Well, I did it! I’ve now made everything that was on my historical sewing list for 2017 – and I still have a couple months to cram in a few more makes, ha! This dress was the last on the list and was made for my recent Big Bustle Birthday Bash. And last week I was able to do a dedicated photoshoot of it courtesy of Taylor of Dames a la Mode.
My birthday is right at the end of September and this year was a milestone/slightly depressing one (though I’m really not that fussed about it, thankfully). My actual birthday was a little over-shadowed by the wedding of very good friends in Toronto (my husband was best man and I made the wedding dress – yes, there will be a post about that in the near future *winky face*). So, I decided to throw myself a big birthday party down here in DC a couple of weeks later; and to make it even bigger and better I made it a Big Bustle Birthday Bash! The main idea was Victorian bustle dresses but I also allowed late 18th century ones so as not to be *too* restrictive.
The party was set in 2 locations. First, we had a picnic together at the National Arboretum; then cake and champagne/cocktails at my house on Capitol Hill.
It was a pretty big undertaking but it was such a blast! I highly recommend costumed birthday parties if you can get the people together for it!
So now, without further ado, I’m just going to post a whole pile of pictures of the day!
Note: Photos with the watermark “In the Long Run Designs” in the lower right-hand corner were taken by Gloria of In the Long Run Designs
Now I can finally show you the whole look of my new 1780s ensemble all put together!
(In case you’re just tuning in and/or would like to revisit the construction posts I wrote about this here are links to the bodice, petticoat, and skirt + finishing)
(and I will still be doing a post about the sleeve cuffs, some of the underpinnings, and the wig, which I will link to here when it’s done and up)
Taylor (aka Dames a la Mode) graciously volunteered to do a photoshoot for me last Friday. The location is St James church + yard just up 8th street from my house here on Capitol Hill that’s done in an atmospheric faux-gothic-Jacobean mash-up style. I kinda love it!
And now on to the show!
A quick re-cap of the original dress/pattern in Patterns of Fashion and how I modified it:
the original dress has a box-pleated skirt but I wanted the tight, narrow knife pleats so common for this period.
(Also, here are links to my posts on making the bodice and petticoat)
So I used the skirt pattern from another dress in Patterns of Fashion as a rough guide.
Although I still did things a little differently from either. I cut my skirt as two full-width panels of my fabric with a little bit of a train at the back but completely straight along the top. Instead of cutting the waist edge with a curve I just sewed it with one – you’ll see what I mean in a moment.
The style of the petticoat is based off the original one that goes with my primary dress inspiration/pattern in Patterns of Fashion:
Although to make it I simply cut 2 panels of my fabric, with the back slightly longer than the front to help accommodate the false rump that’s going under there. I also pleated mine differently from the original since it appears to have been done according to an older style where the pleats all face towards the side/pocket openings – another clue that the ensemble *may* have been an earlier one altered in the late 1770s/early 1780s. During the later period petticoat pleats tend to all face towards the centre back similarly to dress skirts, although the pleats themselves tend to be larger than on dress skirts.
This dress post is even more belated than the summer ones from this year as I made it back in the spring. However, since I’ve also been wearing it over fall I thought I could get away with still posting about it.
It’s actually one of my overall favourite dresses right now because it’s both so pretty and super comfortable!
It’s made of lovely soft, swishy rayon challis in an aqua/pink/red print, with solid red rayon for the accenting bands.
A couple of weeks ago I started a new, large-ish historical project: a c. 1780 ‘Italian’ style gown with matching petticoat although. This is very like a robe a l’Anglaise except that it has a completely separately cut bodice and skirt – so no ‘en fourreau.’
The reason for doing one of these now is another Gadsby’s Ball on November 12 that’s 1780s-themed. Hooray for not being Regency! As much as I love it, I’m getting Regency-d out. Most of the balls around here have been for that period over the past year and I recently finished a c.1800 ensemble I still need to post about, so I’m very ready to do something different. I’m pretty excited since I’ve never done 1780s before! Bring on the pouf!
Anyway, my fabric for this is an iridescent rust silk shantung – a very smooth one. I bought it from Fabricmart during one of their silk sales wherein it was described as silk taffeta and looked very smooth in the photos. When it arrived I discovered it was actually shantung – a very smooth one, but nonetheless not taffeta. This had happened once before with a silk purchase from them so I sent them an email to let them know there was an issue. I didn’t ask to return the fabric because it’s gorgeous all the same but wanted them to know it made me wary of ordering from them in future. They sent a kind reply saying they’d gone back and amended all the relevant listings on their site and sent me a $10 gift certificate by way of apology.
So, that’s a long-winded explanation for why I decided to just go ahead and use shantung for this instead of actual taffeta.
It’s pretty scrummy, shantung-ness notwithstanding.
For this ensemble I’m doing a bit of a Janet Arnold mash-up. Essentially, I’ve combined 3 of her late 18th century patterns:
The main one is this 1775-85 gown in the Snowshill collection (now at Berrington Hall). I’ve done research there, pity this one wasn’t on my radar at the time to check out in-person.
Hot on the heels of finishing my UFO fall dress from last year the other week I finished a UFO fall coat, also from last year. I had hopes to finish it to take with me to the UK for last Fall/Winter, but it didn’t happen. A winter coat happened instead, which was probably for the best.
I used Vogue 8307:
I started this dress a little over a year ago, but didn’t manage to finish it before I considered fall over. As much as I love wearing fall colours, it somehow doesn’t feel right to me to do so once December arrives. It may seem silly in a time when most traditional sartorial rules have been thrown out the window, but I also follow the ‘no white after labour day rule’. So, I left off this dress and focused on more wintry sewing. Going through my UFOs a couple of months ago I found this and decided it should be finished.
Here is McCalls 6433
I will take almost any flimsy excuse to make myself a new, pretty (silk) dress. Most recently, Thanksgiving did the trick. I also decided I wanted to try out a vintage pattern in my stash that’s had me intrigued for some time: MacCalls 6473 from 1962.