Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Coraline, an 1860s Ballgown

So here are the details on my outfit for Fezziwig's Ball. Usually my ballgowns are pretty random - the shapes and general look of 19th century ballgowns are very much on my mind, but I just get the prettiest fabric I can find in our modern world and make something nice. But this ballgown is actually very strongly inspired by a particular engraving in Godey's Ladies Magazine, called "The Coraline."
The Coraline, Godey's Ladies Magazine, December 1860
The blurb with it says, "This dress is of a rich striped silk, the body square and low. On the bottom of the skirt is a bias flounce, 10 inches deep, put on with very little fullness, and finished at the top by three rows of fluted ribbon." Well, I went more off the proportions of the picture than off the description (my bias flounce is more like 16 inches), but that is fine. I bet a lot of people have seen this plate, but I noticed something cool. Just one month later, I think Godey's features the same dress, this time in a colored fashion plate!
Fashion Plate, Godey's Ladies Magazine, January 1861

For future reference, the text for that dress is "Dress of violet and white gage d'Indie in stripes; trimming, a ruche of white satin ribbon. Square corsage; sleeves with one puff and a frill." But you agree that it is fundamentally the same dress, right? Vertical stripes, square neckline, little striped cap sleeves over puffs, a sash with long streamers and two bows? Now, maybe someday I will make myself a lavender and white stripe ballgown just like this (it sure is pretty), but not today. Instead, I used some fabric I bought a while ago. First I found it in gold, and you have probably seen pictures of my bright gold striped ballgown. After I made that dress, I found the same fabric with bright gold stripes on a burgundy background. I had to have it. So that is what my Coraline is made from. It is trimmed with black satin ribbon and black velvet, and I made the sash out of black velvet too. The one thing I didn't love about the engraving was the double bows on the sash, so for mine I only made one. In fact, the sash might have been my favorite part - the streamers are two layers of velvet, plus a layer of canvas, so they are kind of heavy and lie beautifully. Well, that's probably enough of that. Pictures!
Why is my face so silly? At least my dress looks good.
That is still a silly face, isn't it?
I love that sash! Doesn't look like much in the pictures, but it so very fun.
Back shot. The back will lie better when the skirt is attached (that sash is hiding so much that is not done!). This is the end of the night, so of course I look a bit disheveled.
Sitting. Gosh, I love the sash.
Is that a better angle? I have no idea.
Look! My seasonal once-a-year holly and white roses wreath!
Sneak peak at the shoes. I was feeling silly, so I wore my new shoes. They are cute little velvet flats with BUNNY FUR and a bow on the toes!
Sometimes after a long hard ball you've just got to flop!

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