Friday, September 30, 2011

1890s Oak Leaf Ballgown

I knew I had better pictures of this, I just couldn't find them. Sorry, I was being silly. Here are more pictures of my fabulous new 1890s dress, because I love it that much.

1890s Ball at Roger Williams Casino

This is the first event of Newport 2011 that I'll go over. Yes, that was back in August, but I never remember how onerous a task it is to go through hundreds of pictures and choose two or three. The ball was lovely, but I'm really here to talk about sewing! This was the debut of three new dresses. First of all, Mother wore a brand new ballgown made of wonderfully vibrant red fabric (in person), with flocked black designs. It was an obnoxious crispy sort of artificial fabric, but it actually looked really good. This was a last minute bodice to go with a skirt I had made for me but never actually worn. My very favorite part is those fabulous sleeves she made in dreamy drippy drapey black velvet. Mmmm. The pictures are a little dark for seeing any detail, but I will just assure you that the fabric looks fabulous in person, and of course the tiara makes the outfit.

Julia wore a dress that we started for me years and years ago. Since I've gotten much more into sewing lately, I decided to resurrect it for her. Unfortunately, she was away at her fancy pre-college art program, so she couldn't try it on. When the day of the ball came, it fit all wrong. Her dramatic and utterly royal-looking Watteau train (yeah, I really have seen 1890s dresses with those... how crazy cool is that?) was an emergency addition made with the leftover rose velvet meant for trimming the dress. I am obscenely proud of my emergency under-pressure hand-sewing skills. I think that now we are both too in love with the train to remove it, so this dress will just have to stay this way. Doesn't she look like a princess?
Finally, my brand new Oak Leaf dress was my proudest moment. I love this dress so much. It is a gorgeous brown acetate that practically glows, embroidered all over with oak leaves. For the bodice, I made a simple sleeveless bodice in deep brown velvet, and added little lace sleeves. Then I painstakingly cut out oak leaves from leftover fabric and sewed them down all over the bodice and onto the lace sleeves. The really do twist and twine like they grew that way. I love this dress beyond all reason. I thought my pink dress from last year (covered with embroidered gold and pink satin flowers) was worthy of being a Worth, but I think I actually prefer this one now.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Event Announcement - Scarlet Pimpernel Ball

The Scarlet Pimpernel Ball
Saturday, September 24, 2011, 7:30 pm
First Congregational Church, 11 Garden St., Cambridge, MA
Music by the Ad Hoc Waltz and Quadrille Band.
$25 general / $15 student

They seek him here, they seek him there, those Frenchies seek him everywhere – but if they really want to find him, they should be searching in Cambridge at the Scarlet Pimpernel Ball. Join us for a glorious mash-up of regency and ragtime eras, celebrating the French Revolution setting of Baroness Orczy’s early twentieth century novel. Dances will be drawn from both eras, so expect romantic waltzes, bouncy one-steps, and sprightly country dances. Likewise, costumes may range from foppish regency tailcoats to Gatsby-esque suits, from elaborate powdered wigs to sleek bobs, and from ragtime ballgowns to angry peasant clothing. Intrigue, adventure, and dancing! This is a job for the Scarlet Pimpernel!

Register now at to avoid the $5 at-the-door surcharge!