{JennylaFleur: Dress Diaries}

the golden bee: an evening gown& robe of 1800


an evening gown & robe of 1800

robe: draped by me, based on Janet Arnold
gown: draped by me, based on Jean Hunnisett

robe: decorator fabric, cotton (lining), sequins
gown: embroidered& sequined nylon net, cotton (lining)

A project filled with setbacks & drama but is one of my most favorite costumes. Originally the underdress was silk with Greek inspired embroidery. Due to time restraints I couldn't finish the embroidery and at the very last minute found the perfect sequined embroidered net - it was like it was meant to be!

Many thanks to my sister Bridget! She made my diadem and hand stitched a 4mm sequin on each bee on the robe. Merci!

Completed August 2006.



The Results:

January 2012
At Kat's Birthday Party.
More pics from this event can be found here.






August 2011
At Costume College.
More pics from this event can be found here.

{photo courtesy of Jennifer}

{photo courtesy of Aubry}

{photo courtesy of Aubry}

{photo courtesy of Jennifer}


May 2011
At Costume Con29.
More pics from this event can be found here.

{photo courtesy of Elizabeth}

{photo courtesy of Elizabeth}

{photo courtesy of Elizabeth}

{photo courtesy of Elizabeth}


May 2009
At Costume Con27.
More pics from this event can be found here.


{photo courtesy of Aubry}

{photo courtesy of Aubry}



August 2008
At Costume College.
More pics from this event can be found here.


{photo courtesy of Aubry}

{photo courtesy of Aubry}



January 2007
At the Gunston Hall outing.
More pics from this event can be found here.






December 2006
At Stratford Hall.
More pics from this event can be found here.

{photo courtesy of Dennis Buchanan}

{photo courtesy of Dennis Buchanan}

{photo courtesy of Dennis Buchanan}

{photo courtesy of Dennis Buchanan}


August 2006
My gown's debut at Costume College.
See more pics here!




{photo courtesy of Laura}








{photo courtesy of Katherine}


hosted on youtube.com




{video courtesy of Jenni}



The Dress Diary:

January 2006

The famed *secret project* is revealed! *throws confetti* I've been planning and working on this embroidered gown & robe outfit for 6 months now, not that you would know from all the progress I've made. I guess some projects just have to have a few stops and starts.

the robe


The inspiration for the madness began with the red bee fabric. When I was given this gorgeous fabric by a dear friend I knew I had to come up with a project worthy of it. I quickly decided to make an Empire something. Bees are so Napoleonic.

The fabric was far too heavy to be made into a gown of the period so a robe was the logical choice. I thought it would be a good use of the fabric, especially as will allow the underside of the fabric (which is equally pretty) to show a bit as I move. Besides I've always wanted a robe like Marianne's peach overdress in Sense & Sensibility. *wink*

I'll be using the pattern from Janet Arnold for my robe as the base for my draping.

the gown


I've designed my gown to go with the robe but also to stand on it's own. Two costumes in one - I love it! *grin* I'll be using patterns from Jean Hunnisett, namely the 1800 bodice and straight sleeve. This gown is a re-visit of the Greensleeves gown I made a few years ago. With a few years experience and research under my belt I'm confident I can do a much better job this time around.

the accessories

I'm so excited about the diadem! Bridget has volunteered to make me it for me. I was originally wanted a diadem of coral or one to resemble laurel leaves but then I found these napkin rings on clearance at Pier One. We will take them apart and use them along with some small gold bee pins I have. *rubs hands together* Have I mentioned that I'm really excited yet? *hee hee*

February 6 2006

Thank you all so much for your comments on my latest bit of insanity. I'm so glad you are enjoying the madness!! *wink*

Spending my weekend watching the 1970s miniseries of War & Peace probably hasn't helped my current Empire dress obsession. I didn't know much about the story before I watched this production. It was well done but the story didn't wow me, I have to say. There were some pretty frocks though. I saw at least three overgown/robes I swear were made with the Arnold pattern! One was particularly pretty with braid or some such trim tracing the bodice seams... umm...

May 24 2006

B has begun work on my bee diadem today - yay!

May 26 2006

The bee diadem is finished!! Its exactly what I wanted - so pretty! It's now sitting it a shoe box demanding a dress to match. :>

I'm not going to post pictures of it quite yet though. I do need some surprises for Costume College you know. *rub hands together in an evil way* Besides it doesn't look right when not on my head and I don't plan on dressing my hair appropriately anytime soon. Here is a pic of B working on it yesterday to tease you a bit. *smile*

May 28 2006


Despite a week of debilitating migraines and general sinus ickiness I'm making progress on the Bee Dress Today I've been feeling particularly fuzzy and blah, mostly worn out from all the headachiness, but in true WWKD I prevailed long enough to get the Bee on a roll.

I think I've worked out all the issues with my 1804 stays. I still need to redo the eyelets on the straps and re-bind the whole thing but since it was in wearable condition I took all the measurements for the Bee dress and started draping that pattern. I've had enough of the stays for now. :P

I decided to use the same patterns from Hunnisett that I used on the Greensleeves dress With my tight deadline I thought using something I'm at least familiar with (as opposed to a bib-front or something like that) would be good. Besides I wasn't completely happy with the GS (Greensleeves) so this is my chance to try again.

While I'm using the same patterns, I decided to start from scratch with them. I'm so much more experienced at pattern making and period now. It's amazing how differently I view the Regency so than I did 3 years ago.

So I pulled out my original sized-up version from the Hunnisett book and cut a new toile. I got as far as cutting it out and basting it all together. I did alter the pattern a bit before I cut, taking out a full 2” from the underarm area. I want the fullness concentrated in the front and back this time. Looking at the toile on Narcissa I think I'm going to take a bit more out. I definitely need to shorten it and the straps need some serious adjustments. I need to try it on before I can do anymore though and I don't feel like it at the moment. I think I shall make it an early night in stead...

May 29 2006


First fitting for the Bee. Not terribly exciting but pics none the less :>

Overall it needs to be shortened and some of the fullness (particularly at the side) needs to be taken out. I'll also be shaping the shoulder strap a bit more. I want a drawstring in the neck and waist so some of those sharp angles need to be softened or that drawstring will never work.

May 29 2006 | later that day


Second toile for the Bee. Still not terribly exciting but progress I seem to be moving at a snails pace but I think I'm getting it. It probably doesn't look all that different but it is a whole new toile. I'm also working out how exactly I'm going to construct the thin g... this toile was definitely progress on that issue!

The length looks good I think. I'll have to put a toile skirt on it to know for sure. The neckline looks good, just need to shape the shoulder straps a bit more. Looks like I took too much fullness out so I'll be putting a tad back in the front and sides. The back/side seam needs to be moved over an 1”.

The big question in my mind is should I replace the fullness at the center back or just make it fitted. It's at an annoying in between at the moment. I need to look through my reference books/images again but as much as I love the fitted I'm leaning towards the full. The fitted (as I recall) is a later thing and I'm going early (1799-1804) for this dress

It occurred to me this morning that my pattern (and vision) for this costume is a variation on a chemise a la reine bodice. At least that is the way I'm approaching the construction for good or ill. What is it that Jean Hunnisett says in her intro; look to the construction immediately before and close your mind to later innovations in cut and construction. Very paraphrased but you get the idea…

June 10 2006

I'm beginning to think this dress may be the death of me! Ack - I keep thinking I'm getting close but I seem to be just one toile away from what I want. Just a bit frustrating. But I'm determined to get it right or die in the attempt. My - aren't I dramatic tonight! :>

I was trolling on the web the other night and stumbled upon this cool site for high quality Jane Austen film screen captures. SO KEWL! I've had way too much fun going through the S&S ones particularly, noticing seams and textile details I'd never noticed before.


Interestingly enough most of Eleanor and Marianne's gowns are the same style, front fastening with a drawstring neck and “bib front” type skirt. Some of the skirts appear to tie while others button at the waist.

Above is a great shot of one of Marianne's frocks. Because it's wet you can see exactly how it's fastened. (All the captures above are from Longbourn. I've made them smaller to save space on my site, go to L for the large file versions. )


I thought about doing the same with my bee gown but in the end decided against it. I don't need complicated skirt fastenings at this point... maybe next time. I did rediscover my love for the basic line of the film's frocks though. *sigh* I looked through my books to find inspiration. Kyoto won out as usual and so my inspirations for my dress are the purple & yellow frocks from Kyoto and Eleanor's white dress

With that in mind I decided to draft the shoulder strap into the bodice. It's hard to tell but I'm pretty sure that is how the two Kyoto gowns are done. It's definitely the way E's white gown was cut. It makes the neckline a bit more rounded but it should also make a drawstring along the entire neckline (my plan) easier.

Other changes to the toile were adding a hint more fullness to the front, adding quite a bit of fullness to the back and moving the back/side seam 1” towards the center back. I just tried on that toile (no pics - sorry!) and it looks pretty good. The side/back seam could come back a bit more. The sides now have way too much fullness to them. I think I need to concentrate the fullness in the center back and front more and have less on the sides. I think I need to shape the side/back seam to more of a concave shape as well. It sticks out in an annoying way right now. I seem too recall the S&S pattern being concave with better results. I'll put that out and have a look at it.

*trots off to work on let's see... toile # 4* *sigh*

June 10 2006 | later that day


Okay I think I finally have it! Just one more toile... famous last words I know! :> I'm actually on toile #5. Number 4 was close to disaster so I didn't bother to stop and do an entry for it. It got me to #5 though so...

I ended up taking too much fullness out of the side area - it was way too tight. I also added more of a curve to the side seam, using the S&S Regency pattern as my guide. The seam looks much better but using the S&S pattern totally messed up my armhole so that needed a lot of work. I'm going for the period small back, sleeve-in-the-back, almost-18th-century-thing but the S&S is designed as a modern round hole so yeah... needs some work.

Toile #5 corrected the fullness issue. I think just a hint more in the back and I'm done. I also pinned up a section of the shoulder strap area. That was a eureka moment when I tried it on. It instantly got rid of the pulling under the arm, put the gathers in the right place, lined up the shoulder strap with the stays line in back and pulled the hole arm/side into the correct position. Isn't it great when so many issues are solved with one little adjustment? *hugs pins* I'll just draft that little bit out of my next toile.

The armholes still need a lot of work but that's to be expected as I didn't mess too much with them from toile #4. I've marked them this time though and will cut them down for the next toile. I think I'm finally ready to start toileing the sleeves! So I'm at a good stopping point. I'll make the changes to my master pattern, cut the next one and call it a night. Or maybe I'll do a bit of embroidery instead and worry about toiles tomorrow. Only about 10” to go and I'm done with the front of the Bee! I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel on this project!

Gee, you sure can tell I'm tired in the pics. I look a little punchy in the first one. Just two I promise! *wink to B, C & L*

June 11 2006

The news from toile #6 is that I hate this gown and am starting to wonder why I bother with this costuming thing. *sigh*

Not going well at all. To look at it this is such a simple style - why can't I get it right?!! Either it's deceptively simple or I'm a dunce. At the moment I'm going with the former though starting to lean toward the latter.

I think it's time to go through the pattern bins. I can't even get the scaled patterns to work for me this time! It's not just this gown being a complete butt - I'm starting to freak about the fact that I still have the overdress to toile, cut, construct & finish. That looks like the simpler project, believe it or not. *sigh*

June 16

I think I need to walk away from the Bee for a little while, I'm feeling burned out at the very thought of Regency. *sigh*

July 24 2006

Ack! 10 days before I leave for CC - I'm not panicking!!!!! *ahem*

Not much done on the sewing front. Good stuff though. I finally came to the realization that I needed to stop being anal about this bee dress I started to get all whigged out about “oh my gosh I'm gong to meet all these amazing costumers, I have to put my best foot forward and do everything ‘right'!”. *sigh* Pride can be such an ugly thing. God has been gracious to me though and with a little slapping upside the head last week brought me to a point where I can say, you know what? This will be my best foot. It's the best I can do right now and that is okay. Not that I don't care what you guys think but I have to do this costuming thing for ME, not based on what others will say or do.

*sigh* Thought I'd learned that lesson a few years ago, guess I needed a refresher. :> So anyway, not much sewing but my attitude is much improved. I feel much lighter in heart too and totally ready to party, no matter how close to my original vision the Bee ends up looking like or not.

All that to say I ditched my attempts to make the gown I thought I wanted and am going to copy the old Greensleeves dress as is instead. It's not the “accurate & inventive” interpretation on the Regency that I was going for but the look is right and it will be quite pretty. The overdress is same as ever but I was never worried about that. I work much better (and faster thank goodness) with more structured and fitted garments.

I cut out the toile from the old Greensleeves pattern and fitted the lining. A few tweaks and it looked good. I also decided on the height of the bodice, the one thing I really hated about Greenie was that the bodice was too long.

At that point I had to pack up my sewing things for a few days (company coming) so I turned my attention to my regency stays. I ripped out the rest of the old binding, started on the new binding and generally tidied up from my re-construction of last month. The bottom binding is done (how I love stays without tabs!!) and the top binding is pinned on.

July 25 2006


The stays are finished, looking nice and neat once again. It's so nice to have regency stays that fit properly! I gave up trying to follow the original Hunnisett pattern, which had the top straight across, and cut dips under the arm holes. So. Much. Better!

I also took off some off the center front and shortened the sleeves. And of course re-did all the binding, this time with thin pre-packaged bias tape. I definitely like the look of a scant ¼” binding the best...

July 25 2006


Definitely have a head cold *blah* but I managed to take a nap, frequent rests and get the bee dress toiled. The bodice was fairly painless, just time consuming with all the gathering.

The sleeves were a royal pain but as you all know, sleeves are just evil anyway! I tried the straight sleeve in Hunnisett at first but after messing with it for a while gave up and tried using an adapted version of my 18th century sleeve. Dang that pattern is useful!

So the toile is all ready to go (sorry no pics of the finished version, blame the meds for my forgetfulness). I really should work on the overdress toile tonight but I feel too crappy. If I can get the bee dress master pattern all traced out before bed I'll be doing really well...

July 28 2006

Excuse, again, my lack of posting. The internet went down again all day yesterday, this time some issue with our modem. It has not been my week can you tell!

I'm still sick. This cold wants to hang on for a while it looks like, probably because I'm pushing a bit sewing. I'm taking lots of breaks (so behind!) but still sneezing, tired and blowing my nose every 5 minutes. Life can be so unfair!

Despite it all I am making good progress with the bee outfit - proof that there is a God and He loves me. Someday I will regret not having taken more pics along the way but something has to give and besides I keep forgetting. So I'm going to pretend I did it on purpose and make the visuals of my progress a secret. You'll just have to wait until the Gala to see!


The toiles are all done and I've started work on the robe because, well it's more fun. :> The toileing of the robe went well. I started off with the pattern on page 45 of Arnold. The back was so pretty but the front was way off. I ended up draping the pattern for the front from scratch (on myself since Narcissa is totally wrong – very interesting!!) and am rather pleased with how it came out.


The sleeve I took directly from my 18th century dress, just adjusting the head where needed and lengthening it ½". Darn that pattern comes in handy!!

Last night I spent painstakingly cutting out each piece of the robe so that all the bees will match perfectly. That was rather fun, I usually don't have enough fabric to do matching like that. I can't wait to get it all put together!! I should have tons of the bee fabric left over by the way – no idea what to do with it!

B stayed up with me last night and got all the sequins separated from the trim I bought so they are ready to put on the robe. She will probably be working on it the day before I come up to LA but she's insistent so I'm letting her. *wink*

July 28 2006

I was hoping to get the Bee Robe completely finished today but it didn't happen. It's close though. :P Just two hooks and eyes, shape the train and hem the skirt. Oh and go to Jo-Anns, pick out trim for the waist and then sew that on. No big. Not terribly behind schedule really. I just need to get going bright and early tomorrow so I can get going on the Bee Dress, no dawdling!

B started work on the embellishment tonight. We sat at opposite ends of my bed, the robe spread between us each working, her on embellishment and me stitching the skirt on. If we weren't so tired and already in pjs I would have taken a pic. But honestly there are some nights you just don't want a pic of yourself!

July 29 2006

Today has gone... well unexpectedly. I started cutting out the Bee dress this morning but that quickly became a discouraging thing when I realized I was a full 6” short on the front embroidery I'm been working on all these months. That would take me a good 8 hours to do (oh why did I do that stitch!!). I don't have 8 hours to spare with everything else I have to do! *moans*

So I took a break and went to Hancock's, innocently enough, for some twill tape. I was in line to check out when B and I starting looking through some fabric displayed nearby. Then I saw it... the perfect fabric for a Regency ball gown. In fact the perfect fabric to go with my bee robe. As B put it when we told the story to Mom, something clicked.

The grand result was I bought said fabric and have spent the last hour cutting it out to wear at CC instead of the embroidered silk. You guys are going to FLIP OUT when you see it. B says I should keep it secret (no pics!) and she is usually right so I guess I shall. *smiles evilly* I should add that I got a great deal on it, thanks to a 40% off coupon.

I will finish the embroidered silk gown (for an event in Sep) but this gives me a chance to 1) finish the 6” on the front and 2) actually do the other embroidery on the sleeves and neckline that I'd given up on because of the CC deadline. I'll be much better pleased with the result I'm sure and will be a lot less stressed come Tuesday night.

Less stress is always a good thing. :>

July 31 2006

Yesterday I got about 2 hours worth of sewing done for the whole day. I had church and then I had an appointment so by the time I got home and had some lunch and sat down I didn't want to get back up again. So I didn't, I decided to just take a day of rest. Which I would honestly feel guilty about except that it felt so good to just separate myself mentally and physically from all the CC prep - not that it hasn't been fun but especially trying to fight this cold its started to wear on me. So I think it was really good, it was what I needed yesterday.

Today is ground zero for me, it's my last day to do the major sewing, at least the machine sewing. Bridget and I will be leaving tomorrow morning to go spend the night with friends. I'm in pretty good shape despite the break yesterday. Brooke has kindly offered to come over tonight and help me out, be my extra pair of hands. She volunteered so I decided to take her up on it. That should help me get over that last hump and just get everything done.

I'm just amazed at how much I'm been able to accomplish this week and how everything has fallen into place despite being sick and all the other things that have been happening lately.

August 1 2006

Thanks to the assistance of the fabulous Brooke (who got to see all the secrets *haha*) and an hours work from the best Mum in the whole world, the bee dress is good to go. I just have the hems and hook & eyes to do on the dress & robe. I'm hoping to get at least the hems done before we leave for C & L's but if not I'll take Bette (my new baby of a machine) with me and do them tonight. Hook & eyes for the layover in Dallas and I'm golden!

No matching purses (again!) but really it's fine. I got everything done and I looks amazing - wait until you see!! *rubs hands together* Now if I could just shake this cough and sniff act and get everything to fit in my luggage. :P

August 15 2006





Success! This might possibly be my most favorite costume ever. A delight to wear and despite all the drama a frock I am very proud of. Yay!

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