1860s blue ballgown

I finished this dress for Dress U - how many weeks ago? Well, I've been meaning to get some detail shots, but don't have my dress dummy at the moment, and realized I'm never actually going to get those detail shots! May as well post about it now, or anybody not reading my journal will think I've given up and gone away!

The finished product:
 Well, it's a bit dark, but I like the silhouette! Also the champagne Jampagne!

Let's have a few more pictures - yes, it was inside, in a not-terribly-well-lit room. Sorry!
Wrinkly horribleness!
 And you may note that the bodice didn't lace all the way shut in back from that last shot...I persist in blaming the McDonalds I'd eaten earlier in the afternoon (rather than owning I might have made it a titch too small)!

Now for the details...the dress is made from silk taffeta, and the overskirt and all the trim(I can hear you now, saying What trim?) is made of poly (sorry! Have had it for years! It was less than $2/yd!) point d'esprit. I was very strict with myself in terms of materials, everything had to come from the Stash.

That doesn't happen often; I usually cave...

And in its former life, the taffeta was a half-finished 1790s round gown (thank goodness I never got to the sleeves), so it was a bit of a challenge making do with less fabric! In fact, I originally planned to make the dress date to 1862ish, with a rectangular-shaped skirt (or maybe slightly gored). As it turned out, the only way I could get enough fabric in the skirt to go over my hoop was to do all gores - and not even gores that had the grain going the same way!
It doesn't count as an oops if I knew I was doing that, right?

So then, since I had such crazy grains going on plus the very-much-gored-skirt shape, PLUS I'd ended up cutting the bodice about a half-inch higher than originally planned...I thought an overskirt might be a good idea, since English Women's Clothing in the Nineteenth Century tells me tunics/overskirts of net or tulle were popular c1864-66, which would match the shape of the skirt better anyway.

Not that I have the right hoop for that anyway - it should stand out a little more in back for that many gores in my skirt, and as a result the front of the skirt doesn't hang correctly. I just shoved it under the point of the bodice and pretended there was no problem!

Oh, and the trim.
Everywhere on the dress that's trimmed is two layers of the plain row of triangles, to make the points alternate. And yes, I cut out all that trim out of the point d'esprit - easy, because I could just follow the dots! Time-consuming because I cut 756 inches of it (yes, I worked it out!). Round the edges of the overskirt, all around the bertha, and on the sleeves.

The sleeves were where the madness started, by the way.

Shots of the bertha:
It's made of taffeta, lined in pink polished cotton (why pink? Because I'm drowning in the stuff - got 13 yards of it for free!), and interlined with a layer of stiff net, same as the net I used to hold out the puffy sleeves.

Speaking of sleeves:

And I only have one shot of the interior of the bodice (but hey, it's the inside of a bodice, how exotic can it be?), which is lined in the polished cotton, boned with cable ties, and finished with facings of taffeta, because I kind of hate piping. Oh, and it laces closed in the back with hand-sewn eyelets. Probably obviously,

And that's all for now - I'm working on a 1780s chemise gown right now, which hopefully I'll manage to post about less than two months from now!


  1. It's GORGEOUS! I adore the color as well. I think it is very authentic looking, like a true fashion plate!

    1. Thank you so much! My 1860s knowledge leaves a lot to be desired, but I'm glad it passes muster. :) And isn't it a great blue? A lucky find in a really good sale!

    2. It definitely passes muster, says someone who's been examining a lot of 1860s/70s clothing lately.

    3. Cassidy - Thank you!! That gives me warm fuzzies. :D


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