Edwardian Gown Eye Candy

This fabulous vintage Edwardian dress was recently brought to my attention by one of you fabulous readers. It is for sale on eBay for $2,250! I certainly won’t be purchasing this original, but I absolutely think it is something to add to my body of inspirational images of clothing for future projects… The seller has included many pictures of the dress as well as background information on the dressmaker and a detailed description of the garment. I have included some of that information in addition to pictures for you to view here in this post.

The lace is exquisite! The rhinestones add even more sparkle! I love that there are pictures which show the closures and construction details. I classify this gown as “drool-worthy.” What do you think? Do you like it? Or not? Why?

Some of the information from the eBay seller, labellevintage_inc:

“This was created by Mrs. Catherine Donovan who was originally from Ireland (b.1826) and studied fashion in Paris. She owned the couture shop “MRS. C. DONOVAN & CO” which was located at 29 East 55th St.in New York. Her dresses in 1910 were billed at $100 and up which was extravagant as a gown from her would cost over $4,000 today!

Many of her garments are found in Museums throughout the world. There are 4 dresses at the Metropolitan Museum of Art alone. But the detailing and workmanship of these garments are worth every penny in my opinion.

FABRIC:
This is made of peach satin (formerly peach silk) and covered in exquisite ivory lace with re-embroidered patterns done with silk thread. The lace gives hints of Orientalism (which was made popular by Paul Poiret ) with its Royal Pavillion shapes on the back panels. The rosette and belt details are done in peach silk.

This enchanting garment features a fitted satin strapless bodice covered with a blouson bodice of lace. The bodice features a low square neckline and the dolman sleeves are short. Both the neckline and arms are decorated with cream glass and gold painted cut steel beads. There is an inner netted bodice which helps with the weight of the dress.

The empire waist is decorated with a ruched sash which is adorned with rhinestones, each individually sewn on a gold lame’ backing in the shape of a buckle.

The straight satin skirt is covered in two tiers of lace at the front. Each tier is decorated with cream glass beads and gold steel cut beads in a chevron shape. The tier is separated with a silk band featuring a large silk rosette. The top tier is adorned with crystal cut glass beads around the hemline.

The back has a surplice detail on the bodice with the silk band closing at the back decorated with more rhinestones.

The lace skirt is made of 3 tiers with one extra panel which attaches to the finger as a drape or can be left hanging as a short train. The top tier and second tier are both decorated with crystal cut glass beads.

This closes with several snaps, hook & eyes and tiny crochet buttons at the back.”

Thank you, Kimberly, for bringing this dress to my attention!

Back Detail of the 1912 Tea Gown

A few posts ago, while I was sharing pictures of the Titanic Weekend in April, I included images of the front of  my new 1912 black and ivory silk tea gown and mushroom hat. Unfortunately, I didn’t have good pictures of the back of the dress at that time… but now I do, and it is time to post them!

The back of my 1912 tea gown. I like the belt that crosses and swoops up (hard to see, except that the line of beading is interrupted by the belt) and the side back seams that end in pleats (it looks really cool while I’m walking!).
It’s a little hard to see in the first image, but the side back seams make a few intentional right corners before opening in inverted box pleats that help form the train. Here is a close-up of those seams: unfortunately, they pucker a little in the silk charmeuse because I didn’t think to stabilize them before starting to sew and snip corners… Let that be a lesson to you!
Another view of the back seam and pleats.
Here’s a side view, so you can see the front and the back.
And a recap picture of the mushroom hat.

I was able to wear my freshly painted and moved-button Astorias with this dress and others at Dress U recently, but you’ll have to wait to see pictures of the finished shoes–they’ll be coming in another post soon!

Titanic Weekend Part III: Pictures of the Events

Here we are, a third and final installment of posts related to my recent Titanic-themed weekend. You can read more about my tea gown and matching hat as well as my evening gown in previous posts. I think I’ll limit my commentary to captions. Here we go!

The weekend began with a casual Steerage Ball with a light and charming atmosphere.
Saturday afternoon was a formal tea to relax after a morning dance workshop.
Fabulously dressed people were all around!
I do love flounces, in any period.
In lovely whites, a staple of the Edwardian wardrobe.
There were picturesque photo opportunities, of course.
And the men were just as fabulous looking as the ladies.
The weather was lovely and some people took the opportunity to talk a walk outdoors.
While others took advantage of a less strenuous opportunity for enjoyment indoors.
Saturday evening was a formal dinner and grand ball.
So we all donned our finest finery...
And after dinner, danced the night away to live music.
There was a balcony and staircase that added serious elegance to the room.
Dancing, dancing, dancing...
Of course, a girl must rest sometimes, and why not with a fabulous fan? The room did get quite warm.
This backdrop was just lovely, and so perfect for pictures!
Picturesque!
Pictures were taken in abundance.
At 11:40pm (which is when the ship hit that ill-placed iceberg) we took part in a moment of silence to remember those who were lost followed by a haunting final waltz to the melancholy melody which was the last song played by the band as the Titanic sank.
On Sunday, I was able to wear my 1913 walking suit and hat on the Museum Stroll. I wore the blouse and skirt to the Steerage Ball, with a wonderfully simple, yet very Edwardian coiffure, but of course I didn't get pictures of that... oops. There were fabulous outfits all around, but it was difficult to get pictures given that we were spread throughout a museum!

All in all, a lovely weekend full of fabulous clothing, beautiful music, and wonderful dancing. What a recipe for amazing memories!

Titanic Weekend Part II: All About The New 1912 Day Ensemble

We took a rather in-depth look at my new 1912 evening gown. Now, on to the second 1912 ensemble that I also wore during the weekend: day gown and hat!

Gown and hat with (unbuttoned...) white kid opera gloves. I'm so pleased with the overall effect! Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of the back. There are cool details back there, so another fashion shoot will be required in the future...

This gown is constructed from silk charmeuse. The skirt is a single layer in addition to the overskirt panel in front. The bodice has a foundation of the same white cotton as my new evening gown. Mounted on to that cotton are (from the neck down) layers of ivory silk charmeuse, ivory silk flat lined with fabulous ivory colored diamond lace, black silk velvet, and black silk charmeuse. The overskirt panel is trimmed with matching silk velvet and the belt is constructed of the same. There are small buttons on the overskirt velvet trim (because, really, the Edwardians just loved adding buttons everywhere!). Because the back bodice mirrors the front in its style (which unfortunately I don’t have a picture of right now…), I had to be crafty with my closures. The dress has two places that open with hooks and bars: the left side from just under the arm to a few inches down the hip and the left shoulder seam around the neck to the center back of the collar. The effect is a form fitting dress that looks like it was magically donned. The side closure is straight forward, with the foundation layer hooking first, to take the tension of holding the dress tight, and the outer charmeuse layer hooking over that simply to stay closed. Again, the foundation is essential to achieving the elegant, effortless exterior. The neck closure is a series of hook and bars that turn different directions to accommodate the seams: front to back at the shoulder, hooks that hook up on the collar to attach it to the back neck, and hooks going sideways on the center back of the collar.

In addition to the gown, I also constructed what I call the “mushroom” hat, which you can read more about in this previous post. I created the pattern for the hat, which is basically just a shaped brim with circular side band. The side band support the crown, which is a circle that is pleated to create that “mushroom” shape. I love the hat! It lends such an air of Edwardian drama and elegance to the look! And I am so pleased the the “mushroom” shape worked out!

Hm… Patterning this dress… Well, the general skirt shape is from Janet Arnold, but it is adapted to have two symmetrical box pleats that terminate at the top in delightfully detailed seams (which I really, really need pictures of!). The bodice pattern was draped with many references to my inspiration image. I created a basic shape for the bodice and then cut in into the different pieces (ivory silk, ivory silk and lace, black velvet, and black charmeuse) so that each piece would fit together perfectly. The belt is slightly shaped but doesn’t actually have a pattern.

The dress is inspired by this image from a 1910 issue of the magazine Bon Ton.

I'm sure you can guess, but the dress I was referring to is the one on the right.

In the end I made a few changes: I added a train, discarded the white under sleeves (I made them, I tried them, and they just didn’t work! They pulled the bodice in all sorts of weird ways… Maybe if the were not so tight they wouldn’t pull so much? I am fine with having gloves cover my lower arms, anyway.), and drastically scaled back the beading. Perhaps you’ll remember my plan to bead this dress? Well, the beading was drastically scaled back because I didn’t like the beads I bought as much as I thought I would (they are rectangular and larger than I thought… not seed bead-y at all), I realized I didn’t want to devote as much time as it would take to do the amount of beading I originally intended, I didn’t have enough beads to bead all four panels as much as the one panel I completed and I didn’t want to buy more beads, and I didn’t like the beading motif I had created, nor was I inspired to change it. You can see that I did leave one outline shape of beading on the bodice in the velvet section, but the rest was scrapped. That one line is repeated front and back (symmetry, you know). I did actually complete the overskirt top panel, but decided not to use it after my scaling back plan was complete (you can see it, below). I’m going to keep the beaded panel and see if it finds its way onto another project one day… I would still love to do intense beading on a garment, but I’ll have to pick a different one, because it wasn’t measuring up to my expectations for this dress.

Scrapped beaded panel. A mix of silvery and black beads. I started in the center with the somewhat wonky lines, can you see improvement? I think it would have been distracting from the dress to have four panels like this.

Titanic Weekend Part I: All About The New 1912 Evening Gown

I recently returned from a successful Titanic-themed weekend of events, including multiple vintage dance opportunities. I’ve been working on some new clothing for these events since January, which you can read more about in my past posts relating to the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic. I’ve been rather remiss in posting updates about the progress of the new dresses I constructed for these events… So my first task is to share pictures of my attire and explain the inspiration and construction of the garments.

I created two new 1912 ensembles: an evening gown and a day gown with accompanying hat. Let’s start with the evening gown!

My camera had a challenging time capturing the colors and shimmering sequins on this gown, but this is a good representation of the colors. Look! I wore my ballroom dance shoes, which worked well, and my white kid opera gloves and pearl drop earrings... fabulous!
Fabulous painted backdrop! Perfect for taking photos, although my camera didn't quite catch the colors so well in this photo. I think this gown is so much more fabulous in person! I was told that the sequins just shimmer in subdued mood lighting.

This gown is burgundy silk charmeuse with a gold silk charmeuse underskirt. The bodice is gold silk layered under gold sequined net. The sleeves are the same gold sequined net flat lined with nude colored tulle: the tulle provides unnoticeable stability for the net layer. The burgundy layers are pleated up and held in place in two places by gold silk and sequined net covered buttons. The bodice and skirt are lined with brown cotton and the entire dress is mounted on a foundation of some extra white cotton which I have an excess of in my fabric stash. The foundation layer is essential to the drape of the dress, because it provides stability as well as a layer to attach all of the pleats and drapery points to. The foundation allows the burgundy silk to effortlessly hang and artfully fold without looking heavy or as though it serves to hold an weight. The foundation layer also supports the underskirt which is attached at about knee height (thus not extending all the way up to the waist and saving fabric). If you plan to create a draped Edwardian gown I strongly suggest that you include a foundation layer: the practice is historically accurate and will help your dress look effortless rather than heavy. This gown closes center back with hooks and eyes along the gold sequin area and a complicated series of further hooks and eyes at the top of the burgundy back drape. The hooks and eyes help create the tension that is required to keep the waist carefully draped in elegant folds across the waist.

There is not a hat associated with this gown because hats were not worn for formal evening events. I did create a wonderful Edwardian coiffure with loops and puffs of hair on the crown of my head surmounting the two front sweeps from the front as they swooped around the base of the back of my head. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any closeups of the style. I feel it is necessary to encourage you by saying that the more often I practice my Edwardian hair styling the faster I am and the better the styles look. You, too, can have fabulous Edwardian hair! Practice! Practice! Practice!

I draped the pattern for the foundation, bodice, and sleeves. The underskirt is a mix of information from the usual pattern book culprits (Janet Arnold and Norah Waugh) that I took in and then kept in mind while flat patterning a knee high underskirt pattern. The outer draped layer is just that: draped. It was a good challenge–I would have a hard time creating a flat pattern of that layer. All I can say is that it is just one rectangular piece of fabric that was sometimes frustrating and draped with many references to my inspirational images.

It turns out that the evening gown is a mash-up of two gowns (pictured below) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I think I started by aiming for the pink dress but wound up moseying my way along to the pale blue dress. Do you see the influence of both the pink and pale blue dresses? I do…

1914 Callot Soeurs evening dress
Side/Back of the same.
1911-1914 Callot Souers evening dress.
Side/Back of the same.

1912 Ivory “Mushroom” Hat: Part II

The hat is complete!

The specifics: wired buckram brim and sideband, ivory silk charmeuse flatlined with ivory cotton to cover the brim and crown, bias cut ivory silk shantung brim binding, trimmed with ivory tulle and black ostrich feathers, lined with the same ivory cotton as the flat lining. (Did you know that craft stores sell tulle in 6″ wide rolls 25′ long in all sorts of colors in the bridal section??? This is great for hats!)

All in all, I’d say the hat turned out beautifully! I didn’t take the time to smooth out every bubble in the silk charmeuse along the brim, so there are a few bubbles… but I think I’m the only person who will ever notice them. It’s rather a tall hat… But I like it! I think it achieved the mushroom-y look I mentioned in Part I of the Ivory Mushroom Hat adventure and it has space in the head size opening as I intended. It even resembles a mob-cap, as I mentioned in Part I. Yay! I think it lends some serious Edwardian grandeur to my look. Full length pictures of the tea gown are coming soon so you can decide what you think about the hat.

It turns out that hair makes a great bandeau! I added some fake hair to my coiffure for tea to help support the hat in the back and it worked wonderfully. Without the extra hair the hat slips down over my face to a point somewhere around my nose… luckily, my poofy hair plus some extra hair works wonders!

I decided to trim the hat with black feathers and an ivory tulle bow because all ivory was overwhelming… the tulle trim is lost, whereas when black feathers are added the tulle trim suddenly stands out as well. Judge for yourself, below! Here are some other trim ideas I sampled on the hat before making my decision.

All ivory with a tulle bow.
All ivory with ivory millinery leaves.
With black goose biots.

1912 Ivory “Mushroom” Hat: Part I

Possible millinery materials...

The plan: to create an ivory and black hat to accompany my (almost) completed Titantic-era tea gown. I started with some ideas in mind, but was also open to inspiration from challenges of construction or materials. I raided my millinery trim stash for ivory and black millinery flowers and leaves, black and white ostrich feathers, pleated and plain ivory ribbons and trims, and other practical necessities like millinery wire, buckram, and organza…

I’m calling this hat a “mushroom” hat because it is my goal to make the crown roomy about the head  and puffy in the crown, like a mushroom top! You can see this mushroom-y detail in the images below: look at how the head size opening is often bigger than the head! Given that the head size opening needs to be big, one challenge I will face is figuring out how to make the thing stay up on my head and not fall down over my face. I’m not sure big hair will be enough… That’s something I’ll have to determine once the hat is complete. I might have to use some sort of bandeau inside of the hat to support it. Bandeaus are often used to perch hats on the head, especially in periods like the 1870s and last quarter of the 18th century, but it seems like a practical solution to this 1912 hat perching problem, also! I’ll have to let you know how the bandeau situation turns out.

A selection of inspirational and awesome hats from a 1910 issue of the magazine Bon Ton. I particularly like the be-feathered hat on the far right...
From the 1910 issue of Bon Ton. Look at how huge that head size opening is! And the feathers are just giant! I don't plan to attempt to create this, but I do think it fabulous!
Another fabulously feathered hat from Bon Ton, 1910. Also included simply because it is wonderful, not because I intend to build it...

These last two images show the direction this hat is going. I love the mushroom-y shapes (which also resemble mob-caps), large scale trim, and head size openings.

Another hat from the 1910 issue of Bon Ton. This hat is one of my top inspirational images for my hat creation. It has that mushroom-y shape.
The hat on the right from The Metropolitan Museum of Art via American Duchess. Love the mob-cap-like/mushroom-y shape... and that buckle! Wow!

I wonder where my creativity will take me…

1910 Dress Inspiration and Classification Part II

It is time to share my classification of the dresses from my recent 1910 Dress Inspiration and Classification post. It turns out that not very many of you commented with your classification of the Edwardian dresses up for review. I’m sure you had opinions and you simply chose not to share them… but maybe next time you’ll want to join in! Without further ado, here’s what I think.

1: Favorite! (I love the gold trim on this dress! It is just SO exquisite!)

1910 Ball Gown (The Met)

2: Almost favorite (I had a hard time choosing between this and the one above.)

c. 1910 Worth Evening Dress (The Met)

3: Beautiful, but not my style (I just don’t like the beading on this very much…)

1909-1911 Worth Evening Dress

In lieu of Astorias…

I was SO excited to pre-order my pair of Astorias from American Duchess for an upcoming 1912 themed weekend in April. Unfortunately, the shipment date of the Astoria shoe has been postponed due to some unforeseen production issues, which means I have to find an interim shoe choice for those upcoming April events…

The Astoria from American Duchess
This link contains an affiliate code, which provides a small benefit to my shoe fund. This does not affect my impressions and reviews of this product.

I’ve thought about shoes I currently own, because obviously that is a cost effective solution, but I don’t have anything that is dance-able, walk-able, and 1910s looking all at the same time. So… the current idea is to purchase a new pair of shoes. The idea does have its drawbacks, most importantly including a desire to be cost effective. But a new pair of shoes! I’ve been digging around the web looking for shoe options and I’ve broken the seach down into two categories of possibilities: 1- low heeled strap-y pumps, and 2- mid heeled pumps with a buckle or similar toe decoration. The mid heel pump idea stems from images like the one below–an adorable pair of shoes from the 1910s.

c. 1910 Evening Pumps (The Met)

I have had trouble with the mid heel pump idea because I don’t seem to be finding modern shoes with a somewhat correct heel height, that curved in shape, and with a closed toe (even without the toe decoration). I’ve found a few possibilities that have some, but not all, of those qualities. Here are the best options, and there are more on my “In lieu of Astorias…” pinterest board.

The heel height is perhaps a little high, but pretty good. And the toe decoration is super cute. Even love the heel shape. Don’t love the narrow heel style for the 1910s (although I think this is a great modern shoe!). Also, it comes in a variety of colors.  The price is $43.99, which is a little high for what I’m thinking of spending. These are at zappos.com
These have a pretty good heel, from what I can see. They also have a toe decoration, although it looks rather modern and not Edwardian. It only comes in gold, black, and silver. But the price is just $29.99. These are from amerimark.com
These have a nippped in heal, although it is low for the pump look. It also has a toe decoration of buttons, which seems like a good modern-does-Edwardian shoe possibility. This shoe is only availble in black and is $29.99. It is from bedfordfair.com
These have the right heel height and stockiness, but not quite that curved in shape I like about 1910s shoes. They do have the strap-y look going, which is a plus. They come in a variety of colors and are $19.99. Like the price! They are at bedfordfair.com

Back to the first train of shoe thought: a low heeled shoe with a strap-y 1910s look. I’ve found a few options for this style, although it is a little tricky. There are actually a fair number of t-strap shoes that look very 1920s or 30s-ish, but the simple t-strap isn’t quite the right look for the 1910s strap-y shoe. Here are some of the best low heeled strap-y options. Again, there are more on my “In lieu of Astorias…” pinterest board.

These have a low heel and they are strap-y. They look a little heavy and not quite dainty enough, I think. But they come in a variety of colors and the price is $24.99. They are are amerimark.com
These have a low, slightly curved heel I think. They have an interesting t strap detail. They come in a variety of colors and the price is $29.99. These are at amerimark.com

I  think right now I am leaning towards this last pair of shoes. They seem dance-able and walk-able as well as being sort of generic early 20th century looking, which means that I think I could push them into the 1920s or 30s for dance purposes… I’m just not entirely decided. Do I really need a new pair of shoes? (Of course, the real answer is that I do not need a new pair of shoes… but how often it is nice to have a new pair of shoes simply to have a new pair of shoes!) Or maybe I should go in a pump direction? Ack! It’s really too bad that my Astorias will be just a few weeks too late for these events! (Sad face…) Anyway, I hope that wether you are waiting for Astorias or just looking for Edwardian shoe possibilities these are some helpful ideas!

SaveSave

1910 Dress Inspiration and Classification

The next historically clothed event in my life is Titanic-themed and I have five busy weeks in front of me to prepare for it. I’m quite excited to see everyone’s clothes from a whole new era that is so different from the usual 19th century looks. I’ll share some of my progress on my emerging 1912 wardrobe soon, but for now here is a selection of inspirational dresses for your perusal!

In what order would you classify these dresses? You are welcome to create unique descriptions to describe the order you choose! I’ll let you comment and share my classification later (I want to avoid swaying anyone my way, you see).

1=Favorite! 2=Almost favorite 3=Beautiful, but not my style

1910 Ball Gown (The Met)
1910 Ball Gown (The Met)
1909-1911 Worth Evening Dress (The Met)
1909-1911 Worth Evening Dress (The Met)
c. 1910 Worth Evening Dress (The Met)
c. 1910 Worth Evening Dress (The Met)