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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Masquerade Attire · Details

Our family attended a Masquerade Ball last weekend, and as it is a truth universally acknowledged that Masquerade Balls demand new attire, I subsequently felt justified in succumbing to the expectation. ;-)

We are also planning on attending a Regency ball in December, so I thought I'd make something that could do double duty!  I was really hoping for a new ball gown, as I've worn my white dress innumerably and to a significant number of dances/balls.  However, nothing period-appropriate presented itself in the stash....  So, it was back to the drawing board.  I pulled out all of the suitable fabrics, and the leftover scraps from a previous project were terribly tempting!  My sister had a Titanic dress made from this antique sari 2 years ago (you can see her in one of these pictures), and I've always been severely jealous of it.  The scraps leftover were very minimal and oddly shaped, but included a few fairly long pieces of border.

Enter- odd regency overdresses.  What a lifesaver!  It was a relief to know that whatever I scrapped together from the pieces would probably end up being pretty close to period-accurate! :-P  I've greatly admired this fashion plate for years, and after draping the scraps on myself, it looked like it was ideally suited to the idea!  

La Belle Assemblee, April 1811

I didn't have enough fabric length to make the skirt as long as the fashion plate, nor could I continue the border around the hem.  However, I still was able to achieve asymmetrical, drapey fun-ness! ;-)

Well, please bear with me on these photos. ;-)  They definitely aren't up to "Kathryn Caliber", but they'll do for now.  I've given up trying to find the best place to take pictures in our house, so Cluttered Backgrounds and Clashing Walls will have to be ignored. ;-)  I'll get official pictures taken at a later date, but I wanted to share the details about this dress while it was still new!

I couldn't find any pictures of evidence for the back of these asymmetrical overdresses, so I made the executive decision to have a pleated skirt like most regency gowns.

Oh, and please pardon the fit!  Unsurprisingly, my dressform does NOT work well with garments that were made to be worn with stays! :-P

The bodice is made from a continuous scrappy piece of the "pallu" portion of the sari.  It only required this tiny bit of piecing under the arm- otherwise it was the perfect size!  Apparently, this was meant to be! :-)

Oh, this just really doesn't fit the dressform!!  But here's how I chose to close it- the under-layer of the front is finished off at the waistline and closes on the side with a hook-and-eye.  The top portion then comes over the top and closes with a hook-and-bar.

I applied a piece of border onto the front skirt and gathered the closure edge to keep as much of the trim intact and visible as possible.

Since the neckline was formed by the border, it required a dart on the shoulder to provide shaping.  The fashion plate looked like it had gathering at the shoulder, and that ended up providing a more precise fit as well!  I love it when stuff works out like that. :-)

While working on this, I decided I'm a big fan of asymmetrical garments.  I only had to sew half of the usual darts and only 1 armhole! ;-)  So fast and easy!

I just really love this sari!!  It's hard to get the pictures to accurately reflect the true colors- it is more green than it appears in most of these.  The embroidery is so pretty, and the almost purple-ish bits are copper embroidery.  The level of detail is amazing and I'm so glad I was able to showcase it another project!

The entire gown was draped by my fabulous (and very patient!) mother. :-)  Due to the nature of the design, but especially the fabric limitations!, there wasn't any way of patterning it besides draping.

And of course I took the opportunity to make a new turban. :-)

My turban was made from some more scrap fabric!  Three cheers for stash-busting!!  We purchased this lovely blue/green velvet and made a cape from it, but had quite a few random scraps.  I previously made a purse and regency sleeveless spencer (as yet unphotographed! I'll have to get around to that soon....), but one can't have too many accessories from this fabric! ;-)  I decided to go the route of a fully-fashioned turban, since the backside of the velvet is light green and wouldn't look good if it peeked out during the wrapping process.

I used a cheap straw hat, cut off the brim, and bound the edge.  Then I cut a rectangle long enough to cover the hat and wide enough to allow for some pleating.  Then I randomly stretched and pleated it in place and sewed 3/4" from the edge to keep it all in place.

(Oh, and a note to the wise- pleating the velvet added a lot of bulk to the circumference of the hat, so make sure your hat starts out at least an inch bigger than you want it to finish!  I ended up taking a bit of a detour to stretch out my hat and re-bind the edge to give much-needed room. ;-))

In order to hide all the raw edges of velvet, I attached a lining- just a simple rectangle gathered up at the top.

I had grand ideas of following a fashion plate for ideas on how to drape my turban, but it wasn't coming together nicely, so I just went with something super simple.  I sewed 2 rectangles into tubes- they were about 5-7" longer that the circumference of the hat and about 15" around, I think.  I twisted them around each other and finished off the ends.  I tacked the twists in place around the hat in a few areas, and it was done!

The complete arbitrariness of this project was... stretching.  I don't really like "randomly pleating" things.  And "tacking in just a few areas" drives me a bit batty.  I like to sew everything *very* securely. :-P

The feathers are just basted so they can be easily replaced with a different ornamentation later.  All the info I've come across seems to indicate that peacock feathers were rather taboo in the period.  However, I have a deep and abiding love for them, so since we were attending a masquerade, I made a concession and stretched my ideals of accuracy a bit to have a peacock-themed outfit. ;-)


  1. How creative! And the turban is beautiful. I always struggle to sew draped things like that.

  2. It's a great feeling to use items from the stash! Even if it means piecing the heck out of something, lol! I've had a few of those projects. I just remind myself that no matter what the time period is, piecing is period correct! Hooray!! :)

    1. Emily, I know! I used to despise piecing on period clothing, but now I love it. It broadens my options soooo much. ;-D

  3. That is such a beautiful overdress!! I think it is lovely! I can't wait to see pictures of you in it! :-)
    That turban is dreamy. It reminds me of Miss Matty's green silk turban. I think the peacock feathers are quite perfect!! :)

  4. Wow, that's so pretty and that color combination is a knock out!

  5. You finally made it?! Can't wait to see it. :-) I love that fabric.



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