Tag Archives: Dress

Masquerade! Paper Faces On Parade…

Masquerade!
Hide your face so the world will never find you!
Masquerade!
Every face a different shade…
Masquerade!
Look around there’s another mask behind you!

I’ve always wanted to attend a masquerade. This wasn’t quite the masquerade of The Phantom Of The Opera, not having sweeping orchestral music and head-to-toe colorful costumes, but it was nonetheless fun and a bit surreal in the masks-plus-fabulous-location-ness (I think a bit of a surreal experience is what makes a masquerade a unique experience, so this is entirely a positive description here).

Digressions about masquerades aside, back in November of last year I had the good fortune to attend such an event myself. The theme was 1960s, but I had recently acquired a 1950s dress that fit me so perfectly that it just HAD to be worn, so I opted to be a bit old fashioned for the theme of the party.

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The event was held in a very nice downtown hotel. We had a series of rooms including the ballroom, its foyer, and a parlor-type space far enough away from the music to easily chat and lounge. It was quite elegant feeling!

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Usually I don’t wear vintage or historical garments. I’d prefer to use them for study and don’t want to damage them. But I made an exception in this case and did my best to be gentle with the dress. I carefully mended it before wearing and then again after, as the delicate lace was pulling apart at the seams under the arms when I received the dress as well as after wearing it. My second version of the mend was to put gussets under the arms, using a tiny bit of leftover fabric I had from shortening the sleeves (I wanted to do this during the pre-wearing mend, but ran out of time). I think the sleeves were full length on the original owner, but they came down to an awkward mid-forearm length on me, so I shortened them to be a nice 3/4 length. I know! It was a hard decision to make, changing the dress, but I think it is in keeping with the period the dress is from and it allowed me to better fix the underarm problem, so I’ve come to terms with the choice.

Here’s a slightly clearer view of the bodice. The lace is backed by nude net and there is a silk faille band around the waist. The entire skirt is faille with an overlay of the same lace and horsehair around the hem for stiffening.

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For my hair, I decided it was go big or go home, so I used my largest bun form (part of the base of my Versailles hairstyle) to create a giant poof-bun-thing on top of my head that’s a nod to the 1960s beehive. I think it was balanced out well by the feathers on my mask. Plus, in general I’m pretty good at making big hair work.

I put the mask on a stick so that it wouldn’t irritate my face and so that something like an elastic wouldn’t squash my huge hair. A bonus is that I could peek out from behind it, as in this picture.

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With this ensemble, I wore the same sparkly earrings I wore to Versailles and my silver American Duchess Seaburys with silver rhinestone shoe clips to make the ensemble even more bling-y!

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The event included food and dancing and chatting. I had a great time that was even better than I was expecting, though I think that was due to being tired after a long week of work and not really sure if the event would be a hit or not.

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My friends and I did lots of silly 1960s dances–the monkey, the swim, etc. (Are these really 1960s? I don’t know for sure, but in my mind they are…) These pictures of my dancing in the lobby are some of my favorite, partly because swishing around in my 1950s dress was so much fun!

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1927 Blush Sparkle Dress

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I was at the fabric store looking for other things… (the beginning of a lot of my fabric buying adventures) when two super sparkly fabrics caught my eye. They were screaming “1920s!” But the colors were somewhat costume-y 1920s and not often seen in my research of actual historical dresses from this period–red on nude net and black on nude net. A bit disappointed, I looked at the sparkly lace section some more and found the same fabric in blush on nude net! It was so sparkly and the pattern on it was so perfectly deco that I had to take some home with me. Luckily it wasn’t expensive and only cost $14 for 1.25 yards. Not bad!

The timing was perfect, because I had a 1920s event in January and just enough time to make the dress.  I didn’t have a slip to go under it that was the right shape or color, so I also squeezed in making a bias cut slip.

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For the pictures, I wore my American Duchess black Seaburys. They provided just the right 1920s shoe shape, encasing the front of my foot in a uniquely historical way that modern style shoes do not. You can see the shape more clearly in this post when I wore the shoes with my 1920s bathing suit in a beauty pageant look.

I was also incredibly lucky that the event was held in a historical hotel that provided fun backdrops for pictures! Those elevator doors are lovely! And look at this awesome phone–it had to be included in pictures!

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Another neat place we took pictures was this stairwell. I love how different these two pictures are, despite being so similar. One is much more about the dress while the other shows off the chandelier and is a bit more artsy and mysterious.

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img_3151-1I was so pleased with how my hair turned out! I tried a style similar to one I did last summer for a different 1920s event that I have yet to post about… oops! But here’s a teaser of just my hair. Soon I’ll post the details and it will bring some warm summer memories to my New England winter.

For the summer event I did my hair when it was wet, resulting in a similar style, but much smaller and closer to my head. For that version, I did all the back curls while my hair was still distinctly damp, making the curls much tighter and closer to my head.

For this event, I braided my hair in the morning while it was still damp (to help create waves on the top but curls on the bottom) and left it all day, meaning it was mostly dry when I took out the braid. Then, when doing my hair for the evening, I added small rats under the puffed bottom portion to add a bit more volume than just my own curls. I covered the rats with the length of my hair then carefully placed and pinned the curly ends to imitate having a sort of 1930s smooth-on-top-curly at the bottom style, like this. This style is a few years later than my new dress, but I think it works as a 20s style for someone with longer hair, like me. I have a lot of hair to hide in a 1920s style!

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Both the dress and slip are entirely hand sewn, due to working on it away from home (I would have hand sewed the dress anyway because of all the sequins, but probably not the slip). The dress started out as a tube, but was more unflattering than I was willing to allow. It was fine from the hips down, but needed to be taken in above the hips. What I ended up with is a curved seam (or a long dart, depending on how you look at it–one side didn’t have a seam to begin with) allowing slight shaping from the torso to the skirt portion of the dress. 1920s dresses can be such bags, but after the extra shaping I am very happy with the still somewhat bag-like, skimming shape of the dress without feeling like it’s an absolute sack.

The slip was cut from a pattern I made a few years ago–perfect, since I didn’t have time to pattern something from scratch! I intentionally picked a 1930s pattern in order to have the addition of a perfectly fitting 1930s silk slip to my wardrobe, but also because the shape of the neckline was perfectly suited to the v-neckline I decided on for the sparkly overdress.

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The slip has french seams on the sides. The under-bust seam allowance was trimmed away on the gathered piece and then the body piece seam allowance was turned over it and hand sewn to hide the raw edges. The top edge is mostly bound of with vintage cotton bias (which I removed from the top of the net petticoat I show in this post before shortening it. The piece wasn’t quite long enough to go all around the top edge of the slip, so the center back section is just turned twice and slip stitched, in the same way as the hem.

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The slip fabric is left over from a project that I did about 7 years ago. It’s lovely silk crepe back satin with the perfect weight for making bias cut 1930s clothing. I thought I would have just enough to eke out the slip, but I came up a little short on the back piece and decided to piece it to make it work, as the fabric is so nice to wear and it was the perfect color. As a result, there are two random diagonal seams on the top of the back piece of the slip. Oh well! They add character!

Sophie, 1861 Cotton Print (HSM #8)

Last week, I introduced Eleanor, a newly made plaid gown from 1862. Today’s introduction is to Eleanor’s friend, Sophie. Sophie actually came first, back during the summer when I was intending to participate in the same dance performance for which I’ve worn Georgina in the past (here are a selection of past posts about Georgina: the construction which is similar in some ways to Sophie, Georgina in action, and Georgina with a new collar).

This year, the performance was rescheduled due to rain and I couldn’t attend the new date, meaning that the new dress, Sophie, languished until October, when I was able to wear it during part of a recent mid-19th century dance weekend. The nice thing about the delay is that the pictures all have stunning fall leaves, which would not have been in the case in the summer.

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Also, had I worn this dress on the first intended date, it would not have been entirely completed. Having extra time allowed me to officially finish all the trim and closures which made this dress the perfect entry for the Historical Sew Monthly challenge #8 “Pattern – make something in pattern, the bolder and wilder the better.” I didn’t have any pictures of the dress on a body at that point, so I submitted a rather sad picture of the dress on a hanger at that time. It’s exciting to have real pictures now!

Just the facts:

Fabric: 7.5 yards cotton print.

Pattern: Adapted from Past Patterns #701, 1850-1867 Gathered and Fitted Bodices.

Year: 1860-1863 based on my extant inspiration, but I’m calling it 1861.

Notions: Thread, hooks and bars, muslin scraps, and narrow yarn for cording.

How historically accurate is it?: I’m going to go with 95% on this one. This is as accurate as I can be given the research I have done and the materials I used, though the use of a facing on the front edges is guesswork. Regardless, this would be entirely recognizable in its time.

Hours to complete: Unknown. A fair bit.

First worn: October 23 for an afternoon tea and dance games.

Total cost: $23.

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Sophie was directly inspired by this extant dress at the Kent State University Museum. I was considering what to wear for the performance, thinking that I’d worn Georgina enough to want something new, that I’d had an 1860s cotton print fabric in my stash for a few years, and then I remembered this dress. I decided to leave off the ruffle on the skirt (and also didn’t have enough fabric), but was so pleased that my cotton print is so perfectly suited for playing with the pattern in the same way as the extant dress!

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Dresses from this period with v necks are not common, but they do exist. This Pinterest board has lots of examples. My Pinterest board has a few other dresses that helped move me along as well.

As I mentioned in my post about Eleanor, finding and making use of subtle differences between dresses from similar years brings me joy. For example, Sophie has a v neck, no boning, cartridge pleated sleeves, gathered trim, and is actually sewn together as a dress, rather than hooking together at the waistband as with all my other dresses from this period.

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In other ways, Sophie is similar to Georgina, being partially machine and partially hand sewn, having a cartridge pleated skirt, cuffs with little ruffles at the ends, and pockets.

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Personally, I love having pockets in day dresses. It brings me peace of mind to know that modern things like my keys are close by and not sitting around somewhere. Plus, chapstick, fan, gloves, etc. are also excellent choices for stashing in pockets. These pockets, which you can see the top of in the picture below, are sewn in the same way as Georgina’s pockets, shown here. I love this collection of references to pockets from the 1840s, 50s, and 60s that Anna Worden Bauersmith put together. I’ve been waiting for just the right moment to share it for what seems like ages.

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Here are two more interior shots of the dress. The first shows the muslin facings. I don’t have documentation for this method being used to finish a lightweight summer cotton dress, but it makes sense that this method might have been used to finish the edges nicely while keeping the main body of the dress breathable and light. The second picture shows in the inside of the top of the sleeve, particularly to show the cartridge pleats.

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In addition to the dress, I also made a new cage crinoline. I’ve been wanting a slightly smaller, less bell shaped one, particularly to wear with cotton dresses. I love my old cage crinoline (seen here) for evening dresses, but it is just a bit too much for a more practical daytime look. The new crinoline shape just looks ‘right’ with the cotton dress. The difference is subtle, but pleasing. Unfortunately, it did not perform well in its first wearing. The vertical tapes were sliding all over the place and causing the hoops to drop and be tripped on. Not good! It needs revision before being finished and shared, so for now you’ll just have to believe that I’m wearing it with this dress.

Now that you’ve heard all about the dress itself, here are some pretty pictures of it in action. These first ones are in the spirit of the development of rural cemeteries in the mid-19th century, which you can read more about in this blog post at Plaid Petticoats.

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The next few are a celebration of the autumn season. The gorgeous leaves were beckoning us to have some laughs. Incidentally, I tend to jump in the air with my arms up whenever I’m having an amazing time in this period. Take this memory, for example. I’m doing pretty much the exact same thing!

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We have so many things to be grateful for. I am always thankful for the many blessings in my life, particularly at this time of year. I hope that your life is also overflowing with blessings and reasons to give thanks, in autumn and always.

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Henrietta Maria At Sunset

Where I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, we would often have stunning summer sunsets that would bathe our western facing house with vibrant red-orange light. We get far fewer of these dazzling endings to summer evenings here in New England, especially with such depth as those Northwest sunsets. Honestly, until we had parked at the chosen location for this photo shoot, which happened to have a western view, I hadn’t realized how orange the sunset on this particular day was.

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The day had been a busy one and I had to hurry to look presentable and throw on the dress to catch these photos before the light faded. I wasn’t sure there was enough light left to get good photos, but I actually really love the unusual orange sunset light.

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I purchased the rayon print fabric I used to make this dress last winter from Blackbird Fabrics. I have an ongoing effort to try to add pattern to my modern wardrobe, which is mostly solid color garments. I didn’t know what I was going to do with the fabric, but then in the spring Leimomi (the Dreamstress) asked if I would be willing to do a favor for her relating to her soon-to-be released first ever Scroop Pattern, the Henrietta Maria. Squee! Of course! And my thank you from her was the pattern itself! Perfect!

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So this is a Henrietta Maria. The pattern is great, with clear directions and helpful tips. Leimomi has also posted some extra tutorials for the dress on her blog. I took advantage of the suggestion of adding elastic to control the waistline because without it the dress was looking like a bit of a muumuu, what with the busy floral print and the straight shape.

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The construction is straight forward, with the only time consuming part being the 44 tucks that make the dress particularly unique. They’re not hard, and their placement is clearly marked on the pattern, but they are time consuming. I think they took me about 3 hours to sew all by themselves. They could probably take less time, but I was very careful to match each guide line and sew them with precision. And the end result is worth it.

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The inside of the dress looks like this. I used the lace edging method that Leimomi also blogged about. It provides such a nice, tidy finish without any visibility on the exterior. And all the tucks keep the lace in place perfectly.

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Like the tucked edges, the hem edge is also edged with lace that is machine sewn onto the raw edge. The hem is sewn with a cross stitch that is pretty much invisible on the exterior.

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Here are a few more pictures from the sunset photo shoot. I’m not sure why there was a worn statue of a frog in the midst of the trees.

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You can see more lovely versions of this dress on Leimomi’s blog here. Click back through previous posts with the tag to see more. There’s also a shirt version. Check them out!

Restyled 1928 Green Silk Dress

Perhaps you remember this late 1920s green dress, which I made and first posted about in 2012? When it was first completed, I was in the midst of creating lots of new things for Newport Vintage Dance Week and was grateful that it had made it to a wearable state. I hadn’t quite solved the issue of keeping one side bunched up, so for the first wearing I used the bronze sequined flower pin you see in the picture below.

The slippery silk of the dress caused the pin to move around and shift while I was wearing the dress. I also didn’t love that it did nothing to break up the smooth lines of the back side of the dress.

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In 2012.

Last year, I had a reason to wear the dress again and I came up with a new design idea, based on this image from 1929. I loved the simple lines of the green dress on the right (and it happened to be the right color!) and the sash with a huge bow. It took me another year to get proper pictures of the new look and document it here, but I’m really pleased with the pictures, so I guess it was worth the wait!

I used my remaining fabric to create a separate sash for my dress. It’s separate so I didn’t have to deal with adding closures to the dress–it still slips on over my head; however, because the silk is slippery and the bow side of the sash wanted to slide down, I did safety pin both the bow side and the opposite side of the sash to the dress to keep it in place.

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The same basic dress in 2015, styled differently. The same gloves and pearls (worn differently), with my newly shared gold t straps, green earrings, and a matching trim headband.

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And a different hair style. This is a better view of the bow.

I think the 20s silhouette grows in my estimation the more I wear it. It’s sort of odd at first, but can be quite elegant sometimes! I’m very pleased with how the sash and bow break up the dress and add extra oomph to the hem.

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The event I wore the dress to was a 20s fundraiser at a local hotel. Here’s a bonus picture of the dress in action.

 

1950 Baroness Christmas Dress!

Success! I not only finished my 1950 Baroness Christmas dress the weekend after Thanksgiving, but we also managed to line up our schedules and go see The Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker at the beautiful Boston Opera House, where we took pictures! There were brass bands playing outside and carolers in silver down coats on our walk to the theatre. It was all very festive. And, of course, there was The Nutcracker with a live orchestra.

As you might be expecting, I wore my Christmas dress and took pictures for Edelweiss Patterns’ Virtual Christmas Dress Party. The original inspiration image is in this post. The dress is made from rayon and lined with polyester. I made an attempt to do a 50s stylized up-do, too, though I don’t have any close up head shots… but without further ado, here it is:

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There were a few changes from the original, like adding a slit behind the front drape for ease of movement, adding a self fabric belt over the waist seam, and not quite making the pleats across the front deep enough to read once the bow was attached. I’m quite pleased, however, and love how festive the dress is! (And it’s quite formal, with that low back…)

Our group was very well balanced in having two greens and two reds, and three hats, and four  gloves (two pairs, you know)… (It sounds like One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish or The Twelve Days of Christmas, doesn’t it?)

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3 hats!

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5 of us in 1950s inspired Christmas outfits!

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Merry Christmas!

 

Virtual Christmas Dress Party

Katrina, of the blog Edelweiss Patterns, has put together a Christmas Dress Blog Party. The short version is that anyone who wants to make a holiday dress and participate can share pictures and links on Katrina’s blog right before Christmas at the online party. Here’s the link to the full description.

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I have to say that I’m not a make-a-dress-every-holiday sort of person. I’m also not a wear-a-fancy-dress-for-Christmas-dinner kind of person. I don’t go to many holiday parties except historically clothed ones and for Christmas dinner I wear something nice, but then soon change into comfy clothes for lounging in front of the fire and playing board games (mmm, favorite holiday pastimes!).

This year, however, I’ve already started a dress that I’d been intending to wear to a Christmas party, which works out wonderfully! Unfortunately, the party I’d been planning to attend changed locations, making it impossible for me and my friends to be there, so we’re trying to find a date to do our own holiday-themed outing instead (if it works out there will definitely be pictures!). Regardless, my dress is well on its way to completion–hopefully I can finish it off over this Thanksgiving weekend–and I will get pictures somewhere even if our holiday outing doesn’t work out. It will be perfect for the Christmas Dress Blog Party!

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Here’s my inspiration: Vogue #588 from 1950, in the COPA at URI. (Click through to COPA to see an image of the pattern pieces.)

My dress is red sheer rayon with a slight textured stripe. I call it the Baroness dress because it reminds me of a mashup of the style of dresses worn by the Baroness in The Sound of Music (see below), despite the fact that the inspiration pattern is a bit later than the movie. It’s a fun coincidence, because Katrina particularly loves The Sound of Music, as you might guess by the title of her blog and pattern line, but I promise, it was the Baroness dress in my head long before Katrina posted about the virtual dress party!

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The Baroness by the lake. Hip bow inspiration. And red.

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The Baroness in an evening gown. Evening dress inspiration in general.

And, happy Thanksgiving!