Festival Frenzy – A New Ball Gown for 2018 Louisville Jane Austen Festival

Barb and I went to the Jane Austen Festival in 2017 and were instantly excited about going the next year.  We have been talking ever since then about new outfits for the festival. As I’ve discussed before, accessories elevate costuming, and we’ve been both talking about and working on those for a while.  For this festival there is a promenade and tea during the day and a ball at night – so the opportunity for two new dresses!  Hooray!  I did a first post about working on my promenade/day dress here http://accidentalcostumer.com/regency-daytime-promenade-dress-part-1/  I worked on it over the 4th of July and so it is ALMOST done, with the exception of a smidge of handwork.  As the handwork can always be done at the last minute (or in this case I could use a hidden safety pin, if necessary) I turned to my ball gown a full SEVEN days before leaving for the festival.  I kept delaying well -in part because I could, but also in part because I had a number of different fabrics in my stash and was having trouble deciding which to use for my ball gown.  I guess I have an embarrassment of riches currently collected up!  I had traveled over the 4th of July and had even taken on fabric combo with me in case I had time to cut out my ball gown (I was at my sister’s and she is an amazingly talented quilter and fiber artist, so working on a fabric project would be easy and not out of the ordinary at her house – check her out here:  http://Www.rickiselva.com).  I had also taken my day dress to do handwork on — the day dress took up all the free time, so I didn’t get my ball gown cut out.

So, it was Friday night, one week before the festival.  I spent the evening debating fabric and decided on a different combo than I had taken to my sister’s house.  Time to commit and cut.  I think the cutting out is always the hardest part, once you have the pieces cut, there is just a rhythm to constructing.

This is my inspiration fashion plate – I wanted to do a 18-teens dress with a contrast color bodice, and a floaty, embroidered skirt.

I had found a scrumptious sheer embroidered fabric at Mood the last time I was in New York for work (I had about 45 Minutes free after a morning call and before my meeting, so off to do a very short surgical strike in the garment district.  

(I managed to also pick up some fantastic ostrich feathers at a store catering to samba costume makers in this short mad dash to the fabric & trim stores).

i had some gold silk taffeta, the same taffeta I used for my new bonnet. (Here is the post on that http://accidentalcostumer.com/regency-bonnet-project-2018-using-fosshape/). I loosely used the laughing moon pattern with the stomacher fronthttp://www.lafnmoon.com/product_p/p126.htm

I say loosely based – well because there was only 2 3/4 yards of the sheer embroidered border fabric, so I needed to work the skirt differently and I wanted to have the dress close up the back and have the little dip in the front from the fashion plate I was going for – and the sleeves that had a little upward gather/swoop – not the banded puffy sleeve.

I first got to work and put together the bodice.  

Then I attached the skirt and I lined it with the same gold tafetta  

And I loved the way the back looked In the pleating   

But, when I tried it on, the taffeta sewn down under the front didnt give the floaty effect I was wanting – as a lining it just cling to it and sort of interfered with seeing the beautiful embroidery.  The back also stuck out horribly and didn’t lay flat.  I thought the best option was to just cut the lining away and wear a bodice petticoat under it instead.  Fortunately, I had one from a previous dress!

I then decided to do some gold decorative stitching around the sleeve edges and shoulder area of the neckline.  I sewed hooks and eyes to close the bodice and packed for Louisville.  Then in Louisville I added the finishing touch, a bit of vintage gold bullion gimp trim I had found at an antique mall.

With that it was ready to go for the ball.  And here is how it turned out

I couldn’t have been happier!


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