1750-1850s Spring Ball (2017)

Wow, It’s already been more then a month since the spring ball (and summer arrived) but I just now finished my blogpost about it.

As you might recall, I had quite a bit sewing done before the ball, both for me (1825s bonanza)
and my sister (a whole 1860s costume with underpinnings and everything).
Thanks to good planing (he he, right;-)) I managed to finish everything in time,
and didn’t even have the panicked last minute finishes that always seams to be my lot.

The day of the ball was a bit hectic though.

As I needed to turn the mandatory dance rehearsal down, in order to get to a friends babys christening instead.
But since I still had my sisters dress at home, I had to make a pit-stop at the dance-hall to leave it to her, before I stuffed my (relatively) clean baby in the car and drove 1 hour to get to the church. After a quick stop, leaving our present, and eating some cake I rushed home to get dressed in record speed for the ball. My outfit ready and awaiting.

Thank good my boyfriend (who happened to have a book-release that same day) had already come home, and could take the baby and help me close the dress.
Even more thank good, I’ve already done the dress-rehearsal (or more exactly the hair-rehearsal) so I managed to get the hair done and the dress on in not more then 30 minutes.
Beat that!
Does this lok like a fast and easy hairdo?

Arriving (in time) to the ball, I had some time to calm down and to find my sister.Hiding out by the fire-extinguisher

The evening started with a mingel and everyone admiring everyone else dresses/costumes. 

Selfie with a big digital camera is not as easy as it looks…

Beautiful girl – terrible lighting…
I’m not kidding, this is how bad the lighting is in the dance hall.

Group picture, with awful resolution
Pretty bows on the shoes 🙂

Then it was time to head upstairs to get some dinner. unfortunately me and my sister dragged a bit behind to take some silly pictures, and once we got upstairs there was no seats left.

They managed to get out a few extra chairs for us, but since all tables was full, we was seated on the table flanks far away from each-other.

pretty far away…

The dinner started with a soup made from peas, which was really good. 

The main course was basically beef, chicken and bacon combined.

As a vegetarian there wasn’t to much to eat, unfortunately.  “Can we pleas call for a pizza, cause I’ve only had some cake since breakfast…”

During dinner one gentleman got up and started singing an “humorous” old song, which was kind of musing, at first, but 78 verses in I was not the only one rolling my eyes at the (inappropriate old sexist jokes in the song and) man taking up to much space.

Once we finished the dinner I took the opportunity to take some picture of pretty dresses while the tables cleared to make room for the dance.  

Beautiful regency sisters

Mirror selfie

Then it was time to dance

We had one break for dessert later in the evening I’m still starving, thank you very much 😦

Then the dancing continuedSomebody knows how to pose…

Then it was time to say goodbye and go home.
I had lots of fun dancing and fooling around with my friends, making some new friends as well, but to be both hungry and really tired made me a bit cranky at the end.
At least I got lots of compliments for both my hair and my dress(es) 🙂

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1825s silly, silly evening hair

One of the things I got the most compliments on wearing the new 1825s outfit was the crazy as hair I sported.

There’s a party on my head…

Since I don’t have a lot of hair on my own – modern everyday style beats once in a while historical hair-possibility’s, I needed to do something drastic to disguise the modern me for the upcoming historical ball.

My first thought was to use my “go to” solution – A turban.
It’s easy, cute, comfortable and perfectly accurate for the time period.

But then I would need some fake curls for the bangs…
..and those 1820-30s hair are pretty fun and crazy…
..Maybe… I could…what if I…Hm, this flower wreath looks cute…and this braid is almost a perfect match for my hair…

And then I was caught.

I searched my bookshelf, my bins of hair-accessorize and the box of neatly rolled spool of fake hair I’d cut from a wig a few years back and never used.
Collecting the material.

After reading through “The laced Angels” blogpost about her 1830s hairdo I felt confident enough to give it a try.

I started by cutting apart one plastic “doughnut” (the kind ballet dancers/gymnasts use, which suddenly got really popular a few years back) 

Then I separated a few of the curled pieces of fake hairand twisted them around the doughnut/crescent, adding glue where needed.To make it sit more secure on my short  hair I added two wig clasps to the ends of the piece.

Then I cut the black elastic from a hairband-braid, and glued it together to form a circle.Not a nice joint, but it will be covered by other things later so I’m not overly concerned about it.

I Braided a few of the other pieces of fake hair,and put together a the rest into two clusters of curls for the bangs.All the pieces lain out roughly the way the’r suppose to sit on the head.

Here’s my first try at putting it on:
Starting with a back combing of my own bangs, and a brown hairnet, to keep all the short hairs from acting up.

Then I pinned/clipped the crescent on top of my head.

I added the two curly bits to the front/side of my face

and put the two braids on to cover the edge of the cresent.

Finally I added a wreath of purple plastic flowers

As you can see, I definitely needed to do something about the back of my head. Something I fixed by re-arranging the hanging braid and adding a white flower over loops of  pearls stitched to the back of my the thick braid.

A few days before the event I dyed my hair a bit darker red to match the hairpieces.
Blending together much better now.

Here’s a few pic from the photoshoot:

1825s Purple evening gown – photoshoot

The day after I finished my dress I’d scheduled a photoshoot with my sister (and her 1860s ball gown).
Perfect timing 🙂

We took a while getting ready, working hard to get our hair to behave in a acceptable way. And I got to try my newly finished hair-pieces (more about that in an upcoming post).
For these photos I’m wearing my purple 1825s evening gown, Regency long stays, chemise, petticoat, white stockings, ballet flats, long white gloves, fan, pearl necklaces/wrist band and a flower wreath in my hair.

Photo: Elin Evaldsdotter

1825s Purple Evening gown

When talking about attending the spring ball this year (and deciding to make a whole new outfit (inside out) for my sister) I promised myself I would not make anything for myself (yeah right…).
Since I already have so many dresses that almost never get worn, I convinced myself that I would use one of them, exactly which one would be a problem for later. Some of the dresses I had to choose from in my closet.
(You can find them all in my portfolio)

But as my sisters dress neared completion, and there still was 3 weeks to the ball, my determination started to falter.

I made a quick sum-up in my head and (on paper) to see what, if anything, would be manageable, if, I decided to make some small thing anyway. Could/should/would I make something like one of these?

The following days I did a quick survey among my friends to find out what they intended to wear for the occasion. It turned out they all was to wear their regency style, mostly due to lack of space for big skirts on the dance floor (ops, maybe I should have known that before starting on my sisters 1860s dress…).
Sadly I didn’t felt at all like wearing regency.
And all my old dresses seemed so dull and un-flattering, or overused.

You all know this anguish.

So what to do?

Without any particular plan in mind, I started rumoring around in my stash, hunting for inspiration.
And there I found a sett of purple/white printed bedsheets I got on sale a few months back, thinking I’ll turn them into a 1850s evening gown.  Pretty purple cotton satin
Sadly I realized to late the duvets was white on the backside, and not purple all around like I thought. And therefore not enough fabric for big 1850s skirts.Bummers…
The purple fabric would however, be enough for a small/medium sized dress if carefully cut and using the pillowcase for the bodice.

That’s when inspiration struck.

I would make a late regency/early Biedermeier dress.

Or more precise, the 1825s dress from “Pattern of fashion”, combined with this fashion plate from 1820s

It would be something like this  a quick drawing of my intended design

Time to get to work while inspiration was high. So I drafted a pattern using my regular templates, and since I’d recently run out of drafting paper and of course forgotten to get more, using baking paper for the bodice.Oh, come on, you’d all done it…?

I made a quick mock-up and after some help pinning myself into it, did a fitting.

Adding darts in the front, lowering the neckline a tad, and taking the whole thing in at center back a few cm, was all that was needed.
Then it was time to cut the fabric.

I interlined the bodice (and the sleeves), pinned and stitched the pieces together and added the darts at the front.

Then I stitched rows of gathering stitches on the sleeves and carefully gathered them to the right size.
Huge sleeves – here is one done and the other one awaiting gathering.

I pinned one sleeve and a piece of contrast piping to the neckline for the fitting, to get a better idea of how it would look.

The only thing needed changing was to take the darts in a tad,

resting over night on my dressform

Once I was convinced the dress would fit right, I got started on the piping.
Using bias cut strips of the white/purple fabric combined with pieces of a cotton cord from my stash I soon had the 3 m or so I needed for the neckline (and belt). 

I stitched the piping to the bodice, and the pre-made skirt to the bodice, added lining, folded under the edges for closure and hemmed the skirt. 

With a fully functional dress, is was now time to get starting on the decoration.

Since both Waugh’s pattern and several other sources I accounted called for a padded hem, I decided to give it a try.
Cutting strips of corresponding fabric and basting it to cotton bathing, after which I tured the edges under and whip-stitched the ribbons to the bottom of the skirt. Basted strips waiting to be attached.

And lastly I used upp the final scraps of fabric to make a belt, backed with heavy interfacing and edged with contrasting piping.Working on the belt.

And that was that.

The Finished dress:

The Facts:

What: A 1825s Evening gown

Pattern: I drafted my own, using Waugh’s “Cut of women’s clothes” as a guide.

Fabric & notions: 1/2 of a purple cotton beed-sheets and 1 pillowcase (approx. total 2,5 m fabric), 0,5 m cotton for lining and interlining, 14 pair of hooks and eyes for closure, 1 m stiff interfacing for the belt, 0,3 m of white/patterned cotton and cotton wadding for decoration, 4 m cotton string for piping.

How historical accurate: So so, the material and silhuett are good, but the print and construction are all modern.

Time: It was pretty quick so maybe 10-15 hours, over a timespan of 2 weeks.

Cost: Everything came from stash but bought anew maybe 200 Sek (20 Usd)

Final thoughts: This is one of my favorite dresses of all time. It is so fun and beautiful in a crazy way. The color is really pretty and it’s so comfortable and easy to wear. I felt so pretty dancing around in it and got lots of compliments on it.
I will most definitely re-visit this decade sometime soon.