Sunday, November 27, 2016

Regency Gown 3 Ways & The Myth of Perfection

Earlier this year I made a white Regency gown out of an IKEA curtain, and accessorized it with a dark green vest for the February ball.

For the October balls, even though I had started a ballgown some time last year, I decided not to finish it (partly because of a health issue, which I'll get into below, and partly because I was working on the open robe, which was my preferred option to wear) and instead wore my white gown again both days. On the first day I wore with the open robe:

And on the second day, I made a long red ribbon to wear wrapped around my torso:

The ribbon was 3 width-of-fabric rips 3" wide. I hemmed each length with the narrow hemmer foot for my machine, which was an exercise in both patience and frustration, and then French-seamed the lengths together. I took inspiration from this post by Cassidy on lesser-known Regency accessories, especially the first one, the Ceinture à la Victime. Family history as told by my maternal grandmother is that one of her distant relatives escaped the Revolution in France, though it was not talked about (even her own grandmother didn't like to speak of it, though she would have been around 100 years removed from it). I don't know if I believe it, but it does make a neat little point in my mind to connect with the past. Nevertheless, the ribbon-wrapping was very prominent for many years beyond the Revolution (see Cassidy's post for more!), so I felt comfortable with accessorizing with it. More than one person commented on the fact that it looked like a completely different gown. Mission accomplished!

On the myth of perfectionism: last year, this post by Wearing History made quite a few waves in the blog circle, and for a good reason. We all focus so much on perfection, when even historical sources show, sometimes, that things were not made "perfectly". I do admire those who strive for "perfection", though the term is, to me, a moving target, and different to each person. What is perfect to us now may not be so later in our journey, and we should be forgiving of ourselves at our current stage. So many times, when I am reading, the author will say something about their creation that I would not have noticed at all had they not said something. It is so true that we are our own worst critics, being so intimately familiar with our creations. But sometimes, even other creators who know you and your work do not pick up on those things that we perceive as flaws.

With that in mind, when I posted the picture of my gown and Ceinture à la Victime ribbon on Facebook, I did not comment on what I thought was wrong with everything in the picture. I have a lock of hair across my forehead that got put back later and was not photographed. I probably had threads hanging out of my ribbon because the narrow hem foot and I do not get along, and Jenny started being cranky partway through the stitching. My shift sleeve is sticking out under the gown sleeve, which I only noticed in the photograph! I'd also lost the ribbon for lacing my stays closed, and replaced it with a dark pink one, which is totally visible beneath the sheerness of the dress, and also only noticed that when I was uploading this photo. Oops.

As for not finishing the other gown, early in October my lower back seized up on me, requiring numerous visits to my health providers to help put it back to rights. As I do most of my sewing on the living room floor, cutting out the skirts of my gown was not an option. It happened approximately 2 weeks before both of these photos were taken, and I'm happy to say that after much work my back is better. I'm still not 100%, but at least I don't feel like a sneeze will set it off again :)

Road to Costume College 2018

Gosh, where did the first half of the year go? (I know where, winter was unusually long and dark and cold, and it's effect lasted longer...