Monday, November 24, 2014

Mourning for Prince Albert--An 1860s Black Silk Dress

Posing by the lake

Possibly my favorite dress I've made is my day and evening black silk 1860s dress. While it's basically a fashionable black dress, I was inspired by the idea of sympathetic mourning--in this case, for Prince Albert. Black ball gowns were fashionable for a time as a result of his death. My dress, however, doesn't follow the standard conventions of mid century mourning--it's silk taffeta, not a dull silk, and quite sparkly with glass jet beads.

Posing with the cannon. black dress 3

The day version of the dress is heavily inspired by this dress in the Danish national costume museum. Instead of a separate waistcoat though, I made a sleeveless bodice that was attached to the skirt. I've worn the jacket two ways--hooked shut, and fastened just at the neckline.

The dress is made of silk taffeta and trimmed with the softest velvet ribbon I could find and glass beads. the undersleeves are cotton organdy trimmed with black silk ribbon and basted into the armscyes of the jacket. The jacket sleeves are lined in white China silk and trimmed with white box pleated pinked silk.

Skirts!  Petticoats! black dress 1

Underneath the dress I'm wearing a chemise, corset, Needle and Thread cage crinoline, petticoat, stockings, garters and Robert Land side lacing boots.

Pumpkins :)

And with a pumpkin. Because every black dress worn close to Halloween should be accessorized with a pumpkin.

Under a Tree

As for more typical accessories, my bonnet is the Miller's Millinery spoon bonnet. Sadly, it has since been crushed, I think beyond repair. It was damaged travelling and I managed to revive it, but as it's currently inside out, I rather despair about its chances.

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Though I've written about the ball gown before, I thought I may as well share again! I've been lucky enough to wear this several times--at a Social Daunce Irregulars ball, Costume Con, a dance at a reenactment, and a ball in Virginia City, Montana.

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And the dress in motion. It should have black lacing, but it somehow got separated from the dress and no place in Virginia City sold ribbon. Fortunately I had a spare chemise with me that had ribbon in the neckline lace!

A little more below, including the dress worn without the jacket, the jacket hooked shut, and ballgown undersleeve construction.

Without the Jacket Without the Jacket

Decoration in progress!

The back

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  1. My, you have been a busy blogger!! Really enjoying all your posts as always. :) I think this is one of my favorites too. It's very elegant and with the different bodices very practical and versatile. Always a great thing with a costume project. I love the look of the black silk taffeta with the jet trim. I have a box of antique jet trim that I want to do something with but haven't decided what. I did use a couple jet motifs on a 1940s evening gown but the rest is waiting for "the perfect project," what ever that may be!

  2. As always, your attention to detail has blown me away! Brava!

  3. Gah! I have been scrolling through all the posts and the eye candy is amazing! I love them all, but this black one might be my favorite. I adore the jacket!


  4. Lovely! The jacket front and the delicate beading is just perfect. I wonder what is it about mourning dresses that I adore them so much. I guess the timeless elegance, but I'm not sure.

  5. Yes she looking like a princess. The black color looks her very pretty.

  6. Very nice hun. Trying to design a crinoline myself. Here's hoping I finish. XD