For the past several years we’ve attended only one 18th century event, The Sudbury Minute Militia’s 12th Night Ball. The first time we went, in 2010, we heard about it a few weeks earlier from friends who had been invited by some folks they knew (and we didn’t) but we so wanted to go that we asked for an invitation, and barged our way in. Stephen and I both had 18th C costume bits as we both had “done” Colonial reenacting in our past lives and had flirted with the possibility of picking it back up. Last year we went again, invited a few friends of our own, and each of us made yet a few more additions to our colonial wardrobes: I made a quilted petticoat and stays so my under layers would be a bit more appropriate.
Shortly after last year’s colonial ball I attended a Hive workshop, an incredibly informative workshop offered by local reenactors for those who might not know as much they do, or for those who want to get together and share during the colder months. All the workshops plus some other research I was doing at the time convinced me that I needed an actual colonial gown, not just the purchased jacket and some petticoats. Since I had the appropriate undergarments I was ready to take the plunge and signed up for a Burnley and Trowbridge gown making course. I never made it there. But I still had my lovely fabric, plus all the research I’d done, and by the time this winter came around I was actually able to look at the fabric again and think about this addition to my colonial wardrobe.
Since it is not my period, and my sewing skills were picked up catch as catch can I asked a professional costumer friend for help. She was so awesome she agreed to spend an overnight at my house, draft a pattern for me based on the books we both had, and help me get started putting the whole thing together. We picked the weekend before Christmas. I got a horrible cold at the beginning of December, but I was not about to put this gown off again. So my personal gown goddess came for her visit, and did more than just draft me a pattern, she helped me put a lot of the bodice together and set me well on my way.
I spent 2 and a half weeks hand sewing the seams flat, plus all the hemming that needed to be done, and finished the dress the night before this year’s Colonial Ball. I think it turned out rather well if I do say so myself!
The evening is always a fun one. Everyone is in a good mood, and I love dancing and don’t get to do it enough. I’m starting to recognize folks who dance every year. It is cold and biting in January, but the Inn is warm and full of colonial character.
Portland Place in 1815
14 hours ago