Saturday, August 1, 2015

Accessorizing the Ball Gown

At the beginning of the month, as you may remember, I finally finished my Civil War Ball Gown! I love it and am so pleased with how it came out, but it wasn't done. Well, the gown itself was, but it takes more than just a dress to look like you stepped out of a different century. What I needed to complete the look was accessories. The Historical Sew Monthly challenge for July? Accessorizing. The perfect challenge for me this month. I actually managed to finish three items this month for this challenge! A headdress, a pair of lace mitts, and even a pair of stockings. (I have written up detailed posts about the making of each item, this is just a summary.) 

First up, the headdress.

When I started considering what accessories I wanted to make to go with my gown, my first thought was a headdress. So I looked at picture after picture of evening headdresses from the mid 19th century.

I couldn't decide on just one that I really wanted to recreate, so I decided to combine a few different ideas. Once I had a general idea in mind, I got to work. First I made a wire frame, then covered it in ribbon, lace, flowers, and netting. That's the summary, if you want to see exactly how it all went together you can read the more detailed post here.

Once I finished the headdress, gloves were next on my list, and I had enough netting left over from the headdress to make a pair of lacy looking black mitts!

When I first decided I wanted to make black mitts I was a little worried that they wouldn't be appropriate, as black signifies mourning, so I asked questions on the HSM fb page, and looked at pictures from the 1860's, and finally decided black mitts would be fine.

I used Butterick B5370, with a few slight modifications, to make these. I wound up having to hand sew them, as the sewing machine kept making them wonky, but it was worth it when I saw the finished product.

I love how elegant they turned out! To see exactly how they went together (including the wonky machine sewn mitt) you can read this post all about them.  

The last item I made to go with my gown was the easiest, and most practical, stockings!

When looking for ideas of accessories to make, I happened across a pattern for sewing stockings. As I don't really knit, I figured these were about perfect for me to make!

They went together very easily, and look amazingly historical when done! I plan on making a couple more pair soon. For those who are interested I included a link to the pattern in my post about making these. 

Now that all the accessories are done, I suppose I can consider my ball gown complete, now I just need to find an event to wear it to! Making it and the accessories, and then photographing the complete ensemble was a lot of fun. A huge thanks to my amazing and talented friend Erentry for being my photographer!

August's HSM challenge is Heirlooms and Heritage, so I guess I ought to start looking for photos of my ancestors to see if they had any clothes I want to recreate. Any suggestions on where to start? I'm definitely excited to learn more about my family's history! 


  1. Wow Alyssa, you continue to amaze me. The way you have an idea and then find a way to make it a reality !

  2. The headpiece is fabulous. That is my favorite. But the ensemble is definitely made by having all the accessories.

  3. Thank You! The accessories were really fun to make!