Wednesday, November 13, 2019

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The Nevada Statehood Ball - An Evening in 1864

The crew - Abby, Chrissy, me, and Caroline at the Nevada Statehood Ball, 2019 - photo by Chase Stevens.
A few posts ago I shared how I refit my 1860s Aubergine evening gown, bringing it back to life for hopefully many more years of wear.

Now it's time to share some photos from the event! A group of us invaded the Nevada Statehood Ball at Piper's Opera House in Virginia City, NV, and had an absolutely splendid time whirling about, laughing, eating cake, and feeling pretty all night long.

Gathered outside Piper's Opera House, Virginia City, NV - photo by Chase Stevens.

Abby and Susan looking amazing at Piper's - photo by Chase Stevens.

Abby and Chrissy swirling across the dance floor at Piper's Opera House - this one made the Las Vegas Review-Journal - photo by Chase Stevens.

Chillin' in the lobby on a tiny chair - photo by Chase Stevens.

ABBY - resplendent in her first mid-Victorian gown. Photo by Chase Stevens.

Getting in a little Victorian rotary waltz where we could - me, Abby, Chrissy, Susan - photo by Chase Stevens

Everyone looked great! Left to right - Abby, Chrissy, Liza, Caroline, me.

Lacing train! Caroline, Abby, and Chrissy getting dressed in the visitor's center.

It was *cold* that night - the first very cold night of the season, so we raided Nicole's closet for appropriate mid-Victorian cover-ups. I borrowed Nicole's gorgeous black wool and velveteen paletot and wrapped on a vintage fur collar for extra cuddles. Now I want a paletot very badly, despite hardly ever doing mid-Vic stuff.

The (re)finished 1860s ballgown. I'm much happier with the fit of the bodice, particularly on the shoulders, and the silhouette of the skirt is much improved as well. This is one of my favorite costumes I've ever made. I feel like an elegant queen when I wear this!

I accessorized the ballgown with opera gloves, Dames a la Mode jewels, and a very quick "head doily" I threw together the night before, made from a bit of lace, ribbons, silk flowers, and scraps of purple silk salvaged from the bertha.

Huge and special thank you to Chase Stevens, who has generously shared his photographs with us.
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Thursday, November 7, 2019

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A Spoopy Day in Virginia City, Nevada


The Spoop-Crew in Virginia City, NV. No actual buckets of blood were consumed, but we thought about it....
Several weekends ago a group of friends came to visit us here in Reno.

We all decided to invade Virginia City, our local mining-old-west-tourist town, with the general costume theme of "spoopy" (a meme-generated misspelling of "spooky").

We had bustles, Edwardians, 1920s, 1930s, punk rock Victorians, Camille Clifford, time witches, and a whole lotta fun exploring the town. Here are a few photos...

Photos are by...
Nicole - @silk_and_buckram
Chrissy - @thelacedangel
Lauren M - @madamedestroyer
Vivien - @freshfrippery
(and me)

Vivien, Abby, and Nicole chillin' on C Street, looking fab. Photo by Christina.

Nicole made a new Edwardian suit for the occasion, from a stunning figured russet silk and vintage black lace trim. Photo by Vivien

Samantha in 1920s velvet - photo by Vivien

Vivien rocks her "Crimson Peak" historical cosplay, complete with creepy and fabulous clasped-hands belt.

Some of the creepy crew - Sam, Amanda, and Lauren M. pose in the very haunted Virginia City graveyard.

Bustlin' - photo by Lauren Moyer

The American Duchess girl gang - me, Abby, Nicole, and Chrissy - photo by Vivien

Victorian rockstar Chrissy in Madame X paired with the most adorable late Victorian jacket made by Nicole, and rocking some seriously (19)80s vibes. Photo by Lauren Moyer.

We had great weather for the day, and a beautiful high desert setting.

Abby and me disrespecting the dead. Photo by Vivien.

Sam representing the "younger" end of our historical spectrum in 1920s. Photo by Lauren Moyer.

Sam, Amanda, Nicole, Abby, and Adrienne rendezvous on the Virginia City boardwalk. Photo by Lauren Moyer. 

We rode the "short train" to Gold Hill and back, with a little history lesson about the silver and gold mining. Photo by Lauren Moyer.

Witchy vibes - Lauren M. in one of the well creepy doorways of Virginia City, NV.

Chrissy turning heads at local spoopy bar Death & Taxes - photo by Nicole.

I pulled out my 1880s wool and velvet bustle gown, a perfect choice for the very temperate weather and dirty venue. This gown isn't perfect, and it's undergone one size alteration already, but I really like it and enjoy wearing it, despite the weight.

My wool and velveteen 1880s gown with linen plastron and whitework jabot. I love this dress - it has tassels! My hat was made by Liza M. and I've got Renoir Victorian Button Boots for my shoes. I actually wore the wrong corset this day so my bodice didn't fit quite as it should've - ah well!


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Friday, November 1, 2019

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Altering My 1860s Evening Gown

Currently on my sewing table is a "simple" alteration to my one-and-only 1860s evening gown. I made this gown, along with a matching day bodice, back in 2014 and over the years it's mysteriously shrunk in the closet.

A quick try on to see if letting this bodice out would even be possible...
With the Nevada Statehood Ball coming up, it was time to pull the old girl out and inspect for possibilities of alteration. I usually have little to no hope of this because Past Lauren is notorious for making bad decisions like trimming seam allowances too closely, cutting open darts, and making things with too-little fabric.

Aw Yissss, look at those BIG HONKIN' SEAM ALLOWANCES! Note to future self: more of this, pls.
But this time, for whatever reason, Past Lauren actually left some big-honkin' seam allowance on the side seams! MIRACLE!

Trying the gown on, I needed to make these adjustments:
  • Move the hook/bar on the skirt waist to let it out
  • Let the bodice side seams out to gain a total of about 1.75 inches (crikey)
  • Remove the bertha and take tucks in the neckline of the bodice front and back to bring the shoulder straps up onto the shoulders more.
  • Re-make the sleeve puffs for the larger armscyes and set them in again.
  • Re-shape the bertha and tack it back onto the bodice.
  • Replace all the hooks and bars linking skirt and bodice.
I opened up the side seams and re-set them on my dress form, with a final check on my body before sewing.

We took some pretty hefty tucks on the front and back neckline to bring the straps further up onto the shoulders.

The biggest "domino effect" part of this project was having to completely disassemble and re-shape the bertha. I re-used as much of the previous bertha's material as possible, but also got dang lucky in finding a small bag of purple silk scraps to piece together more bias from.
My hoop also needed help, greatly. Chrissy, queen of costume engineering, improved it 1000% adjusting each hoop, but part of the problem is that I used a combo of scavenged hoop steel and giant zip ties, and it's all just wackadoodle due to different 'spring' strengths. My bottom hoop is not big enough and my top hoop was *too* big. I ordered some proper hoop steel and re-stuffed each channel, including discovering an empty channel at the hem and correcting that with its own, fresh new hoop.
Before silhouette adjustment - it wasn't bad but it wasn't great.
Additionally, I crafted a new Ugly Puffer - longer and flatter in front, which helped bulk out the middle section of the silhouette nicely. The truth is that I really need a different/new/proper elliptical hoop entirely, but with precious little time I just Tim Gunn'd this one and it worked well enough for the evening.

Hoop, bum pad, Ugly Puffer, and petticoat fluffed out the elliptical silhouette. I find this silhouette tricky.
While I have a lot of small-ish tasks to do, it feels great to be able to wear something again. I did not sell this gown in my great moving-house purge, even though I knew I'd probably never fit it again. I am pleasantly surprised and very happy to find that's not true and it shall have more life. Making new things is fun and challenging, but re-using, updating, and remodeling old things is satisfying, responsible, and historically accurate too. <3

Final try-on of the re-fit gown before the even night. All systems go!
Photos from the Nevada Statehood Ball are coming soon!



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