This ball has been going on for about 20 years, so there are actually a few costume shops in the area that have everything a costumed participant might want to wear. For cheap. But noooooo. I had to jump in and beg to make her gown. She was game.
I settled on these Simplicity patterns, one for the dress and one for the hoop skirt that goes underneath. We went to Joann's and found these polyester satins, one a copper color and the other cream. I got some cotton for the hoop skirt. I'm not sure what it was, maybe batiste. I used it to line the bodice, too. I ordered hoop wire for the hoop skirt and boning for the bodice, which I didn't use. I ordered 1" twill tape for the hoop-wire casing. It came on a big roll and I have about 2 miles left of it still.
Things were going fine, but I was just running out of time. Somehow, everything seemed to be taking so long! I ended up taking off two days from work, I worked several times straight through to about 4 am. It was insane. The day of the ball I put the whole shebang on her only to discover it was a foot too long. I still had not figured out or finished the closure of the bodice or the bertha. I still had to do her hair. Oh, and I had not bathed in about a week and I was supposed to go as a spectator to the ball, too.
There was a ruffle on the bottom. I took it off. I slashed the hem. Unfortunately, I was a bit wild at that point, and the job was not very even. I sewed the hem and as I was finishing that, my mother-in-law, who had dropped in unsuspectingly to check her grandaughter out and snap a photo or two, was set to the task of basting her into the bodice and bertha. I finished the hem and started to fix my daughter's hair. Fortunately, we had practiced before, and I could do something quickly that looked quite nice.
With 15 minutes before the start of the ball, my daughter was ready. My mother -in-law came to the rescue again and offered to drive my daughter to the ball while I showered and dressed.
I got to the ball in time to see the beginning of the event. I guess the kids had to get there early (or maybe I missed something I don't know about). The festivities began with a procession of the students into the gym. (Spectators were in the bleachers above them.) I saw my daughter in her dress walk in and stand on the gym floor in a row for about ten seconds. Then all the students sat in the bleachers. First there was a play. Then there was a reenactment of an army drill. There was a poem and three student violinists playing Ashokan Farewell. They were awesome. Then, about half the students rose and danced a waltz. They sat and the other half got up. My daughter was among them. She danced for about three minutes. She sat. That was that. OMG sometimes reality hits you doesn't it? Three weeks of intense obsessive insanity for five minutes of viewing pleasure. Why, why, why did I not rent a costume?
Okay, I did have fun up to about the last week, and I did learn some things (like never make another Civil War ballgown!).
It sat on my dress form (Gertrude) for some time before I could summon the energy to straighten out a few things before contacting the school. But eventually I got more tired of walking around it (and knocking over Gertrude periodically).
I undid the hem and made it even. I had to repair a couple places that were too short (!). I put the ruffle back on. If you look closely at the sleeves there is a row ruffle along the edge. I added that same ruffle to the bottom of the bertha. I put a zipper in the bodice and hooks and eyes on the bertha. I marked the skirt and the hoop skirt with an embroidered "F" to indicate the front of each (since the hoop skirt closed in the front but the gown skirt closed in the back (by the way the pleating on that skirt was fabulous; it looked like something Melanie from Gone with the Wind would wear!). Then I sent a note to my daughter's awesome history teacher. She said she would be thrilled to have it. I boxed it up and took it to the office. Arrividerci Civil War ballgown. I do wish I had taken some pictures of it on somebody. I did take some on Gertrude. I must find them.