To Ball Gown or Not to Ball Gown, that is the question.

Mrs. V

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#1
So, got up my gumption and registered as a reenactor of the Hale Farm Civil War days in August. (11,12). Now, on the 12th they have a Ball, which I would very much like to go to. No escort, as my kid is working,and hubby has not interest.

I do not have a ball gown. I could, maybe, create a Ball gown style Bodice to “go” with the bodice and skirt I am currently making. I’m not sure if I have enough material to make a matching sleeveless bodice. What I thought I might do is see if I can find some fabric that would compliment what I have, and just whip up something. Trim it out with some really wide lace. Tah-dah?? Of course I have no idea how I would get someone to lace/hook me up, but I bet I could find someone. I’m not shy.

I’m not staying overnight, as the venue isn’t tooo far away.
 

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Mrs. V

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#4
Be sure to let us know what you decide and post pics!

I'd personally go for seeing what you can fashion. :D
I’m ready to cut out my skirt panels and waist band, so I think I am going to see what might be left over. I’m fairly short, so my skirts do not have to be as long.
 
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#6
I’m ready to cut out my skirt panels and waist band, so I think I am going to see what might be left over. I’m fairly short, so my skirts do not have to be as long.
I cannot wait to see! I'm a bit on the taller side, so mine need to be long.... curse you 5'7" frame! :roflmao:
 

Mrs. V

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#7
I cannot wait to see! I'm a bit on the taller side, so mine need to be long.... curse you 5'7" frame! :roflmao:
I’m 5’2, 3 with shoes on. So I cut my skirt fabric to 40” in length. Following advice, I measured over the top of my hoops, to see what length I would need. I then added extra, just in case! If I can wrest it away from the cat, (I put some in his bed in the sewing room to keep him off my work space). I’ve got some muslin that I plan to use to face the bottom edge with..

And it looks like I will have plenty of fabric for a bodice. I saw a nice one online, that gives me pattern shapes. And it hooks in the front!
 
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#8
I suspect that most of the women at that ball will be wearing a dressy day dress, or their one reenactor dress fixed up a bit (added trim, jewelry, fancy collar and cuffs or under sleeves, a silk belt, etc.).

While a nice day dress is quite suitable for evening and ball wear as well as daytime, the ball dress is pretty much a one-occasion outfit. So unless you have the time and $$$ (although evidently you already have the fabric), having a single-use garment might not be worth it. Your call, obviously!

I have seen pictures of garments which included both a long sleeve, jewel neck day dress bodice and a separate ball gown bodice, to be used with the same skirt. All from the same fabric, so be sure you have enough. The skirt should be quite full, preferably 170" to 180" circumference, to be suitable for this dual use. The process of attaching/detaching the bodices by hand will take several hours, though, so it's not exactly an instant conversion.
 

Mrs. V

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#9
I suspect that most of the women at that ball will be wearing a dressy day dress, or their one reenactor dress fixed up a bit (added trim, jewelry, fancy collar and cuffs or under sleeves, a silk belt, etc.).

While a nice day dress is quite suitable for evening and ball wear as well as daytime, the ball dress is pretty much a one-occasion outfit. So unless you have the time and $$$ (although evidently you already have the fabric), having a single-use garment might not be worth it. Your call, obviously!

I have seen pictures of garments which included both a long sleeve, jewel neck day dress bodice and a separate ball gown bodice, to be used with the same skirt. All from the same fabric, so be sure you have enough. The skirt should be quite full, preferably 170" to 180" circumference, to be suitable for this dual use. The process of attaching/detaching the bodices by hand will take several hours, though, so it's not exactly an instant conversion.
I do have enough fabric, which surprised me! I was actually thinking about using tapes sewn into the bodice bottom interior edge, that could then be attached to the skirt, maybe with a corresponding tape with a snap..hmm..have to think on it.
 
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#10
I do have enough fabric, which surprised me! I was actually thinking about using tapes sewn into the bodice bottom interior edge, that could then be attached to the skirt, maybe with a corresponding tape with a snap..hmm..have to think on it.
I have been thinking since my last post about an alternative to hand-sewing each time. I'd suggest hooks and eyes. Snaps weren't around in the 1860s, and there's also the question of what happens when your partner (or the couple next to you) step on your skirt! With snaps, there would be a sudden detachment!

Hook-and-eye tape (which was available in the day, and still is available online) might be the easiest answer. I've used the stuff for the front fastening on my corset, since I have to be able to bend over from the waist (have a bum knee which doesn't bend very far) so can't use a busk.

A belt would cover any gaps that might occur between the fastenings (1 inch apart on hook-and-eye tape). For the ball gown version, a nice silk belt, as described in Liz Clark's Dressmaker's Guide.

When searching online for "hook-and-eye tape" (amazon has it), be sure it isn't "hook and loop" tape which is actually Velcro, not period correct, potentially damaging to your fabric, and a magnet for cat hair.

Good luck, both with your sewing and disposessing the kitty!
 
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Mrs. V

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#11
I have been thinking since my last post about an alternative to hand-sewing each time. I'd suggest hooks and eyes. Snaps weren't around in the 1860s, and there's also the question of what happens when your partner (or the couple next to you) step on your skirt! With snaps, there would be a sudden detachment!

Hook-and-eye tape (which was available in the day, and still is available online) might be the easiest answer. I've used the stuff for the front fastening on my corset, since I have to be able to bend over from the waist (have a bum knee which doesn't bend very far) so can't use a busk.

A belt would cover any gaps that might occur between the fastenings (1 inch apart on hook-and-eye tape). For the ball gown version, a nice silk belt, as described in Liz Clark's Dressmaker's Guide.

When searching online for "hook-and-eye tape" (amazon has it), be sure it isn't "hook and loop" tape which is actually Velcro, not period correct, potentially damaging to your fabric, and a magnet for cat hair.

Good luck, both with your sewing and disposessing the kitty!
Oh yeah, I do need to order the hook and eye tape. Can’t get it at the local store anymore. Bummer! And yeah, after researching snaps I found they were not around until quite a bit later. Oh well, we will see how things go together when everything is finished.
 
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#12
I suspect that most of the women at that ball will be wearing a dressy day dress, or their one reenactor dress fixed up a bit (added trim, jewelry, fancy collar and cuffs or under sleeves, a silk belt, etc.).

While a nice day dress is quite suitable for evening and ball wear as well as daytime, the ball dress is pretty much a one-occasion outfit. So unless you have the time and $$$ (although evidently you already have the fabric), having a single-use garment might not be worth it. Your call, obviously!

I have seen pictures of garments which included both a long sleeve, jewel neck day dress bodice and a separate ball gown bodice, to be used with the same skirt. All from the same fabric, so be sure you have enough. The skirt should be quite full, preferably 170" to 180" circumference, to be suitable for this dual use. The process of attaching/detaching the bodices by hand will take several hours, though, so it's not exactly an instant conversion.
Well in my case, I'm eventually making a ball gown just because I want one, they're my favorite period wear!
 

Mrs. V

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#14
Well in my case, I'm eventually making a ball gown just because I want one, they're my favorite period wear!
I actually have the fabric for a ball gown sitting in my storage area. It’s a tone on tone cream, with a cherry blossom pattern. Very pretty. It is a cotton fabric, because I sweat (glow very hard) and I’ll need to be able to wash the bodice. I always have my eye out for trim materials. Cotton lace is so hard to find!
 

Mrs. V

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#15
I found out that Simplicity makes some very nice cotton lace trim. I bought entirely too much, but it was on sale!! I also purchased some really pretty ribbon(cotton) with beads for my ballgown bodice. Now all I need to do is make the bodice! Lol!
 
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#16
I actually have the fabric for a ball gown sitting in my storage area. It’s a tone on tone cream, with a cherry blossom pattern. Very pretty. It is a cotton fabric, because I sweat (glow very hard) and I’ll need to be able to wash the bodice. I always have my eye out for trim materials. Cotton lace is so hard to find!
Oh, that sounds really pretty!!!! Fiddly dee, I don't usually like the "patterned" material, but I love the one on the dress Scarlett Ohara spends most of the middle of GWTW(the one from the delivery scene, all the way until she makes the curtain dress.), though no idea if that pattern is actually period appropriate or not....

I do hope to see your cherry blossom dress someday. :smile:
 

Mrs. V

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#17
Oh, that sounds really pretty!!!! Fiddly dee, I don't usually like the "patterned" material, but I love the one on the dress Scarlett Ohara spends most of the middle of GWTW(the one from the delivery scene, all the way until she makes the curtain dress.), though no idea if that pattern is actually period appropriate or not....

I do hope to see your cherry blossom dress someday. :smile:
I will see if I can take a decent picture of the fabric..I know that most ball gowns were done in silk and silk taffetta or even silk velvet, but that kind o material is no longer less expensive then cotton..in Civil War times, cotton was quite pricey..so I will pretend to be a rich woman who can afford 9 yards of printed cottom!
 

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