Victorian Christmas Tea

This is the event for which I busted my butt making my recent Natural Form gown – a Victorian Christmas Tea I hosted at our historic Capitol Hill house (built in 1908).

As hostess I didn’t really have a chance to take photos, but a couple of my guests, Gloria of In the Long Run designs (all her photos have her watermark) and Maggie (sans watermark) appear to have well taken care of that for me!

The theme for attire was Victorian but open to any part of the period to make it as easy as possible for people in a heavily 18th century/Regency-oriented region to attend.

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Late 1880s Winter Ensemble

***WARNING***Image-Heavy Post – I really love this outfit!!!!***

This was a very spur of the moment make. Only a couple of weeks before Christmas I decided to make it all of a sudden one afternoon to wear out for a holiday dinner with the same co-conspirators friends as the Victorian picnic summer before last. I could have worn my Autumn 1880s ensemble, and planned to do so. But all of a sudden in the afternoon one week before our intended dinner I was struck with inspiration for a new ensemble specifically for winter and vaguely Christmas-y. Within the space of a few hours I had the fabric and design picked out. I don’t know when I’ve ever gotten a sizable project sorted so quickly!

I got most of it done in a week, but ultimately our dinner was postponed until after Christmas. That gave me time to finish it properly, make the hat, and add an extra piece!

In case you missed my year-end round-up post, I won’t keep you in suspense, here it is:

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Dressing for a Canadian Spring

Especially pertinent this year, amiright!?

Anyway, a few years ago I came up with a method to help with the end-of-winter-everything-is-grey/brown-and-gross blahs.  As soon as March arrives I start wanting colours, pretty colours!  Spring fashions start arriving in the stores at that time, but there’s no way you can wear them without contracting hypothermia because it’s likely still below zero temps and there’s still snow on the ground (and at least one more good winter storm on the way during March, even when it’s not a polar vortex year).  The stuff in stores doesn’t matter to me much since I mostly don’t buy clothes anymore – it just makes me laugh to see spring and summer dresses in shop windows when there’s still lots of snow on the ground, lol.

Spring/summer patterns and fabrics start coming out at this time too.  It does make sense since it usually takes more time (and often planning) for spring/summer sewing than buying clothes, but I want something spring-y to wear in March/April!

My solution? Sewing clothes for “Canadian” spring.  Basically, this means making winter-weight clothes in spring colours!  I kind of can’t believe that no clothing line/brand has hit on this idea for Canada and other “climates of extremes”.

I also try to include making pieces that are transitional, such as fully winter colour clothes that are neutral enough to be combined with spring-coloured pieces and clothes that may not be heavy enough for deep winter weather, but work for that period transitioning between cold and mild (ie April – most years, not so much this one).

I don’t have a huge Canadian Spring wardrobe yet as I find the necessary materials tricky to source.  I like best to use woollens, and acquiring them in pretty spring colours doesn’t happen too often for me as I exist in a constant state of “I’m not really supposed to buy fabric” and only pick up pieces as I happen across them and feel I can’t live without them.

So, I’m adding to this segment of my wardrobe bit by bit each year and thought I’d show you the types of pieces I’ve got so far.

It really all started with these two skirts:

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Regency Ball Ensemble Post #4: The Ballgown!

I saved posting about the actual gown for the Regency Ball so that I could make it my entry for the last Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge of the year, #26: Celebrate!

One of the ‘rules’ of the HSF is that items should not be finished more than about 6 weeks before the challenge due date (I think).  This one just made it in being finished a little over 5 weeks beforehand.  Even if it hadn’t quite fit in I probably would have cheated and entered it anyway because it was too perfect not too, being made explicitly for a celebration.  And not just any celebration, but the commemoration of bicentennial of one of the most influential books on current costume afficiandos: Pride & Prejudice.

I would have preferred more and better photos for this post, but for now the ones we were able to get in the low lighting of the ‘ballroom’ will have to do.

Here are the HSF details:

The Challenge: #26: Celebrate!

The Item: Regency Ballgown (& ensemble) for a ball in honour of the bicentennial of P&P’s first publishing

Fabric: pale blue dupioni (but a very smooth one), silk organza from an Indian shawl, ,

Pattern: I started with Sense and Sensibility’s Elegant Lady’s Closet bodice pattern for the wrap gown and ball sleeves as a base but modified them a great deal and took off from there on my own.

Year: c. 1813

Notions: ivory and gold trim bought in Istanbul, little buttons for the back closure and for the neckline pull-backs at the shoulders, narrow gold trim/thread I braided to trim the front edges of the overlay and the loops at the shoulders, pale blue braid trim (possibly vintage) for around the neckline and sleeve bands.

How historically accurate is it? It’s mostly machine sewn (I didn’t have time to hand-sew it up) with hand-sewn details so big points off for that.  And it’s a mish-mash of dates spanning c. 1800 to almost 1820.  The trim is made of synthetic fibres too.  However, besides that I have to say that I think many a young lady during the Regency period would have been happy to wear this dress so I’ll give myself 70%.

Hours to complete: Quite a lot over 3 weeks

First worn: November 30th to the local Regency Ball

Total cost: All came from stash so no money spent directly on this.  I would estimate a total of about $50-$60 thinking back on when I did buy this stuff and the amounts of it I used on the dress.

It was a very windy evening and we were having hair issues to begin with (the rag curls I tried to do didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped) so my hair is not nearly what I wish it to have been, but oh well.

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Regency Ball Ensemble Post #3: The Turban!

After the dress, this piece was my favourite one to make for the ensemble.  Hats and headwear are just so much fun to do!

I’m also entering this one for the Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #25: One Metre

Here are the specs:

The Challenge: #25: One Metre – use only 1 metre of fabric or less, and preferably not tons of trimming

Fabric: less than 1 metre of pale blue silk dupioni (or shantung – it’s very smooth)

Pattern: None, but I used information from The Oregon Regency Society

Year: c. 1813

Notions: approx. 1m of trim, 1 feather, 1 tassel, 1 button, 1 piece of found-object jewellery, fabric scraps

How historically accurate is it? the foundation of the hat is machine sewn, but the rest is draped and hand-sewn; this conforms not badly with styles and materials from the time, so I’m giving it 70%

Hours to complete: approx. 5hrs (give or take)

First worn: November 30th to the local Regency Ball

Total cost: All made from scraps and stash items, so $0

Being historical-hair-impaired I am grateful that turbans were such a big thing for Regency formalwear, and so many of them are such fun!  Since I was already playing rather fast and loose with the date of my Ballgown, I wasn’t particular about the specific date for my turban, choosing inspiration according to what took my fancy instead.

Here are some examples I felt particularly drawn to

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from La Belle Assemblee, April 1818

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Regency Ball Ensemble Post #2: Fur Muff

My Regency Blog ensemble posts must seem very out of order or terribly teasing.  The reason is that I’m posting items according to the remaining 2013 Historical Sew Fortnightly challenges.  By a happy coincidence, this ensemble fulfills the criteria for the final four challenges of the year.
Here’s where the fur muff fits in.  What does a fur muff have to do with a Regency Ball ensemble, you might ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Although according to the calendar Winter doesn’t start until late December, practically speaking it starts late November where I live.  I knew there was going to be a little walking involved in getting me from the place where I dressed to the Ball itself and wanted a cohesive whole.  I’m sure you can now start to see where I’m going here.  Because I had lots of the main fabric for my dress left over (it was the original choice for my upcoming Garrison Ball gown so there was 9m of it at 54″ wide) I made a matching/co-ordinating hooded cloak and a fur muff lined with scraps from the dress fabric.
Here are the HSF deets:
Challenge: #24: Re-Do – Challenge #7: Accessorize

Year: Made to go with Regency attire but almost any, really

Pattern: None

Supplies: Silk fabric, wool batting, recycled (reclaimed?) fur from an old coat/jacket

Historical Accuracy: meh. It’s a combination of machine and hand sewing

Hours to complete: about 2-3 hrs

Total cost: all made from leftover bits, so I’m gonna say $0

First worn: November 30, 2013 to the local Regency Ball

Here is what I started out with:

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