Jane Eyre Dress

1 Gathering Jane Eyre1 Sew 2 pro Jane EyreI like to play around with the ‘governess dress’ theme and the brief I gave myself for this year’s version was ‘demure… or deadly?’

(You do realise, I hope, that almost everything I do and say is tongue-in-cheek 🙂 )

The fabric is pincord, the finest known to humanity.  Over the last few years I’ve made many dresses and shirts out of this and will continue to do so till I run out of supply (this current batch is from Rolls and Rems in Lewisham). I love its softness and warmth; it has substance yet for some designs, say a circle skirt, there is the necessary drape too.  I would have liked the contrasting detail to be just white in a crisp cotton or silk (for a particularly strict governess look) but I worried that the repeated washing would cause the black dye to spoil the whiteness.  The tartan is, I think, a good compromise and on the few occasions I have worn this I’ve been given the thumbs up.

Back in March while making this, I listened to a dramatized serial of Jane Eyre on Radio 4 with what I consider to be among the most interesting young actors around, Amanda Hale and Tom Burke, in the main roles.  As I worked on my governess dress, I imagined it on Jane. Here she is, pattering lightly on the stone-flagged floors of draughty Thornfield Hall, dabbing at her permanently dripping nose.  That’s what one of those big, pouchy pockets is for – a hanky! 1 Jane Eyre

The other pocket’s a money bag.  When he remembers, Mr Rochester tends to issue his wages in half-yearly lumps.  But reader, don’t hold it against him, for we have traveled into the past, where there are no nice shops and no stuff to buy.

1 Back View1 Inside outThe back is shaped by two contour darts, the sleeves are ‘bracelet length’ and there’s a side zip.  Do you like how I’ve used tartan leftovers on the inside, including a bias strip as hemming?

Email me if you would like to buy a pattern of this dress which I can design to your measurements. The fit is similar to a shift dress but with room at the front due to the volume from the bust dart gathering.  Being above the knee, it has a sixties, mod vibe.  The level of skill: intermediate.

Link: Quiz: How Jane Eyre are you

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23 thoughts on “Jane Eyre Dress

  1. Love this, Marijana. So pretty on you! It reminds me of the knitting design for the Manu cardigan by Kate Davies. The pinwale cord is great for this. Another Jane fan…

      • Knitting is easy…just time consuming. Very easy for an accomplished seamstress to grasp. Give it a go! I am so impressed that you designed this and can grade it. Trying to figure out if it would suit me. Love the shape.

          • Ha ha ha. I came back to leave a link for you to a graphic novel that I love, referencing Jane Eyre, and I did your quiz. Apparently I have enough, I don’t know how they worded it… endurance that I “could give lessons to Jane and should be a CEO or running a small country” (if only!): http://houseofanansi.com/products/jane-the-fox-and-me. The illustrations are gorgeous – if you happen to be in a bookstore that carries it, take a look. The lovely original is in French. Such a lovely story for both girls and women.

          • Hi Stephanie, I got the same answer too 🙂
            Thanks for the recommendation. It looks like the perfect birthday book for my daughter (experiencing the ever-changing world of female friendships in the first year of her all-girls school). I’ll of course read it too not least because I love foxes.

          • Oh I hope you two enjoy it. The illustrations are so beautiful…and sewing even appears…maybe not quite enough fox though, sorry!

  2. The Jane dress is so cute and darling! I love the shaping and style. I think the dress could be made any length as a dress or tunic over leggings. Thanks,

  3. I like your writing – and that your tongue is firmly in your cheek at all times. The dress is cute and unusual and has the feeling that it is easy to wear – comfortable and warm, while retaining sufficient formality for all eventualities. I love the way you have used the tartan contrast (especially the hem). And by having huge pockets it is the sort of dress that can go anywhere and do anything (and Mums are forever picking up small things like toy parts, odd pens and items that need to be carried up stairs).

  4. Nice dress! I like the contrast trim on the neckline and pockets, also the side gathering in the bodice. Pincord is a lovely fabric to work with and wear, perfect for between seasons.

  5. I like the interesting way you have the gathering beneath the darts and I admire any successful use of tartan. I also like pincord and found a good length of it in black in a charity shop recently but, as soon as I got it home, it had attracted every piece of kitty fur, dust and other floating pale microbe to its velvety surface. Do you find that or do you, like me, make a run from the upstairs rooms out the front door without pausing whenever wearing anything with a cord, velvet or peachskin finish?
    I have boot envy.
    Apparently, I’m more Jane MacDonald than Jane Eyre. I never could resist a quiz.

    • You’re so right, ‘Jane Mac’, it really is a magnet for floating pale microbes (this made laugh). As for Blogstalker’s fur… It just goes to show how crazy us cat ladies are, to be so tolerant. I am going to invest some time in searching for alternative, paler colours of this fabric if I can get the same softness. I have counted the ribs of this within an inch and I make it 25 wale!

    • Oh, the boot envy… I love boots and these are possibly my favourite ever, certainly in the top 3 – from Jigsaw.

  6. Seven out of nine correct! I don’t know Jane Eyre, I just guessed! Amazed myself, again, the dress is great. I would love a lesson on the gathered bust line dart. It looks flattering and very comfortable. Anything plaid gets my attention. Thanks again.

  7. Versatile indeed. I reckon by adding more gathers this could go from office to maternity (and I mean that in a good way)! After pregnancy one could unpick the gathers and delete some perhaps?
    …but what Mum has time to do that!! Forget I mentioned maternity wear!
    Love the boots with this pinwhale, same, same but different.

    • How sweet to think of this as a nice maternity design. I made darling maternity dresses when I was pregnant in the late 60’s and early 70’s. We were cute and while we didn’t care to hide our “bumps” we wanted roomy clothing that gave us freedom. However, I never wanted to wear those clothes again and handed them on to friends who were pregnant so while not made over they got plenty of wear.

      • I learnt to sew, working out what sewing patterns meant, while pregnant the second time (in 2003-4) and it was a good opportunity to make a few wearable items which were too amateurish for close scrutiny. No guilt for not having to keep them very long!

  8. Oh, you were born in the wrong century but your bring a positive modernism to governess style with boots and attitude! You rock (in tartan and spartan!)

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