ORANGE! Regency Test Dress In Progress

Howdy! I’ve been battling to get my sewing mojo back recently, and thought I would test out a quick n’ easy Regency pattern I’ve had in my stash for some time – Simplicity 4055 .  I’ve made this dress before, once upon a time, and had cut down the neckline of the long-sleeved version significantly.  Other anticipated alterations include raising the empire waistline up to the super-high-underbust created by the half stays (which I will share with you shortly, as soon as I get that last bit of binding on the armhole…)


The fabric is a cheap “art silk” sari – the “art” is short for artificial, go figure.  It was a whopping $17 from eBay, and I thought it would be worth a try for that price.  When it arrived, my gosh it was orange.  Like…ORANGE!  I was hoping more for a bold yellow.  I tried bleaching a piece of the sari, but no dice, and I just can’t come to love the ORANGE!  Fair enough, for $17, and the perfect opportunity to test out the pattern.


So here she is in progress.  The Simplicity pattern has a front and back to the skirt, no side gores, and I am not particularly fond of how the skirt falls  The stiffness of the woven gold design isn’t lending itself to a nicely draped skirt either.

Don’t be fooled by that nice yellow color – it’s ORANGE!

The bodice is alright so far, so I may go with the bodice, or similar, and draft my own skirt from one of the many diagrams available in books and online, like this one:


Who knows, maybe by the end of this mini-project, I will have learned to love the ORANGE!


  • Isabella

    April 3, 2013 at 1:45 AM

    I did an orange Regency dress a few years ago and I love it. I wasn't crazy about the color, a pumpkin silk taffeta, but it ended up looking rather amazing on and felt great at fall events.

    Some Orange Regency inspiration for you:×1182%29.jpg&uv=0

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 3, 2013 at 4:25 AM

      Thanks for the links! I do like orange, usually, just perhaps not quite so flourescent, haha. But, of course, it's worth finishing and wearing – sometimes dresses grow on us, like your pumpkin silk 🙂

  • Meg

    April 3, 2013 at 4:33 AM

    I made this same pattern for my daughter in 2006, we wanted to give an icy effect to the light blue satin of the dress so I made a sheer overlay of white. Perhaps you could do the same with your orange to tone it down to a yellow, play around with some light colored sheers to alter the color. You could end the skirt overlay about where the border starts, or even continue it down so the gold patterns mysteriously glitter through. Layering can achieve some amazing effects colorwise and add depth and interest to a simple dress.

    • AuntieNan

      April 3, 2013 at 3:12 PM

      Hi, Meg — I was thinking the same thing about a sheer overlay to take the curse off the bright color. I had the same problem 2 years ago when I fell in love with a VERY orange piece of fabric for a 1913 era costume. Bought it in the super-sale bin at the back of a shop with no light, so of course when I got it into daylight I was horrified. But committed since I had no budget (perhaps I SHOULD have been committed). I tried lightening it, but it wouldn't budge. It did respond slightly to a dip in brown dye, and then I found a miraculous piece of embroidered net in a lighter color for an overlay, which just made the dress. Funny how those goofs can make us use our creative juices.
      Auntie Nan

  • M'lady

    April 3, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    I have the S&S pattern (which I think is the same?) i've never actually made the original pattern without altering it and tweaking things. (gathered busts are not my friend. I'm interested in your comment about the gores. Was it a common think to have a gored skirt? Or was that because of width of fabric being narrower in the past?
    I agree with @meg some kind of overlay would help tone it down.

    • Scene in the Past

      April 3, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      If I may answer your question about gored skirts: Yes, they did exist. Broadly speaking, they're more appropriate for 1810 and later. I don't think it has anything to do with the width of the fabric; it's the silhouette of the skirt. The ideal of early Regency (roughly 1795-1810) was the classical Greek, which meant a lot of drapery, minimal trim, and a column-like effect. That was achieved in the skirt by using straight panels, with gathering or pleats in the center back and a pleat or two on the side front so a lady could move. Trained skirts are a lot more common in these years, too. Later Regency (roughly 1810-1820s) had shifted away from the column into a narrow cone shape, with more fullness at the hem of the skirt. That's easiest to achieve by having gored side panels and sometimes front and back. Also, trim got more elaborate, particularly at the hem of the skirt to emphasize its width.
      That's very much a simplification of the period, but I hope it's helpful. The styles did change from the late 1790s into the 1820s, and skirt shape is one of the ways to see it.

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 3, 2013 at 9:15 PM

      Scene in the Past, thank you for the explanation (I was fuzzy on it, too). I like the fuller skirt look, and it seems it will work better with a fabric with a heavy hem decoration. One of the problems I'm having with the Simplicity pattern is that the side seam is sortof swinging forward about a third of the way down. I'm not totally sure how to fix it, if it's a patterning issue, a petticoat issue, or what.

    • Scene in the Past

      April 3, 2013 at 11:21 PM

      Hi, Lauren! For what it's worth, that skirt seam issue is totally period. It's just what happens to a straight rectangular piece that's wrapped around the narrowest point of the body. There's enough fullness in the back of the skirt that it doesn't bind around the hips, but the result is that the seam pulls forward.

      This plaid shows the side pulling forward slightly:
      This stripe does it more. The narrow stripe on the left is the skirt seam:

      One way to avoid it, more common in later years, is to gore the front panel as well, as in this dress. You can see where the seam would be without the goring.
      Other dresses that don't show this pull are ones with a skirt that's gathered in front (, or with a fairly narrow front panel and pleats in the right place. (Though this may be gored slightly as well.)
      An engineering solution is to cut the waistline of the front piece in a shallow curve. That will cause the panel to drape toward the center, hopefully offsetting the pull of the back. (This is a period solution, too, though I can't find an example to hand right now.)

      But honestly, don't worry about it. It's totally accurate!

      – Ginger

    • Lauren Stowell

      April 3, 2013 at 9:17 PM

      I haven't finished the dress yet, but so far I've noticed two things – one is that the neckline for the gathered bodice is very high. It is just a preference to cut it down (I did), especially for evening. I'm also getting the side seams of the skirt swinging forward about 2/3 of the way down. It's not too noticeable, but it kindof bugs me a bit…might be a problem unique to my fabric or way I've worked the skirt on the dress form.

  • AuntieNan

    April 3, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    Hi, Lauren — Just scoped out the pattern diagram you posted — looks like if you want some serious cartridge pleating at the back you may want some more fabric in that Back section than 7", assuming your model is larger than a 28" underbust…

  • Megan

    April 6, 2013 at 6:29 AM

    I think the orange could work, especially considering how many ladies dress in white or pastels. You could have fun with the orange with brown/green/black trim & accessories.

Leave a Reply

Discover more from American Duchess Blog

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading