Project Journal: 1822-1824 Ensemble Part IV: Partial Completion For The Ball (Fezziwig’s Ball 2012)

Yikes, that is a long title… but I do like my titles to be descriptive sometimes…

As is suggested by the title of this post, though I did have new, wearable 1820s clothes (with closures, yay!) for Fezziwig’s Ball this past weekend, not all of the garments were entirely completed. I had set out with a rather rigorous plan for the month of December and I will admit that “my eyes were bigger than my stomach” and I wasn’t able to fully complete all of the projects I wanted to. That being said, however, I was very pleased with how things looked. (I will also admit that I spent the week before the ball furiously sewing every night… in fact, I was still sewing appliqués on the afternoon of the ball!)

Caroling before the ball! We stopped at the super huge town Christmas tree to take pictures. I was perfectly warm in my new clothes!
After caroling we paused outside the hall to take some more pictures… As you can see, the muff and tippet did get done! Entirely! Yay!
Back of the new walking dress. I only just noticed that someone is in the window… That’s sort of creepy looking!
Friends outside the hall.
Staging a “gossiping” photo before the ball officially began.
Waiting for the dance, Sir Roger De Coverley, to begin.
Dancing Sir Roger. It is similar to the Virginia Reel.

I had a wonderful time during the ball. It was crowded, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying myself. Perhaps because I knew more people than I have in any year past, the entire evening felt full of friendship and fun. Also, it’s super new and exciting to dance the same dances as other balls, but to the tune of Christmas music! And there were lots of beautiful dresses and fashionable gentlemen to keep one’s eyes occupied.

After the ball I imposed on my friends to take pictures (in better lighting) of my new clothes, so I could document them here on my blog. I, in turn, took pictures of them so they would have pictures as well! That’s only fair, really.

I am the photographer in this one.
Here it is! Clear, full length picture of my new gown! I finished the hem appliqués! Whew! But it is missing it’s sleeve appliqués and the center front appliqués.
I was having trouble making my hair look the way I wanted to, so I settled for a tiara (it’s actually the same one I wore to the 1890s Soiree during Newport Vintage Dance Week). In the end, I really liked how it looked!
A closeup of the finished appliqué motif around the hem.
For this event I took the opportunity to wear my blue American Duchess clocked stockings. I liked them! The only annoying thing is that one got brown puddle stains on it during caroling. I’ll have to see if I can scrub it out. I think I can.
Here we are, a picture of the walking dress with better lighting! You can actually see the dark raspberry color of the wool. It’s pretty scrumptious. It’s soft on it’s own, but also lined with soft cotton, so really it’s quite cozy.
This is how we all felt after the ball.
Proof that the sleeve appliqués were partially complete! I didn’t have the time to finish the raw edges, make the centers, or sew them on…

Pictures of the petticoat will be in an upcoming post. It was almost finished for the ball. I’m looking forward to adding trim to the walking dress and the front and sleeves of the ball gown, as well as finishing the bonnet. All of these things were started (the pieces cut out and even sewn in some cases), but as you can see in the pictures, they didn’t make it in time for the ball. Oh well!


Project Journal: 1822-1824 Ensemble Part III: Green Dress Hem Appliqués

Well, I’ve got the green silk ball gown sewn together. That’s good, because the ball is fast approaching. There’s only a week to go! Eep!!! I’ve finished the padded hem, but I still need to have someone mark center back for me so I can put closures on. And I haven’t set the neckline yet, either, because I’m waiting to see how it looks with the back actually closed… So far every time I’ve tried it on the back has just been hanging open, because I can’t actually reach that part of my back by myself. Never fear, though, I’ll be seeing friends this weekend who can help with marking the back for me! Yay!

You’ll remember from my overview of this early 1820s ensemble that the fashion plate below is my inspiration for this gown.

May 1824. Ackerman’s Repository.

I’ve been furiously hand sewing, working on the skirt appliqués on the ball gown. These are my first priority. In part this is because they’re already started (and it would look silly to have only a fraction of them done) and in part this is because the hem decoration is pretty essential for 1820s dresses. This is how I’m making the appliqués.

After cutting out literally hundreds of pieces… I pin the blue canvas bases to the silk of the gown. The pinning allows me to make sure everything is symmetrical before sewing the bases down. Once I’m satisfied, I baste the bases to the silk, leaving 1/4″ around all the edges unsewn, so I can tuck seam allowance under later.
Whew! Finished basting that repeat of the pattern. The blue canvas is tightly woven and hardly frays, even at the points and in the curves! And even after being manipulated and folded while I’m basting all the pieces down, which is important because it keeps the shape accurate for the layers that go over the base.
The next step is to take the two top layers (a layer of the green silk and a layer of white silk organza) and sew them over the base. The base provides sturdy edges so that I keep all those nice curves when turning under my seam allowance. This piece is just about done, except for the last corner. I used the technique in this great quilting appliqué blog post to make my sharp corners as sharp as possible.
And here’s what the motif looks like when all the bases are covered! The silk organza is pretty tricky for making sharp points, so I think these turned out pretty well! The motifs are still missing their center sections. I’m focusing on all the pointy bits first. Right now I’ve got 3 out of 7 motifs done.
This is what the inside of the skirt looks like after the appliquéing is finished. It’s kind of neat, I think, to see the relief of the front shapes.
Most recently, I’ve just finished basting on the bases where they meet at the back. You can see in this picture there was only one more motif to go!

Right now the motifs really remind me of pineapples, a common motif in appliqué quilts (as a quilter as well, I appreciate the overlap between related interests). I’m sure once the centers are added they will look more like flowers and much more like the fashion plate. Each motif is 11″ tall and the repeat is 12″.

As I continue to sew these, I’m thinking about the sleeve appliqués. Currently, I’m stumped. I was going to sew my motifs on in the same way as the skirt, but I also made my sleeves pretty gathered… so I’m not sure how to nicely hide my seam allowances while also keeping the gathers looking un-squashed. I want the sleeve appliqués to sort of float on the gathered sleeves… I’m still brainstorming on how to make that happen. Perhaps I’ll stitch the seam allowance to the back of the base and then hope that the gathers mean you won’t see the base past the 1/4″ seam allowance that gets turned? If you have ideas, I’d love to hear them!

Project Journal: 1822-1824 Ensemble Part II: Initial Petticoat Details

Petticoat. 1828-1835. Manchester City Galleries.

This bodiced petticoat is the inspiration for the first piece of my 1822-1824 ensemble that I need for December events. You can read more about the overview of the ensemble by viewing my last post: here. Despite the slightly later date given for this garment (later than my target of 1822-1824), the shape and construction are consistent with garments from the earlier 1820s, so I have no qualms about using this for my purposes in this case.

The description from Manchester City Galleries:

White cotton with high waist. Low, wide, round neck edged with embroidery and lace frill; piped armholes; front in one bias-cut section, back in two shaped sections, centre back fastening with drawstring at top and bottom of neck edging and at high waistband and two buttons; skirt front in one slightly flared section, two sections each side flared towards back, slit at hip in right back seam, centre back in two straight sections, closely gathered at centre waist; sixteen lines of piping at hem; edging of finer cotton scalloped and with openwork embroidery.


I used this description in combination with the 1820s patterns in Janet Arnold to create the bodice and skirt patterns. My petticoat is constructed out of plain white cotton. It is entirely hand sewn and has 16 rows of cording in the skirt. There is a edging of white cotton openwork embroidery at the hem. The seams are all flat felled in the skirt. The bodice seams are turned twice and stitched on each side of the seam. The petticoat closes in the back with ties.

Bodice of the petticoat with unfinished neckline.
Near the hem: 16 rows of cording and embroidery edging.
Super close up of a flat felled skirt seam, narrow hem, and whip stitches attaching the embroidery. The embroidery is whip stitched to the hem at the very bottom, and the top edge is whipped again on the inside (that’s the top horizontal row of stitches).
Back of the bodice.

The only remaining work to be done is to add another tie between the current two since the back wants to gap open just below my shoulder blades, to finish the neckline, and to adjust the gathers across the back (secret tip I’ve learned through building these garments: to get that great 1820s triangle shape, your gathers have to be super concentrated at the center back area, not spread out across the entire back, as these currently are). I plan to finish the neckline with narrow white lace, but I want to determine the neckline of my ball gown before finishing the neck of the petticoat. You understand that desire, I’m sure!

Differences from the original include: that I have a seam up center front of the bodice (no particular reason, it’s just that’s how it turned out), my cording is spaced closer together (which I’m not sure I like as much as the original, but I’m not taking it out now!), my armholes are narrow hemmed rather than piped, and my skirt closes right in the middle of the gathers rather than off center at the side back seam.

Pictures of the entire petticoat will have to wait. It looks pretty foolish on hanger, doesn’t fit a dress form (because the bust is so high), and it’s super awkward to get a full length picture of oneself… so we’ll just have to wait until I’m wearing it!

Project Journal: 1822-1824 Ensemble Part I: Overview

Well, as you recently read, I have a 9 month sewing plan to get me through May of 2013. It’s not set in stone (which means that mostly I keep adding to it, not taking things away…), but it gives me a great overview of what I need to accomplish and by what month. Deadlines really help in getting things completed!

The first major portion of the sewing plan is an ensemble of clothing from about the year 1823. I’ve been doing lots of looking at fashion plates and extant clothing from the early 1820s, in books and online. Here’s a link to my pinterest board: 1820-1824. I had so many pins in the 1820-1829 board that I had to separate the decade, so I also have a separate pin board of 1825-1829.

The 9 month plan includes the following pieces: petticoat, ball gown, walking dress, muff, bonnet, and chemisette. I’ve added one more thing since the plan was created: a tippet to match the muff! Before I explain why I want these items (ie, where I plan to wear them!), let’s look at my inspiration for the items themselves!

Petticoat. Manchester City Galleries. (I’m making a petticoat out of white cotton. It is entirely hand sewn.)
Actually a Dinner Dress (but I’ll use it as a ball gown). Ackerman’s Repository. May 1824. (I guess I lied about the year… I’ve been looking at the images so much I haven’t even glanced at the date in ages! Anyway… I’m making this in apple green silk with hand sewn silk organza appliqués.)
Promenade Dress. Ackerman’s Repository. December 1822. (I am making this out of deep, rich pinkish burgundy wool with hand sewn lavender silk trim.) This is also my inspiration for the tippet. (I’m making the tippet out of white faux fur.)
Walking Dress. Ackerman’s Repository. March 1823. (I think this is where I got the year 1823 from… This is another influence on my walking dress design, especially at the collar.) This is also my inspiration for my muff. (The muff will be the same fur as the tippet, lined with pale blue silk shantung.)
Bonnet. C. 1820. The Met. (I plan to make this in lavender to match the walking dress.)
Chemisette. c. 1810-1825. Snowshill Collection. (Yes, this is one of the ones in Janet Arnold. I plan to make this out of lightweight cotton and use my fluting iron! However, I have to say that if one thing in my December-to-do doesn’t make the cut, this would be it. I really want to take my time on this and play with my fluting iron, and I’m not sure I’ll have the time on this one…)

What is all of this for, you ask? I plan to wear the whole ensemble in December when I attend Fezziwig’s Ball, a 19th century ball hosted by the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers in Salem, MA. Since it’s a ball, I’m sure you understand why the petticoat and ball gown are required! But why the outerwear? Before the ball begins, ball-goers have the opportunity to go caroling around the streets! It’s really fun, and usually pretty cold. I need to stay warm, hence the wool walking dress, tippet, and muff. The chemisette is to fill in the collar of the walking dress, and the bonnet is really icing on the cake to help pull the whole ensemble together! As an added bonus, later this winter my friends and I hope to go ice skating in 19th century dress, so this will also be my ice skating outfit!

1812 Tailcoat Pattern

I thought I would just quickly share with you this 1812 Tailcoat Pattern. You can find it in the pattern section of Wm. Booth, Draper. The pattern actually has a wider date range on it than strictly 1812: it is listed as a tailcoat pattern 1800-1820. This is the description:

This tailcoat pattern is the first well made civilian tailcoat pattern specific to the first two decades of the 19th century. The pattern comes with three sizes: Medium, Large and XLarge. There are two options for the collar, comprehensive directions and documentation. 


And here is the information about the quantity of fabric needed, etc. (the underlined sections are other items that Wm. Booth, Draper carries):

To make this coat between 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 yards of superfine wool broadcloth or slightly more (to allow for shrinking) linen and about the same amount for a lining of oatmeal 3.7 oz. linen is required. An extra 1/4 yard will be needed for the pocket bags. Notions needed are about 1 1/4 yard linen buckram interfacing, between 6 to 8 5/8″ buttons or button molds, one or two additional buttons that are flat on both top and bottom are recommended for a double breasted coat. For the sleeves 4 to 6 1/2″ optional matching cuff buttons or button molds are needed as is Linen threadof either 50/3 or 35/2 to match the lining and outer fabric. For sewing the button holes you will need one or possibly two spools of quilter’s thread or buttonhole twist that matches the outer fabric.