A Turban for Spencerville

I am attending the Spencerville Ball this coming weekend and I needed something to wear on my head that would match what I was wearing on my body, a gown in winter white with brown trim.

A few weeks ago I started looking for materials to make a turban. I wanted something simple and elegant. I had started to study old fashion plates for inspiration but was blown away by a turban a friend of mine made for my Mother, so I used it as a template to make my turban.

I started checking out all the local thrift shops, and hit the jackpot at Value Village where I found a brown silk scarf for $1.99, a string of pearls for $2.99 and a pearl jewel for $7.99. My mom had some lace left over from her turban which she donated to the cause, and I pulled some pillow stuffing out of an old cushion to form a base to build the turban on. So the project materials cost me about $15 total.

Supplies to make the turban.

Supplies to make the turban.

I loaded a copy of Pride and Prejudice on my tablet, set up shop at the dining room table and got to work. It took me about two hours total to make, all of it was hand sewn. It is going to look perfect with my dress at the Ball.

Turban for Spencerville.

Turban for Spencerville.

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Polonaise

My latest project was born from the necessity of wanting to wear a white gown with a train to an event that will involve walking out of doors and dancing at a ball. I knew from literary references that 19th century women also had to deal with trains. In Chapter 5 of Northanger Abbey author Jane Austen describes this very issue as she describes the closeness of friends Catherine and Isabella…

“They called each other by their Christian name, were always arm in arm when they walked, pinned up each other’s train for the dance, and were not to be divided in the set…”

Winter white gown with an 8 inch train.

Winter white gown with an 8 inch train.

I had worn this dress to a ball on a previous occasion and  like Catherine and Isabella, I tried to pin up the bottom of the train to facilitate dancing, but it looked horrible, kept falling down, and made dancing difficult if not downright dangerous.  I had to find another way to pin the train. I was discussing the issue with a friend and she suggested that I polonaise the gown.

The mistake I was making was that I was trying to pin from the bottom of the dress, when what I needed to do was gather and button the fabric higher up the back of the dress. The following pictures show how and where we pinned the train for a polonaise. It is important that as you pin the train up you make sure that the hem lines up evenly with the front of the dress.

Placement of pins for the polonaise.

Placement of pins for the polonaise.

Close up of pins.

Close up of pins.

Next I made 3 loops out of twill tape to use to button up the fabric.

Loop made  from twill tape.

Loop made from twill tape.

Finally, I sewed the buttons and loops on the gown. I made sure that the thread was an exact match to the fabric so the stitching would be virtually invisible from the outside of the gown.

3 buttons and loops sewn on inside of gown.

3 buttons and loops sewn on inside of gown.

Close up of button and loop sewn on inside of the gown.

Close up of button and loop sewn on inside of the gown.

Here is the finished project, a polonaised train. I love how the fabric hangs in soft billowy folds, it adds a note of elegance to the gown.

Train pinned up.

Train pinned up.

And here is the gown unpinned with the train hanging loose.

Unpinned train.

Unpinned train.

Now I can leave my train down if I am not available to dance, and pin it up if I want to join in a set or go for a turn about the gardens.