I know quite a lot of people have been expecting the account of our French adventures in Versailles – so here it is. I am afraid it will be a rather a disappointing one, as due to the unforeseen … Continue reading
I have never actually been to a proper Halloween Party, but this year we were seduced into attempting one. Admittedly most of the seduction was done by the location – we have been to Gosfield Hall before, to shoot our Summer Bride collection last year – and loved it! So the tickets were bought, and since it was Lucas’ birthday on the 1st, I treated us, as a surprise, to securing the sumptuous Bridal Suite for our stay.
And with a venue like that and lodgings dripping with gold, I obviously needed suitably splendid attire….
Fortunately I had a cunning plan – I have designed the Batdress several months ago, a spur of the moment thing, and then was lucky enough to get a bargain fabric – 15m of crushed silk velvet – useless for historical outfits, but perfect for a bit of Halloween fancy dress.
The original sketch,
and a work in progress sketch – yep, that’s how I make skirts and gauge how much fabric to use…
the foundations first – a cage crinoline, mid Victorian design, and a muslin petticoat from one of our bridal frocks….
then the skirt….
The corset was a bit of a challenge – because it was to be worn over a crinoline and not underneath, it had to be much shorter, allowing for the skirts to billow up. As a result, it turned out to be a surprisingly comfortable wear:-)
The corset used plain coutil as a strength layer, tape castings for channels and cotton for lining. Decoration – silver and black lace appliques, silver thread flossing and red beads.
The overskirt/wings were made of the same fabric and lined with faux duponi silk from James Hare – and boned with thin metal flat steel.
other accessories included these..
Once the dress was done, I have 6 hours to make something more before we hit the road – and in a mad rush I made another corset, satin and calico , with lace and silk tulle decoration:-), styled for a Bridal vampiric look…
The plan was to arrive early and shoot the bridal stuff first, then change and have fun in the Bat dress. alas, we underestimated the traffic – Friday, end of half term, halloween – we were stuck on the motorway for much too long. as a result, we arrived in time to get ready, but not to shoot the bridal stuff – that will have to be done the following morning!
We were surprised , very pleasantly, by a nice card and a bottle of white wine awaiting us in the suite – a present from our friend Eleanor, who was also attending the party! 🙂
Before the party a girl needs to relax – a bath and a face mask was in order. Lucas did have a bit of a shock when i joked I could go to the party wearing this….
but at last the clothes were on, make up and hair was done and we could take a few pictures….
The event was very atmospheric – an amazing singer in one room, roast boar dinner and a cobweb covered pianist playing tunes from the Phantom of the Opera in the other, fireworks outside – amazing!
apart from relaxing, eating and enjoying ourselves, we did take more pictures at the end of the night….
as to the question i was asked a few times at the party – how do you go to the loo in that?
well, the answer is simple – wear split drawers ( or none….) and go in forward….
In the morning we got up early and shot the Dracula’s bride styling – corset with lace, with a scrap of lace as a headdress, my bridal veil and a silk chiffon skirt….
we were having so much fun we almost missed breakfast – as a result i rushed downstairs half dressed – don’t think many people minded though – the corset looked great with jeans too!
I must admit I loved wearing the Batdress – but it was a one off and is going to be put on sale ( though not before we shoot it somewhere else – the original idea was a forest or a cemetery), just like the bridal corset – no doubt next year I will come up with a different kit: – )
hope you enjoyed the madness – we did, and are planning more Halloween outings in the future!
There comes a time in every costumer’s life when you just cannot put it off any longer – you need to have a go at the sack back, or robe a la francaise. I have been meaning to play around with it for quite some time, but was waiting for the opportunity to arise – and for the right fabric to turn up. And then, in 2011, I snatched a bolt of silk brocade in bright yellow, with lovely 18th century pattern in white. Not my favourite colour, but the pattern was simply too good to miss.
And so, the French adventure started…
I already had stays, in linen, fully boned, based on the ones in KCI, but I needed structural support…
I used the pattern for pocket hoops from the Corset’s and Crinolines, and it it was easy to run a pair of them in no time at all – the instructions were simple and easy to follow.
Now for the frock itself. I followed the pattern from Janet Arnold, Patterns of fashion 1 ; the one with comperes front, ( buttoned up)
the petticoat was first: the construction was pretty straightforward, though the flounces were a pain – the fabric frayed like mad….
Then it was time to address the main article – the robe itself. Again, the pattern is simple, as is the principle – the difficult part was lack of an assistant who would be able to pleat and pin the thing on me… had to improvise with a dummy.
And there it is! 🙂 my first attempt- a few things i can improve upon, but happy with the first go result.
and worn on me – here on the set of Horrible HIstories
We also used the frock for an 18th century themed bridal photoshoot in Harrowden Hall- a mix of 18th century frocks and modern styles – alas models turned up to be 3 sizes smaller than requested, so the frocks are not displayed at their best – but still Mockford Photography and Pitcheresque Imagery managed to get a few good shots!
The Yellow francaise ended up, very appropriately, in Paris – and is now living a rich and meaningful life, mostly being used for side saddle riding – shown below as a masquerade attire, on the day when we delivered int to Paris, on its new owner – Anne-Beatrice:-)
Now, I still have some more of that fabric – am tempted to make a caraco jacket in it…. 🙂
A slightly different post – mostly to honour one of my most loyal customers – or, to be precise, a customer who, though the years of stitching, fittings, events etc, has became a very close friend. Eleanor now has a rather full wardrobe of Prior Attrie outfits, from medieval to Victorian – and I am going to present some of them below.
The first contact was made through Ebay – Eleanor wanted to purchase one of the frocks i was selling – but needed it shorter..
Shortening the gown was no problem, so we met at one of the markets and I have sorted it on the spot.. and that’s how it started… that is also how I met Ian from Black Knight Historical – but this i think will be another post… 🙂
A gown fit for a queen – clothes for Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine
kirtle in silk, dress in silk with ornamental borders, veil and wimple
middle / lower class kirtle and dress in wool
a surcoat in cloth of gold – another queenly garment…
and a bit more modest, a nun’s outfit – 13-14th century
most of the work here was either kirtles for the camp or burgundian gowns – i have made 3… some of them below…
here we started with an upper-middle class merchant’s wife..
a bit posher…
and a silk velvet gown, for Peterborough cathedral
alas, nothing as yet…. i think…
a pair of brocaded stays, silk petticoat and brocade jacket. event blog here
Regency – a gown in silk – here as a Mrs. Bennett, with me as her daughter – more details of the event here
a schoolmistress/egyptologist just a jacket by me. my first ever Victorian item too!
was a 1883 suit for my wedding – Eleanor was my Matron of Honour:-)
then the mourning gown – work at Holkham ( blog here)
and a 1884 evening gown, also worn for our Spectacular Ball
I even did a Halloween corset and skirt for Eleanor – here worn for our Steampunk dinner at Coombe Abbey last autumn – not a best photo but we were too busy eating and having fun – so it is almost the only one I think…
and for the time being – that’s it! Many thanks to Eleanor for being a perfect client and a perfect friend – hope you enjoyed the journey too!
I have been planning to make this gown for the last 8 or 10 months. The fabrics were all stacked up in my workroom, trims waiting in drawers and the only thing i needed was time. Alas, most of my … Continue reading
And it is done. The Ball has taken place, and what a night it was!
The last few days before the ball ( 27th April) were manic – i only had about a day and a half to get my dress sorted ( a separate post on that here..) and deal with the last minute issues, problems, cancellations etc.
But all was sorted in time and by 1pm we were on the move, driving first to our hotel in Slough, even managing a short nap there, and then by 4 we were at the beautiful Heatherden Hall – a part of Pinewood Studios.
Inside, the team from Corporate Events already laid up our oak dancefloor, covering the entire ballroom.
We had a quick chat with Paul, our DJ on the day ( also from Corporate Events), about the music, preferences, set up etc – and with the music working we simply had to have a go on the dance floor ! we decided to go through our tango routine, but the stress was making it more of a free style improvisation rather than our proper routine! At that point our photographer, Paul Mockford and his assistant Jason arrived – and without much ado filmed the thing! you can see it here…
After that sneaky footage the boys got started on setting their photo studio in the Pools room, and we had a chat with the resident staff who was to care for us in the evening, headed by the competent Ivona. after that all that was to do was getting ready. Sarah and Lizzie, providing the beauty saloon services, were ready at 5, and the ladies who secured their make up and hairstyling slots were arriving on time – the rest of the guests were to start arriving at 6.
By then I was already dresses, make up and hair sorted ( more or less) and helping other ladies to get dressed – the facilities were great as we had the whole of the Conservatory and the PIne room just for ladies. during various lacing, arranging and pinning, i talked to our dance teacher, Charlotte Ewart, going through the last bits of information on the dances to be taught.
The weather wasnt perfect – but luckily by 6 it has stopped raining and the guests started arriving on the red carpet. Soon the gardens, patio and the bar, where the welcome drinks were served, were throbbing with people dressed in their finest..
The gardens, with their bridges, sculptures and the labirinth-like hedges were a popular destination for strolling and taking photos…
Then, at 8 the dancing started. We begun with the traditional Polish dance, Polonaise – it is a promenade dance, easy to follow and it is still the dance that opens every Prom Ball in Poland..
I led with Chris , our musician ( Blast from the Past) and Lucas followed with Charlotte. Our fears that people would be reluctant to dance were quickly dispelled – the dancefloor was packed full as we processed to the polonaise from Eugene Onegin
After the polonaise Charlotte guided us through the Duke of Kent waltz, proper waltz hold and steps, aend even a few polkas. Polkas were a killer, leaving us completely breathless! all to lovely live music from Sophie and Chris.
some people preferred a more passive participation though, simply enjoying the view. Some took it very easy indeed!
After the lesson the DJ took over and more waltzes, quicksteps, and more waltzes following for another hour. The dance floor emptied a bit as at the same time food was served and most folks made their way to the pools room to partake in the buffet.
The food was delicious – alas so delicious that some people went to get seconds and thirds – and as a consequence a few folks who were still dancing, us including arrived to see empty plates – or half full plates being carried back to the kitchen as people piled more food than they could eat… a bit of a lesson on human nature here, so the food issue is one to be seriously addressed in the future, if i decide to organize another ball. As it was, I was lucky enough to get a bite of a tiramisu Sarah managed to secure for me…
At the same time the photography team had their hands full – people were having their photos taken, printed and mounted in one go!
After a few more waltzes ( lots of improvisation on our part – but there were a few good couples who could really whirl around!) music gradually changed to a more modern tracks, including music from Moulin Rouge and a fully eclectic mix of rock, tango ( again, lots of improvisation and silliness here on our part!) and other dance tunes. The Prince Charming theme went down a treat – many thanks to whoever requested it! some gilrs chose to take the log skirts off and boogie around in shorter numbers, but the majority danced the night away in their finery!
And so the evening continued – dancing, drinking, chatting in a relaxing manner.
As far ars the costumes are concerned – I was hugely impressed! I must admit that I dreaded seeing those cheap fancy dress rental pieces, but I shouldn’t have worried. tTe garments were absolutely divine, in most cased hand made by the participants or by few skillful costumiers present at the ball – Felicity Westmacott, Denise Piggin or Christina Dettmers to name just a few – and of course I had a hand in making a few of the costumes too…..:-) ( historical and bridal)
The range was astounding – from pure blown out fantasy, through fashion corsetry to authentic Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian or Tudor garments. Steampunk was very much in evidence as well – in short a true feast for the eyes! just a few picture s here, more can be founf on fb – link here
The fun ended at about 12.30 when the bar closed, and we saw the last of the guests off just after 1am…
Absolutely knackered, we made our way to the hotel when at last, hungry as we were, we shared a left over bagel… 🙂
Altogether, a successful night, with the food issue to be addressed at any future events. Feedback so far was good, so many thanks to all of you who contributed to the fantastic atmosphere at the ball – and thank you for those who let me use their photos…
another blog on the ball, written by one of the guests, can be found here
and if you fancy another ball – this year;s event is coming soon! Check out our Victorian Ball
and some of the feedback received on our pages – many, many thanks for it, i was really down because the food situation, and the feebback received did raise my spirits a great deal!:
Thank you for a truly spectacular evening! We all had a fantastic time! Really appreciate all the time and effort you went to to make it such an incredible event! ♥
great evaning Izabela! Thank you for all the hard work. It ran so smoothly, a testament to your great planning!
What a lovely night! I got to dance to The Sound of Music- Edelweiss and NIN- Closer all in one night… As always I am blown away by the talent that surrounded me. The dresses and coats, the skirts and corsets, waistcoats and pantaloons, each of them were beautifully constructed and many of them by the very people wearing them. It inspires me 🙂 Thanks to everyone who came for making it such a friendly evening, it was a pleasure meeting you, and thank you to the Prior Attire team for putting together a truly Spectacular! Spectacular! event 🙂