Jenny La Fleur
Charlotte's Russian Dress & Regency Habit Shirts - Jenny La Fleur
adventures in costuming
jennylafleur
jennylafleur
Charlotte's Russian Dress & Regency Habit Shirts

I'm really excited about my next project!


I am not normally drawn either to the later part of the Regency or "jumpers" in general but there is something utterly charming about Princess Charlotte's 1817 'Russian' outfit from the Museum of London. I haven't decided how literal I want to be with the trimming and such yet but I love the basic shapes and lines. So I'm going to just jump in with both feet and decide the details along the way...


I orginially found this outfit in a exhibit catalogue called In Royal Fashion: Clothes of Princess Charlotte of Wales and Queen Victoria, 1796-1901. I bought it on a whim on my last trip to the UK and am so glad I did as it seems to be out of print now. There are a few pics and some pretty good descriptions but no pics or line drawings of the construction. Luckily for me there are some similar frocks in 19th Century Fashion in Detail and Costume in Detail. So between those and the written description in the MoL book I think I've figured out how to go about constructing it.

I'll be making it in three parts - a petticoat, bodice, and blouse. I'd also like to make a matching Spencer and hat too but I'm not going to push myself to get those done before CosCol.

I decided to start with the part I'm most nervous about which is the blouse that goes underneath the dress. Regency blouses or habit shirts have proved to be rather hard to research, I guess because extents are so rare and they are usually underneath a Spencer or riding habit in fashion plates. The description of the garment in In Royal Fashion is as follows:

"Embroidered Blouse. 1816-17
This embroidered blouse of fine linen, rather like the habit shirt normally worn by women with riding habits, is believed to have been worn by Princess Charlotte. It admirably compliments her 'Russian' dress and in fact a decorative long sleeves chemise is what was worn under true sarafans. The puffs at the top of the sleeves are created by inner pairs of ties, a clever device to make laundering easier."


My researches have lead me from shifts, to blouses, to riding habit shirts, to chemisettes (which is apparently a Victorian term)to the gentlemen's equivalents of the same. Still, I've found it hard going and the info scanty at best. Luckily for me koshka_the_cat made a Regency riding habit a couple of years ago and had some good leads on her website. Thanks Katherine!

I was really excited to find two extent habit shirts in The History of Underclothes - the only ones I've found so far! Looking at them and koshka_the_cat's repro, they are pretty much a shorter version of a typical 18th century men’s shirt. So I decided a little cheating was in order and this weekend I raided a friend's pattern stash and came away with 4 shirt patterns, including Tailor's Guide, Kannick's Korner and Eagle's View. I'm not sure which one is best for my purposes... I need to compare them side by side.


Also luckily for me the newest Emma features lots of jumpers with blouses. I would argue they probably weren't that common in the period but still helpful. I want to add some embroidery/detail work to my blouse but not quite to the extent of the MoL blouse. The Emma blouses are much simpler but still pretty so that was helpful to see...

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Comments
rebecca817 From: rebecca817 Date: February 22nd, 2010 05:43 pm (UTC) (link)
I'm glad you're doing this because in watching the features you mentioned, I'm going, I'd like to make something like that....If I find anything more in my research, I'll let you know. Look forward to seeing you again in August.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: February 23rd, 2010 03:40 am (UTC) (link)
Thanks! Yep see you then! :>
chloeandrudy From: chloeandrudy Date: February 22nd, 2010 05:52 pm (UTC) (link)
Interesting. I was wondering if there was any documentation on those jumpers and I'm glad to see there is, because they're so cute.
But the open collar shirt that was worn with it on Emma just looked so wrong to me. It seemed to modern.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: February 23rd, 2010 03:43 am (UTC) (link)
Yes although I would aurge they probally weren't the most common style. It's a pretty narrow time frame too. I've only found a few and they all date to 1816-1818. Do you mean the one Harriet was wearing above. It covers about the same as a neckerchief...
chloeandrudy From: chloeandrudy Date: February 23rd, 2010 05:40 am (UTC) (link)
No, I was referring to the pointed collar one that Emma is wearing in the two photos (w/ the blue jumper and the peach jumper). It looks very modern.
Harriet's looks more appropriate, and doesn't appear at all modern.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: February 23rd, 2010 02:27 pm (UTC) (link)
Well Emma's looks an awful lot like the collars on the men's 18th century shirts I've been looking at. Some of them have stand up collars and some are just like Emmas. The difference is the mens were usually covered up with stocks/cravats.
From: hohenstein Date: February 22nd, 2010 06:07 pm (UTC) (link)

I've liked that outfit for years. I'm doing it for a Queen Anne style doll.

A.
fleurdelysa From: fleurdelysa Date: February 22nd, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC) (link)
Charming! I look forward to watching your progress. :)
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: February 23rd, 2010 03:43 am (UTC) (link)
Thanks!
joysdaughter From: joysdaughter Date: February 22nd, 2010 06:45 pm (UTC) (link)
I may be able to get more info regarding that particular shirt, as I know the lady who wrote the catalogue (ex curator MoL.) I've asked if she has anything she is prepared to share - see if I get a reply, She's usually pretty good.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: February 23rd, 2010 03:44 am (UTC) (link)
Oh that would be great! You are the best!
mlsdesigns From: mlsdesigns Date: February 22nd, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC) (link)
I've always been interested in this style too! Mary Bennet in the 1995 P&P wears a jumper dress, and there's a great shot in the making of book that shows her in a fitting in her habbit shirt.
When I first saw the blue jumper dress in Emma I thought it looked remarkably similar to Princess Charlotte's! Do you think that's where the designer got her inspiration?!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: February 23rd, 2010 03:45 am (UTC) (link)
Oh I think Mom has that book... I'll have to go hunt it down. Yeah with the color and the gold trim is really does remind one of Charlotte's. I won't be surprisd, there aren't that many examples of the jumper dresses.
csewshistory From: csewshistory Date: February 23rd, 2010 12:13 am (UTC) (link)
I've wondered for awhile now about those jumpers because they are used a lot in regency films. I had never seen them in fashion plates so I always wanted to know if they were accurate or not. So thank you for proving to me that they did actually exist!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: February 23rd, 2010 03:46 am (UTC) (link)
Yes although I would argue they probally weren't the most common style. They seem to be mid-to-late teens too...
joysdaughter From: joysdaughter Date: February 23rd, 2010 07:20 am (UTC) (link)
I think they were "everyday" clothes, not fashionable enough to appear in fashion plates. There is a charming little book of drawings called "Mrs. "Something" Dancing" (name forgotten!) which has several pictured in homely settings.
joysdaughter From: joysdaughter Date: February 23rd, 2010 07:32 am (UTC) (link)
Mrs. Hurst Dancing is the book. See here http://www.susanneknight.com/Mrs_Hurst_Dancing.PDF
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: February 23rd, 2010 02:22 pm (UTC) (link)
Sweet - thanks!
koshka_the_cat From: koshka_the_cat Date: February 23rd, 2010 12:16 am (UTC) (link)
Years ago I had planned to make this dress. So long ago, that I bought silk charmeuse to make it :)

I've long since abandoned plans for it, and the silk is in my original sewing box that hasn't been opened in-eep!-7 years now :)
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: February 23rd, 2010 03:50 am (UTC) (link)
Really? It would have looked cute on you! Like I said, I'm not sure how literal I'm going to be with the original. Probably not too much, I'm thinking of doing embroidery instead of a gold trim. We'll see. I am going to use that sea foam green linen-wool from the ebay bolt we got a couple of years ago. I'll have more than enough fabric to add a matching Spencer someday. :P
koshka_the_cat From: koshka_the_cat Date: February 23rd, 2010 06:59 am (UTC) (link)
It'll be pretty in that wool!

It may pop up as a project again someday, but right now I'm not thinking about it. I do know, however, that if I make it, it won't be charmeuse :)

jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: February 23rd, 2010 02:27 pm (UTC) (link)
Umm yeah... charmeuse won't be my first choice either! :P
cracked_code From: cracked_code Date: February 23rd, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC) (link)
Pretty.

Having no sewing/historic costuming knowledge or insight this is all I have to say.

But I can say it more than once to add emphasis.

Pretty.

:-)
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: February 24th, 2010 08:49 pm (UTC) (link)
*hee hee* Pretty is always welcome! :>
girliegirl32786 From: girliegirl32786 Date: February 26th, 2010 02:22 am (UTC) (link)
I'm so excited for this project!
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