Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Queen Victoria's Wedding Gown

My version.
Photo by Laurie Tavan.

The original, skirt flounce removed.

Wedding portrait from 1840.

Our "wedding portrait". By Tavan Photography.

We tried to go "Young Victoria" style here.
By Tavan Photography.

We had fun with some bloopers. By Tavan Photography. 

    Since this dress will also be my Gala gown for Costume College in a few days, I thought it high time to write up a post on it. This dress was an undertaking. Nearly entirely hand sewn and using as many period techniques and materials as possible. There is obviously a lot I can never get right, seeing as I cannot examine Queen Victoria's actual wedding gown and do not have access to completely period materials and I also lacked $$ for the project in general. 

     That said, the dress is stitched in linen thread, made of ivory silk satin, lined in natural cotton, hem binding of twill tape, lightly boned with reed, piped with hand-made piping, and fastening with hooks and eyes up the back. The laces were a particular challenge, since Victoria's wedding lace was made specially for her in support of the Honiton lace industry. The bodice lace is 1920's cotton lace and the skirt lace is modern lace that I tea-dyed. The dress is worn over an 1860's corset, bum pad, and quilted petticoat, all made by me.

First, I made the skirt.

Knife pleats in the front. Cartridge pleats
in the way back and a lace flounce to
top in all off. 

 Bodice fitting.

Bodice construction.

Bust pads and hand-whipped seam edges.

Double piping only on the bodice hem, like the original.

Fitted undersleeve construction and the lace bertha came next. 

Then came the sleeve puffs.

I used a period technique of using a half backstitch
to secure the outer sleeve to the inner sleeve and
keep the gathers orderly. 

The bodice is looking good.

Somewhere in this time, a custom piece from Dames a la Mode arrived in the mail! It is meant to be the brooch that Prince Albert gave Victoria for their wedding, which she wore on that day and often afterwards. 
Dames a la Mode did a beautiful job!

Dames a la Mode's version.

The original. Slightly over-exposed photo.

Nearing completion...

Making the lace sleeve flounces.

And then, was done.
And my brain kinda went....

I'll explain.

    The time surrounding the premiere of my recreation of Queen Victoria's wedding gown was an intense and emotional period. I had two deadlines for this dress: one, to have it done to turn in for a Textiles final project and, two, to have it done to wear as Queen Victoria to the PEERS "The Young Victoria Ball", which was May 9th. 
(Check out the PEERS page! They do tons of awesome events in the Bay Area.)

    The first week of May was very busy for me. It was my finals week in art college (if you have ever been to college, you will understand how insane that time is), culminating in an equally crazy weekend. I stayed up till about 3 am the whole week, finishing projects. I was a zombie by Friday. I got up bright and painfully early on Saturday morning to go to my little cousin's Bar Mitzvah. After the service, there was a little party. After the party, I ran home and gathered my dress and royal accessories for the ball as well as some of Prince Albert's things. Then I drove to rehearsal and to help set up at the venue. And then, finally, I could breathe.

The dress on display in my Textiles "Narrative Stitches" final critique.

     It was all good from there. Putting the layers of the dress on and doing my hair was an easy routine. My dear friends, Jessica and Laurie, helped me put on the crown and Royal jewels and I helped them get into their lady-in-waiting getups. Laurie and Jessica, the REAL Queen Victorias at Dickens Fair, graciously lent me the Royal Jewels and sash. The necklace I am wearing is a reproduction of Victoria's coronation necklace that Laurie commissioned from Dames a la Mode
    Craig, a wonderful friend and Dickens Fair actor, played Prince Albert. He is a master of transformation! And a super nice person. 

Backstage shenanigans with Jessica and Laurie.

I ordered American Duchess "Bronte" shoes specially for the occasion.
I love them!
I hope to put ribbon stripes on them soon. 

And then came the ball!
All photos by the amazing Tavan Photography.

There was lots of dancing, laughing, and good friends. 
Thank you PEERS for hosting this wonderful event and allowing me to play out a childhood fantasy.
Thank you Laurie, Jessica, and Craig for your time, support, and willingness to play dressup.
Thank you to everyone else for the dances, conversation, and an awesome evening.

Victoria will be out of the mothballs again in just a few days.

Little Mothball, 
Over and out.

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