adjective: old fashioned, out of style, unfashionable [from French, the past participle of démoder "to go out of fashion," from mode "fashion"].

gallery: victorian costumes

1830s day dress

1836-7 evening dress

1839 Le Follett day dress

1840s crinoline

mid-1840s evening dress

the eugenie project

1858 day dress

1850s lower class ensemble (Bet's Dickens Fair costume)

early 1860s evening dress (1)

early 1860s evening dress (2)

1864ish summer dress & bonnet

1870-71 stripey evening dress

1874 evening reception dress

1870s parasol

1875 afternoon/evening dress

1880s evening dress

1890s evening dress

1890s bead embroidered evening dress

1890s can can skirt

1830s indienne print day dress (2004)

For more photos and description, see the project diary.

front front back

1836-7 evening dress (2002)

For more photos and description, see the project diary.

1836 Evening Dress 1836 Evening Dress

1839 Le Follett day dress (2006)

The bodice needs refitting at some point - le sigh!  For more photos and description, see the project diary.

1839 Le Follett afternoon dress 1839 Le Follett afternoon dress

1840's CRINOLINE (2000)

An adventure in and of itself... read more about it on my how-to page.

Crinoline Front Underpinnings

the eugenie project (2008)

Recreating the Portrait of the Empress Eugenie Surrounded by Her Maids of Honor (1855). Best in Show, Costume Con 26 Historical Masquerade (2008).

For a WHOLE lot of detail, on my dress as well as all the other costumers' dresses, see the Eugenie Project.

Comtesse de Montebello
Comtesse de Montebello

1850s lower class ensemble (Bet's Dickens Fair costume) (2007-08)

I made a new skirt for 2008, out of an orange-ish striped linen/rayon.

(C) Kass R
(C) Kass R

For more photos and description, see the project diary.

Bet & Nancy Bet Bet Bet

1858 day dress (2000-01?)

This ensemble was created for the Riverside Dickens Festival.

This dress was created from Patterns of History's 1857 Promenade Dress pattern. The fabric is a heavy cotton twill in beige, green, and blue plaid for the bodice and overskirt; with a solid green heavy cotton underskirt and lower sleeves. The trimming idea came from an 1858 bodice featured in Nancy Bradfield's Costume in Detail.

1858 Back Closeup 1858 Front Closeup
Lace Collar Cartridge Pleating

early 1860's evening dress (1993?)

Evidence of early attempts!  This is the ONLY picture I have of my Very First Ballgown, made back in oh, 1993ish, when I was about 18. This lack of documentation is very sad, as I wore this all the time! (If you have any random pictures of this dress, please email me!). The dress is being modeled by Heather of Sew Hip It Hurts.

I used Past Pattern's 1860 Ball Gown Bodice pattern for the bodice, which I trimmed with a lack lace bertha and black lace trim on the sleeves. The flounced skirt I made following the instructions in Winter & Savoy's Victorian Costuming Vol. I and trimmed with black lace. It's so funny to look back early attempts -- I had massive problems attaching the piping as I just didn't get how it all worked; I used gores for the skirt; and I didn't check the hem length before making the flounces, so the bottom flounce was much shorter than the top and middle. But the dress got me happily through many a ball and lasted for about 10 years, until the acetate fabric began to change from the purple you see in this picture to bright pink - but only in the folds (fear acetate)! I salvaged the trim, which I reused on my next 1860's ballgown.

1860s Evening Dress

early 1860's evening dress (2000-01?)

This ball gown was created for the Social Daunce Irregulars' Union Preserved Ball.

I used Past Pattern's 1860 Ball Gown Bodice pattern for the bodice, adding the white undersleeves so common on 1860's ballgowns. The skirt is cartridge pleated into the waistband. The trim consisted of a lack lace bertha and black lace trim on the sleeves, with pink and black beading along the neckline and the sleeves, which I stole from my first 1860's ball gown (above). I didn't have enough fabric to recreate the flounces unfortunately - which is okay as this isn't my favorite dress and will probably be sold or taken apart soon! (I finally did end up selling this on ebay).

1860s Evening Dress

1864ish summer dress & bonnet (2007)

For more photos and description, see the project diary.

Meg Meg Meg Meg

1870-71 stripey evening dress (2007)

This dress originally intended to be Gwendolen's gorgeous lavender striped day dress from Daniel Deronda, especially once I found the perfect striped silk shantung in the garment district. I ordered the Truly Victorian 1870 trained skirt pattern as it seemed like the perfect base for the skirt. And started sewing this for Costume College 2007 -- when I was foiled by my lack of a perfect gala dress! There was just nothing that was quite what I wanted to wear. So I kept working on the skirt, and tried to ignore the early 1870s fashion plates that kept singing their siren song - but finally I caved.

Here are some of the images that inspired me:

1870 Journal 1874 La Mode 

			Illustree 1874 La Mode 

			Illustree 1874 La Mode 

1870 - trained skirt with pouf and tie 1874 - evening bodice, double points below the waist, pouf along bustline PhotoShopping a design...

The main issue was what to wear underneath. The siren call of 1870-71 was hard to resist, but I didn't have the bustle/hoop combo worn in those years, and I didn't have the time or money to make one. Finally, I hit upon the solution of wearing my standard mid-1870s/80s bustle with my full 1870s bustle petticoat - but I used bias tape to make casings in my bustle petticoat in which to run hoopwire. I put one row just below the bottom flounce, and another about 10-12" higher. I had to mess a bit with it to figure out how to get it to shape correctly, as my petticoat was gathered up on the hoop (found out that, weirdly, if I gathered the bulk of the petticoat in back, it worked; if I gathered the petticoat in front, the hoop swung forward). I also made a plain cotton trained petticoat from the same pattern as the skirt to wear over my bustle and bustle petticoat.

The skirt is basically the Truly Victorian pattern, although I added the velvet ribbon ties (based on the 1870 fashion plate) to keep the pouf properly poufy. I added a pleated frill around the hem, pleating it so that the lavender primarily shoes with the white peeking out. I wanted to avoid redoing the same trim as my candy cane dress, and when I saw some early bustle era fashion plates with a puffing along the hem, I was sold. The flat velvet ribbon was there to tie in with the ties in back. I gathered up a 12" strip of muslin and sewed it underneath as a hem guard.

I wanted the bodice to be simple, and considered making it in the 1870 round-waisted style, but decided that that wouldn't be terribly flattering on me -- so added a bit of a basque with two points in front and back. I draped the bodice, based on my custom-draped pattern for my candy cane evening bodice. The 1874 fashion plates, with the puffing on the bodice, tied in so nicely with the skirt puffing that it looks like I planned it! There was a LOT of futzing with the puffing, as I didn't think too clearly when I cut out the bias strips and realized after the fact that the Vs didn't match at CF and CB - sigh, recut, resew. I added a narrow velvet ribbon to the bodice to tie in with the velvet ribbons on the skirt. The bodice is piped along the edges, armscye, and sleeve hem. I considered using buttons to close, but had no time for buttonholes, so sewed on hooks and thread bars -- only to get to Costume College and put it on for the gala, and have all the thread bars be useless at holding the hooks! I had to pin myself in with straight pins, but luckily I don't think it showed much. I need to get more small metal bars so this has permanent closures.

All in all, it was exactly what I wanted - a big, trained, over the top -- yet simple and elegant -- evening dress (and hey, I got to wear my TIARA!).

stripey stripey stripey stripey
stripey stripey
stripey stripey stripey

1874-7 evening reception dress (2002)

For more photos and description, see the project diary.

1874-77 reception dress 1874-77 reception dress 1874-77 reception dress 1874-77 reception dress 1874-77 reception dress

1870s parasol (2004, on hold)

Awaiting trim and handle. For more photos and description, see the project diary.

parasol exterior parasol interior

1875 afternoon/EVENING gown (2004/2006)

For more photos and description, see the project diary.

Afternoon version (2004):

candy canecandy canecandy cane

Evening version (2006):

candy cane
candy cane
candy cane
Left and center photo © Rollie Rollefson

mid-1880's evening dress (2000/2001)

This was my first bustle ballgown, a period I have always adored but never had the opportunity to create. I love the large bustle and severe lines of the 1880's, and found that this taffeta fabric lent itself well to the period.

I used the absolutely fabulous patterns of Truly Victorian for the bodice (1885 Cuirass Bodice) and the overskirt (1887 Waterfall Overskirt), and Mantua Maker's underskirt (1870-1891 Foundation Skirt). I adore this overskirt pattern: the pleats at the side of the apron and the drape in the back is gorgeous.

This was my first try at this dress (2000):

Bustle Underpinnings 1880s Back

This ensemble underwent a massive restructuring over summer 2001. I trashed the first bodice completely as I didn't like the way that it fit. I had altered the original pattern without really looking at how the pieces wanted to hang. I remade the bodice, working heavily with a mockup which I draped on my dress form and on me (thanks to the long-suffering husband). I also wanted to change the neckline and the sleeves and add more piping, which I think adds well to the tailored look of this era.

I'd always wanted to trim this outfit but had never gotten around to it on the first go. So in addition to adding a black ruche to the bodice, I kept the original skirts and trimmed them with black and green ruffles and ruches. All in all, I'm SO much happier with the outfit the second time around.

1880s Front 1880s Back

mid-1890's evening dress (1999?)

This gown was originally made for one of the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers 1890's balls, when I lived in Boston. It was originally a rushed affair: I used Past Pattern's 1890's dinner dress pattern, leaving off the lace overlay and making simple puffed sleeves instead of lace.

When I had more time, I severly reworked the dress. I cut off the train, which only gets in the way of dancing, and ruins the line of the skirt when the train is held up. I switched the sleeves for the large puffed 1890's sleeves from Jean Hunnisett's Period Costume for Stage & Screen, and added lace trim to the skirt, and lace and bead trim to the neckline.

I used Folkwear's chemise pattern (as it was the only one I could find with a low enough neckline) and Laughing Moon's 1870-1895 Petticoat pattern.

1890s Front 1890s Back

1890s BEAD EMBROIDERED EVENING DRESS (2002-03, on hold)

Awaiting inspiration!  For more photos and description, see the project diary.

Even More Leaves

1890s can can skirt (2004)

This outfit was put together for a performance dance at the PEERS Silver Baron's Ball (set in 1880s Colorado -- saloon atmosphere). Now normally I hate doing anything period-esque, but as I was performing I had to put something together that worked with the theme. Most of the women in the performing group were going with the Victorian undies/can can dancer look, so I decided to go with that. Since the classic can can look seems to be based on the 1890s, I decided to go with a circle skirt, using these instructions from a belly dancing site. I used some cheapo polyester black & white striped satin (ebay find) that I had in my stash -- would have liked to have done the ruffled petticoat underneath, but no time!

It all worked out pretty well, except figuring out how to fit the pattern pieces on my yardage without running out (and making the stripes angle correctly) made me bemoan not paying attention in geometry class in 8th grade, plus the stripes were a little bit nauseating to look at after a while! As I wanted to whip this out, I went with total machine sewing, which is weird to me these days (so used to hand sewing for finishing)! It took me two evenings to construct, one for patterning and cut out and one for construction.

The rest of the outfit was easy -- white chemise, black corset, black & white stockings. The hair turned out a little bit more "I Dream of Jeanie" than I anticipated, but there's always something!

1890s can can outfit

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Last revised December 27, 2008.
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