Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The long awaited: 1860's ballet costume/ball gown

Hello Everybody!

This poor post is a long time coming.  I decided after years and years of wearing the same ballet costume to perform, I would create a new one!  When the opportunity came up to perform in Frankfort, KY at "The Grand Theater" I seized the moment!

The inspiration for this gown was this lovely cotton blend I found at Joann's.  I'd been looking at it forever when suddenly, the bolt got much smaller! "Oh no!," I thought and purchased the rest of the bolt at a discount!

The next step: Research and reconnaissance!  I  looked at ton of original pictures and drawings.  Then, I dove into my stash to see what might work.  Some gold dupioni looked like it might prove useful.  The blue starred fabric combined with some of that silk could have resulted in a dress that looked kinda like my original sketch.

I went ahead and made the blue skirt, knowing just what I wanted that to look like.  Then, I broadened my search to find just the right fabric to make exactly what was in my mind for the rest of the costume.  :) I got lucky and found a great vertical red and white silk that worked wonderfully.

A trip back to joann's with coupon for a yard of cream silk for the bodice and I was in business!

Before the bodice for the gown could be made, I had to do some restoration to my first ballet bodice, examining the construction and repairing all the silk that had fallen into terrible shape over the years.  Once I was finished, I was able to make a wonderful toile and come up with an acceptable draft without to much error!  (Love it when things work out!).

Image of both ballet bodice sleeves.  The one on the left is post restoration, the one on the right prior to repair.
For the first time, I laid in tiny cording/piping around the bottom of the bodice and neckline.  Fabulous!  The trickiest thing that happened was that I had no pattern for the sleeves!  (oh noes!)  So, I made some guesstimates and luckily everything worked out!!!  yayay! I think they look like mini meringues.

After making the over skirt and the bodice it was time to make the underskirt and trim everything out.  The four yards of striped silk were cartridge pleated and laid onto the waistband.  I found the perfect blue and gold trim in my trim stash and voila!!  A costume is born!!
Ballet costume without completed sleeves and playing with sash that later was scrapped for something I'll build later.  :)

The next blessing was the discovery that a silk skirt I had brought back from England a few years ago was nearly a period skirt!!  I removed the yards and yards of crinoline from beneath it, stripped and re-applied the waistband and added some hooks and eyes so that it could stay attached to the bodice.  Suddenly, I had a brand new ballgown!!!  Hooray!

The event was a huge success.  Performance was a blast and the ball was lovely!  Here are some pictures of the dress in action.  :)

Thanks for reading!!! More blogs to come.  Hopefully a bit fun, silly, and helpful!!