Dear gentle reader, it is time for another round of Bridgerton. Oh, how I burn with excitement.
Like most of the world, I too fell in love with the world of Bridgerton when it came out last year; I loved the characters, the story, (the steamy scenes), and of course, the costumes. We all know that Bridgerton is a historical fantasy and although the costumes are absolutely wonderful, they certainly aren’t period-perfect. Although some people were very upset that the costumes lacked authenticity to the period, I and many others found it a refreshing take on period dramas and an element of storytelling that really added to the story. The colours and styles the characters wore on-screen became a direct representation of their thoughts, feelings and private lives. It was one of my favourite things to note and really added to the story.
Of course, the best scenes were all the fancy balls as there were so many gowns to oggle I had to rewatch certain scenes over and over again. I loved seeing all the colours, sparkles, embroidery and extras that the cast wore and constantly clutched my pearls when I saw certain fabrics. I knew, by the time the next season was released, I would make myself my own Bridgerton inspired gown.
There are two main households in the Bridgerton world; the Bridgerton’s and the Featherington’s. I often oggled the stunning shades of blue and cream worn by the Bridgerton’s but I have to say I certainly prefered the ridiculously bright colours of the Featherington’s. I was torn between which family to style my look by and after one quick Buzzfeed quiz, I was pronounced a Bridgerton so that’s the direction we will be going towards. As this is my first attempt at a historical garment, I am both very excited and nervous about making my gown. I know the historical sewing community can be quite stern with wanting their garments to be worn correctly and this is often done with undergarments. It’s honestly not within my budget to sew up proper undergarments but if I do manage to find a few extra dollars this week, I’ll see what I can do.
The main pattern I will be using is Butterick 6074 (now called McCalls M8132). For this project, we will be sewing up style A which is a pullover dress with a drawstring neckline, underlined/lined bodice, side back seams, back hook & eye and slit closing. It also has an inset, inside tie, and sleeve bands. I’m not a historical seamstress so I’m sure that there will be more period-accurate sewing patterns available, however, for my first go, I think this pattern will suffice. If you do have some patterns you would recommend that are more accurate for when I make my Featherington gown, please let me know as I’d love to give them a try.
My main inspiration was a Daphne inspired gown. I loved the blue dress she wore to the ball with all the fancy lights, it was one of my favourites from the whole show. It was actually really difficult to choose just one dress design and I think if I was into historical sewing and costuming, I would certainly end up with a rainbow assortment of heavily embroidered and decorated gowns. I was tempted to go for one of Daphne’s more creamy/white toned dresses with stunning embroidery details but that kind of embroidery was a bit out of budget for this project.
Now the fun part, finding the perfect fabric. Does anyone else have a project or a task that’s miles and miles into the future and you think “yeah I got plenty of time to get organised for that, no problem” and then you blink and have to panic buy in a rush and you feel like you just ruined the whole project with your laziness? No? Just me? Alrighty. Well, the above happened and I had to pay a pretty penny to have some fabric sent over because I couldn’t afford $90 and above per meter from my local shops. Even with what I paid for express shipping, I came out saving several hundreds of dollars. So, what did I buy? The main fabric is just plain soft cotton which came from Homecraft Textiles and it’s nothing fancy but it is my favourite plain cotton to work with. It’s a soft blue tone with just a hint of silver in it and it was absolutely perfect for this project. As for my embellishment fabric, I decided on a soft blue floral embroidered lace which I want to cover the bodice and skirt with. Then I splurged a little and purchased a 3D grey embroidered floral lace and I purchased just one metre as I think I can chop out the flowers and add them to the bodice and if there’s some leftover, along the bottom of the skirt. It looks good in my head and I’m excited to go forth and give it a go.
This project was certainly not as easy as I thought it would be. I don’t know why I struggled so much putting this dress together but I don’t think I did it justice. From the get-go, when I was pinning my pattern to my fabric, it seemed as though the skirt wasn’t straight along the fold line and it seemed to warp a little. I did my best cutting it out and with the dress sewn up, you can’t see any issues. The bodice itself came together really quick and I naively thought “wow, I might finish this dress in two quick sittings”. Oh, poor sweet naive MonMon, I’m sorry honey but this project just goes downhill from there. I don’t often work with two fabrics but after basting all my pieces with the embroidered tulle on top of my cotton fabric, It got a bit fiddly getting everything to sit just right. It all started with the sleeves and although they look lovely, they don’t look even. One sits flatter and the other has an odd lean to it. Oh and gathering the tulle and cotton as one unison piece was quite difficult. I tried to keep my gathers even but they kept slipping around and the rose embroidery got in the way and created spaces where gathers wouldn’t lay flat or curve at all.
I mainly struggled with the underbust drawstring. I really struggled to comprehend the instructions and as I didn’t have any decorative ribbon trim, I think mine will not lay as flat or neat and the inside of the drawstring was just … awful. I really didn’t know what the pattern wanted me to do and although it said to attach a ribbon to the inside I didn’t have one on hand to use so I used another piece of inset (as I cut two originally) and sewed that in to create the drawstring pocket. I didn’t understand why I needed to make this drawstring pocket as then the instructions told me to zig-zag stitch the drawstring to the inside but there was no clear picture of where this should go. There was a closeup of the final zig-zag stitch but I couldn’t figure out where it should be. Would it go right at the front?
I also found issues when it came time to attach the bodice and skirt together. The instructions said to match notches and seams but there were too many notches marked out on the skirt and compared to the inset band. I matched all the notches that seemed logical, then the seams and then I tried to spread the gathers. It was not done smoothly and I don’t like how it came out. To be honest, most of my gathers in this project were badly done and I think I should have removed some of the rose embroideries on the tulle so the gathers could be done evenly. I did eventually do this for hemming and it took a long time to get all the roses I needed to remove out of the way. I did get the skirt attached finally but yeah, not happy with the gathers although the length was perfect (perhaps I could have taken it in half an inch?).
I didn’t know how to finish the ends of the underbust inset drawstring piece and they just sort of stayed there unhemmed and unfinished. I don’t think I saw the pattern telling me to turn the ends in or if it did, I missed it completely and i can’t fix it much now. When it came to adding a drawstring to the bust line and under bust, the only drawstring I had in the house was 6mm and it was way too thick and looked ridiculous so I found two pieces of ribbon and despite them being different colours, I attached a safety pin to one end and fed it through my drawstring pocket. I probably could have cut the seam in the underbust drawstring pouch a little more as it got a bit thick in some parts but at this stage, I just needed this dress finished as it was taking so long.
To hem the bottom of my skirt, I used a rolled hem on both the cotton and tulle fabric. I did cut out any of the embroidered roses along the tulle and it took me quite a while. If I were to make this dress again, I’d definitely do this for all seams as it made a big difference but it was too late at this stage. I put the dress on my dress form to see how she sits and I do think she could have looked a lot better. I didn’t know if I should go ahead and sew on some of the fancy flowers from the grey lace and I thought I might as well since it was the original plan. Personally, I don’t think I like the applique flowers as the colours just didn’t seem to go (they did in my head) and it wasn’t a Bridgerton family dress anymore so I think I might remove them at later date. I’d love to know what you think.
The final thing I did was sew in some hook and eyes along the back butt slit (or else you could see my booty in all her cellulite glory). I did this by hand and it was a nice ending to a chaotic project. This project was more of a challenge than I thought it would be. Despite this, I certainly learnt some new things along the way including how to do a prick stitch and my first attempt at French seams. I did want to challenge myself this year with my sewing so by picking up two new skills, I certainly feel like this dress was worth it in the end.
I’m a bit sad by how the underbust drawstring band looks as it bulges and puckers which is quite unflattering. The dress has an odd heaviness to it and it certainly doesn’t sit flush on the body in a flattering way. I’d love to try this pattern again, maybe to style B with just plain cotton for a more ‘day dress’ kind of look. I wanted this dress to be amazing and it just fell flat which is mainly due to my own lack of skills. I know I can gather fabric better than what I did on this dress and I’m sure if I had been shown how to deal with the underbust drawstring area, I would have done a better job. As I’m a visual learner, if I can be shown something, I’ll pick it up faster than just reading the steps. I did search online for images of people making this particular dress and there were more images of style B than A and I wonder if I just got duped by the trickier pattern.
I want to try this pattern again but this time do style B. I think I will remake this dress a little later as I don’t really want to sew something so complicated once again. I want to make a Featherington dress so I’m hoping to see something in season 2 that will inspire me and give me a chance to try again. I might take this pattern to my dressmaker friend, Beata from Chein Noir Dezines, and ask her interpretation of these pattern steps because I’m sure they are more simple than I originally thought. I did have a look around online for other dress patterns from the Regency period and although I found some with zips which would have been a lot easier, I think I want to give the more historically accurate method another go. We only get better through practice right?
To style this dress, I wore some simple flats and some pearl earrings from Poporcelaine. I was tempted to wear some more floral jewellery but the simplicity of just some pear earrings was enough. I did by best with an 1810’s inspired hairdo and although my hair was miles too short for it, it was still fun to try. I will let my hair grow a little bit so next time I will have more hair to work with and I can do more of those cute ringlets (or at least think to order some online). My makeup was very simple and I almost felt like someone different but I opted for very natural eyes, some light foundation, blush, mascara and more of a lip stain than a lipstick. I added some satin gloves to finish off my Bridgerton look. I did enjoy running around getting these photos taken and I was stopped a few times to be complimented which made me feel a lot better about my sewing skills.
I’m glad that this dress was a challenge as it certainly allowed me a chance to try new things and gain some skills. It’s certainly not perfect but for the first attempt with not much pressure, it’s fine. From afar, it’s the dress I wanted and it certainly has a Bridgerton vibe about it. There are areas I could have done better and I really want to try again to make a more professional looking garment. I’m now on a mission to figure out this drawstring waist and bust line situation because when it comes time to make a Featherington dress, it will be miles ahead and I can’t wait. All in all, I now have a dress to wear whilst binge-watching the new season of Bridgerton and I hope you are all as excited as I am.
In case you are wanting to try a regency dress but are a bit put off by this pattern (I’m sorry if you are, but who knows, you might totally understand what needs to be done), I made a list of similar patterns although not all of them are close to historically accurate.
-Burda Pattern 2492
-McCalls Pattern 7493
-Mood Pattern The Bridgerton Dress (free)
-Simplicity 9434 (very Bridgerton inspired)
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.