Clothing Suggestions for the Victoria and Albert Ball 2019
Suggested Patterns To Make Your Own Ballroom Clothes 1840-1861
This information is provided to help you create your own garments from scratch; however, garments that approximate the correct silhouette and modern formal evening garments are also welcome.
Past Patterns (These are meticulously researched and have clear sewing directions.)
Laughing Moon Mercantile Patterns (An excellent pattern company)
Truly Victorian Patterns (Another excellent good pattern company)
Ageless Patterns (These contain minimal instructions and are best for experienced sewers.)
Redthreaded (corset patterns and kits)
These patterns would make excellent additions to the ballroom.
Women’s undergarments and support structures:
Women’s skirts, bodices, dresses for the ballroom:
As you browse the following local and online stores, remember that silk, cotton, and other natural fibers are the best choice for historical sewing. Silk taffeta is the ideal fabric for ballgowns. Silk dupioni should be avoided because it has a rough texture. Polyester that looks like silk can be very pretty, but don’t buy polyester until you have a lot of experience with how silk looks and behaves. As a general rule, avoid printed fabric. Prints are very rare in ballgowns and it is too easy to pick the wrong print. If you are making gentlemen’s clothing, the best choices are white cotton for shirts, white or black silk or cotton for vests, and fine black wool for tailcoats and trousers.
Local fabric stores:
Joann Fabrics, Saugus, Burlington, MA and other locations.
Sewfisticated Fabrics Framingham, Somerville, Dorchester, MA
Fabric Place Basement Natick, MA
Freddy Farkel’s Watertown, MA (clearance area in the back that sometimes has dress weight silks)
Zimman’s Lynn, MA (has some dress weight silks)
Osgood’s Fabrics West Springfield, MA
Online fabric stores:
To get you started, here are a few we know that stock good historical fabrics.
Burnley & Trowbridge (Specialize in 18th century but may have nice options for 19th)
Sources To Buy Ready Made Garments
These are some suggested sources for buying ready made ballroom clothes for 1840 to 1861.
For Men & Women:
Men‘s tailcoats, trousers, vests, shirts, neckwear :
Keezer’s Classic Clothing, 1740 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA (Ask for “white tie and tails”. The pieces should include a black tailcoat, matching black trousers, a white wing-collar shirt with a stiff front, a low-fronted white evening vest, preferably of pique, and a white bow tie, preferably of pique. Black bow ties and vests in the same style are also acceptable. Cummerbunds are not appropriate. The formal shirt should use studs and cufflinks. Note:These are not quite perfectly historical in shape but will give you the best easy approximation.)
KAIYANG Hoop Skirt for Women Crinoline Petticoat Skirt Underskirt for Bridal Wedding Dress (There are many sellers on Amazon with 6 hoop crinolines for a low price. These are a good start, but are often a little oversized for the 19th century. We suggest shortening the individual hoops to create a bell shaped silhouette with a 120 to 130 inch circumferece.)
Women’s dresses for the ballroom:
Note: Ready-made dresses from this period can be hard to obtain. Customized gowns are easier to find but often require a larger investment of time and money. You might also wish to check out CVD’s other clothing resources for getting close to the correct silhouette and for acceptable modern clothing.
Facebook group ‘Historical Costumes Buy/Sell/Trade/Order Custom Items’ (This is a public group worth keeping an eye on. Modern recreations of historical dresses from the V & A Ball’s period of the 1830s-1860s pop up for sale here. They are often lightly used but are in good condition. A search of eBay and Etsy will sometimes turn up similar lightly-used recreation dresses for sale.)
Recollections: Victorian Gown (Hook and eye closures are preferred instead of zippers for the back opening.)
Recollections: Victorian Ball Gown (Hook and eye closures are preferred instead of zippers for the back opening.)
Recollections: Victorian Southern Belle Ball Gown (Hook and eye closures are preferred instead of zippers for the back opening.)
Recollections: Peony Civil War Styled Gown (Hook and eye closures are preferred instead of zippers for the back opening.)
Recollections: Anna Belle Civil War Styled Gown (Hook and eye closures are preferred instead of zippers for the back opening.)
Recollections: Arabella Silk Victorian Ball Gown (Hook and eye closures are preferred instead of zippers for the back opening.)
Recollections: Priscilla Victorian Gown (Hook and eye closures are preferred instead of zippers for the back opening.)