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Make Your Own 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.) (more…)
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Trim your Regency Bonnet

Flowers are very much worn, and fruit is still more the thing. Elizabeth has a bunch of strawberries, and I have seen grapes, cherries, plums, and apricots. There are likewise almonds and raisins, French plums, and tamarinds at the grocers’, but I have never seen any of them in hats… Elizabeth has given me a hat, and it is not only a pretty hat, but a pretty style of hat too. It is something like Eliza’s, only, instead of being all straw, half of it is narrow purple ribbon. I flatter myself, however, that you can understand very little of it from this description. Heaven forbid that I should ever offer such encouragement to explanations as to give a clear one on any occasion myself! But I must write no more of this. . . Jane Austen to Cassandra Queen’s Square, Bath June 2, 1799 If you had to choose only one fashion accessory with which to represent the entire Regency period, no doubt it would be the Bonnet. Large and small, close and wide, they came in an array of sizes and styles, each season bringing newideas and new requirements of what it was to be “Fashionable”. Fashion magazines of the day seemed never to tire of describing this brim and that cockade, and the colors! Where Puce was once reigned supreme, Jonquil now led the way. Or so they would tell you. While wealthy socialites might spend their afternoons seriously pondering the style and purchase of a new (more…)
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Sew a Simple Waist Apron

Aprons were  a necessity for the Regency Country wife. No other item could be as practical both for keeping precious gowns clean, but also for drying the hands (or tears of the young ones) and even for gathering produce! Mrs. Austen is said to have dug her own potatoes in the Chawton Gardens wearing a “laborer’s smock” over her gown to protect it from the dirt. This simple apron is adapted from Vintage Apron Patterns.com and will provide you with a charming apron like that worn by Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway) in Becoming Jane. 1 1/3 Yards of 45 inch wide cotton fabric Optional for tie: 2 yards of 2.5 inch grosgrain ribbon Apron Body: Cut one piece of fabric 36 inches wide x 45 inches long. Ties: |Cut 4 pieces of your fabric- 3 inches wide x 45 inches long. disregard in you purchased ribbon for your tie. Apron Body: Turn top down 1/4 of a inch to the inside,press, turn again and sew down close to the pressed edge. Do the same for the hem, then to both sides of the apron body.You now have your apron body completed. Tie: Do this if you are using the fabric for your tie. Take 2 of the cut out tie pieces and with right sides together sew the 3 inch width, use a 3/8 inch seam. Do this to both. You will now have 2- 90 inch long ties.(approx) Ties continued: On each tie press the long edges under 1/4 (more…)
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How to Make Decorative Frogs

One of the easiest ways to dress up a cloak, spencer or other jacket is to replace the buttons with period appropriate “frog” closures. As you can see, these decorative braid fasteners are military in style, but add a certain dash to any item. They are easily customizable and, fortunately, easily created. The following instructions, by Mary Hunt, will have you started in no time.   How to Make Decorative Frogs Decorative frogs can be made of purchased cord or of self-fabric corded tubing. Pin the frog into the desired design, sucuring each loop with small stitches on the underside. Slipstitch the frog to the garment, leaving one loop extending beyond the garment edge for buttoning. Chinese ball buttons are commonly used with frogs and can be made of the same cord. The size of the ball will depend on the thickness of the cord. About 8 to 10 inches of a 1/4″ cord makes a small button.   a. Loop cord as shown. b. Loop again over and under first loop. c. Loop a third time, weaving through other two loops. Keep loops open while working. d. Ease together, shaping into a ball. Trim the ends and sew them flat to underside of ball, or leave them long and form the ends into a second frog style loop, as seen in this photo: The possibilities are endless. Enjoy creating your own designs. Have you seen our costume section at our online shop? Have a browse here.   (more…)
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Make an Heirloom Style Baby Bonnet

These easy instructions will help you create an heirloom style baby bonnet in no time. Read The Regency Layette: The Well-Dressed Infant on the Eve of the 19th Century for a complete look at a Georgian child’s first wardrobe. This pattern requires a sewing machine and white thread, a 10×10″square of cloth, a yard and a quarter of lace, and about two yards of medium (1/2″) width ribbon. Cut a 10×10″ square of fabric. Sew lace all around the edges on the right side of the material. Turn over. Fold the square in half so that the right side is facing up, Iron or finger press the fold flat. Sew a line of stitching 1/2″ from the fold all the way across, leaving a casing. You should have an opening at the bottom of the fold, thread a 12″ piece of ribbon through it. Cut the remaining ribbon in half. Place one piece betweent the layers of fabric and lace on the one of the short sides of the fabric. Sew a seam over the entire end to keep the layers together and secure the ribbon in place. Repeat on the other end. Gather the ribbon on the opposite side, knotting it and then tying it into a bow to make the back of the bonnet. This pattern by was adapted from one created by Jo, from Maryland. You can purchase more children’s patterns at our online giftshop. Click here. (more…)
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Make a Chatalaine

According to Susan Wildmuth, “Chatelaine is French for “mistress of the castle.” For years people have associated this decorative and useful waist-hung item with medieval times, but it’s an honest case of mistaken identity. Grandmother to the chatelaine, collectors called these early waist-hung items, with long chains holding keys to myriad places where precious items like spices, tea, and food stuffs were stored, by its proper name, equipage. The term chatelaine, in association with waist-hung items, did not come into use until the early 1800s during the late Regency period. Similar to equipage, a chatelaine was traditionally worn draped over or attached by a clip to a belt on the wearer’s waist, its long chains dangling about halfway down the length of her skirt. More than just a fashion accessory, its purpose was to organize useful household objects in an accessible fashion and was often given as a wedding present by a husband to his new bride.” To make this period reproduction of a Chatalaine, you will need 3 1/2 yards of 1 1/2″ wide ribbon, a needle, thread and scissors, a clip (such as a garter clip or keyring clip if you will have a loop on your outfit for it to fasten to) for attaching the ribbon to your gown and a selection of small sewing or household necessities, such as scissors, a needle case and a pin cusion. Many of these items can be made or bought in the notions section of a craft or department store. (more…)
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Make Jane Austen’s Needle Case

Jane Austen created this little needle case for a neice of hers just learning to sew. It is on display at Chawton cottage and bears the following inscription: “With Aunt Jane’s Love”. This tiny gift would make a great stocking stuffer or small token for a friend at Christmas. Materials: 1 3″x5″ piece of cardstock (a plain index card works great) 1 2 1/2″x4 1/2″ piece of patterned paper 1 2 1/2″x4 1/2″ piece of felt 2 12″ pieces of 1/2″ ribbon Needle, thread and glue Fold the cardstock and patterned paper in half vertically. Open the cardstock up and place one piece of ribbon horizontally across the middle. Glue the paper on top of the ribbon to hold it in place. There should be a 1/4″ margin on all sides. Place the felt on top of the patterned paper. Place the other piece of ribbon centered vertically on top of the felt. Both should be centered on the creases you made in step 1. Stitch both pieces in place with a running stitch down the center crease. Fold your book closed and tie both sets of ribbons as shown in the illustration. If you like, you can decorate the front of your needle book with watercolors, as Jane Austen did. You could also use colored paper, a pretty picture or clipart. Fill the book with a few needles tucked through the felt and your gift is ready to give! If you enjoyed this you’ll love our craft section. Visit (more…)
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Sew a Walking Cloak

Beautiful, bright red walking cloaks were common countryside wear for several decades during extended Georgian era. Well-established garb by the onset of the Regency, they lasted well into the 1830s, although they were somewhat out of style by then. They were made of wool and often had large hoods. They remained the cold weather “coat” of choice– much warmer than the Spencer or Pelisse, which sought to take their place in fashionable society.* The Bennet sister’s cloaks in P&P2 were based on Diana Sperling’s entertaining illustrations of life in the country. Mrs. Hurst Dancing & Other Scenes from Regency Life 1812-23 This cloak pattern comes from Mike Horrill, at Aldebaran. It uses simple measurements to create an amazingly authentic cloak. If a more detailed pattern is to your liking, try Simplicity Pattern 5794. Walking Cloak Making Guide. The Semi-Circular Pattern. This pattern is a little more complex that the basic rectangular pattern but it does produce a very nice cloak without too much effort. I have used it to make three cloaks so far and will probably make more in the future. My favorite for this one is crushed velvet. Other than that I would recommend either cotton or poly-cotton. You can use pretty much any material but really cheap fabrics tend not to hang very well. Materials:- 4 yards of 60 inch wide fabric. Cotton. Some form of fastener. Tools:- Chalk for marking out. A length of string (5 ft). Sharp scissors. Pins. Sewing machine. You can sew this (more…)