Georgian Ball in Bath, March 2015

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It all started innocently enough – I was approached to create a set of Georgian attire for a ball by  new customers, a lovely couple.

We discussed the designs, fabrics , fitting schedule etc, and it was all going smoothly – and then I just had to ask: what ball is it anyway?

And hearing it is the one in Bath, organized by the Bath Minuet Company, we just had to go along and buy tickets….. after all we did enjoy the Regency Ball there a lot! And Eleanor, our friend jumped at the opportunity and joined in – and commissioned a frock too. So suddenly I ended up with having  2 big commissions plus trying to get some time to make Lucas; kit – and maybe there would be just enough time to get mine sorted too – I had my pink robe anglaise, just in case I wouldn’t, but since I got some lovely brocade last November, I did hope to be able to knock something out for myself too.

Eleanor’s set was done first, as she was available for fittings early… After much deliberation on which fabrics o use, Eleanor decided on a crispy mat silk in slate – we had quite a lot of and it went very well with pink roses and gold braid, and the design was loosely based on the robe francaise worn by Mme de Pompadour.

the foundations were first – stays, and pocket hoops in silk!

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then the petticoat, and draping on the francaise –  there was loads of fabric going into it!

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playing with the trim…

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the gown and basic trim ready, now just the roses and the stomacher

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sleeve before pinking – I pined it at the last moment, as although the fabrics didn’t fray much, we wanted the edges sharp for the event:-)

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decoration on the petticoat – frills, flounces and roses

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and a very important moment – once the roses were out of the box, Merlin jumped in It was the very first time in the last 3 years when he actually willingly went into a box… weird moggy

 

 

The original commission that started the whole Georgian frenzy was interesting too – a suit of black satin for the gentleman, with an embroidered waistcoat, and a robe anglaise, with the cut away front ( zone front) for the lady. Plus set of undergarments for both.

I especially enjoyed working on the embroidery – with silver metallic tread and silk..

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that frame was an amazing investment. well worth it if you are working on larger pieces

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waistcoat ready

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the back

 

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and a frilly shirt

The lady’s kit consisted of a chemise, a pair of stays in silk brocade, skirt supports, skirt in silk satin, with a fringe, and a robe anglaise in striped  silk…

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the stays ready

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detail of the back

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working on the anglaise – after a rial run with the trim we decided against it. the fabric did not lend itself well to piking and the thing frayed like hell, leaving bits of thread everywhere, especially on the white satin…

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the back

with just  2 days to spare I  was pressed for time to work on Lucas kit – and our initial plan of using gold and red pinstripe silk ( breeches, waistcoat and jacket) were discarded in favour for some lovely silk taffetta I was hoarding for myself – but  it meant the colour could go with an original waistcoat Lucas already had, so less work… plus, how could I refuse my husband….

As much as I would like to spend days embroidering his jacket, making fancy buttons etc, we were pressed for time so drastic measures had to be taken – Lucas decided on a  posh modern trim instead. Looks correct and although makes the kit more of a theatre costume than re-enactment piece, for the ball it worked just fine..

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And then with just  8 hours to spare, I had a go at my robe francaise.  I had just enough fabrics to get a francaise and petticoat in it, though not enough for any decoration  and I even had to piece  one sleeve and the flounces. I do love the fabric, and I was very lucky to get it at a reduced price – I payed £40 a metre instead of the usual £75 or so). The ladies at the Sudbury Silk Mill where I got it from said it was because of a fault running through the length, but since I could barely see it, i did not mind at all.

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work in progress

 

And it turned out I had just enough some matching taffeta from my stash to work a trim – paired with a chenille braid:-)

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With just a few bits left to be stitched  later on ( buttons) we were ready – and fortunately our wigs, ordered quite late from the States ( from Historical Hairdresser) arrived with a few days to spare!

The day of the ball was full of mishaps…. first  I woke up with laringitis – voice gone completely….. Then,  1 hour into the drive we realised that Lucas’ lovely waistcoat is still at home….. so had to turn back… Then Bath was clogged up with roadworks and traffic jams. Luckily we were just in time to check into the hotel, get dressed and rush to the dance practice…

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Eleanor at the dance practice, minding our hats… and boots…

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after the practice, waiting for transport… surprisingly enough my redingote worked quite well as an extra layer over the anglaise

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Hotel elevators…. barely big enough for 2…

 

We had a few hours before the ball, so we finished last minute jobs, had a meal and started getting ready. 90 minutes before our carriage was supposed to arrive – and yes, carriage – we booked proper horsey transportation from Courtyard Carriages–   the company called us saying they cannot do it, giving a rather feeble excuse. considering that we booked them  with over a month before, that as a bit of a blow – so folks, if you are ever tempted to book a carriage in bath, Do NOT use them!

Still, we though, we will take a cab.  WE will need a bigger one, to accommodate all the frockage, and so a suitable vehicle was booked, using a dedicated hotel line to a cab company.

But alas – when we got into the lobby, there was not a car to be found…. finally, after 8 calls from us, the hotel etc, and lots of excused on the  side of the cab company, they sent us a car – 50 minutes after the agreed time! needless to say, we were not in the least amused – we basically missed most of the first half of the danceo not remember the name of the company, but if you are in the Travelodge Waterside, do not use the cabs line  there – the hotel staff was very helpful, and it was not their fault, it was purely that the company were managed by an incompetent prat.

 

Still, an hour late, we made it…..

We had a lovely time dancing, chatting, taking photos, doing more dancing and admiring the dance demonstration from the Minuet company – and so the evening went ahead smoothly ( though on my part rather quietly – still no voice – some may argue it was a blessing, especially considering the mishaps – a lot of very bad language would have otherwise occurred…)

Lucas grabbed some photos too – enjoy!

first, the results of all that stitching….

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Kelly and Glen in their finery

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then Eleanor…

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and me:-)

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And a few group shots too…

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here discussing programme for our Victorian ball with our dance master – Stuart Marsden

 

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and a few of the dance demo

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and some outtakes….

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my usual face…

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all together, it was a success and we will gladly come back again:-)

The next day saw us at the Assembly Rooms, meeting with Stuart and the  caterers and discussing our Victorian ball in May –  so looking forward to  it too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow frock shoot – 18th century bridal style!

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Well, if your hubby is an eager photography enthusiast, I suppose one has to suffer for it… So when Lucas  was in need of a model to practice new lighting/exposure/new gadget/ ( insert a suitable photography magic jargon word here) and take photos of the spring fields, what can I girl do? I rummaged through my frocks and the bridal samples to see what would fit me and look good with the back=ground we had in mind, and finally settled on  a frock from our Summer Bridal collection – Jeanette. It is an 18th century inspired dress in lovely silk taffeta –  the look, and styling is based on the 18th century aesthetics, the finish, construction and the cut is modern.

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  In the Summer Bride photoshoot it was worn over a big hoop and net petticoat  suitable to the bridal theme, but for the field version we decided to make it more historical than bridal.   And so, proper stays, pocket hoops, stockings and shoes are worn underneath to render the silhouette a bit closer to the historical ideal. Minimal make up, a re-styled straw hat on braided hair and a basket with freshly cut lilac ( my favourite flowers!) completed the look.  a nearby field was picked and Lucas set to playing with the light…

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speedlight in a fancy poke bonnet 🙂

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dramatic skies in the background…

I spent most of that time first in the car, then standing in the field, huddled in a jumper and wellies…

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and taking bad selfies to pass the time….

 

Once everything was ready, tested, set, re-set etc, i could ditch my jumper and wellies and start doing my job – try to look pretty and graceful while trying to avoid standing on dog turds, puddles, mud etc. The results – below – enjoy!

 

Credits:

Photography: Pitcheresque Imagery

Dress: Prior Engagement

Shoes and stockings – American Duchess

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my lovely shoes and stockings – tried to keep them s mud free as I could!

 

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Robe a la Francaise in yellow brocade

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 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…

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linen stays, handsewn…

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stays in action..

  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.

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pocket hoop fabric ready for assembly

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ta dah!

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….

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trim in the making…

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more trim on the petticoat…

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the skirt…. 🙂

  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.

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pinning away…

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the front…

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sleeves taking shape…. the bodice part and sleeves are made in linen.

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the front part….

And there it is! 🙂 my first attempt- a few things i can improve upon, but happy with the first go result.

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 and worn  on me – here on the set of Horrible HIstories

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Horrible Histories set – you can just about spot me in the back…

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!

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the three frocks  we used – from the left – polonaise en fourreau, robe francaise, robe anglaise

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the Anglaise in dusty pink

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and the polonaise in brocade. made a bit to big ( the shoot was 5 days after my shoulder operation, so made it a tab bigger so that i could squeeze my dressing into the sleeve:-)

 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:-)

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  Now, I still have some more of that fabric – am tempted to make a caraco jacket in it…. 🙂