By Beverley Eikli
Last minute preparations are keeping me busy, ready for my talk on Wednesday at the Romsey Library.
'From Georgian Splendour to Regency Simplicity' is the title and I'll be wearing a 1780s polonaise made from Janet Waugh's iconic pattern book and referring to a mannequin wearing a simple 1805 Jane Austen muslin gown (again, using one of Waugh's patterns). Janet Waugh deconstructed a great many gowns found in historic homes throughout the UK and has produced them as patterns, which costumers and dressmakers can enlarge.
I started making the costume quite by impulse when I found two russet silk curtains priced at $1.99 in an op shop. I'd long wanted to make a Georgian gown but knew the cost would be prohibitive if I wanted to use beautiful, authentic material. So this was a serendipitous find.
Of course, that impetuousness resulted in a great deal more work than I'd anticipated, since I quickly realised that if I were making an authentic gown, then of course the underwear of today wouldn't do. Our modern day bras and no corsets, or I should say, stays (which was the term used in pre-Regency days) would create a body shape that would fit into the Janet Waugh gown I was spending so much time making.
I therefore started researching corsets and stays and settled upon half boned stays from the 1780s. These give my body the required 'barrel-shaped' torso required for the fashions of the day, pushing up my cleavage into what was referred artistically as 'rising moons'. After that I had to make panniers to create the wide hips.
Anyway, there are lots of pictures of these items and of the dress on this and other places I've blogged, though I will post a couple of pictures here, of the patterns used.
So on Wednesday at 2pm I'll be at the Romsey Library, about an hour north of Melbourne, doing my talk. It is in fact one of six costume/author talks scheduled for this month.
Kyneton Library (Nov 14) and City of Melbourne Library (Nov 4) are hosting the costume talks, and then I'll be celebrating the launch of my new book The Reluctant Bride at the Clare Valley Writers Festival on Wed November 17th.
So now I've returned to this late and will post with lots of pictures tomorrow.