‘Jane’ Pinafore Dress

I love Jane Austen novels, have read all of the novels and seen all the film adaptations of her books. The costumes from the films (excluding those from the Hollywood version staring Laurence Olivier) inspired me to make a Pinafore Dress based (loosely) on the style of that period.

I purchased a copy of the Romantic Era Dress Pattern from Sensibility.com but unfortunately have not been able to print off the pattern to scale. I am not particularly ‘au fait’ with Adobe so need a friend to help sort out the problem.

Meantime I tried the Hughes dress pattern by the Friday Pattern Company. I successfully printed the pattern and prepared size 1X at the bust grading to 2X at the waist and hips. I cut a calico toile of the bodice and tried it for fit. Haha! Not a good look. It is a very long time since the apex of my bust was that high and there was a lot of excess fabric over my upper chest. To alter to fit would take a lot of time and energy that I was not prepared (at the moment) to expend.

Third try – I took my basic TNT bodice pattern and hacked it! I removed darts and added Princess panels to front and back. I also extended the front bodice shoulder over onto the back bodice and made a diagonal seam line similar to those in the line drawings of the Romantic Era pattern. I made my second calico toile. Success – a reasonably good fit.

Now I could proceed with the project using some Navy needlecord from my stash that I have had for many years. I would use some pretty floral printed viscose that came from JJTextiles (an incorrect print that was later corrected with the print I had ordered) for the lining of the bodice and binding of the seam allowances.

I first made up the bodice lining to double check the fit. Still all OK so on with cutting the Navy needlecord. Taking particular care to ensure that the nap ran down the fabric on every pattern piece I stitched the bodice before attached the lining. I particularly like the way that the nap runs in opposite directions at the diagonal shoulder seam.

There is under-stitching around the armholes and neckline and front closure which would be completed with some ½ inch 4-hole buttons from my stash.

Now onto the skirt. To begin with I cut 2 widths of fabric by 34 inches long and planned on making pleats with concealed side seam pockets set underneath the pleats. However, I could not get the pleating just how I wanted it so reverted to gathers. The leading edges and side seam edges of the front skirts were bound with the 1¼ inch binding made from the floral viscose before the pocket pieces were attached. The front pocket pieces are also in the floral viscose but the back pocket pieces are in the Navy needlecord. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly I did not have sufficient fabric to cut all pocket pieces from needlecord and secondly, by using viscose for the pocket lining I could reduce the bulk a little.

The side and centre back seams of the back skirt panels are bound in the floral viscose. I found that I had sufficient binding to run it around the outer edges of the pocket bags – just to complete the look!

I was most fortunate to find exactly the right sort of buttons in my stash – and plenty of them. There are a total of 13 buttons down the front of the pinafore plus a spare that is stitched to the inside. Buttonholes went like a dream until the very last one on the bodice. A couple of false starts and then they were all complete. Would you believe it, I had cut open all of the buttonholes except that last ‘rebellious’ one when the stitch ripper slipped and I cut through the end! A quick fix with zig-zag stitch and some “fraycheck”, I think it is OK now but not the best-looking buttonhole ever.

Now it was just the hem that remained. I bound the hem and turned up 2½ inches and decided to mitre the corner where the hem joins the front facings. It is a long time since I did this so took a little thinking before I got it right. A lovely finishing touch. The hem and facings were stitched in place using the blind hem feature on my machine.

The pinafore has just a nod to the styling of the Regency era and I am delighted with it.

Now I want to make a blouse from Ivory dobby viscose similar to the one in the line drawing and photograph from Sensibility.com patterns to wear with the pinafore. First I must make up the long sleeved blouse and Jenna skirt that I have already cut out from the very last inch of the floral viscose fabric.

project #80 completed 27th December 2020