I’m in the final stages of drafting Theo Pennington’s story, book #3 in The Penningtons series. And so I’m also working on putting together a cover for the new book, which will be titled A Lady without a Lord. Curious about how a cover gets designed? Step behind the curtain, and I’ll take you on a quick tour…
For me, step one is choosing a cover model, and then sewing her a historically-accurate dress to wear. Lucky for me, my daughter has a lot of friends who are eager to brag that they’ve been featured on the cover of a romance novel…
Step two is choosing a dress pattern. I like to use historical reproduction patterns so that the garments on my covers look authentic, rather than photoshopped wedding or prom gowns. For A Lady without a Lord, I chose a pattern from Nehelenia, a company in Germany. Nehelenia based their pattern on an actual dress from the period, which is in the holdings of Schloss Hohenlimburg in Westphalia, Germany. Rumor has it that the original dress belonged to Princess Agnes of Bentheim-Tecklenburg, who lived in the castle until 1830, although no actual historical documentation exists to back up the rumor. I was particularly drawn to the box pleats on the gown’s bodice—a little difficult to make, but oh, so beautiful when finished!
Step three is choosing fabric and trimmings. Silk is typically my preferred fabric, as it was widely used for evening gowns in the Regency period. There are some good fabric stores near where I live, but they often don’t stock 100% silk, so I usually end up ordering my fabric online. Given my model’s coloring, I decided upon a mustardy-gold color for her gown, and selected a gold/silver/copper braid to trim its bodice and sleeves.
Cutting out the pattern pieces and sewing the dress comes next. The sewing for this gown presented a bit of a challenge, given that the pattern is from Germany, and had far more brief instructions than I’m used to following. Worst of all, it had no helpful illustrations! I decided to make a muslin mock-up of the bodice first, before cutting into my expensive silk, just to make sure I knew how to fold those complicated pleats.
If I were being completely historically accurate, I would have sewn the gown all by hand. But I have to admit my handy sewing machine is just a little too tempting, especially when it comes to those long skirt seams…
Finished dress in hand, I next had to schedule the photo shoot. Quite a feat, given the busy spring schedules of my model (a graduating high school senior who is also an internationally-ranked fencer), my photographer (who also works as a psychologist), and my hair designer (my daughter, another soon-to-be high school graduate). But this past weekend, we finally managed to all gather on a sunny afternoon in my backyard, where we shot multiple versions of the same two model positions, one that echoed those of the models on the covers of the first two books in the Penningtons series.
Both A Rebel without a Rogue and A Man without a Mistress show a lady holding something behind her back. Can you see what the heroine of A Lady without a Lord has in hand?
Next week, I’ll show you what happens during the cover design process after you’ve selected your cover photo.
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