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  • Writer's pictureAisha

Making a Regency Pelisse

Dear Reader,

I finished my outfit for Jane Austen Festival rather frantically this year (as per usual), so as I rifled through my wardrobe I thought it could use a little neatening up. As I was unpicking seams and strengthening hand-stitches, I had the sudden epiphany that I might take you along with me on this journey of reworking and remembering this years JA Festival, with all of its lace and parasols.

This is my pelisse after the festival- the only thing I did to it after the festival was wash the hem which did get a little dirty walking through the streets of Bath. It needs a lot of work, mostly invisible because it is just a case of redoing hand stitches that were done in a hurry.

However, I also want to make quite a big cosmetic change in this revamp. I want to add a whole lot more leaves around the bottom hem! As you can tell in the photos, there were only three pairs of leaves on either side, meaning that they're quite sparse on the actual skirt. I want to add at least one or two more pairs on either side to spruce this skirt up and get it looking fabulous for the next Regency event I attend.

Initial Construction

Making a Regency pelisse had been on my list for a while, the only thing holding me back the cost of the fabric and amount of decoration I would want to add to such a showy garment! I decided that this year was going to be the year, so I hopped onto Pinterest and found this gorgeous coat from the Museum of London.

I'd admired this coat for years and knew the moment I saw it that it was the one I wanted to make. Of course, I'd make some slight changes to the design by the end of it, but that always seems to be my way when recreating something!

My sketchbook and fabric samples.

For the fabric, I chose a silk dupion. The website says that the orginal pelisse is made from silk, so I used that as a jumping off point in my search. The original also has some gorgeous stripes running through the fabric, but fabric choice is not as it was in the Regency era as I struggled to find any striped silks in my price range.

As I waited for the fabric to arrive, I set about draping the coat.

Draping the bodice.

This was my first time using my new tiny mannequin, which was very exciting! I used patterns from Jean Hunnisett's book for the sleeves and skirt.

Pinning the draft sleeve on.

There is quite a lot of decorations on the sleeve of the original, all of which I wanted to keep in my coat! I draped the two 'petals' at the top of the sleeve in calico which took a few attempts, both in trying to get an attractive shape and getting them to look like the original.

The band around the bottom of the sleeve was a bit more difficult. I wanted three strands, each wrapping around the sleeve and tightening it at the bottom. I ended up figuring this one out in paper, drawing it flat first before wrapping it around the sleeve and adjusting the length of the bands.

The fitting was the easiest I'd done in a long while thanks to the new mannequin. I only had to take in the back a little bit and scoop out the armholes.

By the time the fabric had arrived, there was only a week until the Festival, which means that this whole pelisse was made in that time- yikes. And you wonder why it needs reworking!

I got five metres of the silk and five metres of lining fabric. The silk ended up being quite slubby, so it doesn't look quite as expensive as the original. I bought a polyester fabric to save on money which is hideous for the planet, but it does feel wonderful.

Silk ready for cutting!

Now is when I start documenting things less and less because of the mad rush I'm in to finish on time! I did take pictures of my process of making the sleeve band, which is the same process I went through for most of the decorations on this jacket.

Bind shape in piping.

Turn back piping and pin.


When I had finished these, I did think that they looked like little squid tentacles! It was wonderful how neat these turned out, I love things that are sealed up nicely with no raw edges.

As you can probably tell, I did get it done in time and wore it to this years JA Festival! This is a picture of it in my kitchen the night before. Ready to be worn, but by no means perfect!

The Festival Itself

September is a risky time weather-wise. I've been to the JA Festival in the sun, the bitter cold and the pouring rain. But, of course, this year it had to be the most boiling year ever when I'd made a heavy coat!

The fabric looked gorgeous in natural lighting against the bath stone, so it was worth all of the panic in the end!

I made a matching hat and reticule for the event which I'm very pleased with! If you'd like to see more pictures from this event (and many others!), please check out my Pinterest.

The Revamp

The point of the revamp was to generally neaten the pelisse up. I started doing this by re-doing my hand stitches.

As you can see, loosey goosey whip stitches and you can see the machine line. Just not acceptable.

This is the sleeve with the updated hand-stitching. I did this with all of the other petals and also the binding on the collar.

Next, I made more leaf decorations for the hem of the coat. These are really a time consuming (which is why I didn't have as many on the final product as I wanted!) but they do turn out very beautiful. I thought I'd do a little tutorial, and I've also made a Pinterest-worthy version which you can find here.

First, make a template for how big you want your leaf to be.

Pin it to a square of fabric. This is a very good decoration to make from offcuts as you don't need a lot of fabric.

Trace around it. You can use anything for this because you shouldn't be able to see it at the end, but I used a heat-erasable pen just in case.

Hand stitch around the top right leaf edge, only stitching around the tight curve.

(You could hand stitch the whole thing if you wanted, but that would take even longer!)

Pin around the rest of the leaf.

When you get to the top right, hand stitch it as you did to the left.

Machine around the shape where it hasn't been hand stitched.

This is what the back should look like afterwards!

Once everything is stitched, trim away the excess.

Fold over the piping and hand stitch in place. And voila! No raw edges and a lovely shape to decorate a dress with!

Well, that's everything updated! I'm finally happy with this pelisse and can't wait for another excuse to wear it!

Until next time,

Aisha x

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1 Comment

Wow! Really beautiful coat! Your article is so helpful to me as I begin my own pelisse journey. Lovely , clear pics. I’m an experienced historical and theater sewer but have been dragging my feet getting started on the elaborate details Ive seen on extant examples. You give me hope! Thank you, you looked stunning!


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