Hello there! So . . . you know how I said I was going to work on my Pinafore and get it finished this weekend? Well I kinda, sorta have a little distraction. See, I found out that there is going to be a Victorian Ball held in my town in the Summer and I HAVE to go. So you know what that means right? Yes, I need to make a Victorian Dress.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, for me, planning is as much fun as making and wearing garments that I make. Now, this ball is supposed to be in the style of the 1890s. Here is an example of an evening gown from the 1890s:
Wow, those are some major sleeves right? Despite the fact that they were exactly what Anne of Green Gables pined for, I think I’m going to cheat a little and go for more of an 1870s-late 1890s look because I’m pretty sure that most people will not know the difference. 😉 Plus, I want to wear a huge draped and fully bedecked bustle! I mean, when am I ever going to get another chance outside of Halloween?!
So instead of sewing my pinafore, I immediately went to my local library where I discovered that they were seriously lacking in materials on fashions of the era. Harumph! However, a neighboring library had a bit of a better selection so here are a few scans of dresses and their decorations that are particularly inspiring me:
I really like this one. It’s a gown made by seamstress Margaret Kavaney. I like that it still incorporates the puff sleeves so popular in the era, but they are tastefully toned down more to my liking. The bodice trim is especially beautiful and really serves to draw the eye down to the waistline. Also, the fabric is just gorgeous. I love the muted wash of the florals. This dress features the skirt that is the transition between the bustle and the fashions to come in the latter half of the 1890s. It’s slim over the hips with little decoration and flares out into a gentle bell shape. However, there is still a semi-train in the back of the dress, the swan song of the bustle, if you will.
This one is a dress that is a little later and definitely Edwardian rather than Victorian. I’ve posted it because of it’s gorgeous color; such a lovely delicate pink, and because of it’s amazing trims. I love the idea of a big silk flower corsage cascading from the shoulder! I also appreciate the roses bedecking the detail on the bottom of the skirt. The skirt gave me a great idea for layering different laces over fabrics to create a soft look. It’s something I’m definitely toying with.
Finally, there is this dress. This features the giant sleeves so popular at this time. However, it also features a glorious bustle in the back. I think the neckline is just lovely; a square neck is just the ticket I think. Again, there is a lovely washed floral fabric and a delicate pink material and gorgeous lace detail on the bodice and the sleeves. These three dresses all are scanned from the book entitled A Separate Sphere: Dressmakers in Cincinnati’s Golden Age 1877-1922 by Cynthia Amnues.
Here again is a gown from the correct period. This one by couturier Charles Worth. I like that this one is a more fitted look and I adore the oodles of lace trim and draping. Note to self: must get huge fan and long gloves!
I think this one is really great. It looks like there is an under dress of satin, with some sort of netting atop and all this is topped with a bodice that extends to the back (note glorious bustle) and train. It also features puffed sleeves so I could probably pull this one off as period correct. I could see doing this one in a satin with velveteen for the bustle and train.
Finally, there are these gowns. These are great inspiration for the sort of trims and decorations the one can go crazy with both on the under skirt and on the bustle! Again, here is another flower corsage prominently featured on the shoulder.
So that is what has been distracting me from my pinafore. Of course, if I’m going to make a dress like this, I’m definitely going to go all out and make the period-correct underclothes. I’m really excited about making a corset; in fact, the hub asked me what I want for my anniversary present (7 years of wedded bliss) and I asked him for this corset kit since I already own the pattern in question. I checked out The Basics of Corset Building: A Handbook for Beginners by Linda Sparks and I can’t wait to buy fabric and get started!
Which of these dresses inspire you the most? If you were going to a Victorian ball set in the 1890s would you be period correct or would you take some licenses as I plan to do?
Until next we meet,