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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

· A Regency Ballgown for Kathryn ·

With a fancy Regency Ball to be attended last December, my friend Kathryn needed a dress suitable for the occasion!

There was a lot of agonizing over what style to settle upon, but one thing was certain- she wanted silk.  She also wanted something very drapey, so we settled on a silk habotai.  The gold color was partially just a result of the fabric available, but I'm so glad that's what she chose!  The color is stunning on her, and is perfect for the style and the setting! :-)

The dress closes in the back with covered buttons.
And just act like you didn't see those machine-sewn buttonholes.  I probably should be so shamed by them that I learn how to make nice hand-sewn buttonholes, but I'm not. Yet.

Maybe that should be one of my New Year's Resolutions- perfect my hand-sewn buttonholes. ;-)

One of my favorite parts of regency dresses- all of those lovely skirt pleats! :-)

I just love this back view!!  So pretty.  I am in dire need of a silk regency dress now.  Like, right now.

The dress is very simple, so we decided that detailed sleeves were a "must".  The sleeves are lined in quilting-weight cotton to add more body and strips of fabric "bunch" the sleeve up.

The bodice is gathered in the front, and has a small drawstring in the neckline to ensure a perfect fit each time.  The waistline is trimmed with large piping, which adds just a touch of detail and makes the dress look more complete. :-)

· Photos by oh, wait... me.  With Kathryn's camera. ;-) ·

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

· 18th century Robe a l'Anglaise ·

Life has been a whirlwind for the past 6 weeks, and it's just finally starting to return to a more expected routine.  Just about the only constant has been my blog schedule!
I have no reason to complain, though- the reasons for my busyness have been of the Christmas Ball(s)-attending, Williamsburg-traipsing, Foyle's War Party-planning, Friend-visiting nature. :-)

We took a trip to Williamsburg for a week at the end of the year, and were joined by Kathryn, Tara, and their parents.
A wonderful time was had by all (unsurprisingly!). :-) This was my family's 13th visit to Williamsburg, and I'm beginning to think that this town truly *is* magical.  We have yet to experience an unenjoyable trip!

This was our first time to go in the winter, and we enjoyed all the festive wreaths ornamenting all the homes and shops.  The whole town felt festive, but in an understated and tasteful way.  It proved a great backdrop for outfit photos, so we took the opportunity to photographically document all of my 18th century projects from over the years.  Consequently, there will be some Christmas wreaths adorning the blog over the next few months- but they were so pretty that I don't think it's too much of an issue. ;-) 

This dress was one of my very first 18th century garments- I made it 8 years ago.  It has some aspects that aren't my favorite, and I feel like there are a few areas that need changing to accurately reflect the period.  But I'm having such a hard time putting my finger on what exactly it is that needs to be changed!  So, if you have any ideas or tips, please share!  I'd love to hear from an "outside" source- I feel like I'm so blinded that I can't look at it impartially!

I used J.P. Ryan's Robe a l'Anglaise pattern for the dress, and it went together rather well!  The ensemble is formed by a dress and a matching petticoat.  The dress is polonaised in the back with loops and ribbon inside.

I love how the apron adds just the right amount of interest!  Of all my accessories, I think this apron is one of my favorites!  I made it in April 2013 as a last-minute addition to my wardrobe, but it has turned out to be one of my best ideas!

The 18th century just had some of the most. amazing. ideas. ever!!  Those curving back seams that end in that wonderful pointed waistline that connects with those amazing pleats in the skirt.  Perfection.

Also, the 18th century had the most amazing shoes and stockings.  Period.

Shoes- "Kensington" by American Duchess
Buckles- "Valois" by American Duchess
Stockings- Jas. Townsend

The dress closes with pins down the front- another reason to love the 18th century!  No need for sewing in closures!! Yay!!

Also, I can't resist drawing attention to that pattern matching across the front.... isn't that great?!  When I first made the dress, it overlapped too much to allow that, but I guess increasing in girth does have a few advantages! ;-)

Maybe I'm just spoiled by a plethora of outfit choices for our trips to Williamsburg, but I will admit that this dress is one of my least favorite outfits.  It is lovely, but something just feels "off".

It does however, have wonderful connotations to go along with it!  Years ago when I first made it, my dad posted about it on his blog, and we got a random comment from a stranger asking where we purchased the fabric.  Well, that stranger kept in touch, and we started following her blog too.  Over the years, we've been able to meet up in Williamsburg several times, and have had the delightful pleasure of getting to know her and her sister!  Those strangers ended up being Rebecca and Ashley, of Fashionable Frolick fame and how very glad I am that they are no longer strangers! :-) 

Of all the wreaths around town, this was my definite favorite, so I knew I'd have to get pictures by it!
Isn't it lovely?!

· A big thank you to Kathryn for sorting through all the goofy poses I was giving her and coming up with a surprisingly demure-looking representation of how I was acting. ;-) ·

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

· A More Successful 1940s Dress! ·

As I mentioned a while ago, after previously being adamantly opposed to fashions of the decade, I decided to give the 1940s a fair chance in the last few months.

I half-way succeeded last fall, but after making that dress, I was inspired to try again and get closer to a complete success!  Well, I think I succeeded!  I am closer to liking this dress than I ever thought I'd be! ;-)

The number one change I knew I wanted to make was lengthening the skirt.  I feel like knee-length is definitely not my best length and I'm so much happier with this length- it feels much more natural!

The second change I knew I needed was to make, *gulp*, shoulder pads.  Ugh.

I've always had a major dislike for shoulder pads, and emphasized shoulders are one thing I've always hated about the 1940s.  However, I do have sloping shoulders, so just a little bit of padding really helps the whole look become more flattering!  What's up with that?! ;-)

I'm glad I've made peace with shoulder pads, but I still don't think I'll be making them a regular occurrence. ;-)

The final change I wanted to make in my 40s look was 3/4 length sleeves.  I don't think 1940s short sleeve styles are terribly flattering on me, plus it's nice to have a more "cold weather" dress. :-)

Even though Butterick 5951 isn't in their "retro" collection, it looked suspiciously 1940s to me, and I wanted to give it a try.  This fabric, with such a busy print, certainly isn't the most ideally suited fabric for showcasing the details, but I'm a bit hesitant about all the gathering anyway so I like how subtle it is. :-)

The shoulders have gathering and the front darts are gathered on the side.

I love the way the collar is formed by an extension of the front piece!

Rather than putting in the recommended back zipper, I made a back keyhole opening and used a side zipper (my favorite!).

I wasn't sure whether to go with a matching or contrasting belt, but I'm so glad I settled on matching!

These 4 vintage buttons hide in the dress a bit, but I kind of prefer them like that. :-)  There were exactly four of them, so it seemed meant to be!

This 1940s hat happened to be at a local antique shop (it's very unusual to find pre-1950s hats locally!), and I'm so glad that I picked it up even though I was in my anti-1940s phase!  It's just perfect. :-)

· Photos by Kathryn ·

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

· Regency Christmas Ball ·

In my Sari Overdress post, I mentioned that my family attended a Christmas Regency Ball last month.  It was such a fabulous event that I had to brag share some photos!

The event was held at the Warner Theater in Erie, PA.  The Warner was built in 1929, and is still used as a theater as well as an event venue.

The theater is just as amazing in real life as the pictures!  It was by far the most impressive ball venue we've ever attended!  Granted, the decor is about 125 years too late for our period, but really- with gorgeous interiors like this, who's counting?! ;-)

After wandering the theater, we all sat down to a catered dinner, and then began our dancing!


 Our whole family was able to attend, and it provided the perfect opportunity for our Christmas card picture!

We danced and danced into the night.....

.... And had a thoroughly grand time, indeed!

I love this picture- a typical "behind the scenes" glimpse of my blog photoshoots with Kathryn. ;-)

· Photos by Brandon Pieplow ·

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