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Friday, April 6, 2012

Very Overdue Post

I have no real excuse for my prolonged silence. I have been busy, but who hasn't? I also haven't been sewing as much lately, but I do have some things to post about, some more complete than others.

First, I will show you the current status of my Elizabethan gown. (Yes, I still very much plan to finish it in all its intended glory, but no, I haven't worked on it much since the ACC ended because I've needed to focus on other things...and I needed a break.)

Obviously, my progress since last post is making the bodice, attaching it to the skirt, and putting on the trim. It is not modeled on my dummy because she just doesn't squish the right way to fit into this. Besides, I have not sewn the rings with which this will lace up to the inside of the bodice yet. I believe the neckline needs work, but won't know for sure until I can lace it tightly onto my body because it will squish me into a rather unnatural shape. (The things we do for beauty.) And (also obviously), I need to finish the arm holes. I intend those loopy things whose name I don't know (if any of my readers would like to enlighten me, feel free) and a detachable sleeve. The jury's out whether it should be slashed and show my lovely floaty undersleeve or whether it should be a fairly tight sleeve. Either way, it will be made from the gold brocade of the underskirt.

The other thing left to do to this gown is to sew thousands (I don't think I'm exaggerating) of tiny artificial pearls all over the trim, but I will probably wear it before I manage that. Let's be honest--it will most likely take several months for me to sew on all those pearls.

By the way, my girdle belt is partly made and promises to be quite lovely (in my biased opinion), but there's a little work I need my husband to do before I can put it the rest of the way together. That could be a little while because he has a ton of stuff on his plate including putting up a fence to protect the honeybees we'll be bringing home next week.

But I digress. Next, we have the Regency gown I made for the Regency Romance Ball, put on by the Old Glory Vintage Dancers, Mask Costumes, and the Jane Austen Society (you can learn more about them on the Regency Romance Ball website). I ended up being in a huge hurry, so I mostly made it in a matter of two days. This is how it looked the first night of the ball:

I was rather pleased with it for being made in such a hurry, but I had a few neckline issues. Also, I was planning on 3 or so horizontal pleats encircling the skirt 2-3 inches above the hem, but I didn't have time for that before the ball, effectively making my skirt too long. So that I would be able to dance, I safety-pinned it up in the tucks you see. They were hastily and unevenly done, but people liked the general look, so I decided to change my plan for the skirt.

Before the second night of the ball, I pinned some lace in the bodice, measured the tucks much more carefully, and sewed them in. I don't have pictures of that, but after the ball was completely over, I added some very simple hand embroidery to the neckline, waist, and hem, and I sewed a few pearls on at the tucks in the skirt and sleeves. I did not sew the lace in more permanently because I would prefer to be able to remove it when I launder the dress. Here are the pictures of all those changes together.

As I said, I'm fairly pleased with this gown, but I have to admit that, due to time constraints at the time, I used the bodice from a completely modern pattern I have that was roughly the right shape. And I'm completely pleased with the front. Necklines were usually lower at that time, but I'm just not going to wear it that way, so I wouldn't change that. But at some future time, when I make another Regency gown much more carefully, I will make a new pattern for the back to get the seam lines right and to raise the back waist. It's okay that it's lower than the front, but it's a little too low.

On a side note, I was broke at the time that I needed this dress (yes, needed because I was committed to help teach dance at the ball), so I used fabric I happened to have. I was actually rather lucky that I had anything of a good weight and hand for this type of dress. Silk would have been better for evening wear than this cotton blend, but I really couldn't afford that. And the fabric I used really did look quite nice and was very comfortable to dance in. I also used fake pearls I had on hand already and stole some of the lace I intended for the partlet of my Elizabethan gown.

Jon's costume for the ball was okay, but left something to be desired. We had to do the best we could with costume pieces we had on hand. Someday, I am quite determined to make him an accurate Regency coat, waistcoat, fall-front breeches, shirt--the works. I think he would look pretty hot in that.

In the coming months, anyone who is still reading this can look forward to my Civil War ballgown finally being made (I am quite determined to stop wearing the one that was not made for me and, therefore, does not fit very well), a somewhat elaborate steampunk costume for Salt City Steam Fest (you know you want to come!), and eventually conquering my Elizabethan nemesis. Oh, and even farther in the future, I will make the purple velveteen doublet gown I had planned as my outer layer for the ACC. As things turned out, it's just going to be a completely separate project and will probably never be worn with the black and gold brocade gown. Although I do intend to wear it with the same chemise, farthingale, and underskirt.

But next up: cage crinolline!

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