The Flower: 1860s Ballgown

Yeah… I’ve been a bit behind in posting but I’ve also been crazy busy creating, so I’m just going to jump right in and hopefully keep up.  (ahaha… I know)…

Over Memorial Day, I participated in Greenfield Village’s Civil War Rememberance.  It’s an amazing experience and we get to camp in the Village amongst all those historical homes.  Truly fabulous.  Given that we were showing 1865, that means we got to go a little bit into the later crinoline era and I love it.  I’m a huge fan of the mid to late 1860s where hats got a little goofy and experimental and bodices had all these interesting shapes.  I’ll be sad to go back to 1861 next year but them’s the breaks…


There’s a ball hosted for reenactors only and while I labored over my Mourning gown (more on that when I get around to showing it off), I decided last minute that I wanted a new ballgown (the other was torn apart and not in any condition to be in public).  So, I spent a day building this masterpiece.  Now, luckily, I had this plan a year ago when I originally tore the bodice apart, so the pieces had been cut and most of the bertha had been stitched and put together, otherwise it would have taken a lot longer.
I used an old Simplicity pattern that was adjusted and redrafted into oblivion to fit with my new corset.  I’m actually quite happy with the fit and fitting ballgowns to my shape is not easy.  I don’t have much of a bust but wide dancer shoulders.  This one is perfect.  I didn’t have to fuss with the neckline all that much and I felt like a flower.
The skirt is a total of about 6-7 yards uncut.  Yes, I apparently was a bit crazy and thought I needed that much.  I don’t.  My mourning is about 4.5/4.75 yards and fits my hoop wonderfully.  This skirt is ridiculous.  Being that I didn’t want to hem all of that, I pinked the edges into scallops and then hand draped all the little swags and had designed each flower burst.  None of them are the same.
I kept my old ballgown skirt (it was still in good condition and can go with other dresses.  I may even make a day bodice to go with it as I have some extra fabric I found) and wore a bumpad to give it that late Civil War era shape (I’m in love with that shape now!).

photo was taken by a friend of mine.

photo was taken by a friend of mine, Stephanie.

It was such a joy to wear and here I was debating if I even wanted/needed a ballgown in my Civil War wardrobe.  Psht.  Of course I did.


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