Thursday, October 27, 2011

ACG Victorian Picnic

On Sunday, I hosted a Victorian picnic for the Australian Costumers Guild. It's a little late in the year in Australia to be holding an event when you are layered up several times with undergarments, corsets, petticoats and all the dress layers, but it turned out to be a lovely day with a fantastic breeze blowing in off the Brisbane river. We set up at Newstead House for the event where we spread out our picnic blankets under a large shady tree. Along for the day were members from RIFF (my re-enactment group) The Queensland Scottish Volunteer Core (my cousin's re-enactment group), Dance Kaleidoscope (my dance group) the ACG (of course) as well as family members and a few new faces to the Victorian costume scene. All in all we had about 40 people attend, making this one of the largest Brisbane events ever. Not only did we all sit down to lunch, we spent time taking photos (of course), playing croquet, graces and battledores as well as dancing. It was a thoroughly relaxing day.

And it was a huge success. Everyone expressed that they had a wonderful time and really look forward to hopefully doing it again next year.
As for costumes, I took along my parents with me. They both wore costumes that I made them a couple of years ago for another Victorian event. My mum in an 1840s skirt, blouse and bonnet and my dad in a full Victorian suit. As for myself, I took the opportunity to make a new costume that I have been itching to make. You will most likely notice that it is the same fabric as my existing gold Natural Form bustle gown, but when you can buy 3 metre wide fabric for $7.95, what else are you going to do? I made three new pieces for this ensemble (all based from Truly Victorian Patterns - with a lot of tweaking). The first is a fantail skirt with a pleated ruffle at the hem. The technique for pleating that I used it one that I learnt on making my 1836 gown a few years ago. The ruffle is pleated in the middle using box pleats which then have white velvet ribbon sew over the stitching. The top of the ruffle is flat pleated in one direction. this gives a twisted puff sort of effect. The second layer of my costume is the apron. It is made from "sherbert" colour dupion silk from Eastern Silks. It is essentially the long draped overskirt, except that I made it longer. I added a fringe trim to the hem and tassels at each side seam. The third piece of the costume is the bodice. It is the Natural Form Dinner Bodice with a bit of tweaking. I made the point in the front a lot deeper and the scoops over the hip higher to reflect a number of fashion plates that I had seen. I also made sure that the tail at the back was large enough that I could wear the bustle bad I made last year under it. I was so happy that I could finally wear it! The bodice is then trimmed with white silk bias binding, a couple more tassels and some metal buttons that I had in my stash. The hat, is from when I wore my other natural form day gown.
I am so extremely pleased with how the whole ensemble turned out. Though I must say, in the yellow and orange, I really really stand out in a crowd. I will disabuse any illusions that the gold fabric is silk; it isn't. It just has the right sort of slub and sheen that it looks like a silk, but it really is a polyester. Big tip off is the salvage of the fabric with its melted edges. But hey, I love the colour and I love how it all turned out. One of the things I am most excited about though is the ability to nix and match my two different costumes now. They are both Natural form, so it gives me a lot of freedom, but all in all, I have 2 skirts, 1 apron and 3 bodices that I can put together. And I still have fabric of both the gold and the orange left over. I am thinking that somewhere down the track I will make another apron and maybe another bodice. I think it just makes my wardrobe just that bit more versatile. There may be a new hat waiting to be made as well....

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