I know it's not technically winter yet - not by the calender anyway - but the weather certainly has been wintery in the last week or so! Even in Tennessee at school we've had wind chills in the single digits, and on Sunday even snow flurries. This was perfect - my church had our Christmas cantata this week and it was so delightful to be singing the Christmas message as snow swirled outside the windows.
But it was COLD, so my roommate and I went home and made a fire. It wasn't terribly successful and it didn't last long, but it was beautiful while it lasted.
I am endlessly fascinated by fire. The colours in it - not only orange and yellow, but the blues and reds, even purple, which appear in the hottest parts of the fire. The way the flames jump and flicker. The incredible heat which just a few logs put out.
Finals ended this past Wednesday for me, but I didn't get a break; I had a ball gown to make! A friend of mine from college is dating a boy who does Civil War reenacting, and this year she was to go with him to their Christmas Ball. She asked me to make her a dress for the event and of course I said yes. I've not had much experience at all with this time period but it's one that fascinates me. She wasn't looking for complete period accuracy, just a general impression, and she didn't want to fuss with a corset and all the underpinnings. So we went with Simplicity 2881, and a forest-green taffeta with cream-coloured cotton lace for trim. We bought the pattern and fabric several months ago and I did a preliminary fitting of the bodice last month, but I didn't have a chance to finish the gown until this past week. Which ended up meaning that I pulled an all-nighter to finish it. But finish it I did!
I didn't manage to get a good photo of her in the dress before she had to leave, but I hope to get some better eventually. In the mean time, here is the dress reclining in my armchair on its hanger. (The pink ribbons are the ties of the hoop petticoat I borrowed from the theatre's costume shop for her to wear with her gown!) We left off the skirt decorations from the pattern. I also learned how to gauge a skirt! It's so exciting to see a 60" width of fabric magically pull up into a 4" piece of waistband :) But oh, it takes a long time to stitch down!
I thought at first that the sleeves would be too fussy, but I ended up really liking them. This wide lace trimmed the sleeves and the neckline, and the narrow lace edged the bodice trim.
This is probably my favourite part of the dress - I love that deep point in the front of the bodice, the way the lace comes together in the front, and the double piping at the edge. The buttons are shell; I had them in my stash and put them on at the last minute, but I think they really pulled it all together.
On the whole I really liked this pattern, although I am still bemused by the cover image. Those of you who know more about this era, correct me if I'm wrong, but would not these short, puffed sleeves and the trim given in this pattern be acceptable only for an evening or dress gown? Why then would they show it in what looks like a cotton fabric? The print just seems so everyday to me, and combined with the skirt decorations and all the lace and beaded trim, it just seems wrong. But I liked the pattern made up as a ball gown!
This week I'm home again for a little while for Christmas break. I've got lots of knitting and sewing projects planned - I'm hoping to make a 19-teens corset, for one thing! - and I'm test-knitting a sweater pattern, so I'll be busy. But there's snow outside, warm cuddly cats inside, and the prospect of cookie baking and an expedition to find our Christmas tree this weekend! It's going to be a good break.