Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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!


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!


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


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!


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!


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!



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!




These sweet ladies all sang and played hymns. :)

Some sweet new friends I made!

Some sweet new friends I made!


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.


Details of the shirred sleeve and lace trim…


It was a lovely evening of dancing!

Until next time, happy sewing!


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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


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!


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. 😉



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!


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.)


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.


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!


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


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.) 😉


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



It was such a gorgeous day out!


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!!


{Photo Credit – Sarah of Pintucks & Pinafores}


(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.)


One more picture from the Spanish waltz.


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.


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! :)  



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:


Happy sewing!  Hope you all have a wonderful week! 


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title pic My Scarlett O’Hara Ballgown Part 1 – Hollywood Pattern 1988

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on July 20, 2014

The Gone with the Wind Picnic Dress – Hollywood Pattern 1988 Pattern Review

Hello, Readers!

Ever since I found a copy of vintage Hollywood Pattern #1988 on Ebay a couple months ago (one of the rarest patterns in the world), I knew that I would someday recreate the Scarlett O’hara picnic dress.  But I had no idea that I would sew it so soon!  While I’m not really a fan of the film Gone with the Wind, (I like happy films!), I have long admired many of the movie’s Civil War ballgowns and day dresses which I’d seen pictures of for years.  Scarlett’s ivory and green flowered gown with it’s billowy ruffles and green velvet sash made for one of the most elegant and iconic costumes to ever grace the screen. :)


Hollywood Pattern #1988 was released in 1940, from everything we can tell, just a year after Gone with the Wind was released in 1939.  The designers of the pattern did an amazing job of recreating the bodice, but when I measured the bottom of the skirt circumference, it came up at around 130″, if I remember correctly.  The issue here is that while the skirt may have made a lovely 1940s evening gown, it just wasn’t going to come anywhere near the width of a Civil War era dress, and certainly wouldn’t fit over period hoops.


So throughout the whole sewing process, I was often faced with the choice of: “Should I do it just like the pattern says, or should I make it look more like the actual film costume?”  Then again, the actual film costume itself wasn’t even entirely accurate to the era – Scarlett’s dress was a one piece combination of bodice and skirt, whereas a dress from the 1860s was nearly always made with the skirt and bodice separate.  I believe that in early Hollywood movies, they were most likely concerned more with “How will this look (or function) on screen?”, as opposed to, “Will this be period authentic?”  And sometimes the costume designers would even take the problem one step further by conveniently using styles inspired by the popular fashions at the moment.  For instance, the lovely Olivia de Havilland wore bias cut, silk charmeuse gowns (which were totally inspired by evening fashions of the 1930s) in the 1938 Robin Hood, rather than only medieval looking brocade dresses…

But back to my costume!  The only main change I made to Hollywood Pattern 1988 was widening and lengthening the skirt pieces to accommodate a hoop skirt underneath.  As for the fabric, I didn’t have time to order an exact replica of the movie material online and wait to get it shipped.  So I just went to my local fabric store and found an 1860s reproduction print by Moda Fabrics which at least had the same thing – an ivory background with green flowers and leaves, albeit much smaller flowers than on the original version.

Below are pictures of the sewing process.  I knew this would be a project I’d want to remember, so I managed to snap quite a few photos:


Above you can see the two neckline ruffled before they were hemmed or decorated.  Both circular ruffles were to be hemmed of course, but the upper ruffle was supposed to be trimmed with the beading.  And the 5 yards of beading, in turn, was to be laced with 5 yards of green velvet ribbon.


It was not an easy feat!  I think it took well over an hour just to lace the ribbon through all that beading lace. :)


Then this was what the bodice looked like prior to get the ruffle treatment.  (Above)


And finally, after all the ruffles were attached, it really started to look like the movie costume!  The gigantic, pouffy ruffles were totally worth all the intricate work it took to make them!


Next, I made bias binding from the same Moda reproduction fabric to finish the armhole edges.


Applying bias binding to circular edges is one of the finer moments in sewing. So fun!


At this point I put the bodice on my mannequin since it was just waiting on the skirt.  I was so excited with how it was coming along!  Those ruffles are really what make the design, I think.   And up above is a prime example of when I chose to copy the movie version, rather than follow the pattern precisely.  It’s just a small change, but a change nevertheless – the movie costume had three velvet ribbon bows at the neckline: one at the center front and one at each shoulder seam.  The pattern however, omitted the two bows at the shoulder.  I decided to keep all three bows.  :)


The next day I didn’t take a lot of photos of construction because it was just one day before the ball and I was sewing at top speed.  But once the skirt was on (and skirt lining as well), the next step was to insert the zipper.  And with nine yards of fabric in this dress by then, it was no easy task to maneuver all the material through the sewing machine!


So then, the very day of the ball, I finally wrapped up the final steps on the project and I was ready to go!  I have TONS of photos from this most amazing Civil War Ball I attended while wearing the gown, but I will be sharing those in a few days.  :)


Until then, here are just a couple shots so you can get an idea of what it looked like.



{Photo Credit : Sarah of http://pintucksandpinafores.blogspot.com/ – Thank you, Sarah!}

It’s not very often that there’s a real, bonafide reason to make a Civil War costume like this, so it was so nice to have an occasion to wear it to!  The ball I attended was quite possibly even more fun than the Grand Regency ball in Bath, England.  So stay tuned for more pictures later this week!

Happy sewing,


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