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Wedgewood Blue Gibson Girl Gown and Undergarments

I attended a dinner party on the Delta King River Boat in Sacramento. The event was hosted by the GBACG and people were encouraged to wear clothing from 1870-1900. I decided to make a Gibson Girl dress out of a Wedgwood blue silk taffeta, trimmed with white lace.IMG_2870IMG_2856

My inspiration was the famous Wedgewood pottery. IMG_1670.JPG

I have some additional appliqués I purchased that I didn’t have time to add for this event, but will for the next wearing to make it even more like pottery. IMG_2096.JPG

The bodice is made with Truly Victorian’s 1892 ball gown bodice and 1893 bell skirt patterns. I found the fit of both to be good, but the bodice is very long and I had to cut a bit from the bottom, even though I am long-waisted.IMG_2796

Some bodice in-progress photos that show the amount that needed to be trimmed:

My jewelry is by In the Long Run. My gloves are vintage and the purse is from a bridal shop. I am wearing Tissots from American Duchess.IMG_2742

I did not use the sleeve pattern that came with the bodice pattern. Instead I gathered up a rectangle of silk chiffon to make flowing sleeves.IMG_2727

The top was gathered and serged.IMG_2673

The back closes with hooks and eyes.IMG_2729.JPG

I decorated the front with a silk chiffon sash and little flowers that I put faux pearl centers in. IMG_2725

I would have liked to hem the end of the sash and add little pearls to the edge, but I was recovering from a hand injury and couldn’t do any hand-sewing, so it’s just a pouf for now. Thus I had to get creative with ways to avoid it!

Ways to save on hand-sewing:

  • I used a white silk chiffon scarf to trim the bodice, so the edges were already hemmed!
  • I serged or machine-sewed any seam I could.
  • I hemmed the skirt by machine, and then covered the machine stitches by sewing lace over it.
  • Instead of cutting a facing, I used a wide vintage rayon ribbon as a hem facing.
  • I used boning that already came with a casing, so I didn’t have to make the casing. I also had casing that had little “fins” on it so that I could machine-sew the boning onto the seam allowance of the bodice.
  • I used hook and eye tape instead of individually sewing on hooks and eyes.
  • Oh horror: I serged the bottom of the bodice, then flipped it up and held the hem in place by ironing on Stitch Witchery!

Because I flat-lined the fashion fabric to a cotton base, and I couldn’t hand-baste the pieces together there is some puckering. Although it’s not up to my “usual standards” I am still quite proud of what I was able to do with what I could, and I had fun with my friends!IMG_2848

Underneath the skirt I wore a long petticoat based on the Truly Victorian bell skirt pattern, with a big ruffle and trim attached.IMG_2162.JPG

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I wore a custom S-bend corset from Redthreaded, with hip pads, and a bust pad. The padding is necessary to achieve the exaggerated Gibson silhouette. I went from an 8 inch differential in my waist and hips to 13 inches, with only a 1 inch waist reduction!

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I used the “bust improver” pattern from Wearing History, which comes in 2 sizes. I recommend it to give your girls a little extra something!Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 8.11.32 PM.png

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Project costs:

  • 8 yards silk taffeta: $113.44 including tax from the LA Fabric District (I still have 3 yards left!)
  • 10 yards white veins lace: $34.01 including shipping from Aliexpress
  • 15 pairs grape leaf appliques: $36 including shipping from Aliexpress
  • bodice pattern: $10.75 from Truly Victorian (digital file)
  • skirt pattern: $0 (already used previously)
  • vintage rayon ribbon spool: $3
  • silk chiffon: $0 (gift from friend)
  • 3 yards white cotton for petticoat: $12 from eBay
  • pink trim for petticoat: $3 from garage sale
  • boning, thread, hook and eye tape, flowers, etc. from stash: ~$10

Total cost: $222.20 (plus I have a lot of silk and lace leftover I’ll probably sell to recoup some costs). Normally I don’t tally the costs until the dress is finished, and I still have to add the grape appliqués, but at this point it’s additional labor and not additional materials, so I added everything up. (When I started this blog my goal was to make things for $100 or less, and I’m seeing costs creep up because of nice materials. Hopefully my next project is a lot cheaper!)

All the hair you can see in the picture below is my own, which is currently shoulder-length. I pinned a big hair rat to the top of my head and two smaller ones on the sides, and then all the hair was pulled over the rats and pinned into place. The messy center was hidden by a faux hair bun pinned on top.IMG_2856

I’m not sure yet, but this might be a nice gala gown for Costume College 2019, when it’s all done!

 

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A “Quick” Regency Silk Gown

I’m calling this a quick regency dress because there wasn’t a lot of planning ahead or blogging during steps, fitting was easy because I’ve used the pattern before, and the event I’m wearing it to is next week!IMG_7216

The pattern is Butterick B6074 view B, with minor modifications. The fabric is a printed silk taffeta from my stash.IMG_7222

The bodice is gathered in the front, and the stiffness of the taffeta gives the bust more fullness than I have in real life. 😉IMG_7217

The pattern has drawstring closures at the neckline and waistline, which is period, but I prefer hooks and eyes when the fabric is not a soft cotton.IMG_7220

If you’re curious about how to put in hooks and eyes to minimize gapping, I have the hooks away from the edge, and the eyes sticking over the edge. (Some people also alternate hooks and eyes on each side. I am lazy, and also wanted to use up the last few inches of hook and eye tape that I had).

I serged the armscye and bottom of the bodice to keep them neat. The shoulder straps are sewn in by hand. Here’s an inside look at the dress.IMG_7228

I have a pelisse that I will be wearing over this if the weather is cold, so I admit to be a little sloppy in some of my construction, but eh, I find most people are too distracted by pretty fabric to care. =)

I also made a matching reticule, with my leftover fabric and lining. I made the tassel out of some thick thread.IMG_E7254.JPG

Project costs:

  • 5 yards printed silk taffeta: $38 including shipping from a destash group; I have about 2 yards left over
  • Pattern: $0, already used for another dress
  • Bodice lining: $0, scraps from another project
  • Skirt lining: 2 yards cotton voile: ~$13 with tax and shipping (purchased with other items from Dharma Trading Co.)
  • Thread, lace scrap, and hooks and eyes: ~$5 from stash
  • Silk ribbon: $0, left over from another project

Total: ~$56 (even less if I sell the leftover 2 yards of taffeta to recoup some costs). Not bad for a silk dress!

I plan to wear this dress with my Pemberly slippers from American Duchess, and some beautiful new grape earrings from The Lady Detalle.IMG_7106.JPG

I look forward to wearing this print! Simple, but cute. IMG_7115.JPG

1920s Flapper Dress and Slip Patterns and Tutorial

My last projects of 2017 were a 1920s silk slip and a lace dress, made right before New Year’s eve. Neither of them are difficult to make, and I’ve made a pattern and tutorial for both. All the fabric for these two projects were kindly provided to me, free of charge, by Fabric Wholesale Direct.

The main dress is made from their mint iris guipure lace, and the slip and sash are made from their pink silk charmeuse. Thank you Fabric Wholesale Direct for the lovely materials!IMG_5943IMG_5929

1920s Slip

This pattern makes a basic 1920s slip. Choose a slinky fabric like silk charmeuse. You do not want to use anything thick!PIC 7
1) You’ll need the following measurements:
B = your chest circumference, across the top of your bust, plus 4 inches
H = your hip circumference, plus 4 inches
L1 = the length from the top of your bust to your hip, plus 1 inch
L2 = the length from your hip to above your knee, plus 1 inch
(These measurements include ease and 1/2 inch seam allowance).
2) You are going to make a long, slightly trapezoidal shape using the measurements above. The top is B divided by 2, and the total length is going to be L1 + L2. Cut this all as one piece. (The middle line is not a seam; it’s just to make sure it’s wide enough for your hips). You can draw this on paper first, or directly onto the fabric using rulers.
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3) Cut two of these trapezoids, place them right sides together, and sew the long edges together.
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4) You should now have a long tube. Hem the bottom and top of the tube, and if you like, add lace to decorate the top and bottom edges.
5) Cut two long rectangular straps for the shoulder that are 3 inches x 15 inches. (These are extra long; you will cut off the excess in a later step). Fold each strap lengthwise (inside out) and pin and sew down the long edge, making a skinny tube.
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6) Turn the long tubes right side out and iron flat. Add lace to the straps now if you wish.
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7) Sew or pin one end of each strap to the BACK of the slip, where your shoulder blades would be.
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8) Put the slip on and then pin the other end of the straps to the FRONT of your slip, over the top of your bust, and adjusted to the right length. Cut off the extra length. Sew the straps to the inside of the slip.
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Now you are done!

1920s Dress

This tutorial is to make a simple 1920s dress. I used a lace fabric, but you can use anything with a nice drape, such as silk velvet or a thick satin.

1) For the top half of the dress, find a sleeveless tank top style to use as a pattern base. (This should be made of a non-stretchy fabric, and a little loose-fitting, otherwise your dress will be too tight). The ideal length for the tank top is to reach your hips; if it’s too long you can fold the bottom up before tracing.
2) Lay the tank top on your fabric and cut around it, leaving extra space for a seam allowance and extra fit room. Depending on how loose your tank top is, that extra space may be 1-2 inches. Don’t forget the shoulders!
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3) Use that piece you cut out to trace a second piece, just slightly wider on the sides, to be the front piece of your dress. Sew the side seams and shoulders together.
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4) Cut a rectangle panel for the skirt that is 2.5 times the circumference of your hips. The width will be the length of your hips to below your knee. (If you want a historically-accurate dress the hem should be below your knee, and if you want a more modern look cut the skirt shorter).
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5) Sew the short edges of the skirt panel (right side) together, making a big skirt shape. Turn the skirt right side out. The top edge of the skirt will be gathered and sewn to the top part of the dress, and they meet at the hip.
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6) If you have a fancy edge on your dress top, have your top/skirt seam overlap with the top showing.
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7) Finish the neck and armholes by folding or rolling the raw edges of the fabric inside the dress and stitching them down.
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8) Optional: You can cut a sash for the middle that consists of a long rectangle with pointed ends. (You can use the leftover fabric from making your slip). The length and width will depend on personal preference, but the length should be at least double your hips plus extra. (Here the one shown in the photo is 55 inches long and 7 inches wide, with the edges tucked in). Wrap the sash around the hip area of your dress, tucking in the raw edges and sewing them down. For texture and visual interest, you can “wrinkle” the fabric while pinning and sewing it down.
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9) Optional: Embellish your sash with a shiny buckle and some little ribbon flowers. You can also put more silk charmeuse, ribbons, or flowers on the front of the dress to decorate it.
PIC H
The finished dress should allow for a lot of movement and be fun to dance in.

Thanks again for the materials Fabric Wholesale Direct!

18th Century Costumes at the Legion of Honor

Yesterday I saw the “Casanova, The Seduction of Europe” exhibit with the Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild at the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco. It was full of incredible artwork, and even antique garments on display. I highly recommend it! I spent the last few weeks working on a new outfit to attend the exhibit instead of blogging about it, but it I will post more about the construction details once I get the last bit of trim on (which did not arrive in time). I wore my new mauve silk Italian gown pinned shut, as is historically correct, but will be changing it to a hook-eye-and opening. (I was paranoid about marking up the silk so I wore it a bit loose).

Many of the photos in this post are used courtesy of John Carey Photographic Imagery. Thanks John!

I love how this photo reminds me of candlelight!

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Photo by John Carey

This one is outside the museum.

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Photo by John Carey

Here’s a few full-body shots from my phone:IMG_6848IMG_6850

My shoes are 18th century black wool Dunmores from American Duchess (affiliate link) and the earrings and necklace are from In the Long Run Designs. My fan is an antique. IMG_6852

There was much gossip and court intrigue with my fellow Taffeta Sisters, Kelsey and Natalie.IMG_6955

Some of it was of a highly shocking nature!IMG_6868

There were many gorgeous costumes in attendance.

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Photo by John Carey

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Photo by John Carey

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Photo by John Carey

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Photo by John Carey

 

There was unavoidable 18th century rump shaking.

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Plus other silly shenanigans.

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We enjoyed the stunning artwork, costumes, and artifacts on display.IMG_6814.JPGIMG_6829IMG_6805

I felt quite at home with the paintings. =) Many more photos have been uploaded to my Flickr account so please take a look!

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Photo by John Carey

Crimson Peak-Inspired Costume at Spooky Victorian Tea Party

I recently attended a “Spooky Victorian Tea Party” hosted by the GBACG, and wore an outfit inspired by Edith Cushing’s picnic outfit in the Crimson Peak movie. When I saw the movie in theaters I immediately fell in love with that creepy hand belt!06a80c2771674a757c37cc5248095268

The belt buckle is meant to mimic carved ivory and the belt is meant to be hair, inspired by mourning jewelry.IMG_8541

I didn’t have time to blog the research and progress, so this post is going to do double-duty. Here is Edith with a beautiful pleated blouse, silk taffeta skirt, a fancy belt, a fugly hat, and a handsome man (Sir Thomas Sharpe).picnic-dress1

My outfit was inspired by, but not a cosplay, for a few reasons. First, I’m using my own hair instead of a blond wig. For reasons of time and cost, I wanted to be able to reuse my ensemble with different accessories for a historical costume like a suffragette outfit. For practical reasons, I could not get the exact same kind of lace on the blouse, and didn’t plan to drive myself crazy looking for it. Finally, I hate the taco hat.

Seriously, it looks like the tostada they give you at Chevy’s on your birthday. Edith even looks embarrassed to be wearing it in this photo.uvkYG7X

In another part of the movie, Edith wears the same skirt with a jacket and a boater. Isn’t that hat so much cuter?IMG_4591

I made my own with a bit of hat surgery, and decorated it with butterflies since those are a theme in the movie.IMG_4627

The costume was on display at FIDM, and a friend went to take photos and report back to me whether the silk taffeta in the skirt was bronze, copper, or pink because the promo photos were inconsistent.

By the way, if you have eagle eyes, or you’re just obsessive like me, you’ll notice a flaw or heavy crease in the silk running between the second-to-last two buttons. This did not happen during transport to the museum. Look again at the pictures I posted above; they are in the movie!IMG_9064

The verdict was bronze. Luckily, another friend was having a garage sale and I got the perfect shade! (In progress photo below).IMG_4495.JPG

I apologize for the poor quality of my photos from the day of the party. The lighting in the tea venue was not the best, and I had just my phone to take pictures, so the colors are darker than they are in real life.IMG_4696

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Both my patterns for the skirt (“Fan-Skirt about 1890”) and blouse (“Edwardian blouse”) came from Black Snail Patterns on Etsy. It was my first time using them and I recommend this company highly!  I made some small modifications, but not many. I love how the back of the skirt falls.IMG_4714

I did not have time to make a new organdy petticoat and had to make do with some petticoats suitable for other silhouettes, so next time the skirt should be fuller.IMG_4715

I used a pleated silk chiffon over a base of cotton gauze for the blouse. I overlaid this with lace, and dyed all three materials with tea.IMG_E4682.JPG

And surprise, my creepy sister-in-law Lucille was at the party! I do hope she was not the one who prepared the tea.IMG_0026

The food (at Tyme for Tea in Niles, CA) was delicious, and the champagne generous!IMG_4742

This costume is still a work in progress. I have the following things planned:

  1. Make the belt. The belt in the movie is made of braided hair. I tried to make my own with a big French braid but it came out very lumpy and thick. It was so unflattering that the morning of the party I decided to just use a plain black belt instead. I will try again with tiny braids sewn to a backing.
  2. Replace the skirt buttons. I used some very thick molded vintage Czech glass buttons. They were lovely, but very heavy and pulled on the front of the skirt and made it collapse. I will have to find some lighter buttons.
  3. Fix the blouse back. Because I have narrow shoulders and a small bust I took in the shoulder seams. I accidentally took too much without accounting for what it would do to the upper closures, so I have a little pulling and gapping between the upper buttons. I’m not sure yet whether to fix this with a modesty panel, more buttons, a little boning along the closures, or a few hooks and eyes.
  4. Replace the lace on the cuffs. I used some black lace appliqués, but I think they are too heavy-looking, and would like to find some delicate black flowers similar to what I have at the collar.

Normally I would do a tally of the costs, but since this outfit is not really done, I will save that for when I truly finish! For now, here is a resource list.

I’m looking forward to wearing this at Costume College with the fixes!

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UPDATE: You can see the improved version here!

1660s Cavalier Dress at Costume College (and Bonus: Hacking the American Duchess 18th Century Undergarments Pattern to Make a 17th Century Chemise)

I now have photos for my 1660s Cavalier dress from official Costume College photographer Andrew Schmidt, as well as a great group photo of the rest of my Cavalier ladies!IMG_4216-(ZF-7662-83598-1-001)

You can see my previous posts about this project under the tag “Cavalier” but if you keep reading I will discuss the things that went wrong with this project, and what I would do differently in the future, so you can learn from my mistakes!IMG_4217-(ZF-7662-83598-1-002)

I am very happy with how our group turned out, with the variety of colors, trimming, and hairstyles. Left to right, back to front: me, Teresa, Cate, Kim, Jessie, and Elizabeth.IMG_4211-(ZF-7662-83598-1-003)

I used the Nehelenia 1660 Baroque dress pattern. This era is completely new to me, and I have no experience with this shape of the bodice, so I followed all the instructions. This included making bound bodice tabs (similar to 18th century stays, seen below) to help distribute the weight of the skirt, and sewing all the bodice pieces of the fashion fabric together before attaching it to the boned interlining.IMG_2904

These steps may be period correct, but created some extra work and issues, so I have some comments about what I would do differently if I made another dress of this style:

  1. No tabs! Anyone who has made stays knows how time-consuming it is to bind them! Since my skirt was a lightweight taffeta, I could have skipped the tabs and pleated the skirt directly to the bodice and saved a lot of time. (I would not recommend this for a heavy skirt like velvet or brocade). Dressing would have been much easier too, since I would have had a one-piece dress to slip over my undergarments. Instead, I had to make sure the front tab was over my skirt, while my back and side tabs were underneath my skirt, while my bum roll was over my bodice back tabs but under my skirt. It took some help getting dressed!
  2. Do not finish the fashion layer before sewing it to the interlining. I had some problems with wrinkling in the bodice. I think it would have helped if I sewed the fashion fabric to the interlining, and then sewed each pattern piece together (the way 18th century stays are made). This would have reduced the wrinkling and wiggling. I talked to someone else at the  Gala who was also wearing a 1660s gown, and hers was so smooth! She said she sewed the bodice the way she would a pair of stays.
  3. Maybe skip the cartridge-pleating. I love tiny cartridge pleats; they look delightful and neat. I am glad I did them for this dress, but for speed in the future I would probably do larger pleats to save time. I ended up spending so much time on them that I was not able to do my eyelet closures before a medical procedure made it impossible for me to sew, and recovery took longer than expected so I had to be sewn into my dress at CoCo! (I can’t remember the last time I showed up at an event without closures, but it’s a humbling reminder that life sometimes intervenes.)

Some of my problems may have been attributable to my use of silk taffeta instead of a thicker silk satin, but I wanted to use what I had in my stash, and the skirt was so light and lovely to wear.

I made the jewelry out of giant acrylic pearls, strung with fishing line. Glass pearls would have been lovely, but very heavy, and since I was going to pin the drape directly to a silk taffeta dress with a silk gauze neckline, I wanted it lighter.

Bonus: Hacking the American Duchess 18th Century Undergarments Pattern to Make a 17th Century Chemise)

I promised a pattern hack in the title, and here it is! This 17th century dress required an off-the-shoulder chemise, which I did not have. I also did not want to draft one from scratch, so I hacked the American Duchess 18th Century Undergarments pattern (Simplicity 8162). This is what the original pattern looks like:8162

Ignoring the ruffles, you have a body panel with a shoulder strap, a sleeve gusset for the underarm, and a square sleeve that is folded to form a tube.IMG_2634.JPG

However, what if you fold down the shoulder strap, shift the sleeve and gusset down, and double the size of the sleeve piece to make it fuller? (Previously you cut a square that became a tube, now you cut a large rectangle that becomes a square).IMG_2639.JPG

This is the shape you get:IMG_2644.JPG

Add a drawstring neckline, and you get an off-the-shoulder chemise!IMG_2648.JPG

Please note, my sleeves are a bit shorter than what you see historically. A proper 17th century chemise would have had much longer and exaggerated sleeves. I made these shorter for several reasons:

  1. I plan to reuse this with other gowns where a billowy chemise sleeve would be inconvenient.
  2. The portrait I am using as inspiration has an exposed chemise sleeve made of finer materials than the linen I used, plus little ribbon ties; thus I made false sleeves that can be attached to my black bodice that will allow for nicer fabric and no need to fuss with tying bows each time I wear it.

So, if you do not have the reasons enumerated above, you should quadruple (not double) the original sleeve pattern into a giant square, not a rectangle.IMG_3853

(Yes, those are green and purple crayons because my child left them next to my computer and I was too lazy to go looking for nicer writing implements).

Final reckoning:  Let’s tally up!

  • 10 yards of 35″ black silk taffeta: $49.90 + $8.75 shipping = $58.65 (Yay for fabulous sales from FabricMart!)
  • Nehelenia pattern: $23.96 including shipping (I ordered with a few other ladies and split the postage from Europe)
  • Lining and boning: $0 (left over from my 18th century stays project)
  • 2 yards linen (for chemise) and 1 yard silk gauze (for bodice neckline): $23.94 including tax and shipping from Dharma Trading (I ordered double that but am setting the rest aside for a different project, so I’m halving the cost)
  • 1 yard silk cotton blend for lower sleeves: $17.99 from Amazon
  • 120 giant pearls: $11.28 from Aliexpress
  • 2 brooches: $5.40 from Aliexpress
  • 2 “small spiral corkscrew” cheerleading/Irish dancing hair clips: $43.11 including shipping from eBay seller american_costumes
  • Ribbon, thread, hooks and eyes, polyfill for the bumroll, etc. from stash ~$5?

Total: $189.33

So the silk was cheap, but all the extras added up! Normally I do not count accessories and hairpieces, but in this case they are very specific to this era and the portrait inspiration, and they’re not very versatile for other eras.

Finally of course, as always, my shoes are American Duchess. They are the Pompadour French Court Shoes in black (affiliate link).

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This was a long post, so thanks for reading!

1660s Cavalier Gown

I’m still recovering from eye surgery so this post will be brief. I’ll post more pictures and construction details when I get back from Costume College.

Here is a quick look at the bodice! I can’t see well enough to make a lot of tiny hand-sewn eyelets in the back, so someone will have to sew me into my dress before the Gala. IMG_2904

I already packed my petticoats and bum roll so I don’t have a mounted picture of the skirt.  I cartridge-pleated it, left the front part that goes under the center bodice tab flat, and hid closures in the pleats. (I have side openings for pocket access).IMG_2911

My hair in its hat box looks like braaaains!IMG_2903.JPG

See you at Costume College!