Thursday, March 13, 2014

Throw-Back Thursday: 1860's Ball Gown

For the Victoria and Albert ball, it was black tie required. What's that? Since when in the Great Northwest did we ever have a black tie required? Oh well. It's a grand opportunity to get all gussied up in your finest to dance the night away. My only problem was that I didn't have a mid-1800's ball gown. But since the ball was still months away, I had time to plan. Rather, deliberate and be indecisive. I didn't know what I wanted my ballgown to look like. Now, keep in mind, this was before Pinterest became my favorite website, and I was relatively new to the whole historical fashion scene. Actually, I'm still pretty new, come to think of it. 

But I digress. After much wrestling with myself and no clear direction of what the dress should look like, I just let the thought sit for a while. A long while. Then, while helping my sisters clean off their bookshelves, I found a coloring book of Godey's fashions. After perusing the book, I found a skirt that I really liked. The rest of the dress then fell into place. I drew up a sketch that looked something like this to get the idea onto paper.

The it was onto color work. I'm not the hugest fan of pastels; part of that is that they make my face look absolutely drained of all life. Pastels do bad things to me. I tend to gravitate towards richer, more saturated colors. But those can look... drab. Do you see the conundrum that I was in? I wasn't able to find much inspiration in the colored pencil box either. :sigh: What's a girl to do?  Checked Joann's. Nothing (not a big surprise). I couldn't make it to the gigantic fabric store on the far, far side of town. A friend suggested that we look at a fabric store in her area. Okay. We'll give it a shot. 

Guess what. We walked in and saw the fabric right away. There it was, a gorgeous shantung in a rich shade of peacock teal. But what could you contrast such a strong color with? We meandered around the store and found a couple of options - a metallic gold shantung and some sheer cream with floral embroidery. We layered the sheer over the gold to tone down the shiny-ness of the metallic. 
I loved it. 
I had my dress! 
Just had to make it. ;) 

  Embellishing it was probably my favorite part of the entire sewing process. All those fabric flowers! I should have counted how many individual flowers I made to go on that dress. Ribbon flowers, flowers made from the scrap fabric, flowers with gold buttons, and flowers with pearls, cream flowers, teal flowers, gold flowers, light brown flowers, tiny yellow flowers. So many flowers! I just worked on them while watching TV in the evenings. After getting a garden's worth of florals all made up, I tacked them onto the dress and stepped back. 

:SQUEE!!!: It was better than I had imagined. And it was finished the night before the ball. 

The chair tried to eat me...
The ballroom
We even had live music for the dances!
That was all in the fall of 2011. Has it already been that long since that wonderful evening? 
Now, there's a 'Kings and Queens' ball quickly approaching, and I'm wondering if I should pull out the teal ball gown. After it's first wearing, I noticed a couple things that needed changing:
- The lace on the sleeves = no go. That will need to be delicately chopped off. 
- The skirt needs to be attached to the bodice so it doesn't twist around. Nothing that some hooks and eyes can't fix!

There is one snafu... The venue is a gym, yet there's no good place to get changed. Since there's room for my time travelling wardrobe, I'll have to get completely ready at home and drive to the ball in complete 1860's attire. It's one thing to drive with panniers; it's a completely different challenge to drive while wearing a hoop skirt. I'm sure that would be a first for the police officer. "I'm sorry, ma'am, but I'm going to need to you walk in a straight line and do a breath test. ... What are you wearing?" "I'm sober, officer. I just can't see anything below my waist." Now, to be completely honest with you, I have yet to be pulled over for a traffic violation, and I would like to keep it that way. 

Until next time! 

1 comment:

  1. Well, if it's any encouragement to you, I'm planning to wear my V&A ballgown again. :hint, hint: ;)