The Gold Gown, market and a Regency Ball 2015

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 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

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 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.

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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.

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 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.

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Merlin was happy as for once he was allowed on the silk. normally it is off-limits but since it was my own stuff, I did not mind – and he did enjoy overseeing the work.

  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.

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 Sleeves were next – and they were the most time-consuming…

 Cutting up the base and the satin layer first –

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 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.

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Sleeve gathered on both sides

Once the gathers were positioned, I was able to add the overlay with the cut out holes and the gold metallic trim

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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.

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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…

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The stall, ready!

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Farthingale Hats stall. Yes, I did get a new hat….

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Amy’s (Costume Shop) stand where Lucas purcahsed his replacement hose; clocked, no less!

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I was sporting the redingote which I made last year – more on making that here. I still love it!

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Hair Story with their wonderfull wigs and hairpieces… And yes, I have commissioned some hair from them since…

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A dashing young fellow!

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The silhouette cutter was super popular!

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My Customers were sporting their Prior Attire bling – Janet picked up two new hats from me, and it was the first outing of the military style spencer… David’s finery was made a year ago – more on its making here.

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…

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    do love my regency long stays, the are comfortable and provide anazing ahem, lift…. here shown with a petticoat

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    You can see here how the layers worked

    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 ? 🙂

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    We snatched this one at the break as everybody rushed to grab some food…

    and more generic photos of the dancing  etc 🙂

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Loved the blue gown!

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Zack from Pinsent Tailoring, in the tightest breaches ever – check out his work, very good!

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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 🙂

Regency Outfits Sept 15-35

front

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A tiny bit too big, otherwse I think I would be keeping it to myself!

this is my favourite – super smooth cotton, with removable long sleeves:-)

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Undersleeves removed

We even made a short video about how to put on a regency brassiere: – enjoy!

Many thanks to PItcheresque Imagery for the photos!

1815 Redingote a la Hussarde

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For our  Regency stay in Bath I needed something for daywear. I had the evening attire, but apart from my riding habit, I didn’t have anything suitable. I had limited financial resources, but was able to put aside a few days for stitching – so the idea was to invest more in time rather than in the materials per se.  For Regency that simply meant using cotton:-) A quick browse though the costume books and boards, and I set my heart on that lovely redingote from the Kyoto Institute of Fashion, all in white cotton, with pom poms and insane amounts of piping.  Cotton fabric is cheap, so most of the expense would be the pompoms and the accessories – and so a decision has been made.

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Materials:

6m of plain cotton ( for top layer and lining) ( approximately £45)

66 pompoms ( all handmade in cotton by Gina B) ( £120)

piping materials – cord and bias cotton tape – 36 metres ( !!!) ( £20)

10 pairs of hooks and eyes ( £2.00)

cotton lace ( broderie anglaise) – £12

calico for patterning

 

Time – about  20 hours

I experimented with the patterning first, to create the collar and upper bodice pieces. I used first the dummy and once I had the basics in place, I put it on myself, wearing stays ( modern dummies have  their busts in a very different position!)

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The skirts and sleeves were easy, didn’t have to do mock ups from them but used my blocks – so far so good!

The tricky part was the piped elements – I have never done piping before, and although it is strange to embark on a heavily piped garment without prior experience, I do Like a challenge. So I read some instructions  ( very good introduction on Historical Sewing!)practiced  on a bit of spare cotton,  and then whizzed all 36 metres of it.

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that’s the first batch…

Then it was time to apply it onto the  tabs…

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tabs on the front panel of the skirts

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took a few hours, that did, very boring hours… first the sirs, then the bodice, oversleeves and  and cuffs…

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It was at that point that I noticed that the slits on the hem, oversleeves and collar are well, let us say, distinctively feminine looking, and from that point on the redingote got a working name – The Pussy Frock….:-)

Next stage was to mount  the piped elements onto the proper pieces… this stage had to be done all by hand, and it took forever. to sweeten the labour, a suitable viewing was required…. 🙂

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2 episodes later, one side is done…

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the oversleeves

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the cuff

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bodice piping mounted

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The pussies on the hem….

 

Once all the piping was sorted and on, the redingote was assembled, lined, hooks and eyes added, belt added – and then the pompoms were sewn on:-)

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all ready!

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and then it struck me – I might actually need  a walking dress  to go on top of my petticoat….. we planned to do some  dance practice and redingote, lovely as it is, may not be the best choice to prance around the dancefloor…

a 4 metres of self striped cotton and 5 hours later I had a simple day dress sorted…

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The proper hat was almost ready for Bath – almost, I had trouble with the cockerel feathers mounting so in the end I decided go go for a different bonnet – straw base decorated with ribbon s and flowers. I finished it later on – but still not happy with it, I am not re-thinking the feathers mount options….

still, for the time being we got this:-)

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   As for the layers – I am wearing a linen chemise, a long line corset,  a petticoat,  a day dress, stockings, shoes, hats etc…. quite a lot.

  The whole outfit is surprisingly comfortable and the piping makes it quite heavy too.  the best things is, when it gets dirty, you just wash it  with no special care – after all, it is all cotton!

 What I need now is a spencer, I think…. and a woolen pelisse for colder days.. .and another ball gown….. 🙂

 Credits:

 clothes – Prior Attire;

 boots – unbelievably comfy ones from American Duchess – when they arrived I suspected the heel will chafe – but after 3 hours of walking and 2 hours of dancing, my feet were snug and comfy – so a great buy!

 umbrella – Sherri Light; I supplied the silk, Sherri covered an antique frame and added antique silk fringe. Love it!

 stockings, ribbons and  straw hat base – Dressing History

 pompoms – Gina B Silkworks

 photography –Pitcheresque Imagery

First Impressions – Regency Ball

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Pray excuse my blatant use of the original, unofficial title of ‘Pride and Prejudice’, but it was exceedingly appropriate here for once 🙂

Let me explain.

Last weekend we partook of a Regency Ball in Bath – marking the end of the week-long festivities going on there during the 14th annual Jane Austen festival. It was our first ball there, and my first visit to Bath –  Regency is not my favourite period and I felt that I couldn’t be bothered to make something specifically for the occasion, but as last December  I had to make an evening gown for the 1820 Christmas feature for NBC (details here), I thought – I have the frock, I might just as well use it! Since Lucas had appropriate kit ( his wedding gear plus a pair of new breeches I cobbled together ), the decision was made and tickets were bought.

More on the clothes that I finally did make in other posts –  today we are looking at our own ‘First Impressions’…

 

 

The Ball was a fantastic event- even better, there was a dance practice in the afternoon, preparing us for the exertions of the evening, and the town was lovely – especially the gardens. In the evening there were about 200 people strolling around, dancing, drinking, playing cards and other games – a very convivial evening. The food was fantastic and there was plenty of it, and the musicians excelled.

All together, a perfect evening – we danced until we could hardly walk, we talked and laughed ’til we couldn’t speak and generally had fun.

Of course, all through the evening,  my professional costumier’s eye was noting the details of the clothes being worn. Naturally, there were no ‘authenticity police’ rigorously barring the entrance  to all those whose kit didn’t pass ‘historical inspection’ – so a huge variety in quality was observed.

Some dresses were amazing, some mediocre, some fairly awful – however,this was not a fashion show but a social occasion so it didn’t really matter. The idea was for everybody to have fun – and so no unkind words were said by anybody, which I thought was terrific – after all, many guests simply rented the costumes for the evening, or cobbled things together for themselves at the last minute, whereas others had evidently been sewing for years and preparing for the occasion for months.  Good breeding shows in good manners, and manners were excellent all round that night!

Having said all that, my professional inner self was taking notes – I noticed a few interesting facts and thought I share them with you.

It was interesting to notice that on average the gentlemen’s wear was of a much higher quality than ladies’: all the men looked very dashing, be they in regimental or civilian gear. I may not be too enthusiastic about the ladies wear of the era, but by Jove, the men’s fashions were just amazing. What was even more interesting – the cut of the dolmans, jackets, tailcoats, etc, made all the blokes walk and move differently, with a proud and graceful posture – no slouching, no dragging feet or shuffling to be seen. Amazing!

As far as ladies wear is concerned, I realised  a very peculiar thing. The costumier in me looked at every gown, true – but as the evening progressed I noticed that the ladies who stood out most and looked the most authentic were not necessarily the ones with the best dresses…  It was the lasses who took care of all the elements together who looked the best overall. I have previously ranted at length about period silhouette, hair, accessories, etc (links to the  relevant posts  at the end of this post), and now I have the perfect proof.

Some amazingly well made dresses, all hand stitched silks, lovingly embroidered hems, etc, looked rather sad without their proper undergarments, (and yes, a lady’s posture without them is immediately recognisable); a few otherwise lovely gowns were also somewhat marred by modern hairdos and faces caked with make up and mascara.

On the other hand, there were gowns that were not really that well made, or where the fabrics were not that fantastic – but they looked spot-on as the wearer invested in proper undergarments (or perhaps had a naturally Regency suited figure ;-), had a proper hairdo (and not necessarily a complex one – there were a some very good, simple hairstyles that worked beautifully!), and went easy on the modern make up.
Add a pair of gloves, a shawl  and sometimes a reticule – and  all together the wearer stood out from the crowd – not merely a woman in fancy party dress, (however good it might be), but a woman truly wearing the clothes of the era.

The effect of taking such care was really amazing- indeed it was often easy to overlook how simple a dress really was, or what fabric was used – because it was the whole picture that caught the eye, not the mere details.
And it so happens that a girl in a borrowed,  poorly- fitting or cheaply made dress looked better (and at no great cost!) than  some ladies who spent a fortune on an elaborate silk gown but neglected the rest. The underwear and details do make such a difference – So voila – the First Impressions!

And yes, some first impressions would not pass a closer look unscathed – but for this particular occasion it simply didn’t matter 🙂

Disclaimer: It is not my intention to offend anyone with this post, criticize their outfits  etc. it is just an impartial observation about the difference the attention to detail can make.

Promised links –

Looking the part1:(undergarments)

Looking the part 2 ( hair and make up)

 Looking the part 3 ( accossories)

 

and a few photos from the event!

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great cap and bonnet combo!

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yep, that’s us!

 

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loved that blue gown in the later style, fantastic!

 

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