1810 Regency Dress

1810 Regency dress modelled by Felicity
1810 Regency dress modelled by Felicity

Carpatina D12 - 1810 Regency Dress and Spencer
For this outfit I used Carpatina PATD12 1810 Regency Dress which I bought through Pixie Faire. This was actually the very first dress I made for an American Girl doll. I started it back in 2019 and it was modelled by Julie in this post, along with a very poorly constructed slip. Recently I took it up again and decided to make a lining for the skirt instead of the abandoned slip and also to add closures and embellishments, so it’s finally getting its own post.

The main fabric is a tiny floral on a cream background that I’ve had for many years. For the bodice lining I used a yellowish cream cotton that wasn’t too thick, but I must have used scraps because I can’t find any more of it. Instead I used a lighter cream solid for the skirt lining.

All the seams in 2019 were sewn by machine, and although it turned out reasonably well I found it incredibly fiddly and very difficult to keep the seams at the correct quarter-inch distance from the edge, especially around the sleeves. Almost all subsequent dresses have been made by hand — yes it takes longer, but it’s something I can do in front of the television and it’s much more relaxing.

Construction was easy for the most part. I wanted all the skirt flare to be below the waistline so instead of turning the bodice lining up and covering the skirt seam I sewed the bodice and lining onto the skirt as one piece, leaving the edges raw. While this required more overcasting, I liked that it made the bodice sit flat and puffed the skirt out a little more.

For the skirt lining I cut a rectangle that is as wide as the skirt tops (not a great idea, as it turned out). Because the back of the skirt is heavily gathered, I ended up with about two inches on either side of the centre back that needed to be reduced to fit the bodice. A sensible person would have simply cut some fabric away at an angle but I decided to make pleats (at least I had the sense not to do gathers).

I first finished the top edge with blanket stitch which was one of the few good ideas I had. Then I sewed the centre back seam up to the bottom of the placket, and double-turned the seam allowances. The hem was a double-turned 1/8″ because the skirt was a little shorter than I had anticipated. I made quarter-inch knife pleats from the side seam to centre back and basted them in place. I pinned the lining to the bodice seam, starting at centre front, and only had to make a small adjustment on one side to make the pleated section fit the back bodice.
1810 Regency dress - inside view
The waist seam had already been sewn and finished but because the seam allowance was hanging down I was able to attach the skirt top to the inside bodice just below the seam line. I pressed it fairly heavily to get the pleats to lie flat but the waist seam is still pretty bulky. When I tried it on Julie (who is one of the chubbier AG dolls I have) I wasn’t able to get the back pieces to meet, let alone overlap. Felicity, however, has a slightly narrower chest and a significantly slimmer waist, and it fits her reasonably well considering it wasn’t actually fitted to her.

After failing to find an olive or yellow ribbon that worked, I sewed a 1 cm cream satin ribbon above the waist seam. I crafted a bow from the remaining ribbon (the bows and the wrap/tails were two separate pieces) and sewed it down at centre back. I found some small yellow ribbon flowers at Hobbysew and used one of them at centre front.

Bodice closures — my Julie is an older doll (2007-2009) and I think she’s a bit chubbier than the doll Carpatina used. I can’t quite remember at what point I realised that the bodice wasn’t going to close properly, but I ended up with a raw edge on the proper right that I secured with blanket stitch. I left the actual closures (clear snap fasteners) until last, which was advantageous as I ended up changing the doll I used.

1810 Regency Dress side view
1810 Regency Dress back view
I’m fairly happy with the fit (as I noted, it wasn’t fitted to her, and I think it would be a little better on a doll with the same chest measurement but a thicker waist). The skirt sticks out a lot at the sides, though, and I think it would look better with a slightly slimmer cut of the front panel.

Here is the front view with bonus Vanima:
Felicity in 1810 Regency Dress with bonus Vanima

Lessons Learned:
1. Sewing machines and doll sleeves don’t play well together.
2. A raw edge at the bottom of the bodice is not necessarily a bad thing.
3. Linings don’t have to be the same size or shape as the outer pieces.
4. Olive green is an exceedingly hard colour to match.

Notes for future versions:
1. Check the bodice fit and enlarge the pattern if required (preferably before cutting fabric)
2. Add a half-inch to the skirt if you want it a little longer (noting that shorter hems were increasingly the fashion from 1810 to about 1830).
3. Take off an inch at the sides of the skirt so it’s not quite as wide at the bottom.
4. If adding a lining to the skirt, integrate it with the skirt fabric or make it flat at the waist.