The Spirit of Autumn Dress Project

it is that time of year again…

A Damsel in This Dress

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Well, that was something different.  One week I have an idea, next week the outfit is ready….   absolutely loving the  result of the friendly/professional cooperation on this project – it looks like the other seasons will be represented by organic, ephemeral dresses as well.

But – the Autumn. A detailed  article on how to make the outfit will soon appear on the Foundations Revealed website, but in the meantime a few pictures and a bare bones here…

The original sketch

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 A week on, the leaves and other autumnal bits were gathered…

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Image naughty Merlin kept dive bombing the leaf pile…

the dress base was made up of cotton  and the fun begins…

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 The leaves are first stapled on ( only the first layer/ and then glued with copious amount of glue…   a few hours later, having run out of glue and the leaves,  the skirt…

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Some Fun on the Side

post updated with pictures of yet more habits!

A Damsel in This Dress

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Or, in other words, some of my side saddle adventures:-)

I have been riding since I was 8 –  and although I did some show jumping and cross country work in my teenage years, I was always more interested in doing things a bit differently – loved hacking and covering distance – going on  long trails was always welcome!  In the Uk, I spent a few years riding for a cavalry regiment for the English Civil War Society –  swashing my sword and firing carabines from horseback was by far much more interesting!

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I have tried some horseback archery and Roman riding with a group Comitatus – great fun!

Image doesnt show, but have just thrown a plumbata at a poor bloke with a big shield…

Nowadays I mostly hunt in Devon and Somerset, riding lovely thoroughbred horses blessed with amazing stamina – going up and down those hills there for 6-7 hours…

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The Petal Dress

#tbt – it was just over a year ago – and the petals are still holding up well!

A Damsel in This Dress

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Well, Spring has truly begun in the UK, and as soon as the  trees started to blossom, I was on a mission – it was time for the spring part of our seasonal collection ( following Autumn made with leaves, and the two winters; Polaris  with snowflakes and Desolation with lunaria). The sketch was done  months earlier, and I knew what I was after – a dress made with real petals – the oriental inspired look was added en route somewhere:-)

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 I wanted to use real petals – but ones that wouldn’t wither and die in a day or two. The answer was The Real Petal Confetti Company – I used their petals for my wedding, over 2 years ago, and the left overs are still going strong in my cupboard. The samples were ordered, and once delivered, I experimented with different adhesives to see which ones work best…

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Corsets!

A nice write on our visit to Cambridge last week 🙂

Cambridge Ladybirds WI

When planning the programme for 2015 we wanted to ensure that at least a couple of months were dedicated to remembering the WI centenary and got us thinking a little bit more about the ladies who would have been attending meetings 100 years ago. In the first of the centenary themed meetings, we welcomed Izabela Pitcher from Prior Attire, an accomplished historical costumer, corsetière and historical interpreter to talk to us about the fashions of 1915 and what ladies undergarments looked like. In addition we welcomed Lucas, Izabelas husband who is a fabulous photographer from Pitcheresque Imagery to take some pictures of all the fun! Both came attired in Edwardian day-wear and very fine hats!

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We learnt about the underpinnings worn by our Edwardian counterparts. Corsets in particular have been worn by women for over 500 years and have changed a lot in that time. By 1915 corsets had started…

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Corsetted Victorians and others – myths and reality

A Damsel in This Dress

1851-60 blue ribbed silk corset, Museum of London Prints.  Image Number 002188 1851-60 blue ribbed silk corset, Museum of London Prints. Image Number 002188

“Oh my, this must hurt – how do you breathe in this?!” –  Many re-enactors, (and modern corset wearers), will recognize that remark, whether as a comment under a picture or spoken at an event.  I have heard my fill over the last few years, when dressed in Victorian kit, and the discussions that followed were equally interesting and illuminating for both parties.

Recently I have been browsing through Pinterest boards looking for images  of 1895 corsets, and noticed several nice pictures – yet it was not the pictures that captured my attention, rather the comments and descriptions below that were even more arresting…..

Just a few examples:

* ‘They are lovely, but so uncomfortable’ ( on this pin )

* ‘This is a victorian corset which was used to create the perfect hourglasss figure. This is gorgeous but I can’t imagine…

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My Big Fat Victorian Wedding – St. Audries Park, West Quantoxhead, Somerset. 17th October 2011

3 years ago- happy anniversary to my dashing husband!

A Damsel in This Dress

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 Our wedding day – well, where shall I start? So much was happening in the lead up to this day, and so much happened on the day!  We got engaged on the 1st January, in the midst of Scottish highlands, a few hours after midnight, and a day later most of the details were in place – apart from the venue. We knew precisely what we wanted – a venue with a character, able to accommodate the wedding party on the day, an also one that would allow us to do a post-ceremony hack on its premises – and the last bit proved to be a bit of a problem for many venues.

Image Hunting on Quantocks – view from the hills towards the venue

One thing was obvious from the beginning – although we both currently reside in Bedford, it was Devon and Somerset, especially the Quantocks Hills that…

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Looking the Part 1: Undergarments

a few new notes and photos added!

A Damsel in This Dress

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 OK, so I have been in the business for a while.  I have been re-enacting even longer –  my first gig was in 1997 if I remember well, and I got into costume making almost straight away. True, I was lucky – my first contact with historical interpretation was  guys from Past Pleasures, and after spending a summer travelling with them, observing knights at work at the Tower of London, or strolling alongside 18th century clad characters during the Pantiles festival at Tunbridge Wells, you do learn a bit.  When the summer ended and I returned  to Poland where I lived at the time, I joined a historical fencing group. When told that for Christmas party I need to have a medieval gown, I had at least some vague idea where to look for sources ( well before the internet era!) and  came up with a dress. It was…

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The Petal Dress

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Well, Spring has truly begun in the UK, and as soon as the  trees started to blossom, I was on a mission – it was time for the spring part of our seasonal collection ( following Autumn made with leaves, and the two winters; Polaris  with snowflakes and Desolation with lunaria). The sketch was done  months earlier, and I knew what I was after – a dress made with real petals – the oriental inspired look was added en route somewhere:-)

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 I wanted to use real petals – but ones that wouldn’t wither and die in a day or two. The answer was The Real Petal Confetti Company – I used their petals for my wedding, over 2 years ago, and the left overs are still going strong in my cupboard. The samples were ordered, and once delivered, I experimented with different adhesives to see which ones work best. PVA did the trick….

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 How much to order though? I ordered 13 pints first, and added 6 more later on…. since the dress itself was a simple cheap calico, the price of the petals was the major expense for the project – still,  comparing with historical gowns in silks etc, it came pretty cheap!

The foundation was created in calico –  I adapted my Victorian princess polonaise pattern to create the shape of the top part, and inserted my second zip ever!

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husbands do come in useful… 🙂 pinning the back here…

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mega zip!

 

And then the bottom part was created out of two roughly semi oval pieces…. Think a circle skirt but with a train – so it ends up as an oval… sort of…:-) the two parts of the dress were then stitched together

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 The easy part was done – now for the petals…. the first part of the dress was made during one of my usual Stitch and Bitch sessions with Julia from Sew Curvy.  The available dummy was too slender to fit  my frock, so I roughly padded the thing with spare paper and covered it with clingfilm to prevent the glue from sticking to it.

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smothered in clingfilm….

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and the first petals on!

At the end of the day, I had the top part all covered up….  roughly 7 hours of non stop work…

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the waist was left uncovered – I’d planned a sash there…

 

The following day it was the skirts part – a bit more tricky….

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after another  4 hours….

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 Then the dress was neatly packed into the car for the return trip home…

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 Home – what shall i do with the rest of the evening – well, surprise surprise, more petalling!  It was  mildly addictive – or maybe I was just a bit obsessive? Just… One…. more… petal…..!

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 Well, at that point I  ran out of petals  and time. so more petals were ordered and I had 2 week break to work on commissions etc.

   While waiting for the petals to arrive, I practiced make up and hair do….

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the first attempt….

 

We also sourced the location –  and at that point Paul from Mockford Photography joined the frenzy and suggested Japanese style gardens as an alternative to a cherry orchard ( they seem to be rather scarce near Bedford…). In the end we settled on the Peace Pagoda in Milton Keynes,  and after obtaining the monks permission to  shoot there, we named the day, trying for the day with the best forecast…

Paul was also pinning some interesting images onto our Pinterest board –  and something is telling me that we are going to revisit some of the images in a different attire, allowing for a greater freedom of movement…. so watch the space….

The dress was finished  the day before the shoot – and the glue dried nicely overnight. In the morning we packed our toys and drove to the Pagoda. The weather was nothing as forecast, steady cloud cover, but we did get a glimpse of sun towards the end.

The location was perfect – lovely Zen styled gardens, and an authentic Japanese cherry  tree – in full blossom! both Lucas and Paul took turns shooting and assisting, as both had very distinctive ideas of the resulting images they wanted to achieve. Me, I was just  trying not to get too cold and  to hold on the the eyelashes ( turned out I used rubbish glue….)

 

The video documenting the creation and showcase pictures is here – do have a look!

The results –  first, piccies by Pitcheresque Imagery

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 and some gems from Mockford Photography

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 Paul’s blog with more pictures is here

 and just to finish it , a few behind the scenes shots!

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Paul at work

 

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   So  it is all done – and   just to let you know, the petal are still holing strong a year on…..  though the frock did have a make over in November – have a look what it looks like in a halloween edition!

 Oh, and the summer edition is already  being planned…. expect corn dollies, poppies and cornflowers as inspiration 🙂

A Spectacular-Spectacular masked ball

our masquerade ball through the eyes of one of the guests!

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I’ve been meaning to blog about this gorgeous event for a week now, but after an unfortunate formatting disaster, I needed a mourning period to recover from the loss of some rather lovely images. All is not lost however, and I can still share some of this spectacular event, that made me feel like a princess for a day.

The masked ball took place at Heatherden Hall at Pinewood Studios, and was organised by Izabella from Prior Attire, who makes the most exquisite costumes. Her own dress was made in two days just before the ball and she made quite a few of the other guest’s outfits, with amazing attention to detail. You can see her in the image below

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I didn’t have the bucks or the time to get myself such a fabulous gown, but in true Cinderella fashion, managed to clobber together an outfit from a lucky…

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