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Tag Archives: Romantic era

1830s Romantics at the PEERS Victorian Gothic Ball

This weekend I went to the PEERS Victorian Gothic Ball. We were invited to wear 1830s or 1840s clothing and dance the night away, along with actors portraying characters from Jane Eyre and readings by Mr. Edgar Allen Poe and other poets. There is a mini-reunion of our Hopeless Romantics group, along with a few new ladies in 1830s clothing.IMG_9359

I wasn’t quite sure until a few hours before the ball that I would be wearing that particular dress because I had a back injury and could not wear a corset or spend a lot of time with my arms above my head doing elaborate hair. Luckily I already had an easy hairpiece from a previous outing (with a tutorial here) and managed to squeeze myself into the dress sans corset by shifting my petticoats down a bit. The silhouette is not perfect, but I made it to the ball!IMG_9365I am wearing jewelry from Dames a la Mode and Pemberly slippers from American Duchess.

I tried to pose like a serious portrait.IMG_9308

A close-up of the hair and jewelry.IMG_9307

And I shall end with the delightfully silly menu from the bar that evening.IMG_9301

The Hopeless Romantics Invade Gaskell Ball, 1830s Style!

There were so many beautifully made gowns at Gaskell Ball. Most of us used the same pattern, but I loved all the variations in fabric choice and trimming.

We made a lovely rainbow!

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And had a ton of fun!

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Here I am with the other pale-colored ladies.

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Kim had such a cute doll-like shorter dress.

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Natalie of Frolicking Frocks looked just like a fashion plate.

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Breana of Mothball Fleet had such a daring and darling color combination, with perfect piping.

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Elizabeth had a bodice with impressive detailing, and a padded hem.

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Amanda’s dress looked great in motion.

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Samantha had such a cute bow sash.

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Jean-Anne went for a bold print that worked out great.

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Jenny looked elegant in white.

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Christina of The Laced Angel used an old sari, to great effect.

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Kathy of Stuff I Sew had an impressively smocked dress. Read the details here!

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Monica had charming little fans and tucks on her dress.

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Kaila had really lovely piping and pleats.

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Cassandra’s dress reminded me of a Disney princess.

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You’ve seen mine, so here’s a silly photo.

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I am looking forward to next year’s theme!

1830s Romantic Dress (Part 6): Finished Dress and Hair

Last night I had a fantastic time dressing up with a large group of other ladies wearing Romantic Era gowns (and crazy 1830s hair) at the Gaskell Ball in Oakland, CA. (I will be posting photos of everyone in my next entry!) I finished my dress with a few days to spare, but did not have time to work on the hair until the last day.

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(I didn’t have time to make a new petticoat, and the old one is a little longer and less poofy than I would like, but that is a project for next time).

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I was very pleased with the way the sheer sleeves came out. I was fretting before about how to pattern them, then went for the easiest approach. I took a yard of fabric, sliced it down the middle, French seamed the pieces to make 2 tubes, and gathered the ends into the armhole or wrist openings.

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The bodice is pleated and embellished with pink and green embroidered lace and little pink ribbon flowers with pearls in the centers. The back of the neckline is also pleated.

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The cuffs are made with the same embroidered lace I have on the bodice neckline. The waist is trimmed with a green scrap of fabric (leftover from a Titanic, and then Gatsby project). The pearl and rhinestone buckle was purchased from Britex.

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The hem is trimmed with embroidered tulle lace, as you previously saw.

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I struggled with the hair, and it is a little sloppier than I wanted, but I think it’s a decent first try. A  number of people asked me if it was my real hair!

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I forgot to buy a foam head, so I used a stuffed toy monkey. I bought a long black wig, and split it into 3 sections. I made 2 fat braids and pinned them into Princess Leia-style cinnamon buns.

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The middle section was braided and left for the moment.

I then used another large piece of fake hair that I split into 2 braids (with wire braided in). I formed pretzel loops and sewed that to the wig, and then used the little braid from the main wig to wrap around the base. I pinned a fake peony in the back, and put some little roses and butterflies into the buns.

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I decorated the front with a little fake bird, a birdcage and some feathers.

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I had a lot of fun with this project!

Final cost rundown (not including fake hair):

Silk taffeta, linen lining, hook-and-eye tape, bird, feathers, flowers, cage: from the stash

Tulle lace: $27.96

Floral lace $11.91

Organza: $3.10

Pearl buckle $9.73

Total $52.70*

*well, I did spend about $200 on silk a few years back, but we’re talking new expenses here. =)

1830s Romantic Dress (Part 5): Bodice

I haven’t done a lot of sewing in the past few weeks because I started work again and have had some long hours. However, here is a sneak peek at the bodice in progress.

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I put on the puff sleeves and started the sheer ones. The neckline has lace. I still need to fuss with the fitting (since the heavy sleeves are pulling things down), the gathers and the cuffs on the sheer sleeves.  The front will be embellished with some little pink flowers.

1830s Romantic Dress (Part 4): Waistlines and Hemlines

I have hemmed the skirt from floor-length to ankle-length to make it more like the fashion plates of the day. Plus, it will be easier to walk and dance in! I also ruffled 2 rows of the embroidered tulle lace and sewed it around the bottom, using 12 out of the 20 yards I purchased.  Here is a sneak peek at the hem.

IMG_1801I tried on my overbust corset, and although it fits just fine, the pressure on my chest is rather uncomfortable since I’m still nursing. Currently I’m trying to decide between wearing an underbust corset as a foundation, or just making the dress to be worn sans corset to be extra comfortable.

However, I am sure that the waistline of the bodice needs to be raised considerably. The TV455 pattern is very long-waisted, even if you did not want the high-waisted look of the late 1820s or early 1830s. This is a picture of the bodice in progress, after I already cut off several inches of fabric all along the bottom. I still need to shorten it more. The bodice looks rather baggy because it is still missing darts, and is also larger than my dress form.

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I am using hook-and-eye tape for the back closure, reinforced by some plastic boning.

 

 

1830s Romantic Dress (Part 3): Bodice

So far, I have been working on the bodice and done the following:

1. Made a pre-mock up and mock-up: Generally, I use the mock-up to line the finished bodice, but since I am working this time with a shape new to me, I opted for a “rough draft” using scrap fabric to get a general idea about the sizing.

2. Cut out the silk fabric and linen lining, pinned down the gathers, and serged the pieces together. The TV455 pattern directions call for a fashion fabric, interlining and lining, but I am afraid it will be too bulky to have so many layers. Plus, If I flat-line and serge all the edges I can alter the bodice more easily should I need to.

3. Pinned and stitched the bodice pieces together. I am in the process of hand-sewing the neckline gathers so the stitching doesn’t show on the outside. Here are some photos of the pieces pinned before sewing (without the darts put in):

The front bodice pieces.

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All pieces, minus the sleeves.

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The inside.

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A close-up of the linen interior and serged edges.

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Some comments about the sizing: The TV455 pattern runs large! According to the pattern, I am a size C, but I found when making the pre-mock-up that the pieces are sized rather generously. I decided that either a size B with the darts taken in a lot, or even a size A with small darts, would fit better. You can see there is a lot of extra fabric.

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There is significant overlap in the back.

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(Some archaeological comments to myself about the scraps: The green satin is from a 2006 Dickens Fair dress, and the floral cotton is from a spring jumperskirt worn to a friend’s wedding in 2009. Both dresses have since been sold).

1830s Romantic Dress (Part 2): Sleeve Support Poufs

For my 1830s dress I made a pair of sleeve supports, aka sleeve poufs/poofs/puffs. The TV455 pattern does not include a pattern for sleeve poufs, so I had to make up my own. If someone has some good instructions for an easier or more historically correct method I’d be very interested in it!

The TV455 pattern for the Romantic dress suggests using 2 layers of netting for the beret (evening) sleeve. For the gigot (day) sleeves the pattern suggests you make a “sleeve crinoline” using the beret sleeve pattern, using lining and netting fabric gathered to armbands. There are no instructions on making a stuffed pouf, but I wanted a little more support in case the sleeves got crushed.

This is an antique pair from the Victoria and Albert Museum, from about 1830.

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The TV455 pattern has a very large, mostly circular shape for the sleeve. The outside circumference is meant to be gathered into the shoulder seam, and the inner circle is gathered onto an armband. I cut two of these out of a thick linen.

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Instead of gathering the material into a bodice, I gathered it into a tube of fabric about 4 inches wide, and a little larger than the size of my upper bicep. (On the left side you see the raw edges of the circular hole that was cut out of the big circle).

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The tube then gets pushed into the middle of the pouf shell.

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Here is a view from the hole.

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I then stuffed the inside with scraps of tulle and organza left from previous projects, including a 2005 Halloween costume and 2007 Victorian ballgown. (I think this means I hoard fabric too long, and it was nice to use up a lot of scraps for this project! The linen was also pieced together from leftovers). Using cotton batting or polyfill would make a plumper and more solid pouf, but I wanted to keep these very light.

The stuffing was placed around the tube of fabric, and the bottom portion was left unstuffed. (Note: My linen was fairly opaque, but if you use a thinner fabric you will want to stick to light-colored stuffing).

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After stuffing, the edges were whipstitched closed, with the top portion gathered slightly.

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Here is the view from the other side, where the tube was first sewn on. I still need to sew on some ties, but I am waiting to finish my bodice first. Then I can figure out if it will be more comfortable to attach the poufs to the corset or bodice.

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Since this is my first set of sleeve poufs, and I was unsure of the shape, I used the sleeve pattern I had. However, I am sure there’s a better way to make these using less fabric. If I were to make another set I would probably draft a shape resembling a bread loaf with side tabs as the outer shell, and a smaller oblong shape for the inside cuff. That would reduce the bulk at the bottom as well.