Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Civil War Reproduction Ball-gown ~ Finishing Details

A Civil War Reproduction Ball-gown ~ Finishing Details

Inspiration from the original cast:

For women of all ages that are, like me, frantically sewing their ball-gowns for the 150th Anniversary of Remembrance Day in Gettysburg, I besiege you to do at least a modicum of online research and add those finishing touches that create a truly authentic reproduction dress.

Many purveyors of eveningwear, fancy dinner dresses and ball-gowns charge a premium for pretty confections that almost make the grade. But it is the detail that separates a pretty dress from a stellar reproduction of a period gown.  In any event, a dress for the opera, a fancy dress ball, or an evening at the theatre should be constructed of the following:

a)    a fetching off the shoulder bodice attached to a skirt of the same fabric sewn of silk taffeta or similar luxury fabric;
b)   the typical bodice laces up the back although there are some examples of front closing dresses;
c)    Bodices often incorporate points that extend below the natural waist at the front and back;
d)   Skirts have deep faced hems;
e)    The short sleeves are enhanced by short puffed sheer white under-sleeves;
f)     A fine gathered English net tucker is affixed to the neckline with a fine black velvet ribbon inserted into a sewn channel to tighten for modesty;
g)    Boning encased in the bodice for structure;
h)   Decorative trim that is basted onto the dress so it can be easily removed for versatility;
i)     A coordinating fancy hair ornament/ headdress;

It is the details that matter, that show one has done some research and seeks to emulate those who have come before. As I have expressed previously, we who seek to stand in the shoes of our ancestors have a responsibility to make the most authentically accurate representation of our forebears that we can.  Anything less dishonors them and gives a wrong impression to bystanders and visitors who believe what we wear represents what was. It is dishonest to misrepresent history to those making an effort to learn about the past. Unfortunately, it is the most heinous offenders of bad taste and material misrepresentation that are most often photographed by the masses. Thanks to all of you who make the effort.

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