It’s hard to believe my last post was about an annual ball that took place last year and that I’m beginning to prepare for this year. What I mean is: wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted! I’ve been mostly focused on sewing everyday (non-costume) stuff this year. But I do have a few historical things on my list to make and blog about.
And one of them is a new ballgown for an upcoming ball at Teel House in Norwich, Connecticut. I guess I could wear one of my other dresses, prettied up for a formal occasion, or even one of my existing ballgowns. But, I mean, (tosses curls) I want a NEW pretty dress!
There’s an extant gown from about 1805 in a German museum that I’ve been in love with for a while. It’s a pale blush cotton gauze according to the museum citation, quite sheer, embroidered down the front and round the hem, and it has triple-puffed sleeves. It’s ethereal, and sweet, and the epitome of what a young Regency miss would wear. Here it is!
Now, my figure doesn’t run to ethereal, and I’m not a young miss, nor do I attempt to portray one when I do my historical thang. But for a ball where the lighting is low and the surroundings dark, pale colors are the way to go. And I’ve always loved the sheer gowns of the Regency/Empire period, worn over matching or slightly contrasting-color slips (I call them undergowns). And frankly, I wear them well. It’s the only time I stand a chance of looking ethereal, and I’ll take it.
I’ve chosen cotton voile, which is a very similar weight and weave to the lightweight and sheer muslins and mulls of the period. The color is a true lavender, not pastel lavender, and the fabric has a bit of texture to it. It’s hard to determine from the photo just what the texture is like and how sheer the fabric is. That will have to be seen once the fabric arrives in the mail.
To go under the lavender gown, I’m going to make a petal-pink undergown from silk charmeuse. I happen to live about 1 hour away from a discount fabric shop in Connecticut that gets roll ends, remnants, and overstock from Mood in NYC and from the same fabric suppliers that the garment district shops use–and everything is $2.99 a yard! I’ve managed to find some amazing stuff, but you have to dig sometimes.
I really love how the gown’s sleeves are gathered on drawstrings and that they appear to be set at a slight angle, rather than running around the sleeve parallel to the ground.
This ballgown will be modeled loosely–except for the sleeves–on my spotted mull gown. The same pattern for the bodice, a self-belt attached at center back, and a sweep train that’s easy to dance in. I need to modify my basic sleeve pattern a bit to give it some more fullness all around and mark the drawstring channels. It will look a lot like the sleeve pattern from the roller printed gown offered on the website of the 19th US Regiment of Infantry reenactment group. The gown itself is held in the collection of the Genesee Country Village Museum in New York.
As always, I’m excited about this new project!
Next up: details on the design, pattern modifications, and sewing.