Jane Austen Festival 2018, aka: 2 New Gowns, 1 New Hat and 1 New Parasol Shade (+ an antique quizzing glass!)

It’s been a busy-ish past couple of months for me since I decided to try out the Louisville, Kentucky Jane Austen Festival this year in addition to attending – and teaching at – Costume College, both in July. And, of course, there was much sewing and preparation to be done for both!

But now it’s time to start catching up on ye olde blog.

Let’s start with the Jane Austen Festival. Because everyone I knew who’d gone before warned me repeatedly about the heat and humidity I realized that most of the regency-era clothes I already had risked being too hot to wear because of their medium-weight linen bodice linings (yeah, it’s that hot!).

Thus new gowns had to be made – and they had to be made as cool as possible! This meant trying out something new and a little scary for me: unlined regency gowns in very lightweight fabrics! I was pretty nervous approaching these as I feared they wouldn’t stand up to actual wearing but I ended up being very pleasantly – and gratefully! – surprised at their durability.

I also decided to make 1 new hat that I would wear with my 3 outfits for the weekend.

And lastly, I made a new shade for an adorable antique parasol I managed to score online just in time for the festival!

The festival started with a twilight shopping event on Friday evening. Since it was later in the day and less disgustingly hot I opted to re-wear my DAR reproduction gown + sleeveless spencer ensemble (most or all of these photos were taken by Angela Burnley of Burnley & Trowbridge with her magic iPhone camera!):

I paired the ensemble with my new hat and new-to-me + newly recovered antique parasol. I can’t get over just how darn cute that parasol is and I love it so much!

I also opted to send out my pair of American Duchess Highbury shoes to get dyed chartreuse green and I really like the pop of colour they add at my feet!

I hadn’t realized the back peplum of the spencer was tucked up inside but looking at this I’m now thinking a peplum-less version would be cute, too!

My first purchase at the festival was this oh-so-pretty gold bead necklace from Dames a la Mode. The beads are hollow and light as air!

This weekend I also debuted my new Regency front curls from JennyLaFleur. These are seriously one of the best investments I’ve made. They made life so easy and so much less hot than a wig would have been!

On Saturday I wore my first new gown, an Indian block printed cotton bib-front gown. I used the Laughing Moon pattern as my base and modified it somewhat to my taste.

This fabric is SO wonderful! It’s so lightweight and floaty and the print is so pretty. It was also very inexpensive, comes in a very wide range of patterns and now I want more, more, more!

Here`s where I got it from if you’re interested: Fabric of India

My absolute favourite purchase that weekend was my antique quizzing glass, also from Dames a la Mode and I was whipping it out and “quizzing” nearly everyone in sight!

And I wasn’t alone in enjoying the quizzing glass fun! Katherine (Koshka the Cat) and Aubry (A Fractured Fairytale) played, too!

After seeing this photo we’ve decided we need to start a Regency ladies detective agency, or at least pitch the idea to the BBC.

Turned out I also wasn’t even the only one wearing this print!

Katy of The Time Travelling Redhead (@timetravellingredhead on IG) used this print for a later 1790s gown as well!

It was interesting to see that although ourcolourways were technically the same the shades were slightly different!

I’ve also since seen an 1830s gown made out of this by @kittycalash on instagram. And I’m kind of hankering to get more for myself and do a 1780s version, I think the floaty-ness of the fabric could be so lovely for a trained Anglaise or Italian gown!

Anyhoo, here are a few detail shots of my gown showing construction since I wasn’t able to do in-process photos (the time-crunch was real!)

On Sunday I wore my other new gown, another bib-front initially made from the same Laughing Moon pattern but slightly modified from my first one to have a cross-over-look bodice front and shorter sleeves. This one is made from a really lovely lightweight shirting fabric with an interesting little weave pattern.

I couldn’t help being a little silly with my ridonculously cute parasol, lol.

I wasn’t planning on the ribbon trim at first but felt the gown needed a little more visual interest. It was looking a little boring to me just plain. This blue silk ribbon (that super lightweight stuff for silk ribbon embroidery) that had been hanging out in my stash for something like 10 years fit the bill nicely and made me glad I’d kept it rather than de-stash it at some point! I love when my hoarding collecting gets justified!

And here are some construction shots of this gown:

My new parasol is an antique that had a beat-up black silk cover:

I took measurements of one of the panels to make my pattern and sewed up a new cover from some silk in my stash:

I was really surprised at how quick and easy this was to do! I think it really helped that this particular parasol has little eyelets at the end of the spokes for attaching the points of the  cover. You stitch through the point and then thread your….thread…through the eyelet and pull until you’re happy with the tautness….I guess? That’s how I did it and it seemed to work well!

My hat started off as a dollar store straw hat that I re-shaped and covered!

I was inspired by Redthreaded’s technique for making her Victorian bonnet

To achieve the shaping I cut away some of the back of the brim then sewed hat wire all around the edge, which I then encased in bias tape to give it a clean finish.

I covered the hat just by using two rectangles the length of the brim circumference, gathered at the crown, bound around the edge with self-fabric and then just draped the silk over the crown.

The whole thing was done in an afternoon and I love both how fast it was and how it turned out! I’m definitely going to use this approach again in future instead of always building new hats from scratch!

And that’s it for my Jane Austen Festival wardrobe this year!

Next up will be a short and sweet post of the (not very many) photos I took at the festival!

13 thoughts on “Jane Austen Festival 2018, aka: 2 New Gowns, 1 New Hat and 1 New Parasol Shade (+ an antique quizzing glass!)

  1. Your link to Fabric of India leads to your cart…whoops!
    I really appreciate this post, as I will be attending more Regency-era events next summer. Off to shop for fabric…thanks!


    • Ha! I’d love to see it as a 1760s gown but if you posted a link it looks like it didn’t come through. Can you try again? Or do you have a blog I can visit to see it, or IG or something?


      • Aha, I just went and found you! And I recall seeing that picture of you seated before, probably on FB. Your gown is lovely! This really is such a versatile fabric and print, isn’t it!?


    • If you can find an interior somewhere that’s failry plain but has some nice natural light that can actually work really well for shooting Regency. The ideal for that period was simpler and classical so it can be one of the easier periods to shoot nicely! And, though it doesn’t help for doing interior shots, nature is always a handy place for historical photos!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Everything is beautiful, as always! Thanks for sharing how you made the hat. Also, for sharing your fabric source. $4 a yard is an amazing!!!! price!!! That’s an excellent use for the lightweight silk ribbon, too! I like the look so much more than a heavier looking ribbon. I’ll have to keep that in mind for future dresses! 🙂



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