An 1862 Ball Gown

for the mourning of Prince Albert

After Prince Albert Died in 1861, there was a fashion for sympathetic mourning, including ball gowns.

My ball gown is made of black silk taffeta from Fabrics and Fabrics in the L.A. garment district, trimmed with black glass beads (which resemble French jet) from Shipwreck Beads (which match the beads from Berger Beads used for the day version of this dress), and black velvet ribbon. The undersleeves and tucker are of cotton net. The bodice is lined with polished cotton from Needle and Thread and the skirt is faced with black polished cotton, also from Needle and Thread.

My necklace is a strand of graduated black glass beads, and my hairpiece is flowers twisted together with floral wire.

The pattern started out as the 1870s day bodice from Period Costume for Stage and Screen which I now use for my mid nineteenth century base pattern. The sleeve is from the early 1860s ball gown from Patterns of Fashion 2. The skirt is three rectangles of fabric, pleated and cartridge pleated to a waistband. I'm wearing it over a chemise (Truly Victorian pattern), drawers, red corset, cage crinoline, and a petticoat.

I wore this to the Victorian Grand Ball in Pasadena, CA, March 2007.

The dress from the front and back. The skirt is just basted to the bodice, and therefore interchangeable with the day version of the dress. The back laces up, as shows quite clearly. In the 1860s, they didn't use plackets under the lacing, so I didn't either. When it stretched with wear, you could see through the dress a little. If I have another opportunity to wear this dress, I'll add a few hooks and eyes to the back which was a period solution to this.

And seated views. The narrow wire crinoline under the skirt collapses very nicely. It's very easy to wear.

My Costumes
Mid-Nineteenth Century

I'd like to go home!