Tuesday, May 21, 2013

And then I decided to become a bird

I've always loved the idea of a masquerade party. Not only would I get to wear a fun, fancy dress, but I could go all out, impersonate an animal or something, and look slightly ridiculous... and it would be okay! :)

Last year our family hosted a Titanic Ball, and we had SO much fun with it, we decided that we needed to do it again. We could have done a Titanic theme again, but I really wanted something different, so we settled on doing a Masquerade Ball.

New Theme means New Dress... at least as far as I'm concerned! :)

I had so many ideas swimming in my head... I really wanted to do a swan after seeing Mirror Mirror, but that would be a TON of fabric and the head-piece is so elaborate, it was just a little too over the top. And besides, I didn't want to look like a a bride by being in all white. :)

After about five other ideas, I decided on a Violet-Green Swallow.

I really wanted to make this without spending too much money on it. After Williamsburg, I didn't feel like I could justify getting more fabric. So I went to my stash fabric and pulled out my green silk that I've had tucked away for a regency dress for a long time. I had got the silk at Joann in the clearance fabric, and knew I wanted to make a bib-front regency with it, after watching the 1995 Sense and Sensibility and seeing Marianne's ball gown. I made the dress the exact same as my red-flowered regency dress.

The underskirt is made of some dreadful polyester taffeta junk that we bought online years ago. It's like... plastic. Blah. But it served it's purpose! I used Simplicity's regency pattern skirt pieces for the underskirt, and just added some straps to hold it up. I then sewed 35 chiffon ruffles to the back (the chiffon was left over from a over dress I helped my friend make for our last ball), clipped them into sharp points (my basement floor was a mess after that!), and it worked out perfectly to be the tail of the bird. This piece was not at all up to my normal standards... every last inch is machine stitched (except the hook and eye closure), 100% polyester, and the ruffles were not very evenly cut.

For the collar, I took my regency pattern front and drafted up a chemisette, and then made it out of buckram so it would sort of stand up. The feather-y part I just sliced like crazy, and paid no attention to measuring and detail. It's supposed to look rustic and irregular, right?? ;)

The necklace was easy. It is made of ribbon and a charm I found at Hobby Lobby, and a picture of a Violet-Green Swallow glued into it. It was really weird... I just wanted a locket-like charm to put the picture in, and I couldn't find it in all of Hobby Lobby... you know... that store that has everything and more than you could possibly want? :) So I got this piece and flipped it backwards and it worked perfectly. It really is supposed to say "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me". :)

And finally, you can't go to a masquerade ball without a mask! :) I made my mask out of puffy paint, tulle and plastic wrap, using a tutorial I found on (you guessed it!) Pinterest. I glued some feathers to the side of it, made a little fabric flower out of the green silk and put a glittery button I had in stash in the middle. I really liked the puffy paint mask because it molds to your face, rather than being stiff. The only thing I'll say about it though, is that tutorial says the plastic wrap will peel off... it doesn't.

Some photos of the actual event...

Friends lined up to dance - I loved seeing the diversity of outfits - regency, modern formal, 1912 era, medieval, it was all there! We even had quite a few tuxes from the guys!
Photo Credit: Wendy Hill

 Is this not the PERFECT setting for a dance?? It is a beautiful barn that has been finished (as we say it - a "rich person's barn"), and it is just a few miles away from where we live! Perfection at it's best! :)
Photo Credit: Gail Merry

No, I'm NOT singing a solo here, though it looks like I am. 
Photo Credit: Wendy Hill
I had booked a caller for our dance back in April, and then never heard back from him after he had confirmed that the date was available. I didn't really worry until about 2 days before the ball - I knew he was going on vacation the week before, so I just figured he was a little behind schedule from that. Well, the day before the ball came, and still no word, so I started to panic and made up a list of dances with instructions just in case I had to call myself. A friend of mine let me borrow some music for the dances (thanks Emily!!!), which I managed to get together and on my iPod approx. 3 hours before the ball was supposed to start. Needless to say, I was really really stressed the day of the ball!
As I had supposed, my caller didn't show, so I had to call the dance. It went pretty well - not as fun as dancing, but I was surprised that I did actually enjoy calling a little! And my sister stepped in to call one dance for me, and after I had taught a couple of them, we did them again so I could do it, so I still did get to dance. :) Which was really fun. :)

 The Spanish Waltz
Photo Credit: Sherry Pollock

Grace and me getting our traditional photo. :)
Photo Credit: Emil Bandy

The Dressed Ship
Photo Credit: Wendy Hill  

All in all it was an utterly fabulous evening! And I've officially decided that Masquerade is one of the most awesome themes to do! :)


  1. As you said Tara, it was great.

    You did an excellent job calling, and equally so in dancing.. :-)

    Overall, a great weekend... we'll have to come up again sometime. Maybe we can teach ya'll some more swing!

  2. Your dress is pretty fabulous! You surpass me in all things fabric-related, and in dance calling. I totally blew it. (For which I apologize, since if I'd done a better job you could have danced more...).

    Let's have another dance!!! Tomorrow??

  3. love, love! You did such a great job, Tara!! I agree, masquerades are great fun. :D (now that I have the vast experience of attending exactly one of them. ;) I'm so sorry you had all that bother beforehand, and that the caller didn't show. You sure did a great job, though. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here's hoping for another dance SOON! :)

  4. Beautiful job on your outfit! It's becoming! And that event looked like a ton of fun!

    -Leah Kathryn

  5. Tara, your dress was amazing, your calling superb, and the whole event a smashing success!!!!

    The whole night was simply thrilling. Can't wait for the next dance.;)(and to see your next dress of course)


  6. Emil - Well, thanks! :) And YES to coming up and teaching more swing!! Thanks again for coming up!

    Kathryn - OK!! I'm all for having another dance tomorrow! :) LOL - well, you didn't have as much time to warm up to calling as I did... maybe next time! :) Thanks for relieving me for at least one of the dances though!

    Laura - That makes two of us with vast experience in Masquerading 1 time. :) I am SO glad you came! It was so fun! YES! Another dance SOON! If you come over... I actually might have some details about that (no promises...) *wink*

    Leah Kathryn - Thanks for the comment!!

    Kaila - "Smashing" a perfect word to describe the evening!! Thanks so much for coming, dancing and being utterly fabulous - even making a new dress for the event too!! Too bad we didn't get a photo together as the two birds! :)

  7. Oh m'dear, you look gorgeous. I'm so glad that the ball turned out! <3

  8. Love the dress! Glad I could help out with music. Someday, perhaps. I will actually be around when you have one of your famous dances.

  9. Bobbie - Awww, thanks!! :) I'm so glad everything came together for the ball too... but it would have been SO much nicer if you were there!!

    Emily - Thanks!! And thank you for the HUGE part you played in making our dance a success!! That'd be so wonderful if you could come sometime... and maybe someday I'll make it out to you for one of your dances as well!!

  10. has anyone told you that you make a beautiful bird!?:-) was some of the chiffon you spoke about the gray stuff from my dress? I got a little excited thinking about those days in the basement, the 3 of us designing my "over-dress";-)

  11. Christie - :D Thanks - I rather enjoy being a bird... perhaps I'll make it a habit. ;) And, yes! It was the chiffon from your dress!! That was SO much fun when we made that together - I remember it whenever I walk into my room, because I have the picture of you and me getting ready to cut into it on my wall. :)



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