Bethany is the friend who convinced me to revisit Pride and Prejudice after my high school loathing of it. She worked me up to it–first by lending me her DVDs of the BBC miniseries (the one with Colin Firth), then by nudging me to read some Anthony Trollope, whose narrative voice is quite similar to Mr. Bennet (Dr. Thorne is my recommended gateway book for Trollope). When I finally returned to Austen, I was amazed at how funny it all was. I didn’t remember that from high school. I also hadn’t found the characters especially rich when I was a young teenager. Rereading in my mid-twenties, I fell a bit in love with them. The classics are wasted on the young.
Around that time, I began thinking that I would like to make Bethany a Regency gown. I knew she would like one, and they aren’t particularly difficult to make. I just never got around to it, with all that has gone on in my life since Bethany brokered a peace between Ms. Austen and me–grad school, house renovations, babies. Lovely things, all of them, but they make the seasons spin by before I can blink.
Before Petra was born, I had a ton of unfocused nesting energy. I didn’t need to make anything in particular for her, because all of Silas’ baby things were in good shape (though I made a few things anyway). One day, I called Bethany and said, “I need to make something. Do you want that dress?” We left the children with sitters and had a blissful afternoon at the fabric store. A big part of what makes this dress successful–more so in person than in the photos–is that Bethany selected the perfect fabric. It has a beautiful drape, and the blue matches her eyes. It was fun to make, and even more fun to see her enjoy.
I’m listing custom Regency dresses on my etsy shop now. I’m a little nervous about this. I haven’t made a dress for someone I’ve never met–and never will meet. I’ll have to trust that their measurements are accurate. They’ll have to trust that my fabric choice is appropriate and not distorted by the color temperature on their monitors.
I’ve posted it, anyway…and now we wait and see. I’ll be sure to post photos of more if I get commissions to make them.