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Pride and Prejudice Preparation

May 9, 2017

Every year, I get together with one of my best friends and we spend a weekend together watching Pride and Prejudice (BBC, 1995), stuffing our faces with cheese, and drinking lots of wine.  We started this in 2004 I think, and since then we’ve both moved around quite a lot, changed careers, got married, and had children, but still we always manage to find a weekend to revel in the glory of Colin Firth in those trousers.

DING DONG

Nowadays instead of it being just the two of us, carefree and dependent free, it’s the two of us, three children and two husbands.  It’s getting harder and harder to sit quietly and watch the programme, because we’re trying to entertain the kids, prepare extra special meals, and fit in everyone’s needs and wants.  As we basically know the script by heart, we don’t need to concentrate super hard!  The eldest of the three children is now willing and able to watch with us in a relatively sedate manner, but the other two usually play whilst it’s on in the background – which is fair enough!  I’m sure the day will come when the eldest decides that this tradition is totally lame, but by then I reckon we’ll be able to revert to it being just the two of us and we might be able to go and stay in Bath and visit the Jane Austen centre.  It’s a continually evolving tradition.

Back in 2011, we bought some bargain plain cotton from Abakhan for £1 per metre.  There was not much choice of colour, so we ended with pale blue and orange, and I used the fabric to make us each a Pride and Prejudice Regency-style dress, fully lined with cotton voile.  (I had a bit of help sewing the costumes from my friend Aileen – thank youuuu!)  The pattern I used was Simplicity 4055 – a costume for a Regency era gown.  I also made my daughter a dress in some leftover orange fabric – she was only 1 at the time.  This dress has since been passed on to my friend’s daughter, and I made a new dress made for my daughter in the leftover blue fabric:

Three years ago!

Our dresses have served us well, however, I wanted a change, and for the past few years I’ve been half-heartedly on the lookout for new fabric which looks suitable for the period.  Eventually, I found some fabric which I thought would be suitable at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Kensington Olympia earlier this year – the only problem was there were only two end bolts of the fabric, and not even the full amount I needed.  Obviously, I did not let a tiny thing like that deter me, so I bought the lot (combined length of 3.3m split into two lengths).

For my new dress, I wanted a better fit.  I wanted the underbust seam to sit actually below my bust rather than across it, and I wanted more gathering across the entire bodice front rather than just a little on each side.  That’s when I considered a different pattern: New Look 6096, which I picked up in Boyes reduced to £1 because it has been discontinued.

Pattern envelopes side by side

Line drawings, side by side

Ok, so it is not authentic Regency design, but who cares?!  It looks the part and what’s more it looked easy to sew – winner!  It’s also unlined, which saves time and money – bonus!  Plus, I’m pretty sure this is the pattern my friend Amy used to make herself a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies dress, which worked out great!

OH HAI BOOBS

First of all, I made a toile of the bodice, and, as I suspected, it was not big enough to accommodate the girls.  I made my adjustments to the pattern and BOOM.  Pride and Prejudice dress complete, and with only a short length of fabric to spare!

Finished dress – zero embellishment – just straight up

So, you know how I said I had a bit of fabric left over?  Well, the short bit of fabric left on the fold was enough for a bodice front for my daughter, with not a cm to spare!  Managed to cut the bodice back out and then some seriously puffy sleeves on the cross grain.  (I used New Look 6309 for the bodice and sleeves, btw).  The skirt was going to be a challenge.  I needed it be 32″ long, but there was no way I had the width necessary to cut a skirt front and back.

Scrap fabric left over, to make a skirt out of

In the end I cut six rectangles of fabric of differing widths but all 32″ long, and I pieced them all together into one big panel, gathered the top, and sewed it to the bodice.  This means that the skirt has six seams in total (centre front, centre back, and four side seams), but because it’s gathered at the top it isn’t really noticeable.  I really got my money’s worth out of those two bolt ends!

New Look 6309

I wanted a bit more embellishment on my daughter’s dress, so instead of doing boring top-stitching, I did a decorative stitch around the neckline.

I also found a length of vintage lace which had belonged to my Grandma, and I thought what better way to use it than on this dress, so I added it to the hem, and also to the waist.

Back view

My daughter is absolutely enchanted by the dress, and we are looking forward to wearing them together in a few weeks when we get together for P&P 2017!  Plus, my friend’s daughter can now upgrade to the larger pale blue dress, and I have promised to make my friend a new dress once she finds some fabric that she likes.

My dress again

Overlocked seams on the inside

22 Comments leave one →
  1. May 9, 2017 3:07 pm

    Just lovely.

  2. May 9, 2017 3:09 pm

    I love this! What a fantastic tradition and so cool that you made the dresses to wear. I bet your daughter will have fab memories of this tradition too, even if she goes through a phase where she feels the need to keep that a secret ha ha

  3. elizabeth carter permalink
    May 9, 2017 3:41 pm

    I love your dresses. If I wasn’t living in Australia I’d be asking to join your P & P party! It’s the book I studied and struggled with in school but I’ve since read it countless times and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen the BBC adaptation. I really didn’t want to like the Keira Knightley film – how could Matthew Macfadyn possibly be Mr. D? However, it grew on me and depending on how much time I have, I choose between the 2 hr. or the 6 hr. versions, both are very different. Colin Firth will always be the number one Mr. Darcy – even in those trousers!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 9, 2017 3:58 pm

      Definitely Colin is the number one. I’ve seen the Kiera Knightly film but the BBC version is the definitive adaptation for me! I quite enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – very silly but fun and some good casting.

  4. May 9, 2017 3:47 pm

    What a brilliant tradition! I usually pull out my P&P DVD and re-watch the series about once a year. Unfortunately, I’m usually in my tracksuit bottoms, lounging on the couch, eating chocolate and drooling over how gorgeous Mr Darcy is. Me thinks you do it better 🙂

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 9, 2017 7:57 pm

      Haha, your tradition sounds pretty perfect to me! 😊

  5. Karen Ryan permalink
    May 9, 2017 5:09 pm

    Amazing, your new p&p dress is lovely, i hope you and your daughter have a lovely p&p day with my sister in law and niece. You’re very talented and super nice xxx PS i hope you make something to eat out of the dinner with Darcy book i bought Asha xxx

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 9, 2017 7:57 pm

      I did make something the year before last – the Sally Lunn bread rolls and some sort of meat stew – might have been venison or something! I haven’t planned the menu yet but I’ll definitely be looking through the book for ideas! Hope you are well x

  6. May 9, 2017 5:11 pm

    An excellent tradition! Here’s a house in Bath you can rent from the Landmark Trust which would be perfect for you to waft around in wearing your dresses and dreaming of Mr Darcy! https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/search-and-book/properties/elton-house-6857

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 9, 2017 7:54 pm

      Oh wow! That looks perfect. Great location too. Thank you!

  7. May 9, 2017 6:37 pm

    This is brilliant – the tradition and the sewing! Will you post an update from the day itself?

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 9, 2017 7:53 pm

      I definitely will even if it’s just on Instagram 😊

  8. May 10, 2017 9:04 am

    Lovely dresses, and I love that you dress up to watch this! Such a good miniseries.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 10, 2017 9:17 am

      It is very well done. Good old BBC!

  9. May 10, 2017 12:58 pm

    Great tradition – I love this series so much and it has stood up to time really well. 20+ years later – eeekk!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 10, 2017 1:02 pm

      I know – it really does not seem that long ago!! 😆

  10. Sabs permalink
    May 12, 2017 3:35 am

    I love P&P too (the book and the BBC production, and CF will always be Mr Darcy to me) – just wish I had a friend who loved it as much to start such an awesome tradition! Love the dresses, can we see a photo of you both in them please? x

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 12, 2017 7:28 am

      Yes, I will post photos! It isn’t until June this year x The BBC adaptation is so good, definitely the best of them all!

  11. May 12, 2017 7:58 pm

    Such a cool sounding tradition! And the dress certainly looks perfect, and after seeing your toile I’d be considering making a crop top too if I were you! 😉

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 14, 2017 8:40 pm

      Haha, absolutely not! 😂 But thank you for the compliment!! 😘

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