Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Formulating Federal Foundations

In February, my sister-in-law Tonia and I are hosting our first annual Federal Ball - we have been wanting to do this for a while and we are pleased to say that we finally will! Why the Federal/Colonial Era? Because of the opulence in design, because of the splendor in costume, because of the wigs, feathers, calashes, and the absurdity and vulgarity of the time! In what other era of fashion did men in western culture smear on lipstick, powder their noses, slip on heals, and bind themselves in corsets? Not that I will get my husband to do these things, but my goodness won't he ever be delicious in drop front knee-breaches and stockings! lol! 

You know, I have never been one to just set-out looking for a particular fabric for a particular project - I have always been one to buy fabric that I like when I see it, and then assign a use for it. I find that I suffer less designing and tailoring frustration that way. The truth is, many fabrics are difficult to find due to seasonal availability, like wool or silk, for example. Certainly, I can order these fabulous fabrics from my wholesalers, but dealing with the quantity is sometimes impractical (So, what do I do with the other 40 yards of salmon silk? Curtains, maybe? Naw...). I buy whatta-steal-fabric retail whenever and wherever I inadvertently find it. Granted, I don't always have the money to buy what I see (and I hate these prudent moments - if only I were a millionaire!) and I am forced to pass it up, but I almost always find something else of comparable quality and price. When I happened upon my dress fabric this time around, I was a happy, happy girl - and it just so happened it was a "dust bin" fabric - a sage and mustard brocade on the bottom of the barrel, clearanced from $26 yrd. to $1 yrd. I could have kissed the clerk at the cutting table! And not a few weeks later, while at JoAnn Fabrics, I discovered a complimentary mustard colored tapestry fabric in the remnant bin that I will be using to accent the gown. I am very much looking forward to working with these fabrics! Yippy!

Tonia managed to find the deal of the century for her Federal gown last summer while we are shopping at a fabric outlet warehouse in northern Ohio. She spotted a striped navy brocade for $3-something a yard and bought all 18 yards. Originally, she was going to use the material to make her wedding gown (the theme of her wedding was initially going to be colonial, but she and her fiancé decided a medieval themed wedding would be more appropriate), but as plans changed, she stored it away. No doubt, when Tonia is finished with her polonaise, it will be beautiful in the navy brocade!  Of course, while Tonia is very sure of her design (she usually is), I am teetering on a couple design elements for mine (as I usually am). I know that my mediocre sketch shows a stomacher, but I am thinking about 86-ing the stomacher. Rather than a ruffled sleeve, I am considering a cuffed sleeve, and I am not quite sure if I want more than one row of pinking and pleating on the skirt. Whatever my choices, I will feel more confident about them once I begin to work the fabric. The hubby's frock, waist, and breaches will be constructed of a medium smoky blue brocade, and the boots (in the sketch) are going to be changed out for shoes. As usual, I will post progression pictures - thank heaven I have until February to work! 

In the meantime, my beautiful pear wine will be racked this weekend (this is my chance to nip a taste to see how it's coming along) - I am excited about bottling it this spring! Oh my! And, just in time for the Second Annual Lady's Tipsy Tea! lol!

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