Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on December 24, 2012
Merry Christmas!! On this most joyous night of the year, I would like to wish you all a very wonderful and blessed Christmas Eve! At last I have finished my red Victorian Christmas gown – an 1860s ballgown made from Simplicity Pattern 2881. The photos were taken last night at the Queen Anne Victorian Mansion’s Christmas light display, and all in all this is one of the most detailed gowns I’ve ever made.
The main body of this Civil War ballgown is sewn from a luxurious Wimpfheimer velvet, and the bodice is line, piped, and boned. The outer sleeves are shirred in the middle to create a pouffy “balloon” sort of sleeve, and the inner sleeves are made of velvet for support of the outer puffs. The gorgeous lace which lines the broad neckline is a four inch wide Venice rayon lace, and the cream frill of lace beneath is a Stephanoise’ netting lace which is my favorite lace trim in the world.
The contrasting tab trim on the skirt is made from an ivory sateen brocade which reminds me very much of elegant drapes or fancy Christmas wrapping paper! Each tab is decorated with six handmade velvet rosettes and a frill of organdy ribbon.
Simplicity 2881 Pattern Review
I purchased this pattern with some slight qualms. From my perspective it looked as if the bodice was rather baggy on the model, and the yardage chart states that there are six inches of ease in the bust and waist! But not to worry – there’s hardly ever a pattern that can’t be altered to fit you to a “t”! I began by cutting the bodice pattern one size smaller than my measurements, and once I tried on the lining I could see that the only alterations necessary were in the waist. I still had to take in a couple of inches in the waist, but other than that it fits like a glove.
I would recommend doing a bit of adjusting to the bretelles (shoulder strap pieces), as they are too long to both match up at the bodice front and back without sliding off your shoulders.
Overall, this pattern was really wonderful to work with! I put so much work into the detailed parts of the bodice, and I sewed much of it by hand. The inside of the sleeve seams are hand-bound with bias binding, the piping was attached by hand, and the bretelles were slipstiched almost entirely by hand, then attached to the bodice by hand as well.
But my favorite part of sewing this gown was assembling all the tiny little velvet rosebuds. Below you’ll see how I had to cut out forty-seven velvet half circles. After they were cut I hemmed the long end, then gathered the round end to make the flower. This was a rather time-consuming process! In all I think I watched four Andre Rieu dvds, six Little House on the Prairie episodes, two Anne of Green Gables dvds, … and “a partridge in a pear tree” while sewing this gown!
My only regret about this costume is that I wore a 1950s hoopskirt with it, rather than an 1860s cage crinoline. Had I had more time I could have whipped up a larger hoopskirt, but as it was I was doing well just to get the dress photographed on December 23rd!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go wrap my presents before it’s time to open them up! I have been so busy sewing this gown that I haven’t had a chance to button up the last minute holiday preparations, but I was so thrilled to finish this in time for Christmas!
And I would like to add a special thanks to the wonderful staff at the David Cole Queen Anne Victorian Mansion for being so very accomodating with these pictures last night!
Photo copyright by New Line Cinemas, 2006 ~ From “The Nativity Story” which you can watch here.
May you have the most blessed, joyful Christmas ever! “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6