A long overdue post on a rather splendid ball we attended in London, in December. The Buttercup Ball was organized by Stuart Marsden ( the dance master for our Victorian ball last year – and this year’s edition too!) … Continue reading
Welcome to another of our tutorials aimed at the folk getting their gear ready for the Victorian Ball. In this one I am going to provide a step by step guide on how to make the iconic round crinoline cage, perfect … Continue reading
In the previous tutorial we dealt with undergarments (drawers, chemise and a petticoat), and the crinoline cage is explained here). So, it is now time to tackle the gown itself! Again, since this series is mostly dedicated to the guests of … Continue reading
Last year we had a lovely time at out first Regency ball, part of the annual Jane Austen celebration in Bath (see post on that here). This year the dates were changed a bit, which meant that the Ball was on the first Saturday of the festival, and there was a market earlier on in the day too. So, two birds with one stone – we could go and trade to earn our living in the day, and in the evening we could go and have a good dance at the ball!
The usual dilemma ocurred – What to wear? I had my old evening gown, but it would be nice to make something new. As I had only 5 days to prepare regency dresses for sale, I decided to get the stock items sorted first and to work on my own frock if I had some time spare.
I already knew what I would be using as an inspiration – this gown from the Met museum
I already had some lovely gold semi-transparent silk in my stash, so all I needed to get was lace, decoration and the silk satin for the base of the dress. I didnt really like the pearl trim on the original, so decided on an alternative, but all of the components were ready and waiting, just in case I managed to make time for it!
In the end I finished all the stock dresses on Friday moring – and we were to leave Friday night. I had about 8 hours. Well, you know that I do like challenges….
One thing has to be said – working on the stock meant that whilst handstitching other frocks I had time to think about the gold gown construction even before I started to work on it. I must admit, it did take me some time – mostly because I simply couldn’t see how it closed! Yes, you can see the sheer overgown ties in front, but what about the satin gown? You can zoom in quite a lot on the Met site so you can see clearly that there are no rows of buttons or ties at the back under the sheer, nothing at the side or front, no button closures, no bib closure, no tie closures… A mystery!
I started zooming in to maximum and checking every detail – and finally I found it! On the back, right of centre-back, you can just about see something on the satin layer that could be called a button and a loop, at the neck egde.
I new that must be it – After thinking a little more, and analysing the cut I arrived at a very simple pattern idea – basically a sack with fitted neckline. I tried the idea on a mock-up first, making the top part of the gown in calic; it worked. I actually didn’t even need the button, the thing just slips ovehead and a simple tie does the rest.
So on the day I cut the gown in silk satin, sewed it, hemmed it, lined the bodice, etc – in other words it was ready for the overgown and the sleeves.
That was the easy part…. the overgown was next – and whereas it is basically a loose robe, it took the most time due to all the finishing – cutting precise facings in flimsy sheer fabric is not my idea of fun! But the facings were cut, sewn, handstitched and metallic lace attached – then they were just awaiting the posh trim I wanted to use in place of the pearls.
Sleeves were next – and they were the most time-consuming…
Cutting up the base and the satin layer first –
Then preparing the space for the gathering and placing the gathers in suitable places so that that they formed ‘pulling-outs’ – just as in Tudor sleeves.
Once the gathers were positioned, I was able to add the overlay with the cut out holes and the gold metallic trim
I was getting excited by this stage… All that now remained was getting the sleeves together, lining them, sewing into the armbands and then into the armhole, (both the satin and the sheer layers of the dress).
And it was almost ready – just a little belt to add, made from the sheer (I tried to attach it to pregathered sheer underneath like in the original, but after speding an hour I decided I didnt like it – so outside it went. Only the posh trim remained, and that could be done before the ball next day.
We packed up, drove to Bath (3 hours), checked into the hotel and collapsed…
Next day saw us setting up the stall at the market in the Guildhall – and we had 4 jolly hours of trading there…
After the market we packed up the remaining goods, drove back to the hotel and collapsed (again). But we had a ball to go to! I was so tired, that honestly, if it hadnt been for the fact that there was food on offer I probably wouldnt have gone… But we knew Searcy’s would deliver a great meal (we were not disappointed as it turned out), so after a power nap I got my act together and sorted out the braid on the dress:-). Then it was time to get dressed…
And so, off to the ball we went – armed with a big camera too! We had an amazing time, despite being so tired (I danced every other dance to conserve my energy), and the meal was superb… pictures below!
The gold dress first – I am rather happy with it – the design worked surprisingly well 🙂 Will probably sell it at some point, as I simply cannot go to the ball next year in the same frock, can I ? 🙂
I admit that we did leave ‘just’ before the ball ended – I was falling asleep! As it turned out, combining a working day with an evening of fun doesnt really work for me 😦
Still, we had a good night’s rest, a good brekkie and were on our way home soon. Once back home we decided to take the opportunity to photograph the remaining dresses – they are now available in the shop – click on the links to see the listing 🙂 I look tired but the gowns looked well, and that is enough for the shop 🙂
We even made a short video about how to put on a regency brassiere: – enjoy!
Many thanks to PItcheresque Imagery for the photos!
Victorian Delights take place in Leighton House, London in May – the event is a part of a nationwide themed events called Museums at Night, when museums stay open after hours and provide some additional entertainment. Prior Attire has been honoured to participate in the event for the second time this year – though this post will share the impressions from both 2012 and 2013 events.
Our first time in Leighton House – and what a spectacular place! We were hired to provide background characters for the Victorian Themed event – and the 3 of us: our friend Eve, my husband Lucas and me, made our way to London on a rather rainy Friday afternoon. Our job was to mingle with the visitors, pose for photographs and generally provide inspiring conversation and serve as a Victorian eye candy.
we all dress ed the part – Eve, was happy to wear her new dress I have just finished for her – in bright colours, a start contrast to her usual black – Eve often works as Queen Victoria, hence the mourning… on this occasion, she adopted a different character – a garishly dressed wife of a Nuveau Riche – a stair rod seller.
Lucas and I however at that time did not have much of a choice as far as Victorian garb was involved – we both wore our wedding outfits – very suitable since a bride would be wearing her wedding satins in the 2 years following her nuptials, when she was visiting relatives etc. still, the clothes worked well, and I even aquired a proper Victorian sketching pad and a pencil – I do draw and since Leighton House is all about art, it was a suitable think to carry – and use, and it served very well as a conversational gambit.
The hours passed quickly on chatting, drawing, posing, more chatting – altogether a very good time was had by all.
Altogether, a lovely event and it was great to be involved. The following year, with a few mprovements, we vowed, would be even better.
And you know what?
This time it was arranged for a bigger scope – and the event had a much more structured feel to it. Again, Prior Attire was hired – as was Eve, in her traditional capacity as Queen Victoria. Eve’s husband, Steve assumed the role of Sir Henry Ponsonby, the Queen’s private secretary, and our friend, Eleanor, was her Mistress of the Robes.
Lucas and I were a part of the retinue – again mingling and chatting, mostly talking about Victorian etiquette and manners, especially important as the Queen was holding an audience, so it was the responsibility of us all to make ure her Majesty is addressed properly . I also delivered a talk on the secret language of the fan, demonstrating how a simple fashion accessory can be instrumental in sending messages to eligible men….
The evening was great – lovely weather, lots of interesting people flocking into the Hous, period music playing in the background, people queuing for the caricaturist, discussing art, manners – or shady medicinal knowledge with the quack… and evening not to be forgotten!
at the end of the day, traditionally, we indulged in a little photo shoot – enjoy!
my new gown definitely went well with the surroundings! more on the gown’s creation here:
and so, after another successful night, we are hoping that next year it will be just as good – or Better! 🙂
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