This was a costume I made from an old sewing pattern, circa 1970s. This ensemble was for an 1820s New Years Eve Ball featuring Rasputina in Denver, Colorado. I researched the era’s fashion extensively to get a sense of what I wanted. I didn’t want something too uncomfortable and bulky, which fortunately did not seem to dictate the fashion rules of the time. I found that tight-laced corsets weren’t part of the norm in this time and the long dresses were not accentuated by wire petticoats and bustles and had an almost milkmaid style to them. Certainly, those types of garments were present, more for the members of higher society, but many of the dresses looked to be more comfortable with a somewhat relaxed fit. One trend I also noticed was big puffy sleeves and bonnets. The pattern I used from the 1970s bore a striking resemblance to what I was finding online from the 1820s.
I made most of the dress out of two bed sheets: the flat sheet I used for most of the dress, and the fitted sheet I used for the puffy sleeves. This came in handy for the elastic around the arm hole.
The rest was my imagination. I modernized my dress by adding black bondage style accents, black and blue lace and wallet-chain style pearls draped on either hip. I added light pink as a pop of color. The only thing I did not do was line the dress. Other than that, it is one of the best sewing pieces I’ve done thus far; I’m very pleased with how it turned out, although I don’t ever forsee another occasion to wear it!