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
Quick re-cap of this project:
This year is Canada’s Sesquicentennial – aka: 150th birthday. I went to Ottawa for Canada Day this year (or Dominion Day for those who go old school) which was on July 1st when some friends and I celebrated in 1867 style. If you’re just tuning in you can see the finished outfit in this post.
The silhouette and style I went with is more 1867-ish than straight on 1867 because, to me, the whole 1840s through 1860s is such a snooze fest fashion-wise. I just do not like 1860s fashion; so I pushed mine more into 1868/beginning of the bustle-era. What’s the point of making something that I’m just not interested in, right?
I’m doing a whole post on just the skirt supports because, lemme tell you, this was a whole journey in itself!
For reference, this was my primary inspiration for the dress overall:
My latest – very frantic – make, is an 1876/77 Natural Form day or reception dress in striped silk taffeta and plum cotton sateen.
It was made to wear at a Victorian Christmas tea I hosted at our house last Saturday. A big part of the reason for the tea’s Victorian theme is that I’d started missing Victorian sewing over the past few months, nearly all the historical events and activities around here have been either 18th century or regency. I know, I know, life is so rough, huh? I swear I’m not complaining but I have wanted a little change of pace. I’m also still deeply into a Natural Form phase and had started planning out this dress at least two years ago so I was delighted to have a reason and opportunity to finally make it a reality!
As part of my adventures in Natural Form foundations garments I also made a new corset. This is something I’d wanted to do for a while anyway. My previous Victorian corset was fine, but I wasn’t getting quite the curve in my figure or roundness in my bust profile I wanted. It also makes my hips sore because – and this was a big revelation for me! – there wasn’t enough fullness at the hips built into the corset. Duh! One of those things that seems so obvious once you realize it. The adjustability gained from having a lacing gap at the back will get you only so far!
Enter this beauty from Jill Salen’s book, Corsets: Historical Patterns & Techniques
For the last couple of years I’ve become increasingly interested in the Natural Form period of fashion. If you’re unfamiliar with this transitional style of Victorian fashion you can check out my hodge-podge pinterest board on it to get an idea. I’ve been getting more interested in various transitional fashions, really, such 1790s and 1820s. With Natural Form I feel really drawn to the sumptuous use and cleverness of the fabric trims, the svelte contours of the figure, the sweeping trains. The more I’ve looked into it, the more I’ve noticed that Natural Form can actually be divided into two phases of approx. 1876-1879 and 1880-1882/3.
Just for fun, here’s an example of 1876 Natural Form: