The Civil War Ball Gown…The Beginning


I’ve eluded to the creation of a Civil War Ball gown recently and it’s time for some unveiling of the details! The ball is on Saturday evening and we have one very excited 6th grade girl at our house. E13 will be attending for the third time as will Dan since boys are in high demand, Dads are also invited. 6th graders are the youngest guest so this is the first time for Miss R.

We asked our sewing pal Mrs. R if she would help us make a gown for the ball. The first thing we did was to gather at Mrs. R’s house (she has four daughters) to check out her gown stash. She’s acquired many through the years and lots of them are still around begging to be refashioned!

We started by checking out some of the fashions of the day. This dress is from the 1850s and the double tiered skirt was all the rage.

At first, we were going to try and use this fabulous gown as our base. Just look at that fabric!

Then we started adding some other possibilities…
A former bridesmaid’s dress bought second hand turned prom gown turned…yes! Civil War Ball gown.

Then we gave thought to some embellishments.

Then we had R11 try on the skirt to the gown. Mrs. R ripped a hole at the waist seam casing and pulled tightly and made a knot. Voila! A gown skirt is born!

Ok…how cool is the bustle? Can you imagine a hoop under there?

Now for the bodice…if we take it in we can make a peplum!

(Noun 1. peplum – a flared ruffle attached to the waistline of a dress or jacket or blouse)

It’s fun to dress up and dream! Maybe we’ll have lace trim.

We had no shortages of dress ideas…but we stuck to those in the time frame of the Civil War (1850s and 1860s roughly since a lot of women probably didn’t change up their fashion as soon as 1860 began!).

Do we keep the train? How much of the skirt do we cut?

R11 loves visits to Mrs. R’s sewing room! Their two creative, dreamy minds can think up a lot of fun. I was busy offering some opinions and studying closely the fashions of the day.

R11 was given one task for her dress and that was to secure the waistline on the underskirt/lined crinoline and attach a ribbon to the waistband so she could tie it on under the gown. Her mission was completed over a week ago and I’ll share that work next time.

Stay tuned for the next phase of the dress making/refashioning which will show the midway progress and some of the final decisions we made on dress design.

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