Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Making A Ball Gown ~ Finished

Ball Gown Update 2/4/15 ~ My dearest husband decided to surprise me with tickets to the Winter Ball in Gettysburg last Saturday. I was fortunate to have been told and was able to start at the beginning of January. As you can imaging, I worked daily to get my gown finished before the event. This lovely surprise moved my due date for this project up an entire month. Here's what I completed:

The first thing that I had to do was to remake my cage.... again. Our trip to Cedar Creek really destroyed it. I also added an attached bum roll to help with a back thrust for my skirts. I really like how it turned out but looking at the pictures, I think that I could go wider with my cage.

I do confess that most of the work went into the flounced petticoat or under skirt. There are 11 flounces and each one took an entire day. They are all hand hemmed and hand gathered. However, I did use the machine to attach the flounces to the base skirt. My favorite part about this petticoat is that I can use it under the wrapper that I have planned as well as for the skirt of my new sheer.

The silk for the bodice and over skirt came from It's called "Bronze Brown Silk Taffeta" and has an embroidered check design. I do confess that when I first opened the package I almost cried.... it looked like curtains. It had taken so long to arrive and I didn't have any time to send it back and order something else. I shoved it back into the bag and tried to forget about it for a few days. Finally, I pulled it back out and draped it on my mannequin. After a few days of looking at it draped like that, it slowly started to look like dress fabric.

The bodice and over skirt were finished in about a week. I used Past Patterns 704 for this and really like how the double puff sleeve turned out. I used a straight size 18, only taking in the side seams about 1/4 inch on each side. I also put in a gathering stitch to narrow the sleeve openings but other than that I made no alterations. It would have been nice if there was an actual bertha pattern included.

The bows were made from black silk satin organza. I wanted to use wide silk ribbon but everything that I saw was very limp and wouldn't have given the look that I was going for. The fabric was ripped into strips and hemmed on both sides. Then the bow was made and two were attached to the over skirt and one went into my hair.

I am already planning my improvements for this gown. I'm going to add a sheer bertha decorated with strips of the bodice fabric (if I have enough) and take a little bit off on the side seams of the bodice. I had wanted to also make a new under skirt of silk but after the gown was stepped on so many times and drug on the dirty ground, I may just stay with a washable (and bleach-able) fabric.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

12/09/2014 - Wouldn't you know that as soon as I start on a major project, like making a quilt, along comes another major project, like making a ball gown. We are hosting a party that includes a dance master, gowns and a lovely historic venue. So, of course I have to have a ball gown. After all, you can't hostess a ball without one, right?

Here are some ideas that appeal to me:

I'm going for a two part dress such as the red one above. I really like the open bodice style.

The ruffled underskirt is very nice on this one. For mine, I'm thinking a white underskirt and a colored over skirt.

I especially like this red one. 

I love this painting of Lady Elizabeth Gilstrap (1822-1891) by Richard Buckner (Newark Town Council, Newark, Nottinghamshire UK) . You can see her flounced, sheer under skirt. 

Currently, I have no silk. So, a sheer flounced underskirt would be a great place to start. I have until the end of February to finish my dress. Wish me luck!

Other Inspirational Gowns:

Here is a lovely example of a sheer flounced ball gown from the MET Museum

Godey's Lady's Book, December 1859
I adore the blue one on the far left. Is that 13 rows of flouncing that I see? Here's the description: Fig. 1. we have one of those characteristic tunic dresses, introduced of late, and notable for their novelty at least. Underskirt or petticoat of white silk, covered by innumerable small flounces. Tunic and corsage of blue satin; sleeves of white silk, with a ruche of blue; berthé trimmed with point lace.

Peterson's Magazine 1860
I had been wondering if ribbon trimmed flounces would be an option... and it looks like they are. Fig. I. -Evening-dress of White Tulle, trimmed with eleven narrow tulle flounces, edged with blonde and narrow currant-colored velvet. A tunic of spotted tulle is trimmed with a broader velvet, a long wreath of velvet flowers, and a large bow of velvet ribbon. The sleeves and the berthe, which is of a heart shape, are trimmed to correspond with the skirt. Wreath of green leaves and velvet flowers. 

I really like this yellow one as well. I could use some gold silk that I have for the bodice and bows and order something that coordinates for the over skirt.

No comments:

Post a Comment