After making the spotty dress inspired by one of Princess Alexandra of Wales' dresses, I decided I needed another. She was an amazingly well-dressed woman, after all! I searched through photographs of her with two goals in mind--one, a wonderful dress, and two, one that I could get appropriate materials for. This meant the gorgeous bustle dress with rows of lace in the skirt was out, but a velvet dress with a low neckline, lace collar, and lace lower sleeves fit both my requirements.
Despite wearing the dress three times--the ice cream social at Costume College, the Friday night social at Costume Con, and Halloween at work, I don't have the best pictures of the dress. It doesn't help that two of the events were at night and the dress is made of dark blue velvet! I'm wearing the dress over a chemise, corset, Laughing Moon elliptical hoop, and a petticoat.
One of my favorite elements of this dress is the long ribbon around her neck. This doesn't seem to have been a common style. The only other example of this I've seen was in a photograph of Alexandra's sister, the future Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia. I suspect it may have been a fad and am always hoping for more examples. My ribbon is made of a flattened tube of silk taffeta which I pinned shut in back. The center is decorated with a vintage pin I bought on Etsy.
As it was a rather straightforward dress, I didn't photograph it as I was making it. These are the closest to construction pictures I have. The bodice is my standard 1860s bodice pattern cut with a square neckline. The skirt is one of the late 1860s skirts from Period Costume for Stage and Screen. The dress is blue cotton velvet from Sy Fabrics. It's lined with brown polished cotton. The lace around the neck is antique, and basted very carefully to the neckline. The piece of lace fits the collar nearly exactly--there's only a small amount leftover. Instead of cutting the lace, I made a little pocket inside the neckline of the dress to tuck the excess into. The velvet sleeves are elbow length with puffs of cotton net trimmed with bands of black silk taffeta. In the original, the sleeve puffs were also lace, but that much antique lace is difficult to find and anyway, that would be a high stress area to use a delicate textile.
And the dress that inspired mine! This is one of my favorite dresses to wear. The fabrics, the train, the little bit of sparkle at the neckline all feel wonderful. I wish I had better pictures to share, but I suppose that means I'll just need to find another opportunity to wear it!