ballroom blitz: my first historical costume

ballroom blitz: my first historical costume

My mom fully called me out for not updating my blog, so it’s probably about time I popped back up (hi mom!). I’m actually just at the start of a really exciting project, so it’s the perfect opportunity to post: I’m going to be making my very first historical costume!

I’ve always swooned over the beautiful costumes in period films (see my ode to Lucille in Crimson Peak), and in the past year or two I’ve gotten very into watching people create historically-inspired garments on Youtube. There definitely was a bit of a twinge in the back of my mind that said “well maybe I should make a historical costume,” but I always shushed it. I’m still very much a beginner sewist and a historic gown is an intimidating undertaking – besides, I didn’t have anywhere to wear something like that!!


…but then suddenly there was a costume ball happening in Milwaukee this fall, and that second excuse didn’t exist anymore.

I’ve talked in a few different year-end posts about trying to say yes to new adventures and pushing through nerves and anxiety to try new things. Some of the things I was most nervous about in the past (my first boudoir shoot, taking a last minute trip to LA to see MCR) are the experiences that have given me my fondest memories. 2020 was a year that really didn’t offer much in the way of new or exciting, and I figured I was probably overdue for taking a leap. SO I bought a ticket…though I did make sure to rope in a friend who actually knows what she’s doing too 😉

Of course, once I got the ticket, only one thought consumed me: what kind of dress should I make??? I knew that I wanted to do something princess-y and floofy but there are so many eras and options! As with my regular style, it’s definitely not my goal to do something that’s pristinely accurate…I very much admire the work that goes into doing so, but I’m not a re-enactor. Just a gal who wants to wear a giant pretty dress.

My first thoughts were definitely more on the rococo/Marie Antoinette side of things, but after a lot of Very Serious Research (AKA looking at a lot of Google image searches of ballgowns), I’ve decided that it’s the hoop life for me, and I will be attempting an 1860s ballgown.

Here’s a bit of a sneaky peek at my mood board for the project – if you want to learn more about how I create mood boards and source inspiration, I have a post about that up on my Patreon where I write about fashion and beauty, share photoshoots (my full boudoir shoot went up there first), and generally give you the inside scoop about my projects. I will definitely be covering all the nitty gritty details of the ballgown build in real time over there, so check it out if you’d be interested in more of that – tiers start at $3 and it means the absolute world to me to have your help making and doing bigger. better, and cooler things ❤︎

So far, I’ve purchased a pattern and read through the construction of some similar dresses from other costumers, which was really helpful wrapping my mind around what I want to do. Right now my to-do list is:

  • Order fabric swatches
  • Figure out make vs. buy on the various underpinnings
  • Sketch final dress plan
  • Buy fabric & trimming
  • Figure out accessories (esp. headwear!)
  • Figure out shoes
  • Sew…forever…????

This project definitely feels so big that it’s a little hard to wrap my head around it, so I’m really grateful that I have a friend to help as well as a Facebook support group for the event! I feel a little bit like I’m leapfrogging very far ahead from simple cotton dresses and skirts, but I’m also very, very excited to look like a princess? So that evens out…maybe… I am happily accepting advice about taking on a project that’s exciting but also overwhelming!

6 thoughts on “ballroom blitz: my first historical costume

  1. I am WAAAAAAY to excited for this! Saw a preview of this post in my inbox this morning and only just now getting around to commenting. I can’t wait to see what you settle on doing and I’ve got some lovely ladies I could point you in the direction of if you need a little more guidance or motivation. 😀 I made my own 19th century gown a few years back and i actually found it far more enjoyable of an experience over making everyday clothing. Like you, I’m not in it for the accuracy. Just to wear the fun floofy dresses. Squee! I can’t wait to hear more!


    1. That’s so cool! I’m excited to get started…my sewing buddy and I are planning a fabric store trip soon and I think everything will really start to come together then 😀


  2. This is so exciting! Also I have a friend who is attending this event, and she’s working on her dress too! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!



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