So after sewing the bodice pieces together, I added the gathering stitches to the bodice front waistline and drew them up as noted on the pattern, to 6 1/8 inches. Without the proper undergarment, I went ahead and tried it on just to make sure the fit would be close to correct, but unfortunately it seems it’ll be a tad small and certainly difficult to get in and out of without the back opening once the back gathers are drawn up.
So I loosened the front gathers so they measure 7 1/2 inches across, and instead of drawing up both sides of the center back gathers to just 2 inches across (total of 4 inches), I’m going to draw them up only to 3 inches on each side (total of 6 inches). That’ll give some ease for dressing, and with the waistline drawstring, I’ll still be able to get the close fit under the bust.
I’m contemplating adding a triangular panel to the center back to allow even more ease at the waist, while keeping the back neckline relatively un-bulky. A triangular piece about 3 inches across at the bottom and 1 1/2 inches across at the top, with 1/2 inch side seam allowances. That would give an extra 2 inches at the waistline, and only a 1/2 inch at the neckline. It would look like this:
But first I’m going to draw up the back bodice gathers as noted above, and try everything on over the corset to see how it works. If the panel is necessary, I’ll go ahead and add it, and it’ll look fine since that area will be gathered. Fingers crossed it works without the added panel. If I add the panel, I can probably go ahead and draw up the gathers to the 2 inches per side noted on the pattern. Panel or no, the neck and waistline ties will still be visible on the outside of the gown via eyelets or button holes at the center back of the bodice neckline and waist.
Although the fitting and fixing part can be such a hassle, this is one of the most fun parts of recreating a historical garment or costume, at least to me—the figuring-things-out part, the engineering-solutions part. The analytical side of my Virgo brain just loves this stuff! (But only as it applies to fun hobbies like costuming and home improvement, not to serious stuff like math :-P).
Meanwhile, I went ahead and ordered the Sense & Sensibility undergarments pattern for the short stays, and purchased some Swiss dot cotton to make into a bodiced petticoat. Those will both come later, perhaps before starting my next Regency gown, which I expect will be in a light-weight material that requires a lining for opacity.
I have a problem with planning more projects than I can actually handle at any one time, but it’s the way I roll. As long as they eventually get done, I don’t see a big problem. And usually, if I wait until the perfect time to purchase patterns and materials for a specific project, it seems that the perfect fabric just doesn’t exist. So I figure it’s better to buy the fabric for a project I know I’ll get to someday when I find something that’s absolutely perfect rather than risk not being able to find it when I’m ready to actually work on it. That’s my rationalization, and I’m sticking to it.