Wild Card Prize - We loved this approach, she really set herself up to succeed (and did!). Lovely character design, and fit.

Waiting for Emma



Manouk Boelhouwers

(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

Thanks to my mother for photography and Angelique for the reticule!

Outline the story …

This Regency era muslin gown is inspired by Harriet Smith of Jane Austen's novel 'Emma'. The gown is plain yet fashionable, reflecting both Harriet's social position and Emma's influence through the addition of a pretty trimmed hat. I find Harriet to be very relatable in certain ways - being quick to trust people you like, falling in love too easily... Additionally, the pandemic put some financial limits onto this project, and therefore I wanted to focus on a character who, besides being one of my favorites, did not require endless yards of expensive lace and silks. I was initially inspired after watching the 2020 movie adaptation of Emma, and went on to read the book. This inspired me to start my historical sewing journey and create a look that captured the naivete and sweetness of Harriet. As the title states, I picture Harriet waiting patiently for Emma - perhaps to take a stroll.
I wanted the ensemble to look 'historically adequate' and therefore sought most of my inspiration in fashion plates from around 1810. The muslin gown was extremely popular at the time, and I absolutely had to make one, especially since its delicacy and brightness fits Harriet so well. I made everything in this ensemble except for the scarf, shoes, and stockings, which were storebought, and the crocheted reticule which was made by a family friend.

Outline the construction…

The underpinnings (chemise and short stays) were my first ever sewing projects They went together more easily than I would have thought, and were almost entirely constructed out of thrifted materials (tablecloths, bedsheets, tie-rips, etc ) The pattern was Sense and Sensibility Patterns' Regency Underthings There are definite construction errors in these garments, but I have learned many new techniques on the way After that, I chose Laughing Moon Mercantile's #126 pattern to make a gown out of cotton voile The gown is a bib-front type with removable sleeves and was entirely sewn by hand The bodice is lined in a thrifted synthetic fabric and the bib front was altered with gathers to create a more distinct V-shaped neckline I also added a plain ruffle along the hem as seen in many fashion plates of the time The chemisette was sadly not entirely finished, yet functionable I chose to sew with a sheer fabric for the first time, selecting a silk organza The petticoat was constructed in just two days and was of my own design, made out of an old pair of curtains Finally, the hat is entirely designed and made by me from cornflakes boxes, tape and glue, a satin table cloth, and ribbons and flowers for trimming (attached with pins and glue due to cardboard base). During the entirety of this project I relied a lot on Youtube and Pinterest for information on sewing techniques, extant garments, fashion plates, and advice of those who made similar garments.




  1. Avatar Natalia on March 11, 2021 at 9:02 pm

    This is stunning! Looks like straight out of the movie, well done!

  2. Avatar Laura Boyles on March 11, 2021 at 9:09 pm

    What an amazing first project! I’d never have guessed. It’s stunning. Best of luck x

  3. Avatar Laura Wemyss on March 12, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    I love that the hat incorporated a cereal box. It’s great to see beautiful things made of simple materials. Most impressive!

  4. Avatar Andrea Olinte on March 12, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    Beautiful dress with bonnet und ridicule. Never expected that a cornflakes box hides in the bonnet 😉

  5. Avatar Carolien van Alphen on March 12, 2021 at 5:52 pm

    Beautiful! I would never have thought this would be your first sewing adventure. Very well done!

  6. Avatar Suzi Smart on March 12, 2021 at 8:44 pm

    Such a great first project with so many varied skills. Kudos!

  7. Avatar Leah Christlanda on March 13, 2021 at 2:17 pm

    such sweet work. Wonderful and beautiful.

  8. Avatar Natalia V. on March 13, 2021 at 9:03 pm

    Amazing, it looks beautiful. ¡Good luck and congratulations!

  9. Avatar Nancy Stange on March 14, 2021 at 12:04 am

    This is so beautiful! I love the bodice front.

  10. Avatar Valerie on March 17, 2021 at 3:17 am

    Hooray for starting from the foundation – even as your first garments! The whole ensemble is beautiful and conveys your ideas perfectly. And that bonnet! Well done.

  11. Avatar KC (Keowyndrial) on March 19, 2021 at 9:09 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous – well done! I think this will be how I imagine Harriet the next time I read the book, it seems so spot on to her character and style.

  12. Avatar Laura Ingalls Gunn on March 21, 2021 at 11:12 pm

    Truly breathtaking. I adore all of the gorgeous details.

  13. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 23, 2021 at 4:38 am

    Wow, I love everything about this! So lovely! Now I want to make this for myself! Thank you!

  14. Avatar Renee Starling on March 25, 2021 at 4:44 am

    You look like you just stepped out of a period drama! I honestly think that your hat is my favorite thing about this. Taking something so humble as a cereal box and a table cloth and making it into something so lovely is a magnificent feat!

  15. Avatar Bianca on March 29, 2021 at 1:12 am

    I love love love your use of materials. That hat is SUPERB.

  16. Avatar Caitlin on March 29, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    Beautiful work! You really captured this silouette!

  17. Avatar Lizzie Blake on April 1, 2021 at 4:15 pm

    This is gorgeous – definitely captures the feel of Harriet! I also love that it shows all of the amazing things that we can still do on a budget!

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