, did not want to be seen in mass-produced gowns. They changed gowns up to five times a day, so they hired the services of Charles Worth, which spawned the famous couture houses that even today, continue to dress the wealthy and the elite.

Ribbon embroidery uses the same embroidery stitches that have been popular for hundreds of years – except stitched with ribbons. The most popular width of ribbons are 4mm and 7mm, although larger widths are gaining in popularity.”

The beauty of Silk Ribbon embroidery is that it takes almost 1/5 of the time to execute when compared to cross-stitch or other embroidery methods, and it is almost impossible to make a true “mistake”. Even the novice can pick it up in an afternoon and soon be turning out beautiful, one of a kind embroideries. During the Regency era, a great deal of a gentlewoman’s time was spent visiting and being visited. While one ought not to pull out the mending to repair in front of company, it was perfectly acceptable to take along some piece of fancy needlework to stitch on while chatting. Cushion covers were embroidered and handkerchiefs monogrammed, giving the worker a chance to show off one of her accomplishments and allowing her companions to marvel at the size and accuracy of her stitches.


Below you will find instructions for ten basic stitches, which, when combined can be turned into any number of elegant little projects. Practice them on plain fabric at first and when you feel confident, try embellishing a pillowcase or reticule– perhaps even a gown or petticoat! You can also buy ready made kits both in craft stores and online at places like www.joanns.com and www.jdr-be.com. Victoria Brown’s website, www.ribbonsmyth.com features a wide array of kits, supplies, patterns and other ribbon embroidery projects.

We also have a lovely craft section at our own giftshop. Click here.

To begin, you will need:

  • 1 large-eyed needle
  • 1 12″ square of muslin or target=”new”>Aida cloth
  • 1 8″ embroidery hoop
  • A selection of 4mm silk ribbons (or at least one package)
  • Small scissors

Place your fabric in the hoop, making sure it is pulled tight.

Thread your needle.

To secure the ribbon when stitching, pull the ribbon through your fabric once, leaving a 1/2″ tail on the back side of your fabric. Stitch through that tail when making your second stitch. Your ribbon is now in place and you are ready to begin!

Follow this link to find instructions for your 10 basic stitches, including the lazy daisy, French knots and spiderweb (woven) rose.

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A Jane Austen Christmas Ornament

This adorable ornament makes a great gift for the Jane Austen addict in your life. It’s simple to create and once you have the pattern down, fun to modify– try creating your favorite hero or heroine!

You will need:

  • One plain, wooden non pinching clothespin (sometimes called a dollpin)
  • Printed pattern pieces: click here to download
  • 4”x4” square of felt
  • Small bit of curly doll hair
  • 12″ each Narrow Lace trim and narrow ribbon
  • One small feather
  • Black paint, paintbrush
  • Black fine tipped pen
  • Red fine tipped pen
  • Gold thread and needle
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Craft glue or glue gun (preferred)

Instructions

  1. Paint Jane’s shoes black. Add her eyes and mouth with pens, once paint is dry.
  2. While paint is drying, cut out pattern pieces. You will need one skirt and two arms.
  3. Glue lace trim to bottom edge of skirt.
  4. Wrap skirt piece around Jane’s body and glue in place. Run a bead of glue down the underside of the seam along the back to fix the fabric in place.   Hem should end slightly above her shoes.
  5. Wrap narrow ribbon around her waist about 1/4″ down from her neckline. Tie ribbon in a bow at the back
  6. Glue arms in place at shoulder height. Glue a feather or feather shaped bit of felt in one hand to represent a pen.
  7. Wrap narrow lace around her neck and shoulders and tie at ribbon-belt height, trim ends creating a fichu or scarf look.
  8. Roll doll hair into a slight ball with a few curls hanging down the back. Glue in place so that there are a few curls in front as well.
  9. Tie small piece of ribbon around her hair to act as a bandeau or headband.
  10. Thread your needle with gold thread. Sew a loop on the top back of Jane’s gown and knot, so that she can now hang as a Christmas ornament.

 

Complete Clothespin doll kits are were designed for and available from Austentation: Regency Accessories. You may also visit our Giftshop to view our entire line and purchase your favorite Austen couple!

Available kits include: Lizzie and Darcy, Emma and Mr. Knightley, Anne and Captain Wentworth and Marianne and Colonel Brandon. Each kit contains the instructions and materials needed to create one male and one female doll as well as the Jane Austen variation found here and instructions for an alternate male costume (either officer or gentleman, depending on the kit purchased.)

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Clothing Warehouses of the Regency

Displaying the Latest Fashions

When I read the following quote from Sense and Sensibility, I wondered in what way the wedding clothes were displayed at the warehouse.

“The rest of Mrs. Palmer’s sympathy was shown in procuring all the particulars in her power of the approaching marriage, and communicating them to Elinor. She could soon tell at what coachmaker’s the new carriage was building, by what painter Mr. Willoughby’s portrait was drawn, and at what warehouse Miss Grey’s clothes might be seen.”

Jenny Beavan's gown, designed for Lucy Robinson, used by permission from William Kemp Though head forms of paper Mache or wicker were used for hats and wigs, the invention of the mannequin and the hanger were more than a half century away. How then, were Miss Grey’s clothes displayed? There are several possible methods. The dresses may have been suspended from pegs using the pair of ribbon loops sometimes included in better clothing even today. We currently use them to help hold gowns on the hanger by looping the ribbons over the hook of the hanger, but the ribbon loops are the relic of a time when gowns were hung from two pegs. Another method of display was to pass a dowel through the arm holes and suspend the ends of the dowel in holders or from a pair of knotted cords. Finally clothes might be laid out on white linen on a table.

In the early part of the nineteenth century, before the invention of photography, fashion conscious women relied on prints of drawings of clothing in such fashionable magazines as La Belle Assemblee, The Lady’s Magazine, and Ackerman’s Repository . Other methods of viewing the latest fashions included: fashion dolls dressed in the latest mode, viewing the wedding clothes of the ton at warehouses, or watching the elite enter the theater. I imagine the traffic generated at a cloth warehouse by women coming to view the wedding clothes of the about to be married Ton misses benefited sales. Perhaps a discount was given on cloth if the clothing was displayed at the cloth warehouse.

Cost of Cloth in 1791 1 yard of good poplin cost 3 schillings 2 pence (tuppence). Wholesale cost of 168 yards of crape was 12 guineas and 14 schillings.

Have a look at our online giftshop and buy our ever popular Regency dress patterns! click here.

Sharon Wagoner is the webmistress of The Georgian Index. Visit her site for a treasure trove of little known information about the Georgian period. A fascinating collection!