Monday, December 23, 2013

The Belle Goes Victorian

Dear readers, I wrote this blog post 2 months ago, all that I had left was a bit of editing but then my life turned upside down and I've had some serious personal things to deal with, so I never did get around to posting. Also my I pad kept eating the pictures... Anyway here is my very very belated post about my new early Victorian gown that I made at the end of summer.

So I made my first Victorian gown, it's a late romantic period style and I think it's rather gothic looking in that Edgar Allen Poe or Jane Eyre kind of way.
It all started when I was invited to my dear friend Robins 30th birthday party, a Victorian birthday party held at a graveyard. Robin was laying her youth to rest instyle at Philadelphia's Laurel Hill cemetery
I wanted to go, but all I had costume wise was regeny clothes, and some random bits of renaissance garb and one lonely Edwardian gown. So I had to make a Victorian dress. Now Victorian is a pretty broad time range, Queen Victoria ruled for over half a century, from 1837 to 1901.

Young Queen Victoria, she had some petty spiffy clothes.

So plenty of differnt styles to pick from. I decided I wanted a late 1830s gown. I don't care for the hoop skirt look of the 1850s and 60s, nor do I care much for the11880s and 90s fashions. I do like some of the early bustle gowns, but quite frankly the thought of making a bustle gown freaks me out! Besides it would have involved having to build an entire set of new underwear as well. And I simply did not have the time.

I wore this kind of polyester atrocity, but hey I was short on time...

 You can kind of get away with wearing regency undies for 1830s with some added pettiticoats to puff out the skirt, I was ghetto tastic and re purposes my massive wedding dress crinoline made from nasty scratchy tulle and polyester, but hey it worked and was free!
 So 1830s it was. 

Truly Victorian romantic dress pattern.

I went ahead and got the truly vitorian romantic gown pattern as it came highly recommended by several of my friends. At first I had visions of one of those lovely frothy sheer summer dresses, 

This is what I had in mind....

but I didn't have the right fabric in the stash and I was to cheap to go buy 7+ yards of fabric for something that will get next to no wear as I don't do Victorian reenactment. I did ,however happen to have a very Victorian looking floral and paisley striped cotton in my stash. I had gotten it on clearance at Jo Ann's this summer for $1.50 a yard, and it was just the right amount of fabric. 

This is the fabric I ended up using, it came from the stash so yay!

So I used it, dispite my misgivings about it being a bit drab and actually looking almost exactly like the the fabric, I made my regency work dress from. So with the fabric selected began my epic journey of making a Victorian gown. As it usually is with me I can't just make the simple version, no, my dresses need to be special so I decided instead of the large leg of mutton sleeves of the original pattern I wanted those slightly later smocked sleeves. 
180's from the met
Smocked sleeves became popular after the short lived fad of leg of mutton sleeves. In many cases the upper part of the original mutton sleeve was  smocked to take in the fullness.
I also chose a pointed bodice instead of the straight one,of course I had to do cool things with the stripes. Cause you know stripes call for chevrons and cool matching and what not, also 1830s needs piping! Lots of piping!

Neckline piping.

So between endless smocking of the sleeves and one endless day ( it took me 8 hours to pleat the skirt to my satisfaction) of pleating and re pleating the skirt so that the stripes where placed just perfectly on the skirt front, I was ready to jump out of my sewing room window to put an end to myself... But I prevailed and finished the thing even though I was still sewing on the bus from Pittsburgh to Philly . I got the finishing touches done just in time.  My friend Kat picked me up from the bus stop in her mini.

3 women in Victorian gowns and my HUGE "India sized " suitcase, in this car, fun times!
 It proved rather comical squeezing 3 women and a HUGE suitcase in a mini! But somehow we managed. We drove to the cemetary for the party where I resorted to changing into my Victorian dress behind a mausoleum, which was probably the most scandalous thing these dead Victorians had seen in a long time. The party was fun and everyone looked just lovely.

A nice group shot.
The fabulous Taylor , she not only makes beautiful costumes but also makes and sells awesome collet necklaces!
how could we not pose in this mausoleum?!

Also this, yes I think I'm going to hell...

I had way too much fun at the cemetery birthday party!

Birthday girl Robin.
 But to my dismay I discovered that apparently to everyone else "Victorian " means bustle dresses, because I was the only one not wearing one. 

I like big butts and I cannot lie.....that I lack a bustle...
Oh well.... I guess this just means I will have to make a bustle dress at some point. But bustle or no we all had a great time. After they kicked us out of the graveyard at around 4pm Kat took Taylor and me (still in vitorian costume) to this mythical ghetto tastic fabric store called Jomar.

Jomar Shenanigans. Someone asked us if we where orthodox Jews, cause you know orthodox Jewish women go shopping in 19th century clothes accessorized with tiaras and Louis Vuitton bags!
 Turns out Jomar is awesome! It's basically a warehouse with just totally random and often really old dusty and dirty fabrics just kind of piled up on huge shelves. But there are treasures to be found if one knows how to dig! Cheap treasures!

Look at all my loot, Soooo cheap!!!!!!
It's a good thing I do not live in Philadelphia because I'm pretty sure I would spend all my money at Jomar.
We spent the rest of the night drinking champagne and wearing tiaras while watching period costume movies. All in all it was a perfect day!
I can't wait to go back to Philadelphia to hang put with my costume friends again, even if it means that one day I need to tackle my fear of bustle gowns so I'm not the one weirdo at the bustle party looking like Jane Eyre.
And last but not least here are some nice shots of my new gown.

I think I need a better petticoat the wedding crinoline dosen't give quite the right shape...

Otherwise I'm very pleased with how the gown turned out.

I wore my Regency wig because I didn't want to sit on a bus with curlers and dint have time to do my hair once I got there, It kind of works for 1830's

and here is a good picture of my smocked sleeve.