December 23, 2016

Project Planning: Sky Blue 1830s Ball Gown

At last, the fall semester is finito, so it's time to get back to sewing!!  And I'm very excited to share the first, new project of the winter season...something special...drum roll 1830s ball gown made from a gorgeous sky blue and gold sari!  

Right side: sky blue with gold embroidery.
Underside in gold (left).

A couple of months ago now, one of my Aunt's "de-stashed" and sent us several boxes full of sewing supplies and fabrics.  It was just like Christmas, and, to my great delight, this satin sari all the way from India appeared.  Burn test (unfortunately) confirmed that it's most likely poly, but that doesn't take away from its gorgeousness!

The embroidered motifs of the body.
In its entirety, the sari measures a little over five yards.

A band of the pallu.

I had been saving the sari for a later project, until Ariana sent me this picture from the new mini-series about my favorite monarch, Victoria

 Jenna Coleman as the young Queen Victoria.
(Image via: DailyMail)

And then, I knew exactly what I needed to make next...a blue and gold 30s ball gown of my own!  So I turned to Pinterest to start gathering inspiration: 

Portrait of Amélie du Bois (1803-1891),
by Alexandre-Jean Dubois-Drahonet, 1821
(Image via: Christie's Lot 178)

Lucky for me, blue and gold seemed to be a period appropriate combination!  I will be modeling the sleeves and waist treatment after this portrait: 

Ann McCurdy Hart Hull (1790–1874)
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut
(Image via: Smithsonian)

And I found THE inspiration here:  This confirmed the use of a single, long lace flounce across the neckline and short, puffed sleeves. 

Portrait of a Lady by Alvan Clark, ca. 1835
(Image via: MET Museum, 38.146.3)

Lace flounce(s) seemed to be popular in the late-1820s and early-1830s especially over organdy or tulle over-sleeves: 

(Image via: Pinterest)

I plan to draft a two-dart bodice much like this portrait: 

Regina Daxenberger by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1829
(Image via: Pinterest)

Julie Grafin von Woyna by Friedrich von Amerling, 1832
(Image via: Pinterest)

Wow, no expense spared here - I bet that silver embroidery cost a royal fortune, not to mention those jewels! 

Dona Maria Cristina de Bourbon, Queen of Spain
by Vicente Lopez Portana, 1830
(Image via: Pinterest)

In examining period film representations, Jenna Coleman as the young queen in Victoria (which is a charming mini-series by the way) often sports the lace flounce and puffed sleeve style:

Jenna Coleman in Victoria.
(Image via: Tumblr)

Emily Blunt, also as Victoria, in one of my favorite period films, The Young Victoria, appears in the style:  Costumes by my one of my favorite designers, Sandy Powell.  It's like a frothy, lemon cake, I love it!!

Emily Blunt in The Young Victoria.
(Image via: Tumblr)

Once I finish my gown, I'll need to find a dance to wear it to!  

A Couple Dancing by Lionel Peraux
(Image via: Tumblr)

A French Soiree, 1819
(Image via: Black Tie Guide)

Time to get to work...


  1. Oooooh!! This is going to be so beautiful! I love the color of your sari and I adore 1830s fashions! And you wear them so very well!! I can't wait to watch "Victoria". I loved "The Young Victoria" immensely! I can't wait to see your creation!!

  2. That sari is amazing! I look forward to seeing it made up into a dress - I'm sure it sill be gorgeous! :D