Friday, September 19, 2014

title pic The Gold Silk 1860s Ballgown

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on September 7, 2014

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This time last year I was in England, traveling through Jane Austen country, London, and the Lake District with a gigantic number of costumes in tow.  This year I am thankful to say that my costumes are all neatly stashed in my closet (rather than in suitcases), but I *have* been putting a number of my costumes to use lately at quite a few English Country Dances I’ve been attending in my area.  And when a really formal occasion comes up that I don’t have a costume for, I always love a good excuse to sew a new one!  This ball gown was just such a project.  As I was planning toward a Civil War reenactment that included an evening dance, I thought it would be really fun to make an 1860s gold ball gown with shirred cap sleeves…  The finished result was slightly different than my initial sketch, but I was so happy with how it turned out and I’m sure I’ll wear it for years to come!

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I drafted the pattern almost entirely from scratch, making at least three versions of the bodice muslin before finally arriving at a pattern that passed my inspection.  I drew a sweetheart neckline, added three sets of vertical tucks, and lowered the “v” waist at the bodice edge beyond the first version.  The shirred cap sleeves were so much fun to make (there’s just nothing like making strips of puffing out of silk shantung!), and I had the perfect English netting lace in my stash for the sleeve trim.  At each sleeve I added two brown velvet ribbon bows, to tie in the dark chocolate brown color from the skirt.

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The skirt was made from one of my favorite fabrics I’ve ever worked with.  These pictures don’t really do the material justice, but it is a stiff silk taffeta in chocolate brown, and sprinkled with hundreds of sparkly gold glitter flowers which are painted on in a slightly raised pattern.  It is 100% silk, usually $40 a yard, but I found it on sale for $5 a yard… Rather a bargain!  So as it was, I think the gold silk shantung bodice and skirt panel ended up costing more than the yards and yards of chocolate brown silk taffeta did!

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At the neckline I added a double ruffle of double-faced sating ribbon, and I used a wider version of the same ribbon for the bow at the “v” waist ending.

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Details of the shirred sleeve and lace trim…

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As I knew I would be doing a lot of dancing in this gown, I marked it for a hem quite shorter than I usually would – you really must wear flat shoes for English Country Dance styles, and since the first dance I wore it to was outside I definitely didn’t want to be stepping on it.  My mother was exceedingly kind to actually hem the whole thing by hand (I was sewing like crazy on last week’s costume at the time), so I am very much indebted to her for saving the day on the project. :)

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Unfortunately I was unable to get any pictures of the dress taken at the actual dance that I attended.  (Sorry!  I did take my camera along, but I was too busy dancing to remember to ask someone to take pictures.)  So you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say it worked very well for dancing in!  However, as it was a late night event outside, it’s probably just as well that I didn’t get any photographs, because it forced me to do a full blown photo shoot today in better lighting. :)

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And while I may occasionally miss the beautiful locations I saw in England last year (which were such wonderful places to get costume pictures taken!), I am still so very thankful to live in a place where there are grand houses such as this one where I had photos taken today. :)

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I had so much fun sewing this gown, and I hope you all enjoy the pictures, too!

Happy sewing!

Katrina

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title pic A Civil War Reenactment Outfit

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on August 31, 2014

This weekend I had the most marvelous time at a Civil War Reenactment at Fort Stevens!  Seeing as I live in the Pacific Northwest, there aren’t as many historical events to attend as if I lived in the South.  So when an event like this one comes along, it is always most exciting!

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The Fort Stevens Civil War event draws around 800 people from around the area, and several acres of land are transformed into a virtual 1860s battle camp, complete with hundreds of tents, campfire cooking, cannons, horses, and (of course) costumes!  I was amazed at the authenticity and attention to detail by all the reenactors.  If one didn’t know better, you’d think that you just stepped onto a film set of a period drama!

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During the day there was an amazing battle reenactment, and in the evening there was a ball outside, which was grand fun!

I managed to get a couple shots of my Civil War day outfit, though the gold and chocolate brown silk ballgown (which I made for the Saturday evening dance) will have to wait for another blog post. :)

The Civil War Day Outfit

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I put together my day outfit rather at the last minute, since most of my sewing time had been put into my silk ball gown.  The full skirt is made of a thick cotton sateen, and the batiste light pink blouse is trimmed with yards of lace edging around the neckline.  Oddly enough, I actually made this blouse a couple years ago as an Edwardian blouse!  But by 2 am on Saturday morning I finally came to grips with the fact that I just would not have time to make a Civil War blouse, so I dashed to my closet and found this blouse which actually worked just fine for the era!

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The blouse was made from the fabulous Beatrix Shirtwaist Pattern by Sense & Sensibility Patterns, which *almost* passed for 1860s style since I omitted the collar and tucked in the blouse to avoid the peplum look.  There are tiny peach flower buttons down the front of the blouse, along with oodles of Venice lace trim.  It ended up being perfect for a hot summer’s day, too!

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Sadly I forgot to bring my corset along with the many other fashion necessities I had packed on the trip (hoopskirt, day outfit, evening gown, gloves, cape, etc.), so the outfit doesn’t look as nice as it would have if I had remembered the corset…  Oh well!  It worked just fine for this event.  :)

The Fort Stevens Civil War Camp

I snapped lots of photos throughout the day, when I wasn’t busy chatting with ladies over tea or watching the battle reenactment.  The whole setup was so impressive – there were mercantiles, civilian camps, musical groups, woodworkers, quilting groups, and much more.  It was just amazing!  Below are a number of pictures from the event, and next time I will try to have lots of pictures of the silk ball gown I wore!  (Please note that most of the pictures were too wide for the blog, so if you click on them you can see wider views of the battlefield.)

A few tents in the Union Camp...

A few tents in the Union Camp…

Watching the battle was one of the highlights of the day.

Watching the battle was one of the highlights of the day!

 

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The civilian tents all had outdoor campfires and cast iron skillets. So neat and old-fashioned!

A very authentic Civil War couple!

A very authentic Civil War couple!

 

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These sweet ladies all sang and played hymns. :)

Some sweet new friends I made!

Some sweet new friends I made!

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There were so many cannons on the property…

~~~

At the end of the day there was a two-hour dance outside with traditional American folk songs, including the hilarious song “Old Dan Tucker” which Mr. Edwards used to sing in “Little House on the Prairie“.  ;)  It was the perfect way to end such a wonderful day, and I was so thankful I had finished my ball gown in time! (Thanks to my mother for staying up till three in the morning to hand hem the dress while I was whipping out my day skirt!)

I am hoping to have lots of pictures of the dress by next week, but here are a couple of “preview” shots in the meantime to tide you over.

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Details of the shirred sleeve and lace trim…

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It was a lovely evening of dancing!

Until next time, happy sewing!

Katrina

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title pic Scarlett O’Hara Ballgown Part 2 – At the Civil War Ball!

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on July 27, 2014

gone-with-the-wind-costume

Last week I shared photos of my Scarlett O’Hara Ballgown while it was under construction.  So this week I am very excited to share pictures of the finished gown which I wore to a Civil War Ball!  I loved working with the vintage 1940s pattern to make this Gone With the Wind inspired costume, and I used an 1860s reproduction print from Moda Fabrics for the gown.  Since I focused on all the details of the garment in my last post, this time I think I’ll just share more pictures and less specifics. :)  Hope you enjoy it!

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The ruffles in the back are probably my favorite part of the costume!  It did take a lot of work to hem 10 yards of circular ruffles, but it was well worth the effort!  One can never have too many ruffles. ;)

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Some very kind ladies took a few pictures for me at the ball location, and here’s one neat behind-the-scenes shot.

This location was so stunning, and it was just a gorgeous day!

This location was so perfect, and it was just a gorgeous day!

The Civil War ball I attended was held at a very period correct location which included buildings from the mid-1800s.  The dance began inside one of the larger “barn” like facilities, but by the end of the evening the whole group moved outside to dance on the lawn.  It was marvelous!

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So here are some dancing shots! :)  (Thank you to some very kind ladies – Dana, Chris, Alicia, and Sarah – for letting me use these pictures!  I was too busy dancing the entire evening to think about grabbing my camera.)

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The only thing that was a bit tricky with my costume is that I hadn’t made the skirt quite short enough.  And that’s kind of a problem when you need both hands free to dance!  For the most part, though, I was able to maneuver around in it fairly easily.

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Most everyone came in 1860s attire.  There were varying levels of authenticity, of course, but most people looked like they stepped out of the Civil War time period.  It was so fun!

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The dancing itself was mainly English country dancing, so it was basically like doing Jane Austen dances in hoopskirts.  I loved it!

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My favorite dances from the evening were probably “The Spanish Waltz” and a very lively number called, “Aw Shucks”.  (The dance is a lot more promising than the title.) ;)

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After the inside dances we took a short break outside to walk around the lawn, and then the dancing resumed on the grass.

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It was such a gorgeous day out!

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Then the dancing resumed, and it was a blast!  Somehow dancing outside surrounded by pioneer-era buildings is *almost* more enjoyable than dancing in a ballroom setting.  It was so fun!!

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{Photo Credit – Sarah of Pintucks & Pinafores}

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(This picture above shows “The Spanish Waltz” in action.  There are a number of videos on Youtube that show a similar version of the dance, but the music was much livelier than any Youtube version shows.)

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One more picture from the Spanish waltz.

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This was the “Aw Shucks” dance which was such a gigantic amount of fun!

This photo above was from the “Aw Shucks” dance which was so lively and energetic!  You can watch a video here that shows almost exactly what we did at the dance.

civil-war-reenactors

Then the ball was pretty much over so I assumed it was time to leave, but as it turns out there was still more “post-ball” dancing which was great fun!  A number of us waltzed (it’s not too easy to do Viennese waltzing in a hoopskirt on the grass, so I didn’t feel like I did as well at that as I should have.  But it was still so wonderful to do waltzing after mainly English country dances!)  Then the very last dance was called the “Post-Jig Dance” which was outrageously fun once I got the hang of it.  (Ahem – it did take me a while to pick up on since I hadn’t learned the dance…  But I didn’t do as bad as Mr. Collins’ dancing from Pride & Prejudice – “Other way, Mr. Collins!”)   If you watch this video on Youtube you can see the dance I’m referring to! :)  

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 ~~~

All in all, it was possibly the most fun dance I have ever attended!  (And that’s quite a statement, considering the fact that I was at the Jane Austen Festival’s Grand Regency Ball last year at the Assembly Rooms, and that I also did English country dancing *inside* the Pride & Prejudice film location of “Longbourn”.)  I am so thankful I could go!  It was just a blast.

And here’s one final full-length shot of the Scarlett O’Hara gown:

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Happy sewing!  Hope you all have a wonderful week! 

Katrina

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