ballgown

High Point Gown

I recently travelled to High Point, NC to attend my father in law’s, Robert B. Currey, induction into the American Home Furnishings Hall of Fame. I asked my husband what the dress code for the event would be. I was told that my father in law was required to wear a tux but that my husband would be wearing his green tweed suit. With that, I pretty much had no information but I figured the event would be more formal than the majority of my closet. I’d already worn one of my only appropriate dresses the last time I attended an award ceremony for Robert. Not that he would have minded, but yeah, new dress time.

Previously, I had attempted to sew Simplicity 6243 from 1965 as a dress for New Year’s Eve.

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I’d been having great luck with half sized patterns so I’d made the assumption that I’d have a fast, easy sew. I still did a mockup and it’s good that I did because I had definite fit problems. The problems were so frustrating that I put the mockup away and wore something else. It rankled me though.

img_1611I’d used a groovy jungle sheet for my mockup so I was doubly annoyed that it hadn’t gone well. I vowed to figure it out — later.

Later turned into now and I was in a bit of a crunch. I had to make fast decision whether I was going to go shopping or get to sewing. I kept pressing for more info about what kind of dress was really needed. I go to these events to accessorize my husband, his family and the business so I really like to make sure that I turn out well. I finally got the info that floor length would be a good choice but not required. I went through my patterns to see what I could find. I didn’t have much but of the patterns I showed my husband he liked Simplicity  6243 the best. The fact that I had already mocked it up, even unsuccessfully, sealed the deal.

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A dress with similar lines as Simplicity 6243, Pedro Rodriguez Dress – c. 1965, FIDM

6243 is super iconic of the 60s and Jackie Kennedy in particular. Because of that I really wanted to “go there” in terms of fabric. The hubs was all for it so I was pretty excited.

First I had to make that mockup fit. The shoulders were too big and the neckline gaped a bit. I’d already figured that fix. I had drag lines across the hip. I tried a ton of things to fix this: minimizing the waist darts, increasing the waist darts, making the darts longer, making them shorter, taking different seam allowances over the hip, shortening the waist to raise the skirt. I even considered figuring out how to do a swayback adjustment and making a second mockup but that was more work than I was willing to do.

One of the reasons I was having trouble with the fit on this dress is the slightly dropped waist. I feel like that is one of the things that is very emblematic of the mid and late 60s so I didn’t want to lose it. I decided to put all the seams and darts below the waist back to where they were supposed to be per the pattern. Then I did what I should have done all along. Starting under the bust dart I graded my side seam out to just a 1/4 inch allowance. That basically did the trick. I just needed to add 1/2 inch to my side seams. The fix was actually really easy. I’d just way over thought it. With that figured out I just needed some fabric.

I was hoping to find some sort of metallic brocade that I could mix with a solid. Nothing I was finding had the 60s feel I wanted however.

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I came across this frankly kind of weird fabric. It wasn’t anything like what I had in my head. I had been avoiding black. I walked away from it but it stuck with me. I was running out of time and this was my 2nd fabric shop and nothing else was presenting itself. I went back to the tulips. The weight was right, it was satiny and the price was $5.99 a yard. It felt more 80s (probably because those tulips remind me of gold flecked mirror panels and the video for Careless Memories) than 60s but that still worked for me too.

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So here I am in the finished dress at the Gala. It worked great, was very striking versus what most others were wearing and it was very comfortable. Less comfortable was the cringe inducing performance by Donny Osmond.

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I accessorized with my gold BAIT Heels that I got for Princess Daisy, a gold vintage lion bracelet, a crazy huge cocktail ring and some very 80s feeling earrings that I bought specifically for this dress. I later pointed out to my husband that my earrings were more expensive than my dress. They were $45.

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Me and the Mister

And I did finally make the original dress wearable. Yesterday.

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A Starter Regency Wardrobe

I previously posted about my test dress from Laughing Moon #126. I’ve now finished that dress, a ballgown with the same pattern and a bodiced petticoat from Laughing Moon #132. I pretty much have a starter Regency wardrobe. Regency is really fun to wear. It’s so easy and comfy in relation to Victorian. I don’t think it suits me as well but it’s a lot more flattering than I thought it might be. It really is like wearing a couple of nightgowns.

IMG_0486My 1st Regency outing was to Dress Like a Georgian Day! a picnic at Fenton House in London. It was pretty exciting to actually wear Regency clothes to a house that had its last major renovations during the Regency.

IMG_0503I felt right on target even thought most of the other people who attended were wearing clothes from earlier in the Georgian period.

IMG_0502.jpgThe London weather that day turned out to be glorious. It was a bit warm but breezy and sunny. Really a perfect day for a picnic in a lovely manicured garden.

IMG_0494I did not have my bodiced petticoat done before my trip to London. I bought a white cotton nightgown to wear as a sort of shift / some sort of undergarment. I made a capote (tutorial info here) by hand during an impromptu craft night with my London friends. I made the chemisette in a class at last year’s Costume College.

For my Regency ballgown I planned to use a vintage sari as my main fabric. It is purple and lavender with black embroidery that looks like wheat. It just seemed so perfect and it was $20 from this eBay seller. Being vintage, it did have a couple of flaws but they were easily worked around. I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do for the gown though so while in London I went to Goldhawk Road to look for some companion fabric. I found some lavender silk that was both the perfect color and the perfect level of sheen to match my sari. While the price was not bad I certainly blew out the economy of the sari with that purchase. I didn’t end up using anywhere near the yardage I bought so I have more than enough to make a Victorian bodice or something with the rest.

When I got home, I first finished my bodiced petticoat. This turned out really long. I ended up cutting seven inches off the hem which obliterated 3 of my five tucks.

IMG_0619The ballgown went together quickly. I meant to make puffy ballgown sleeves but I ended up cutting the wrong view. Since I used the pallu end of the sari there wasn’t enough additional fabric to recut the sleeves. Not really what I was going for but it looked fine enough.

IMG_0672I used what was left of the pallu to fashion some sort of turbanish headdress. I decorated it with gold trim and gold feathers from my stash. The silver bodice trim is also stash and was purchased from Barnett Lawson on a previous London visit. I bought olive colored jewelry from Dames a la Mode trunk sale to complete my ensemble. I wore black Ghillies from Payless (they are on sale right now).

IMG_0704I’m pretty pleased with this dress. I think the apron front needs a little tweaking and the neckline of my bodiced petticoat is still too high. I think I may just make another pettiocoat rather than re-engineer the one I have. It seems less frustrating and I can fix a couple other small annoyances.

IMG_0700I wore both dresses at Costume College. For my blue day dress look I added a wide ribbon with a greek style motif to my capote. I also wore my blue Manchester boots from American Duchess. My roommate Stephanie wore Regency the same days I did so we made a nice pair. We even played German Whist in the lobby in our Regency gear. Sadly I don’t have a photo of that but it was super fun!