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...

December 21, 2016

Ginny's Yuletide Adventure

In sum, December simply flew by!  Between finals and three weekends of Yuletide in the Country Tours at the Genesee Country Village & Museum, there just wasn't enough time to do much else.  Though, with only one, last final remaining, I am very much looking forward to getting back to the things I miss most - sewing, blogging and fun with friends!

Speaking of friends...this year's Yuletide featured anything and everything from the real life engagement of the star couple of the dance soiree, to the classic snow ball fight or two, and a truly merry (in the 19th century meaning), revamped scene with Mrs. Boyle, crowned "Lady of Misrule & Her Lusty Guts."  Never a dull moment in the village!  

In fact, while I was busy playing Mrs. Munger's shop assist, Hannah, charged with decorating a cake with delicate frills and candied flowers for Mrs. Butler, Ginny (our traveling doll) enjoyed the best Yuletide tour thanks to a great many friends...From her tour guide, Judy J, who made it all possible, to the Thomsons and St. Nick.  Mrs. Munger, and the Fosters.  Not to mention, the village fiddler and dancers...A great "thank you" to all for making our night!  So, without further ado, please enjoy Ginny's Yuletide Adventure, as captured by our favorite tour guide, Judy:     

Awaiting adventure on the steps of Livingston-Backus!

First stop: A little holiday shopping at the D.B. Munger Confectionery with assistance from Mrs. Munger, herself!

Second stop:  A visit from Santa!  The Thomsons are a proud family, who'd happily share what little they have with anyone, but wouldn't accept the same charity for themselves.  Full of the holiday spirit in their hearts, a little cheer for their pockets would go a long way to brighten their Christmas Day!

(Photograph credit: Judy J.)

Third stop:  Invitations to Mrs. Livingston's extravagant soiree were in short supply, though Ginny and I were personally assured a seat by the generous hostess herself (no "strong" tea or bribery of any sort required)! 

Such an elegant spread, the Livingston's sure do know how to throw a grand Christmas party!

What are you doing down there, Ginny?
I must have a word with your tour guide...
(Photograph credit: Judy J.)

Fourth stop:  To the Town Hall, just in time for the dance! 

Thanks for serenading me, Mr. Fiddler!
(Photograph credit: Judy J.)

The lady in red saved a dance just for me!
(Photograph credit: Judy J.)

When it comes to dancing, the more the merrier I say!
(We loved your "photobomb," Pam!)
(Photograph credit: Judy J.)

All that twirling around sure made us thirsty...
(Photograph credit: Judy J.)

A photo with my favorite tour guide (left) & dance partner (right)!
(Photograph courtesy of Judy J.)

Fifth stop:
 Making merry with the Boyles, crowned the "lord and lady of misrule!"  In their words, nothin' like unfeigned gaiety and unrestrained spirit!

Fine food, finer folk, finest drink!
I'm beginning to wonder about that tour guide of yours...
(Photograph credit: Judy J.)

Final stop on the tour:  Christmas with the Försters and their family traditions.  O Christmas Tree!  O Christmas Tree!  Thy candles shine so brightly! 

O Christmas Tree!
(Photograph credit: Judy J.)

What a wonderful Yuletide and end to the 2016 museum season!  All that's left to say now is that we sure hope to see you in the upcoming, 2017 season...

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” 

A Christmas visit from St. Nick.
(Photograph by Judy J.)

November 30, 2016

Dainty Delicate Dolladine, The Prettiest Girl That Ever Was Seen! [Doll Dress & Photo Shoot]

THIS is the way we dress the Doll:— 
You may make her a shepherdess, the Doll, 
If you give her a crook with a pastoral hook, 
But this is the way we dress the Doll. 

For all of you doll and Bustle Era fashion fans out there, this post is for you!  Greatly inspired by Lydia Ann (follow her adventures here: Lydia Ann the Traveling Doll), and the more local companions - Anna Bauersmith's traveling doll Cali & Allison's Lucinda - it's about time we had a little adventurer too!  With neither the appropriate China head, nor the craftiness to make one like Lucinda, what's a girl to do other than pull out her childhood American Girl Doll?  That's right, meet our first-ever, official traveling doll of the Young Sewphisticate: Virginia Rose, called Ginny.

To welcome our newest addition, today's double feature includes both a fun photo shoot and look into the construction of Ginny's first Victorian dress.  

The ladies - Judy & Ariana - and the doll.

Completed Project Shots:

*All of the photographs presented in this post are the original creations of The Young Sewphisticate.  Copying our photographs without obtaining permission and/or leaving proper credit is prohibited.*

During the shoots for our upcoming installments of the Historical Interpretation How Tos, this impromptu series at the Hamilton House arose after Ariana, my "museum twin," agreed to model with Ginny.  In addition to being one of my nearest and dearest friends at GCV, Ariana is a delight to work with in front of (and behind) the camera.  She just looks the part!  

The model: Ariana, standing by the desk of John D. Hamilton.

Part I - Just a Girl & Doll 

Bless the Doll, you may press the Doll, 
But do not crumple and mess the Doll! 
This is the way we dress the Doll. 

First, you observe, her little chemise, 
As white as milk, with ruches of silk; 
And the little drawers that cover her knees,
As she sits or stands, with golden bands, 
And lace in beautiful filagrees. 

Part II - Tea for Two

Now these are the bodies: she has two, 
One of pink, with rouches of blue, 
And sweet white lace; be careful, do! 
And one of green, with buttons of sheen, 
Buttons and bands of gold, I mean, 
With lace on the border in lovely order, 
The most expensive we can afford her! 

Part III - All Dainty & Delicate

Then, with black at the border, jacket 
And this—and this—she will not lack it; 
Skirts? Why, there are skirts, of course, 
And shoes and stockings we shall enforce, 
With a proper bodice, in the proper place, 
(Stays that lace have had their days
And made their martyrs); likewise garters, 
All entire. But our desire 
Is to show you her night attire, 
At least a part of it. Pray admire 
This sweet white thing that she goes to bed in! 

It’s not the one that’s made for her wedding: 
That is special, a new design, 
Made with a charm and a countersign, 
Three times three and nine times nine: 
These are only her usual clothes.
Look, there’s a wardrobe! gracious knows 
It’s pretty enough, as far as it goes! 

Part IV - Pretty, Little Lullaby 

So you see the way we dress the Doll: 
You might make her a shepherdess, the Doll, 
If you gave her a crook with pastoral hook,
With sheep, and a shed, and a shallow brook, 
And all that, out of the poetry-book. 

Bless the Doll, you may press the Doll, 
But do not crumple and mess the Doll! 
This is the way we dress the Doll; 
If you had not seen, could you guess the Doll? 

Just for outtake!  As she bolted across the room, the camera clicked at just the right moment for this...oh Ariana, how you make us laugh!  

The face of excitement.

Poem is "Dressing the Doll" by William Brighty Rands.  Special thanks again to the model, Ariana! 

Doll Dress Construction:

Ginny's first outfit and outing were successful I'd say!  It amazed me how much work went into such a small outfit.  All things worth doing take time, and doll clothing, as I found out, is no exception.

Doll sized details!

In looking for doll-sized Bustle Era inspiration, I came across Pixie Faire, a one-stop-shop for all things 18" doll clothing related!  They must have hundreds of patterns and a very dangerous historical, I splurged on the 1880s Mary and Laura Pattern.

My review?  Highly recommended!  All of the pattern pieces fit together perfectly, and, though I only briefly skimmed through the directions, they seemed clear and easy to follow.  I would definitely purchase from Pixie Faire again.

Since I was in a rush to complete the outfit for photos, I machined anything that wouldn't show with finishing touches by hand.  The outfit is constructed in two parts including an underskirt:

A very narrow placket.

And the overdress which fastens in the back:  Rather than dealing with button holes, I cheated and used velcro and snaps.  The trickiest part of the project was getting those facings to play nice.  Next time, I would skip the facings entirely and add a full lining.

Tiny darts and fold up cuffs!

No outfit would be complete without the accessories!  Check out the cutest, little Victorian boots and mother of pearl buckle that I ordered through Etsy:

Hand-stitched straw hat & matching ribbon belt.

The little straw hat, made in Anna Worden Bauersmith's doll millinery workshop, that started the whole project: 

From the front, decorated with ribbon, flowers & feathers.

From the side.  I added a tiny comb to help secure the hat.

From the other side, with a floral pin serving as a doll-sized hat pin!

And finally, Ginny all put together:

Bless the Doll, you may press the Doll, 
But do not crumple and mess the Doll! 
This is the way we dress the Doll; 
If you had not seen, could you guess the Doll? 

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