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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
] 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.

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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.)


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Trim your own Regency Bonnet

A Regency Bonnet

So many styles of Regency Bonnet to choose from! 

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 bonnet, less fortunate young ladies might employ themselves with equal diligence to trimming and retrimming an older bonnet to meet the new style standards. For these young ladies, books like The Ladies’ self instructor in millinery and mantua making, embroidery and appliqué, canvas-work, knitting, netting, and crochet-work, by R. L. Shep, would be invaluable. Careful perusing of its pages, along with those of La Belle Assemblée would offer all they would need to know to be found in the most current mode, even when “buried” in the country.

One such period book advises, “it is well to avoid the two extremes [of fashion] into which some people are apt to fall. The one is an entire disregard to the prevailing taste, and the other is a servile submission to its tyrannic sway. A medium course is the only sensible one, and, in this, good sense will dictate how far to go, and where to stop.”

As you can see from the following fashion plate and historic gown and bonnet, simple decorations were often the most tasteful and appropriate. The addition of simple trim (make your own or use grosgrain ribbon or bias tape) and lace along with a few ribbons can turn a plain bonnet into a lovely summer chapeau.

Of course, simplicity and moderation did not always rule the Regency, as a look at a few more period fashion plates and examples of the period Regency bonnet will show you! Both of these following fashion plates are from Costumes Parisiens, 1812.












These historic bonnets are from the Old Sturbridge Village Collection:

Styles of Regency Bonnet

The Elinor:

To trim the crown with fabric, use a long strip of fabric, an inch taller than your crown. Fold one long, raw edge under, and baste in place around the crown. Fold over the short edge to make a finished seam up the back and baste in place over the matching raw edge. Fold the remaining long edge over and run a gathering stitch along this line to pull the edges together. Tack in place. You might also wish to add a small square of matching fabric under the hole created by the gathered fabric, or sew a rosette over this spot. Pleating the fabric before basting it on gives a rounder look, which is lovely in sheer cottons.

To create the ruffled ribbon trim seen on the cream and green bonnet, run two lines of gathering stitches down the center of a length of wide ribbon. Pull the threads to create a long gathered line. Tack in place and add an extra row of trim over the gathering stitches to hide them. In general, 3-4 yards of ribbon, a bunch of flowers and berries or fruit, and a few feathers will turn a plain bonnet into a thing of beauty.

Bonnets by Laura Boyle of Austentation: Regency Accessories

The Eliza (A Poke Bonnet)
Trimming the Eliza is nothing but a joy. A few yards of ribbon wound around the crown creates a lovely period look. Take it a step farther by cutting an 18 inch circle from your favorite fabric. Run a gathering stitch around this and pull it tight to fit the crown of the bonnet. Tack in place. Wrap a length of ribbon around the crown to cover the raw edge and finish it off with ribbon bows and ties. 3-4 yards of ribbon will give you plenty with which to work.

Bonnets by Serena Dyer, author of Bergère, Poke and Cottage: Understanding Early Nineteenth-Century Headwear

The Cottage Bonnet

The Cottage bonnet is another adorable style of Regency bonnet. Trim it with simple ribbons and feathers or rosettes and ties.


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Sew a Simple Waist Apron

sew a waist apron

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 waist apron is adapted from 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.

|Cut 4 pieces of your fabric- 3 inches wide x 45 inches long. disregard in you purchased ribbon for your tie.

Waist 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.

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 of an inch to the inside. Press the short ends under the same 1/4 inch and also to the inside.

Now place the tie lengths wrong sides together, pin and sew close to the edge the entire length as well as the ends. Make adjustments here so the ties are laying neatly on each other before you start to sew.

Waist Apron Body Top Edge:
Run a gather stitch by hand. Draw the gathering stitch until you apron is 17-20 inches wide.

Fold your Apron Body in half to locate the center, mark.

Fold your tie or ribbon in half to locate center.

Place the center of the tie at the center apron body marking-remember this is your tie so keep this at the very top edge of the body piece.

Looking at the inside of your apron, smooth the gathers down so that it will be as smooth as possible after you are done attaching the tie or ribbon.

Get it all smoothed out at the inside, check your measurement many times to make sure you are maintaining the 17-20 inches, also make sure that you will have the same length of ties on both ends by checking the center of your tie.

Pin tie in place and slowly sew on both the top edge and the lower edge.



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How to Make Decorative Frogs

Decorative Frogs

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.


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 decorative 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:

Decorative frog

The possibilities are endless. Enjoy creating your own designs.

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Make an Heirloom Style Regency Baby Bonnet

Make your own Regency baby bonnet

Heirloom BonnetMake your own Regency Baby Bonnet

These easy instructions will help you create an heirloom style Regency 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.

  1. Cut a 10×10″ square of fabric.
  2. Sew lace all around the edges on the right side of the material. Turn over.
  3. Fold the square in half so that the right side is facing up, Iron or finger press the fold flat.
  4. Sew a line of stitching 1/2″ from the fold all the way across, leaving a casing.
  5. You should have an opening at the bottom of the fold, thread a 12″ piece of ribbon through it.
  6. Cut the remaining ribbon in half. Place one piece between 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.
  7. 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 for a Regency Baby Bonnet by was adapted from one created by Jo, from Maryland.

You can purchase more children’s patterns at our online giftshop. Click here.

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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.

December 1862 Peterson’s Magazine. Reprinted in Godey’s Lady’s Book, 1864

  1. Cut four lengths of ribbon about 14-16″ each
  2. Use the rest of the ribbon to create a Rosette. and secure the center with a few stitches.
  3. Using a gathering stitch, gather the four ends of the ribbon lengths together and sew them to the back of the rosette.
  4. Sew your clip to the back of the rosette
  5. Point the loose ends of ribbon by folding over the bottom edge at 45* angles. Secure with a stitch.
  6. Attach your notions to the end of each ribbon length.

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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.


  • 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
  1. Fold the cardstock and patterned paper in half vertically.
  2. Open the cardstock up and place one piece of ribbon horizontally across the middle.
  3. Glue the paper on top of the ribbon to hold it in place. There should be a 1/4″ margin on all sides.
  4. Place the felt on top of the patterned paper.
  5. 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.
  6. Stitch both pieces in place with a running stitch down the center crease.
  7. 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!

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Sew a Walking Cloak

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.


  • 4 yards of 60 inch wide fabric.
  • Cotton.
  • Some form of fastener.


  • Chalk for marking out.
  • A length of string (5 ft).
  • Sharp scissors.
  • Pins.
  • Sewing machine. You can sew this pattern by hand if you don’t have a sewing machine but it will take a long time.

Take the fabric and cut out the pieces of the walking cloak as shown. It is possible to get all the pieces out of 4 Yds of fabric and have a small strip left at the end. To mark out the body sections use a length of string and a pin to act as a giant compass. (Make sure you don’t get stretchy string though!)

Cloak 02

This pattern produces a walking cloak with a lined hood. The instructions here assume that the hood will be lined with the same material that the cloak is made from so that it will appear the same from both sides. If you want to line the hood with a different material simply cut two sections for the hood from the main material and two from the lining material you wish to use.

Body Sections (Cut 2).

Cloak 03

Hood Sections (Cut 4).

Cloak 04

If you are using a fabric which has a right and wrong side such as velvet cut half the pieces so that they are mirror images of the other half. If you are using a plain material it doesn’t matter as you can just turn the pieces over to obtain the mirror images.

Firstly take the two body sections and sew them together to form a semi-circle.

Cloak 05

Next take the sections for the hood. Sew two of them together along the longer of the straight edges to form the shape shown below and repeat for the other pair (If you are lining the hood with a different material you should have one pair of the main material and one pair of the lining material). Now sew the two sections you have together with the back of the material towards the outside leaving it open along the edge indicated.

Cloak 06

Now turn the hood the right way out. The next stage is to sew the hood onto the body of the cloak. Take your time lining the hood up so that the seam up the back of the hood lines up exactly with the seam along the back of the cloak or the cloak will look odd and the hood will tend to twist round while you are wearing it.

Once you have attached the hood hem up all the way down both sides and all the way along the bottom edge (this is where the sewing machine really comes in useful).

Finally attach the fastener just below where the hood joins the body of the cloak.


An alternative method of cutting the pattern for this cloak was suggested by Dave Pope.

Unless you LIKE running very long seams up the back of you costumes (eg. cloaks), I would suggest using the standard pattern cutting technique of FOLDING the fabric along the line that will form the center of the back (CB).

Not only does this reduce the number of cuts you have to make by half, but it also helps to ensure that both halves of the pattern are the same.

Also, by doing this you reduce the amount of fabric you need (see diagram below).

Cloak 07

*From Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion

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