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Think Pink!

February 13, 2014

Ball dress with silk evening spencer c. 1815-1818

The Valentine’s Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge was also ball gown remake, part the second.

I have been mulling making a fancy/evening spencer since seeing all the lovely examples sported by the ever elegant Maggie Waterman at (the aptly named) Spencerville this summer.   This resolve was further strengthened by the very helpful post on the subject  by the inimitable Natalie Garbett.

An evening spencer really is the perfect way to jazz up an existing dress,  or in my case cover up the PLETHORA of issues with the bodice of a dress.  And as they take very little fabric to make – just a yard, sleeves and all – I could splurge on some lovely silk. Some very PINK silk.   Still not entirely sure what shade it is, as it seems to change depending on the lighting.  I was going for Cerise, but sometimes its more of a salmon or watermelon shade.  And lest you think that is an unreasonable shade for 1815, behold:

The pattern itself is just a modified version of the Period Impressions spencer.  To hide the faults in the gown bodice (the back sits MUCH lower then the front.  Damn boobs.)  I had to include the little tale, which I don’t like, and the pleats/gussets of which don’t sit properly, so at some point I will chop it off,  but the rest is fine, and I am happy enough for now.


Sleeve detail

The sleeves with their diamond cut outs are quite Gothic/Renaissance inspired, as was becoming increasingly common towards the end of the 1810’s.   It closes up the front with hooks, and the whole is embellished with some of the thread flowers leftover from decorating the skirt.

Here are a couple of my period inspirations:

Dinner dress, Ackerman’s Repository, 1818

The Challenge:  Pink!

Fabric: 1 yard silk shantung, cotton for lining.

Pattern: Customized version of the Period Impressions spencer pattern.

Year: 1815ish

Notions: Some little embroidered rosette appliques, hooks & eyes for the front closure.

How historically accurate is it? Mmm. Ish.  The materials are pretty correct, but a bit hazy on the techniques – the sleeve cut-outs probably should have been piped, rather than just turned under & stitched to the lining. I also machined seams where it wouldn’t show.  The design it also a bit hypothetical, though a reasonable extrapolation, I think.

Hours to complete:  40, mostly spent fiddling with the bloody sleeves.  I have no precision when I cut – this is why I do not quilt.

First worn: At the Queen Charlotte’s Birthday Ball held at Fort York in January.

And what a lovely event it was too, despite being waylaid by Highwaymen on the way there.  A delicious dinner, cheerful conversation and delightful dancing – not to mention the ginger ice at tea!

Total cost: Just the silk, which was about $40 after tax.

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