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Wow, I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to get back to the details of my new Regency ball gown project. The ball was held early in December, and I finished the dress a few days before. And then apparently fell off the face of the planet. Anyway, I was quite pleased with the gown, overall, but the sleeves could be a bit poofier.

BeforetheBall-resize

A friend snapped a photo of me before the ball started. Teel House is a historic inn and tavern along a post road, and it was built during the Federal period.

The gown wasn’t difficult to make, but I’m glad I started it so early because I ended up sewing most of it by hand. Just the bodice’s main seams and the skirt center-back seam are machine-sewn. The finishing, the hems, the sleeve’s drawstring channels, and even setting the sleeves into the bodice were all done by hand. With the gown I wore a new slipper-pink silk charmeuse undergown, about half sewn by hand. I think it really underlays the lavender cotton muslin (from Burnley & Trowbridge) beautifully, although I do want to try white under the gown, too.

Undergown

The undergown is a sleeveless version of my basic gown pattern, with less gathering across the front and bodice. I made it out of silk charmeuse–not period accurate, but some type of light silk satin was popular during the Regency for gowns and undergowns (usually called slips).

I’m really pleased with how the gown glides over the undergown and with how the thing wore during the ball. The fabric’s movement is delightful. The muslin’s hand is a bit stiff, but it’s drape is very floaty, so it feels very diaphanous. The hem needs to come up a little bit on both the gown and undergown–I kept stepping on it when I moved sideways.

Movement

Love how the gown moves during a dance. Check out the ballroom’s domed ceiling! It’s a wonderful room to dance in with a sprung floor specially designed for dancing at the top of a building (the floor absorbs and deflects the load somehow so the rest of the building doesn’t shake to bits during a ball).

For the ball, I paired the lavender gown with what I call my “amethyst parure”: a crystal Duchesa collet necklace, my Dames a La Mode earrings, and a new jeweled comb, also from Dames a La Mode. I got tons of compliments, which is always nice.

Only about half the hair on my head that night was really mine. Well, technically it is all mine in that it all now belongs to me, but I used two braided switches of my great-grandmother’s hair. My mother used to use the switches to pad out her own ballerina buns when she had dance recitals. I feel really lucky to have inherited these pieces.

The big bun with a braid around the base is not one that I’ve seen in fashion plates or portraits from the Regency/Empire period, but it’s not too far off. It gave a vaguely correct look, and it kept my hair out of my face while dancing in a hot ballroom. Side curls would just have ended up drooping and sticking to my sweaty face. I may do a tutorial on how I ended up using the switches to make a huge bun; it’s a bit intricate.

Parure

It might seem weird or gross, but I inherited 3 switches of my great grandmother’s hair. My mother used them to pad out her ballerina buns, and now I use them for pretty much the same thing. One switch fills out my bun and another switch is braided and wrapped around it all. Jeweled comb/tiara by Dames a la Mode.

Next post: some construction details on the gown, especially the sleeves.

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