To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3

Saturday, December 2, 2017

1860s Elliptical Half Mourning Dress Complete!

The 1860s Elliptical Half Mourning Dress should actually be called "The Dress of a Thousand Hours" dress.  This thing has taken me sooooooo long to complete!  It looks so simple.  Well, that is totally deceptive.  The bodice was chock full of fiddley bits, like the fact that the upper sleeves not only boasted two puffs, but a mancheron!  Then there was all the beading.  Ugh.  I know that beading makes a project or dress look extra cool, but my eyes and fingers and hands were getting ready to disown me as I got close to completing the trim.  Sheesh.  I think I'm getting old because body parts are starting to seriously chat about rebelling against me and taking part in a coup.  Stupid aging!!!!!

Anyway, the dress is complete and I am so very thrilled with it!  The inspiration came from Whitaker Auctions.  It was dated to the 1850s, but looks more late 1860s what with the elliptical skirt and all.  Whatever the date, I fell in love with it when I was searching for inspiration for the silk that I've had for years.  I bought the fabric from a fellow costumer who has since passed away from complications of pancreatic cancer, so I think it only fitting that I chose to make a half mourning dress!

I am working on a lace and net day cap and a soft bonnet to wear with it.  So happy this dress is done as now I can add it to the line up of The House of Whyte's "6 Dresses in 60 Minutes" fashion show!!! (My ultimate costuming goal is to have dresses, with underwear and head wear, in all of the silhouettes from the 1830s to the 1930s!)

The Dress and Inspiration

My version of the Whitaker Auction dress.

Isn't this beautiful!  I so love the fabric!!  Photos of the original dress inspiration used with permission from Charles Whitaker. Thank you!!!

The two puffs and one mancheron per sleeve was a totally pain in the rear, but in the end was worth it!

The original's armscye was way down on the upper arm as was the way of a lot of the 1860s dresses, but because my shoulders are "claustrophobic" and because I have to use my arms in sweeping motions during my programs (you know, tie my hands behind by back and I can't talk) I chose to move the armscye up further on my upper arm/shoulder.  I really don't like that pinned down feeling.  But, I was happy to find many examples of shoulders that weren't as low in my research!!  Huzzah! 

I was thrilled when I sewed the bodice together to discover that the flowers on the fabric lined up perfectly!  Like the middle flowers are exactly down the center of the bodice!  Happy accident indeed!

I love the medallion on the back of the sleeve!  Isn't the fabric just stunning?  I love the blue and off white print against the silver!

In this view you can especially see the elliptical-ness of the skirt.

The original didn't have a belt or a collar so I had to use my imagination to complete the look.  I decided that a belt the same width as the sleeve cuffs would look good with a medallion that was the exact same as the ones on the bodice. I think it looks rather fetching!  I still need to make a collar and am trying to decide what it will look like.

Close up of the bead work.  The original used cord and beads.  I didn't have any cording, so used soutche which actually worked well with the beads resting in the channels!

The medallions were a pain to create as there weren't any tutorials on how to make flowers like these.  After 4 examples and around 2 hours, I came up with these!  The center beads were from my Great-Grandma's bead stash!

The Pattern(s)

Since this was a Franken-patterned dress, there were 4 different patterns used!!

Sleeve Puffs:  Simplicity 4400 (altered)

Now to finish the lace day cap and decide if the making of a soft bonnet needs to be done....

Well, I hope you have a wonderful next week!!!



Sunday, October 22, 2017

1850s Wedding Dress!

Good Sunday evening to you all!  I hope this week was a fabulous one for you!  For me, I finally got around to feeling like tackling my next project...a half mourning, late 1860s, elliptical gown!  I am almost done with the petticoat so Huzzah!

Today's post is about the last of the wedding dresses I made for the Dressing The Historical Bride program.  And it ties with my favorite for first place.  I don't know why this one makes me so happy, it just does!  The fringe would have put it in dead last just last year, but I think since I made the fringe out of the fabric itself, it didn't look so "fake".  Don't know what that means, but there ya go.

The dress was made out of 70/30 cotton poly and is a beautiful moire!!  I adore moire and think it's interesting that both of my first 1850s gowns happen to made out of moire (MET Moire Mourning Dress).  I know that I should have used a lighter weighing fabric, but when Mama made her 50th Wedding Anniversary Party Dress there was a ton left over.  She let me have it and there was almost enough to make this dress! I do not what we were thinking, buying so much.  Like I have said before, math is not my strong suit and so it is the norm for me to buy too much fabric, but this was ridiculous! Anyway, the skirt of this dress alone weighed 8 pounds!  So note to self, when next making a flounced 1850s dress, use a sheer fabric!  hahahahahahaha!!

I just loved how this dress turned out and now I am wanting to make a ball gown in the future!  Out of lighter weight fabric...

The Dress

A word to the wise...if you plan on making a flounced dress, please decide that you want fringe BEFORE you sew the flounces to the underskirt!  I decided AFTER I sewed all the flounces on that the skirt would look better with fringe.  Grrrrrrrrrrrr...

The pattern called for a pointed back bodice, but I had so much trouble with it laying flat, that I decided to do a straight across the waist back.

I love the long point on this dress and the way the seams work together to give the illusion of a super long "V".  I borrowed Mom's faux wax orange blossom corsage for the decoration on the dress.  I though it looked fantastic!

Hand fringed self fabric fringe actually makes me happy.  I think the world is going to end tomorrow.  hahahahaha!  Just kidding!

The Inspirations

I spent a long while searching for an 1850s wedding dress to use as inspiration.  The one below from the V&A Museum totally made my heart happy and was going to make the whole outfit similar to the original dress.  However, I had never used the pattern I purchased to make the bodice and so was really stressing out over it, even though I intended on making a mock up.  Perhaps one day I will make a bodice similar to it!

1857 Wedding Dress.  Source:  V&A Museum

After I decided against making a long sleeved bodice, I had to go on the hunt to find a short sleeved bodice.  Happily I came across this fabulous example from Kerry Taylor Auctions (Sold December 3rd, 2013.  Lot #45) Thank you Kate for permission to share the image of this fabulous dress!  
You can see more images of the dress Here.

Wanting to make sure that short sleeved bodices were used in weddings in the 1850s, I also searched for photographs from the era and found many.  Below are a couple.  Such beautiful brides!!

"Martha Pickman Rogers in her wedding gown"

Source:  mfa Boston

Source:  Skinner Auctions

In Progress

One of the most time consuming parts of this project was the making of the fringe.  Below you can see how I did it.  I laid the fabric on the floor, put heavy books down on it to hold it down and started pulling the weft threads, sometimes two at a time!  And yes, it was also a messy business!

Each strip, and I had to make 10 strips of over 5 yards, took over an hour to "pull".  I spent a lot of time on the floor!

Other tools used were a seam ripper to start the threads to be pulled and a comb to comb the fringe when it got knotted up.

A short video on how simple it is to make your own fringe!

All the fringe rolled up on a fabric tube. 

Bertha before being trimmed with ruffles and fringe

The Pattern

This pattern was a fabulous one to use.  I will most certainly be using it again!!

Well, I'm off to bed!  I hope that you all have a most wonderful week!



Sunday, October 15, 2017

1920s Wedding Accessories and Underwear!

Good Sunday everyone!  I hope that your week was a fabulous one!  Mine was busy, but it's over and I'm looking forward to next week when hopefully I start a half mourning, 1860s elliptical dress!

Today, I'm sharing the accessories and underwear that was made for the 1920s Robe de Style Wedding Dress.  And also my Mama's puppy, Chloe!

The Bridal Bouquet

I was so busy and really under the gun to get things (namely dresses) ready for the September "Dressing The Historical Bride" fashion show, that I just didn't have time to do the flowers that I wanted for three of the dresses.  Having done floral things in the past, and being so beyond excellent at making my visions come to life, I asked Mom if she would do the 1850s, 1914 and 1920s wedding bouquets.  I'm so happy she said yes, because as you will see, they were magnificent!!!

Isn't Chloe the cutest thing?  She is so fun and silly and happy and loving!  I want to steal her and bring her home, but Mom would be crushed and Greg would not be pleased.

And my Mom...she is just the cutest thing ever!  She made the bouquet out of new maiden hair fern bushes from Hobby Lobby, Boston fern bushes from the dollar store, beautiful bridal blush roses from Michael's, and antique lily of the valley that I pulled off of an antique hat...there were over 45 of them on the hat!!!  The style of bouquet in the 1920s had become ENORMOUS and for some fun reason, knotted ribbons, sometimes with flowers tied to them, sometimes not, were added to the bouquet.  As you can see in the following inspiration photos, Mom hit the nail on the head perfectly!!

Bridal Bouquet Inspiration

I just love the shape and size of these bouquets.  Many of them had asparagus and maiden hair fern and just a few flowers, usually roses.  The look was something very whispy and airy

The Veil and Gloves

Keeping with the look of the cloche in the 1920s, wedding veils became caps that resembled skull caps.  They were many times made of a lovely silk veiling and decorated with tucks, silk ribbon, silk ribbon flowers, waxed orange blossoms or fresh flowers.  Elastic was sewn into the edge to hold the veil snugly to the head!

The hem of the veil is embroidered with a serpentine, chain stitch.

To go with the dress, I chose antique, ivory colored, kid leather opera gloves!

Veil Inspiration

Many of the veils from the 1920s were exceeding long, probably to make up for the short skirts that were now in fashion, but on occasion, brides wore short veils.  Happiness for me, as my veil was on the shorter side!

The Underwear

For the underwear for the dress, I wanted to make a set of  "step-in" combinations and tap pants.  I should have made them out of satin, but I was out of money to purchase some and had pretty cotton on hand, so that's what I used!  I will, in the future, be making a satin set.

The underwear was edged in antique lace.

I patterned the lace decoration on the front of the step-ins after an image that I can't find right now!!  ACK!  I hate that.  It came from an antique catalog, so when I find it, I'll sneak it in!

The pattern used for the step-in combinations and tap pants was Past Patterns 501

Robe de Style Panniers

I must admit that I was most excited about this project because I could finally make these panniers!!  I think they are ridiculous and marvelous and jolly and fun!!  Plus, I can now make other Robe de Style dresses!  Huzzah!

I really wanted mine to be sheer with a pretty ribbon boning channel, with lace at the bottom flounce!

Pannier Inspiration

I really liked how this pannier was attached to a bodice.  Sort of like an extra element of modesty for the satin bodice of the dress.  Source:  The MET.

The lace at the hem came from this example from The MET.

I just loved the over all look of this one.  Also from The MET.

The pattern I used for the the panniers was the fabulous Laughing Moon 128

To finish out this post, one more look at the lovely Miss Adalea wearing the 1920s dress!  I could not get over what an incredible 1920s bride she made!  Almost made me cry!!

I hope you all have a wonderful next week!

Be Blessed!