Friday, February 6, 2015

Costume de Bal

I was lucky enough to get tickets again this year for Pasadena's Jane Austen Evening. It really is a lovely event. A nice mix of people. Dancers and costumers and those that do both. I was lucky enough to finally meet some ladies I have only met online, and also see some fantastic costumes. I must say, I think the most gorgeous outfit was an 1820's ensemble. Perfect hair, perfect dress. I wish I had thought to take a picture!

But isn't that just what happens when you're having fun? I totally forget about the camera. I wish I had gotten some better pictures of myself, too, but here is what I have. 

I really lucked out in the fabric department for this outfit. I did some deep internet searching and scored some really fantastic dupattas from India. Three matching ones became my dress and the fourth was just perfect as is; as a shawl. There's some better pictures further down. 

The coral tiara also got to come out and play! How amazing to think that 200 years later, it's back at a ball! Last year's embroidered purse came, too. 

Oo look! I'm dancing. Well, about to anyway.

Below is a better picture of the shawl. Ooo it was so perfect! One of those rare finds that make you go YES! So very reminiscent of this one, or this one. The shoes were very pretty, if very uncomfortable. They're from Robert Land. They were a one off, so I bought them even though they were a size too small. My toes hurt for two days after! I tried to stretch them out before hand, but with all the dancing, ah well...

And then, the dress. 

I just adore the fabric. It was the most delicate gauze, dotted with hand embroidered boteh motifs. I was lucky enough to find three matching dupatta stoles. After cutting away the borders and fringe, I had just barely enough to make the dress. On the right sleeve, you can see some piecing, and there is even one skirt panel that had to be inside out. 

The pattern was draped over last year's bodice. I narrowed the shoulder straps, added a waistband, and changed the sleeves and the front. The hem was also made appropriate for dancing. Last year, I cheated and pinned my train up. The neckline, waistline and sleeves all have drawstrings. The seam allowances are all overcast, since the fabric was so delicate.

Because of the sheerness of the overdress and length of the hem, I needed to make a new petticoat. I copied the pattern of the bodice, minus the sleeves and made a bodied petticoat. It covered my stays, but their lines still showed through. For the next wearing, I'll have to either add lining to the bodice's front piece, or rethink my stays.

A very last minute addition to my outfit was a sleeveless shift. When I tried on the outfit with my short-sleeved shift, I ended up looking kind of messy and boring. I was just all white with rumply sleeves. I ended up machine sewing most of this, because of time constraints, but it really helped the outfit. I made it out of cotton lawn and patterned it after my other shift. I knocked it out in about two hours. Score! I think I'll go back, when I have time, and hand sew the machine seams.

These undies were also my Historical Sew Monthly project number one. So...

The Challenge: foundations

Fabric: cotton lawn

Pattern: draped by me

Year: about 1800 - 1810

Notions: thread, 1/8" cotton twill for drawstrings

How historically accurate is it? As close as I knew how, except for some machine sewing on the shift.

Hours to complete: petticoat, I didn't keep track. Shift, about two hours.

First worn: Jane Austen Evening. January 31st, 2015

Total cost: stash, so free lol :)


  1. It's absolutely stunning! I'm in awe! :)

  2. Aw, thank you, ladies. What nice comments to wake up to :)

  3. Stunning! You did a fantastic job on this dress! Such an inspiration!