I discovered the existence of a Jane Austen Festival in Canberra, Australia, in 2008. After attending the first festival and having a ball–but having to borrow dresses–I decided to give it a crack, despite no sewing experience further than year 8 cushions and bags. I’ve since attended two more festivals and been a useful resource for my schoolmates, kitting out half the class for our Romanticism-themed dinner. I’ve learned my fair share of sewing lessons through trial and error along the way, too!

The blue was my first attempt: a plain synthetic satin and sheer floral overlay – both absolutely horrendous for a beginner to work with. The red is actually a sheer curtain fabric over a plain red lining. I left the sleeve bands ungathered to create a different effect, and also to make violin playing more practical. It speaks to me of Caroline Bingley. The green was $4 a metre, so it’s the multi-purpose dress. The white is two-layered cotton muslin, worn over a pale blue cotton petticoat, with a sash of the same blue. I had a little time on my hands so embroidered a sort of approximation of a greek key design around the neck and sleeves, but have no close up photos.

These dresses also proved useful when I played Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady – I used the blue petticoat over a white blouse, with a brooch and added lace, to create something vaguely resembling Edwardian – the company had virtually no costumes in my size.


Wow! I am constantly impressed by what beginners do with my patterns. Wonderful work, Charlotte! And what a lot of fun you obviously had! Thanks so much for sharing these. 🙂

3 comments on “Aussie Jane Austen”

  1. Good on you Charlotte, we’ve probably met at the festival. Beginners need encouragement. I was were you were and from there the only way is more practice. Then you can think about designing something original or experimenting with other fabrics and trims to make a new dress ‘yours’. Keep at it.

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