Victorian Fancy Dress

I was very excited when Shari from La Rose Soiree announced that she’d be holding a Victorian Fancy dress ball. It’s a very specific theme, but it also gives opportunity for some very fun costuming!

I based my dress on fabric I already had, and it turned out to be a purple gold fairy. A short video of how it turned out!

 

I had this purple gold shot silk organza in my closet already. Originally I planned to maybe make a fantasy type of francaise with it as it was a cheaper find, but that never really happened. So when this theme was announced, I figured it’d be perfect for it! Colored organza is not really something you see a lot historically, but it does fit the fancy dress theme quite well.

For the design, I started with looking at a lot of different plates for inspiration.  I knew I wanted something flowery/fairy like, as that would fit the fabric best.  I also knew I wanted a ‘short’ dress, as that’s so specific to fancy dress, and looks so fun! (It’s also great for dancing ;)! ) In the end, I settled on two main inspiration pictures.

This was the main fairy inspiration. Although a different color, I like how this dress could very well have been made of organza as it has the same light feel to it. I also liked the fairy with flowers concept, and the length.

 

The skirt design I wasn’t 100% sure about, so I did some more looking for dresses with flowers, and eventually settled on this pink dress as main inspiration for the skirt. I really like the pleats on the under skirt, and the flowers to the side of the drapery.

Right, gold flowers

 

With those ideas, I went to work! The very first step was deciding how to treat the sheerness of the organza, as it’s definitely see-through. I settled on lining it with cotton in a light blue color. The blue makes the purple a tad less bright, and a bit more lavender-like, which I preferred.

I cut the lining as mock-up, and fitted it that way first. Then all the pieces were flat-lined, stitched together, and the darts were pinned through all layers on the body to get a smooth fit.

 

For the base skirt, I cut the cotton following the basic 1880s underskirt from Truly Victorian. The organza layer was cut nearly twice as wide for the front and side pieces, to allow for the pleats in front. The organza was hemmed with french seams, and all the layers were caught at the top in the waistband.

 

Fitting time! This is always the exciting stage where things start coming together. At this point, the center front is still pinned to do a final check of the bodice fit over the skirt, before it’s sewn shut.

 

The bodice is boned center back, with eyelets to close it. I had a look, and saw both offset and parallel rows of eyelets (for spiral and criss-cross lacing respectively) on 1880s dresses, in the end I went with a parallel line. I worked the eyelets with silk machine thread doubled up, which worked quite nicely.

 

The overskirt was based on Truly Victorian TV362, but shortened. In this picture it’s still un-hemmed. I already shortened it when cutting, but this shows that especially the apron needs further shortening still, to give room for flowers on the underskirt! The right picture shows the gathers at the top back of the underskirt.

 

For the bodice decoration, I draped some pieces of organza on top until I liked the look.

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The skirt decoration is made of plastic flowers, as I didn’t really want to make flowers myself (nor had the time). I ordered a mix of gold and purple flowers, and spray painted them with white gold in various thickness to make them match with my fabric. On the underskirt, there’s two roses glued to one gold flower, then backed (first glued, than stitched) with felt, and then the whole thing is stitched on.

 

For the side drapery, I used a purple garland and just twisted gold and purple flowers into it. The whole thing is attached to the side gathers of the overskirt on both sides.

 

Final touches were the roses on the bodice and shoes, both which I backed with leafs originally attached to the gold flowers. The shoes are American Duchess Tissots, and the roses are sewn onto shoe clips to make them versatile!

 

The sleeves were finished with some leafs as well, and I also had some leftover time to make wings! I based these on plates of Victorian ballet dancers, as I wanted a small shape which wouldn’t hinder any dancing. They are made of wire, with fabric glued on. The fabric is glued around the edge of the wire, and the raw edge was hidden with some glitter glue I found in an old crafting box.

 

So that’s the whole look put together! It was such a fun project to work on, and the finished result is so whimsical it really makes me happy to just look at. It was also very comfortable to wear! The shorter skirt makes dancing a breeze, and I had to check myself when I didn’t even have to lift my skirt when going up the stairs. I definitely showed a lot of ankle, but fairies can be a bit scandalous, right?

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A visit to Bath – Part II

In my last blog post I wrote about our visit to Bath early May, but not about our weekend activities. Of course, the whole incentive for travelling to Bath was the Victorian ball on Saturday, so this blog is about the ball-related events!

Saturday morning we first returned the rental car and walked back to the city center. We took a little time to visit the Victoria Art gallery, and afterwards met a friend of Marije for lunch. We were a bit tired already from all the activities, so kept the morning relaxed.

After lunch, it was time for the dance workshop! The dance master for the event walked us through several of the dances which would be done during the evening. It was nice to get a measure of the steps and already meet some people. Before we knew it, it was 5pm, and we hurried back to our B&B to get changed for the ball!

We were very lucky with our B&B, where we had a sitting room available to us as well as a bedroom. This meant room to get changed, and because it was gorgeously decorated, a location to take some pictures! By the time we got our hair done and dresses on it was already past the time we wanted to leave, so we kept it short, but still managed to get some nice images.

 

 

After pictures, it was time for the ball! We were met by the hostess and organizer, Izabella from Prior Attire at the door, and walked on to the parlour room where I attached my train (not daring to wear it outside). Not too long after we arrived, the ball proper started! Half-way through there was a short break in the dancing for some food, which was very good. We also stopped by the event photographer, and afterwards the dancing resumed again.

 

The whole ball was lovely. The music was very nice, and the dance master did a great job in managing to explain the steps clearly without the instructions dragging on too long, which can be quite a feat. The location was also lovely. The assembly rooms are quite large and can feel a bit ’empty’ because of its very classical style and high ceilings. But especially after it got a bit dark and the chandeliers turned on it was very pretty. It’s also such a historical location that it was wonderful to experience an event like this there.

I didn’t take my proper camera, but phone pictures were definitely taken!

 

 

Finally, all the guests looked absolutely amazing! I spent some time just sitting and watching others dance. So many gorgeous outfits, the standard was really very high. On top of that, everyone was incredibly kind. We didn’t know anyone who would be there, but everyone was very open and nice, and continuously complimenting others on their dresses. I was also really happy to meet some people I’d been following online for a while, and it was great to see their creations.

 

After the ball we walked home on sore feet, and after undressing, had a good night’s sleep. Not too long though, because we wanted to join the breakfast in the pump rooms the next morning! This was not an official part of the event, but everyone could just show up on their own. We left a bit early and took some pictures outside first.

 

When we saw some other ladies in costume we went to join the queue to be seated. They very kindly invited us to join them, and it was very nice to chat with them over breakfast. We managed to talk with some other guests all during breakfast, and both Izabella and the dance master from the previous evening took the time to walk by the other tables and have a short chat with everyone. Some pictures were taken again as well, this time in front of the fountain!

 

 

After breakfast we took a bit of a stroll back to our B&B. We definitely got a bit of attention, but all of it positive. A very funny moment was when we entered a little gallery, and after posing for the owners quite extensively, saw there was a large group of Chinese tourists standing right in front of the door waiting for their bus. Of course we couldn’t slip by unnoticed, so many more pictures were taken.

We finished our stroll with a quick detour into Sidney Gardens, which had some more gorgeous scenery for photos!

 

 

Alas, after arriving in the B&B it was time to get changed, and wait for our cab to take us to the train, as our flight left early that evening. We had a wonderful time in Bath, and the ball and breakfast were the perfect events to end the holiday with!