Members Meeting - March 21 2015

At Home with Jane Austen

A blizzard near Edmonton kept our speaker, Shannon, close to her home; meanwhile, we made our own entertainment. Members of the Jane Austen Society of Calgary gathered to quiz, hear the latest news in Jane Austen themed books and learn how to design their own Jane Austen Costume.

Judith began with a brief overview of the newest additions to the JASNA Calgary library.  Emma by Alexander McCall Smith is a modern retelling of Emma, with an expanded view of Mr. Woodhouse's history. Charlie Lovett's book, First Impressions, focuses on a modern character uncovering a mystery behind Jane Austens book, Pride and Prejudice. Continuing with the theme of new books, Samantha Adkins read a chapter from her latest book, Banff Springs Abbey. Banff Springs Abbey is a modern retelling of Northanger Abbey, set in Strathmore and Banff, Alberta. This is her third book in the Jane Austen-themed genre.

Elizabeth then challenged members with a quiz on various Austen categories. Three teams competed to answer questions on Austen Biography, Books to Film and Whose Line is It Anyway? Many thanks to Elizabeth for her well-researched questions.


After tea and refreshments, Michelle extended an invitation to Calgary members to attend a Regency Ball May 16 at the Palliser Hotel. The Ball will feature the Zephyrs & Flora, Haymaker and Indian Queen dances. Tickets may be purchased online or by contacting Michelle. Gowns may be rented through Tara, who organizes the Ball.

White muslin dress worn by Mary Dalton Norcliffe, 1807 © V&A Collection

White muslin dress worn by Mary Dalton Norcliffe, 1807 © V&A Collection

Leslie then shared her presentation on Designing Your Own Jane Austen Costume. There are several costume options for the Regency Period including the puffy Robe a la Polonaise which was popular in the 1770s, but still worn by older women in the 1800s. A lighter chemise gown became popular in the 1780s, followed by the plain white muslin which women wore in the hopes of appearing like a Greek statue come to life. In 1798, the Round Gown came into fashion, which was a warmer reprieve from the chill of shear muslin. Hair was worn short and curly in the front, while the rest of the hair was twisted into a bun and the covered by a bonnet when out of doors. By 1810, more colour, embellishments, ruffles and puffy sleeves became popular. Leslie provided several excellent online resources for patterns or completed dresses and recommended Fabricland, Apni Hatti and Fabric Depot in Calgary for fabric.