Louisbourg gown mirror

Dames a la Mode Giveaway

I've been following Dames à la Mode on instagram for a while now, and her work is just beautiful! For Christmas she's doing a $100 giveaway, which can be entered over at American Duchess. It's the perfect time of year to support all those purveyors of fine historical goods, without whom this hobby would be a great deal harder and a lot less shiny!

Here's one of Taylor's lovely recreations:

Louisbourg gown mirror

The Year in Review

Edit: you should now be able to click each image to see the larger version.

I was compiling some images of the things I've made in the past year in order to send them to someone, and realized just how many things I've completed. They didn't all fit in the email, so I thought it might be easier to post them here. So this post is really for Lynn, but hopefully the rest of you will enjoy the costume eye-candy too. =)

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Louisbourg gown mirror

Citadel Encampment

I'm trying to post more here - I post all my little costume updates on facebook, but I never write blog entries. I've been vaguely toying with the idea of making a facebook 'page' for my costuming, like many of my cosplaying friends have, so that people can follow me more easily. But then again, facebook likes to make sure that (apparently) only about 16% of followers see a page's post unless that page pays for extra distribution, so it's probably easier for people to actually see my stuff here. Which means I need to remember to actually post things, I guess. I don't know. Maybe I'll put up a facebook page as well.

Anyhow, in the mean time, I thought I'd post some photos of the encampment I attended at the Halifax Citadel this weekend. We had lovely days for it. I'm so glad I made it to an encampment out here before heading back to Ontario. It was warm, everyone was friendly, the citadel itself was cool to spend a weekend at, and we didn't even freeze overnight.


The first day I wore my silk petticoat (borrowed from my robe a la francaise) because some reenacting friends were getting married at the citadel and we wanted to dress up for them. The second day I was sick of babying the silk around camp, so I borrowed Laura's linen under petticoat and just wore my smoke-purple wool under petticoat as a top petticoat. I also borrowed the silk bonnet from Joy, as I didn't have a chance to make one beforehand.


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Louisbourg gown mirror

At Long Last, the Louisbourg Gown

By the way! You can now follow my costume updates on facebook at Isabel Northwode Costumes.

This post has been a long time coming. I keep meaning to write it, and then not having the time to do it justice. This gown was a learning process for me, and I poured many, many hours of research into it (not to mention the hours and hours of completely hand-stitching and hand-embroidering it…), so I’d like to share as much of my making process as I can. As always, I’ll start with a few photos of the finished product, and then I’ll go into detail on the very belated dress diary. The diary for the undergarments (chemise, hoop, stays) made for this outfit can be found here.


This dress is a little different for me in that I was attempting to copy, as closely as possible, a real extant gown currently held in the collections of the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA), as well as the embroidered stomacher displayed with it. I had only the photos on the website, with no patterns or views of the gown innards, so I had to do some guesswork based on other extant pieces. To further supplement this, I referred to the books of research and patterns published by Janet Arnold, Norah Waugh, and the Williamsburg Association. I believe I came as close as I could, given my time and resources, to accurately replicating the gown.

Here is the LACMA’s page for this gown.

Here is my gown, compared with the original:




And here is the stomacher:


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I was incredibly privileged to have the help and support of so many people on this project – from the people who helped provide supplies and historical details to the outfit itself to the people who made a point of coming to the show. Much of my medieval reenacting group was following the progress of the project and providing moral support, and my family back home was doing the same. Special thanks to my dad, who flew out for the show and indulged all my photographic whims!

In the end, it was probably crazy to decide to hand-embroider the stomacher and hand-stitch every part of this ensemble in the time I had, and to the parameters of the project. But I kind of thrive on crazy. And I’m really happy with the result.

By the way, that book is a beautiful copy of collected texts (including Homer, Ovid, Chaucer, and Boccacio's Decameron). It was printed in 1721, so it is perfect to be paired with this gown! It was given to me by my friend Joanne, who collects antique books, when she heard about the dress. Seriously, the people who have contributed to this project are amazing!

To those who made it all the way through this dress diary, I hope that at least some of the information I’ve provided here is helpful or interesting to you. I frequently rely on other costumers’ dress diaries to guide me in my own construction processes, so I hope I can pass the knowledge forward and provide the same assistance to others. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions about how or why I did something on this gown, or anything else I post here!
Louisbourg gown mirror

Yet Another American Duchess Giveaway!

Seriously, I love that she keeps doing this. And I'm going to keep spamming you all with them. Because I like shoes.
I pre-ordered the Gettysburgs (despite the fact that I have no early Victorian dresses) and I'm so excited. I don't have a regency dress either, but I'll just wear these. All the time. Maybe I'll dye them a fun colour...
Louisbourg gown mirror

Louisbourg Undergarments

The structural layers for my Louisbourg ensemble are finally done! This actually includes a sort of dark lavender-grey wool petticoat, but I don't have photos of that yet so I'll just post the photos with chemise, hoop, and stays. I also have light blue American Duchess clocked stockings to go with this, so all in all it will be a very blue and white set of underwear. =D

First of all, here is a triptych:

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