1864 Evie Hair (Returning Heroes Ball 2018)

In March, I again had the pleasure of attending The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers‘ annual Returning Heroes Ball (you can read about other years I’ve attended here). I decided to wear Evie, my 1864 ballgown, simply because it had been a year or so since the last time I wore that particular gown.

In order to change things up I did two things differently with this wearing: I wore different earrings and did my hair differently. Small changes, but it makes wearing an old dress feel new and exciting!

I don’t think I’ve ever worn these earrings for mid-19th century events before (only for things later and earlier than this period), though now that I’ve tried it I think they work quite well. I made them from triple drop earrings that I bought from a modern store (I forget now, but I think it was New York and Company). I just took off the bottom drop and attached them to clip hardware. They catch the light and sparkle nicely.

1860s and earrings together reminds me of the scene in Gone With The Wind in which a straggling soldier try to steal ‘ear bobs’ from the house. Not that these look at all similar (and luckily my story ends on a happier note than that scene), but a GWTW reference generally makes me smile.

I was going to do a simple hairstyle (my usual go-to c.1860 style with a center part and the hair in a low mass at the back of my head), but as I was getting ready I chanced a look at Pinterest and got excited about trying a more complicated style than I usually do. In particular, I liked the puffed fronts on some of these styles from 1864 and the curls on the sides like some of these from 1861.

I sort of mashed these two looks together, using small rats to puff the front sections of hair and a curling iron to get smooth curls for the sides. My hair is getting to be so long that I had to pin the hanging curls up to shorten them! The rest of my hair was just twisted and pinned on my neck without too much attention paid to it. I was running out of time and knew I’d be adding my hair piece on top, which would cover most of the back of my hair anyway.

I really like the end result for this particular dress of mine. I feel it compliments the hair piece and the silk dress nicely. Isn’t it lovely when all these little details come together to create one cohesive end result? Yay!

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Posted in 1860s, 19th Century, Hair Styles, Hoops and Bustles, Victorian Clothing, Vintage Dancing: 19th Century, Wearing Reproduction Clothing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dressing Gown & Slip c. 1935

I made this robe about four years ago, for the same film that I made the 1934 Metallic Evening Gown I posted about recently. Like that dress, this robe and the accompanying slip were made and never worn, and so have spent the last four years languishing in my closet.

When I had the opportunity to attend Gatsby On The Isles in 2016 I thought it would be a great opportunity to wear these pieces for breakfast on the second day, and also to get some photos!

The robe is inspired by the silhouette of these robes from 1936. The pattern started life as Burda 7627, which I adapted to get the shape I wanted: a longer skirt with more fullness and sleeves with a little more flare. The slip is inspired by slips in this image from 1934. The pattern for this is actually the same as for my evening gown from 1934, just cut off around knee height and with a different strap situation.

The robe is made from a polyester jacquard. It’s not lined, just faced with more of the same fabric on the edges. The slip is made from polyester charmeuse and edged with lace. Both garments are entirely machine sewn.

I thought it would be fitting to pair these garments with my beautiful silver American Duchess Seabury shoes. These shoes are excellent–a unique historical shape, comfortable, sturdy for walking and dancing, and with gorgeous, lustrous silk exteriors. I even wear these in my modern life–they’re a quirky, elegant shoe to wear for a dressed up event.

On the other hand, I don’t have the opportunity to wear this dressing gown that often (I mean, I could wear it around the house as a modern person, but I don’t, generally speaking), so when I do wear it I really enjoy how elegant and put together it makes me feel. It’s fun to have historical comfy clothes in addition to the day dresses and evening gowns!

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Posted in 1930s, 20th Century, Costume Construction, Patterning, Undergarments, Wearing Reproduction Clothing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

1934 Metallic Evening Gown

Of all the changing styles of women’s clothing in the 1930s, I am most drawn to those near 1933. This dress is no exception, though I’m putting its date at 1934. I designed, patterned, and built this dress for a short film four years ago, but it was never used and has been languishing ever since. So when I had an opportunity to wear 1930s evening wear last year I brought it out. Why not give something a wear that was entirely finished but had never been worn?

The dress is a classic 1930s bias cut gown. It has a wide ruffle around the neckline and applied godets on the skirt at about knee height. The dramatic back view shows off these details best. The inspiration came from this dress dated 1934 and this one dated 1933. I’ve accessorized it with sparkle drop earrings, a clear gem bracelet, and my black American Duchess Seabury shoes.

The dress is made from a metallic gold and navy shot fabric. I loved the metallic but hoped that it would drape more fluidly than it does in actuality. The neck ruffle and bias sash are both made from navy polyester charmeuse. The dress has a full lining of the navy charmeuse.

For not being made for me, it fits pretty well. It’s a smidge short and not perfect in the front torso, but I think the metallic fabric distracts pretty well! Plus, you really can’t tell if I only show you back views… The back is my favorite part!

 

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Posted in 1930s, 20th Century, Wearing Reproduction Clothing | 2 Comments

1950s Queen Of Hearts

At the same sale that I purchased the base of my 1950s super-petticoat and the hat that I refashioned into a 1930s style I also purchased a rather sad 1980s style evening dress. I liked the brocade fabric and had an idea that I could remake the dress into a cocktail length 1950s style dress by removing the sleeves, changing the neckline, and shortening the hem.

I also had this dress in mind. I love the massive decorative butt bow and this remade dress seemed like a great opportunity to put the idea to use. The red had to wrap around the waist as well as making the bow, in order to cover up the original gold waistband, but I had a remnant of cherry silk in my stash that was nicely complimentary in terms of color and just the right size for the job!

From the front I feel generally ok about the dress, but from the back, I love it! Plus, that’s two things checked off the to-do list: I remade the 1980s dress into a wearable 1950s style and I put the butt bow inspiration into action. Plus the fact that I used up a fabric from the stash, which is a bonus!

But why the Queen of Hearts? I decided this was a dress I wanted to wear to an Alice In Wonderland themed event that I recently attended so I had to fit the dress into the theme. I decided on the idea of an elegant 1950s historical nod to Queen Elizabeth in The Crown (which I might have been watching right around the time I was looking for inspiration…). Aloof queen looks are totally my jam, so that works really well.

As long as I was going with a queen look, I decided that a royal order sash would be an easy way to say royalty and hearts all at the same time while also being easy to remove from the dress itself. I did some royal order sash research and decided I liked a sash with a narrow border of a contrasting color. Of course, mine needed to be made in Queen of Hearts colors: black, red, and gold seemed perfect. I pinned heart appliqués behind my shoulder brooch and on the bow to play up the Queen of Hearts theme.

It was fun to accessorize the dress and sash with long gloves, red drop earrings, a tiara, and my silver American Duchess Seaburys (the gold brocade fabric that makes up the back of the shoes complimented the gold brocade dress very nicely!). I think I like the butt bow with the sash even better than the butt bow by itself!

To make the sash, I googled ‘royal order sash’ and looked at lots of images to decide on a design. Mine is made of two rectangles, with an angled shoulder seam and tucks behind the bow loops for shaping. It’s made of red polyester with woven-in tiny black stripes and edged with sheer gold ribbon. For more detailed sash making information, Gina posted very detailed tutorial for making royal sashes that would probably be quite useful if you’re thinking of making one for yourself.

I’ll leave you with this silly shot of the Queen of Hearts with a flamingo. Croquet, anyone?

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Posted in 1950s, 20th Century, Costume Construction, Fancy Dress | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

If At First You Don’t Succeed… (HSM #1)

I made this 1928 evening dress and first wore it in 2012. Back then it was simple, with just a small cascade of fabric and no sash or bow (I show the construction in detail in this past post). Three years later, I decided to add the sash, bow, and extra cascade of fabric (and wrote a post about it). I liked the effect but wasn’t pleased with the slippery silk moving all over and sliding around. The armholes were also a bit high under the arms from the beginning, causing the trim to dig in a bit which wasn’t very comfortable.

Due to these issues and the addition of other 1920s evening dresses to my wardrobe I hadn’t worn this dress in a few years. But for an event this January, I decided to give it another go. Luckily, the dress still fit and didn’t cling in unwanted places! The first HSM challenge of 2018, Mend, Reshape, Refashion, was the perfect complement for the updates I wanted to complete.

To be specific about the updates, this time I lowered the armholes about 1″ and then pieced in extra trim to fill in the gap, sewed the sash/bow in place, and added an interior waistband that supports the weight of the bow and keeps the dress from pulling down on one side.

Our hotel room had a bonus vanity table and stool that was a perfect prop for photos…

I did my hair like I did last year but added a gold hair comb I recently discovered at my parent’s house. I’m pretty sure my mom gave it to me when I was a child or maybe a teenager… It’s just been sitting there waiting for me to put it to use again!

Just the facts:

Fabric: The only new fabric was a scrap of tightly woven polyester for an inner waistband.

Pattern: My own, based on measurements.

Year: 1928.

Notions: Extra trim to piece under the arms, thread.

How historically accurate is it?: Let’s say 95%, with points lost for the polyester.

Hours to complete: The updates took about 4 hours. I felt like hand sewing most of it so I could watch Netflix!

First worn: With the updates in January, 2018.

Total cost: Free!

I love how this dress looks and fits now! Yay! It only took three tries… It’s a good lesson: if you don’t succeed the first time, try again! And keep trying…! Third time is the charm on this one!

 

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Posted in 1920s, 20th Century, Accessories, Costume Construction, Hair Styles, Hand Sewn Elements, Wearing Reproduction Clothing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Winter Gibson Girl Vignette

I had a chance to wear my 1899 Elusive Blue Dress at the end of last year plus the opportunity to take some wintery-feeling photos in it. This dress is so fun to wear–elegant and swooshy! Plus, the big hair of this period is just what my hair loves to do. So in the spirit of my post in 2016 sharing a more summery turn of the century ensemble, enjoy this Winter Gibson Girl Vignette!

 

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Posted in 1900s, 19th Century, Victorian Clothing, Wearing Reproduction Clothing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Summary of 2017: Looking Forward To 2018

It’s that time of year: to reflect on last year and think ahead about this year. It’s helpful to look back and see my accomplishments as a group. I seem to always make more things than I remember having worked on in that year!

Projects I completed in 2017:

January: 19th Century Brown Silk Petticoat (HSM #1)

January: My Favorite Winter Things Skirt

February: 1927 Blush Sparkle Dress

March: A Chemisette (HSM #3)

April: Orange Boven Hat (HSM #4)

May: 1814 Orange Boven Pelisse

June: 1817 Gold Regency Duchess Dress

July: 1904 Anne Ensemble

August: Happy Clover Dress

September: 1933 Evening Gown

September: 1943 Mauve Print Dress

October: 1850s Chenille Headdress

November: 1933 Dress & Hat In Green & Gold (HSM #10)

November: 1830s Sleeve Puffs (HSM #11)

November: Skirt Puffer

In February I was honored to be awarded the Liebster Blog Award by Plaid Petticoats! In August, I was excited to be able to take a fantastic trip to Denmark focused on learning 19th century dancing and including multiple balls. I haven’t posted about that trip yet… but I hope to early in 2018!

I participated in my fifth year of the Historical Sew Monthly. This year I completed 5 challenges. It was a busy year in other ways, so I feel happy about my completion of those 5 challenges.

In terms of events this year, I attended 11 balls, 10 other events (teas, picnics, outings etc.), and 2 vintage dance performances, for a total of 23 events (plus all that dance practice I had in Denmark!). Not quite as busy as other years, but respectable when I consider all the other life things that happened this year as well!

Looking at last year’s ‘definitely do’ list, I’m pleased to report that I exceeded my goals by not only making all the things on the list but actually exceeding it by altering two Regency dresses instead of just one. There were 8 things on the ‘maybe’ list and I completed 4 of them, though not all of those have had pictures taken yet.

For 2018, my  ‘definitely do’ list is unusually short:

  • update my 1928 green evening dress to fit better with less hassle
  • make a 1950s-British-royal-inspired Queen of Hearts sash

On the other hand, the ‘maybe’ list feels extensive, probably due to the lack of projects on the ‘definitely do’ list:

  • 1884 plaid wool day dress
  • 1880s wool mantle
  • 1790s stays
  • 1790s petticoat
  • 1790s dress
  • finishing a modern floral cotton summer dress
  • as many as four modern dresses
  • vintage inspired winter wool skirts

I’m looking forward to another year of research, sewing, spending time with old friends, and hopefully making some new friends, too! I hope for sunshine for all of us in 2018.

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Posted in Summary of the year: Looking forward to the next | Tagged | 2 Comments