Jenny La Fleur (jennylafleur) wrote,
Jenny La Fleur

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...
Tags: z:pending:19th:regency:1817
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