1886 fancy dress "champagne", 19th century, projects

Apparently Fancy Dress Is My Theme

First it was the 18th c. Maja costume, now I’ve been struck by the Victorian fancy dress bug!  A year or two ago, people were passing around the link to this fabulous 1880s book full of fancy dress (ie what historical people wore when they were “in costume”) costume ideas.  And then this summer, Jen and Loren made SUPER fabulously cute fancy dress costumes (telegraph and harlequin) for the CoCo gala.

Suddenly, my SUPER busy season (ie mostly Bella Donna/faire performances) is over (which I promise to post about very soon), the PEERS Vampire Ball is coming up in a few weeks, and I’ve got the time and urge to sew!  However, I kept looking over my planned costumes list and either nothing grabbed me, or it was something that I didn’t want to bang out in a few weeks.  So I hemmed, and I hawed, and suddenly I thought of that fancy dress book, and Jen and Loren’s super cute costumes, and realized aha!  I would make a fancy dress costume for the Vampire Ball, and hey, then I’ll have something fun to wear when I visit Dickens (mid-Victorian being a total snoozefest to me these days).

So I read all through the fancy dress book, and looked at a ton of fashion plates, and settled on the idea that had caught my eye way back when I first skimmed through the book — champagne!  There are a lot of fabulous fancy dress concepts out there, but I wanted something that modern people would understand (for example, I kept loving all the “folly” illustrations, but would people know what that was? and there are tons of historical characters, but I worry that Victorian ideas of historical costume would just read as badly designed/research costumes).  Okay, no idea if people will get champagne either, but at least they know what it is I’m talking about!

So then I started looking through a gazillion fashion plates and here’s what I settled on (commentary in captions will be missing if you’re reading this on LJ, you may want to link to the post on my site if you care):

Suggestions for "champagne" costume from the fancy dress book

My bad PhotoShop mockup -- REALLY hard to get the colors to translate correctly!

The 1886 La Mode Illustree evening gown that I'm basing the design on

Far right and left, examples of fancy dress from 1885 -- most fancy dress skirts are shorter length and fuller, so I'm be using these as an idea for skirt silhouette

I’m planning to use a lot of stash materials for this project.  I have 2 yards of bottle green silk shantung, so that will be the front/side base of the skirt.  Then I have a ton of white cotton velvet, and I spent the weekend dyeing it — first 4 packets of Dylon dark green dye got it to a medium green, then I overdyed it with black for a darker green but ended up w/ a darker blue (wth?), then overdyed it again with RIT dark green and finally got the forest-y shade I wanted.  I bought 2 yeards of a pink-ish gold silk shantung from Mood Fabrics — I’m hoping this color will work on me, since most yellow-y golds wouldn’t:

Now, the final problem has been trim!  I LOVE the balls in the original fashion plate, but I’m having a horrible time finding something to match.  I’m picturing just strings of large gold balls, but they are shockingly hard to find!  Here’s my options:

Some kind of beaded fringe, although I can't seem to find anything where the beads are big enough! Also, can't seem to find round beads in the right color! And, no idea what the size is on this one.

Another beaded fringe -- this one is pretty small, 1" total

I could string pearls or beads, but it's amazingly hard to find them big enough! These pearls are 16mm, which is just about .5", which seems still really small to me.

And, I just recently had the idea to look for gold ball buttons and see if I could string those… what do you think?  Again, I’d like it to read as champagne bubbles!

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10 Comments

  • Reply jen thompson October 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    OMG I love it!!!! What a fun theme, and I really like the way your sketch is looking! For the balls, have you tried looking in the Christmas decorations? Maybe there is some garland or some mini-ball ornaments that would work. I like your beaded fringe options too, but it definitely would be cool if they were bigger and round to look more like bubbles.

  • Reply Jenny-Rose October 25, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Fabulous and oh so appropriate! Jen beat me to it but yeah look at Christmas decorations – you might find some cool trim or larger “bubbles” there! And you totally need some champagne cork earrings or corks in your headdress/hair! :>

  • Reply corsetra October 25, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    What about wrapping some thin cork around a top hat shape?

  • Reply Alyxx October 25, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Love. It.
    I like the crystal trim because it looks like bubbles, but I get what you mean about size. There was big “crystal” drop trims at Home Fabrics downtown that might work. When will you be down here next? If not soon, I’ll take pix or samples next time I go. When is the ball?

  • Reply The Aristocat October 26, 2011 at 3:55 am

    Fabulous!! So fun and totally recognizable.

  • Reply Trystan October 26, 2011 at 7:18 am

    How cool!!! But you know what tthis means? Pink drink Victorian fancy dress bustle can’t be far behind (pun intended ;)

  • Reply Dana October 26, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    I am also going as a champagne bottle this year. I found a beautiful champagne colored silk dress and i am going to put gold glitter on my arms and chest and blow bubbles at people. I think i am going to wrap some silk around my waist like a sash and have a type of champagne written on it. i am planning on putting my hair up in a fancy curly updo and maybe creating a fake cork hat on a headband.

  • Reply kendra October 26, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    You guys rock! I have been looking at xmas decorations and have some possibilities now! Total life saver, esp. after I did the math on how much that many beads was going to cost me…

    Corsetra: I LOVE it! I’ve already bought a tiara, but I’m contemplating finding ways to attach corks to it. And I love the idea of the mini-top hat — you’ve got me thinking maybe of glueing a bunch of champagne corks all over it? Anyway, that’s something I could do for Dickens Fair wearing.

    Alyxx: that would be fabulous, but the ball is in 2.5 weeks, so there’s not much time! Probably I’m going to have to find a solution before then.

    Trystan: I LOVE YOU! We so have to do it!!!!

    Dana: great minds think alike!

  • Reply Emma November 4, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Next time, if you want to go for a darker green, try overdyeing with red. Do test first though, or consult Jen Thompson, who is better versed in color theory than me.

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