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Mary Yellan of Jamaica Inn
Outline the story …
I was inspired by "Jamaica Inn" by Daphne Du Maurier. My dress is for the character of Mary Yellan, the heroine of the novel. We meet her as a young woman whose mother has recently died, following a long illness through which Mary had worked the farm in her stead. Following her death, Mary travels to Jamaica Inn, which is owned by her uncle through marriage, Joss Merlynn. Joss is a giant of a man, and Mary is frightened by him. Her aunt has become a shadow of her joyful young self - eroded by the violence she observes at Jamaica - the Inn is frequented by smugglers and wreckers.
I chose to make an outfit for when Mary ventures to Launceston Market with Jem, her uncle's brother. Here the reader sees Mary shrug off the responsibilities and worries which have laid heavily upon her. We see her as a young woman, practical yet feminine. Jem sells disguised stolen ponies back to their original owners and Mary is surprised to find that she is amused by this. Jem buys her a shawl with his earnings and they share a kiss.
I wanted to make a dress which was earthy and practical, yet hinted at Mary's femininity through using flowers and touches of velvet ribbon. The dusky mauve reflects the heather of the moors where the novel is set.
Outline the construction…
Patterns: Dress - Sense & Sensibility Regency gown; Bonnet - Lynne McMasters Regency bonnets; Shawl - Luminaria by Larkspur Knits
I wanted the dress to be practical and reflect Mary - earthy but with touches of femininity. The dress is made from a cotton/hemp blend from Merchant & Mills. The bodice is flatlined with cotton muslin with all seams felled by hand. I cut a size 16 first and found the bodice too roomy and the armscythe too deep. I also needed to bring the shoulder seam in by 1/4". The second fitting I cut a 14, graded in the shoulder seam and raised the bottom of the armscythe by 1/2". I needed to take a further 1/4" from the side seams to stop the bodice gaping. I lengthened the bodice front slightly, so the seam hit under my bust. The skirt was lengthened by 4" to allow me to add tucks - a useful practicality for Mary! I used the FR guide to fitting a regency gown for support and added a velvet ribbon at the waist .
The bonnet is made from cotton needlecord from an unworn dress and lined with grey cotton. Mull was used to stiffen the brim with millinery wire to support it. This was my first venture into millinery and I was thankful for the explanations given in the pattern. I chose brim 1 and unsupported crown A. The bonnet is embellished with velvet ribbon. The shawl was knit as per the pattern from British wool.