Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sense & Sensibility Elegant Ladies Closet: (modified) Sari Dress

First of all, let me express my fear of Regency dresses. The first ever costume I made was a Regency dress (Simplicity 4055). Not having any idea of how to read a pattern, or instructions, I was tramazied. I can't fault the pattern (knowing how new to sewing I was) but I was completely scared away from the style.

For some time I was able to avoid Regency clothing. The, slowly but surely, more events popped calling for that style. As my sewing skills progressed I looked at that first dress and knew I could do better now if I gave myself a second chance.

My first step back into the era was for a Christmas party a friend was hosting. Knowing all the effort she was putting into her party, I would not dream of appearing in my old green dress of absolute fail.

I had to find a new pattern to use. Despite being told it's the same thing as the Simplicity pattern, I went with the Sense & Sensibility Elegant Ladies Closet pattern. I LOVE that I could download a pdf (in true form, I started this project much later than I should have. Waiting for a pattern to ship would have lost me much needed time).  S&S is also extremely helpful, and somewhere on her site is a step by step how to with photos. Always a win for me.

I would like to point out that I had access to two of the same saris for this project. I often see people complete a dress with just one. I'm not sure if they draft a pattern themsevles or what. I found I needed two to get all the detail I have at the bottom of my skirt (otherwise only the front would have had the detail, and I was obsessed with having that border go all the way around). I'll be the first to admit it's completely possible to do with only one sari if one knows what they are doing. I need to follow a pattern, and my pattern (and the pattern on the sari) required more yardage than one sari provided.

Super wrinkle time! I must do a better job of photos. I promise to return to this post and update with better images. But I need to get off my butt and back to posting.

TIME: A major fail. I have misplaced my notebook that I was using to keep track of my time. I'm searching high and low for it.

ALTERATIONS: I wanted the cross over bodice, but I didn't want the opening flap going down the front of the skirt. It was just a personal preference. So I had to modify the back to open so I could get in and out of the costume. I wasn't able to raise my arms very high in the dress, and this might be why Or it might just be that it isn't designed for the arms to have as much movement (I can't say for certain, as I changed the pattern). I also had to shorten the overall length of the dress. I'm about 5'3" and was wearing flats. I would have been tripping everywhere if I hadn't. I also lined the dress. My saris were shockingly see through, and even more shocking... I didn't make a shift. I have one, but it's white, long sleeved, and wasn't long enough to cover all that needed to be (anyone would be able to see it stopping at my knees. Then there would have been this band of semi see through fabric, it would have driven me insane). I also thought the white under the burgundry would change the overall look of the color so I just calmed myself down and lined it in some gold slubby silk from Joann's. Is it historically accurate to line a Regency dress? NO CLUE.

EASE OF INSTRUCTIONS: The step by step with photos on the site was a major bonus. If a company offers that I rarely even peek at the instructions sent with the pattern. I imagine the instructions are very similar to the online help.

BONUS: I made a matching turban with left over fabric. Using the tutorial from the Oregon Regency Society, I made "the cap turban". Their tutorial worked wonderfully and really finished off my look. I liked that I could just pop it on my head and not worry about it coming unwound.


  1. Very cute! What you probably used at the bottom of the skirt was the pallu of the sari. The pallu is the super decorated part of the sari that is only about 1 yard or 1 1/2 yards long. It's meant to go over the shoulder. Normally, I cut this part off and use the rest of the sari -normally about 4 yards- as the skirt.

    1. thank you! I actually had no idea that part of the sari had a name. That's actually very good to know! In the futre it would probably be better to look for one that has less of an ornate pallu and more of a border. I'll have to give that a try and see if the one sari magic happens.