Saturday, August 26, 2017

Green and White 1860s

This summer was busy. It was the kind of summer when it's easy to just close up the sewing room and not think about making anything until things quiet down...but I also had a big finale at the end of the summer I wanted to be dressed for: Historical Dance Week in Denmark. So close up the sewing room I did not!

in Christiansfeld, Denmark
As I mentioned in my last post I had fabric waiting to be made into a new 1860s dress, and the Denmark dance week seemed like a perfect deadline to set myself. Even though the 1860s is one of my favorite periods to wear (and dance!), it's been several years since I made a new dress because the sheer volume of fabric means everything needs extra time--hemming, decorating, construction--and I am notoriously bad at leaving myself enough time for projects.

But this time was different! Mostly, anyways. I was still hand stitching trim and closures after dance classes ended for the day, but in general this project really confirmed for me how far I've come in the last few years. I started with enough time to actually do the project right, I didn't skip steps, and I am so happy with the result! Hooray!

Some construction details:

the bodice is based on TV442, with an adjusted neck and waistline for my short-waisted, round-shouldered self
 There are actually two fabrics in this dress--I spent a long time at the fabric store running around to find two matching cream, slightly textured faux silks! Most of the bodice and the base of the skirt are the plain fabric, and the ruffles, sleeve caps, and bertha are the embroidered fabric.
the sleeves were an experiment, and I was pleased with the final result! After I took this picture I stuffed the poofy undersleeve, which I like better

lining up ruffles to attach the the skirt

construction help
My fabric had a wide border design and the center was filled in with regularly-spaced "medallions" in rows, all embroidered with metallic green cord that was couched onto the faux taffeta with fishing line. The ruffles on the skirt are made from the border embroidery design, and the other bodice details (sleeve cap, bertha) use the medallions. I spent a lot of time picking out embroidery for this dress! In order to get the blank space I wanted (at the top of each ruffle, around the bertha, and on the sleeve cap) I ended up picking out the bits of embroidery I didn't want. I was really lucky, because ironing the pieces got rid of the holes--sometimes with dead dinosaur fabrics that doesn't work.

cooling down on the porch in between dances--it gets hot in the ballroom!
I felt like a giant cupcake in this dress, and it was a blast. I'm not usually in princess mode, because we're usually running the event. I'm the one lifting furniture, washing dishes, plating refreshments...and throwing my clothes on at the last minute. Not that I don't love doing those things, but it was kind of fun to feel like a princess. All I had to do was get dressed and show up!

in all of these photos my face is blurry...oh well, my face isn't the important part!

the bertha has one medallion at center front, and two medallions at the back. Both the bertha and sleeve caps are trimmed with green velvet ribbon
To complete the princessy feel, I did a royally inspired hairstyle. I've been really into braided circlets at the front of the hair, probably because I recently acquired a fake braid that is just about right to circle the front of my head. Either rolls or braids at the front of the hair show up quite a bit in magazines of the mid-60s, but the style is perhaps most associated with Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) of Austria and Bavaria.
Image result for empress sissi
Empress Elisabeth, mid 1860s
Peterson's Magazine, 1864
Godey's, c. late 1860s
I did indeed use my fake braid, and then my actual hair is looped around a rat to keep it low in the back. I have a comb in the back with sparkles and pearls (which I wore as bun bling with my 1817 dress in Scotland), and a tiara at the front, because this was a fancy European ball and I was really leaning into the princess thing.

I was so pleased with this dress, and it was the perfect thing to wear for such an elegant evening. I'm already looking forward to wearing ruffles again at home!

historical adventures are much better with friends