gwendolyngrey: (W&D Cynthia and Molly bright)
I made a fairly last-minute decision to attend the annual Mid-Winter Civil War ball in Lansing with [livejournal.com profile] dandytailor  and [livejournal.com profile] rvqavalon  this past Saturday, and it was probably the best decision I've made in a looong time.

I always enjoy a ball, but this one was just plain fun.  It was pretty long, with nearly five solid hours of dancing, there was a great mix of dances and the caller was really good.  It was also really nice to feel like we're starting to become a little familiar with the regular crowd there... and everyone seems more friendly than at the regency balls.  Not to mention, the Spanish Waltz is pretty much my favorite dance ever, and we had a particularly good one that night which was the last dance of the evening. 

This ball also marked the first time I wore contacts ever outside of the optician's office!  My dad had some medical funds stashed away that needed using before a certain date, so he offered to get me contacts.  I happily accepted this offer, and got myself to Lenscrafters.  I had a wretched time getting the contacts in though, and taking them out was ten times worse!  Fortunately, Katie showed me her very clever method of getting them in which does NOT involve poking yourself in the cornea.  And I no longer have to farb it up in my very modern eyewear.

I stole a couple pictures from Katie to post since my camera didn't make it out of my purse.

The galop was too quick for the camera, but this picture is fairly atmospheric and kinda pretty anyway. 


Call me narcissistic if you like, but I love how my dress looks in this picture.


And after the ball... yes, Katie frequently thinks I have lost my mind... ;)
gwendolyngrey: (Lady of Fashion)
The past two days were wonderfully pleasant.

Saturday was the day of the Civil War Harvest Ball held in Lansing (in the same church as the regency balls).  True to form, my dress was re-trimmed (up-trimmed?  I added lace medallions and beads to the bodice and the ruffle and and zig-zags to the skirt.  It still needs a couple more ruffles and beads on the skirt) at the last minute, and I finished the headpiece about half an hour before walking out the door.



The ball itself was great!  I couldn't help but compare it to the regency balls I've attended in the past, and, while I enjoy English Country Dancing, I can't help but think that the mid-century dances were a whole lot more fun.  I went with Mike and Katie, and while Mike divided his time pretty evenly dancing with both of us (and a couple dances with other girls) I didn't experience such a lack of partners as I have at past events, and only sat out two or three dances.  The dancing was also of higher quality than at regency balls... with more experienced dancers and fewer children to clog up the dance floor. 

Perhaps the best part was at the end of the evening, when, after the last 'official' dance, the band struck up a polka.  Mike popped up, seemingly out of nowhere, grabbed my hand and whirled me onto the empty dance floor, where we basically led everyone else galloping and flying around the room.  Best polka I've had in ages, but I was completely out of breath at the end of it!

 

Mike, in his annoying habit, made his entire outfit (sans shirt) in the week before the ball.  I don't think I've ever met anyone who can churn out full outfits as quickly as Mike, and still have them look that good.  My only consolation is that he still has a lot to learn about making ladies clothing, but once he does, he'll be unstoppable.

The whole event was quite an ego boost as well.  Got more compliments on the dress than I could count, and had a great time chatting with Jackie of Past Reflections and Kimberly from The Dressmakers Shop, both of whom were really lovely (and very complimentary!).  We also received several flattering comments from the dance caller, Glen Morningstar, after the ball was over. 

 

After the ball, we went back to Mike's house, where Katie and I spent the night.  We all parted ways on Sunday, and I went back to Grand Rapids where I spent the afternoon with a couple good friends.  Had lunch at a wonderful vegetarian restaurant, and then listened to old records and played Scrabble and card games over tea and cookies all afternoon.  It was beautifully relaxing.

gwendolyngrey: (Default)

This past weekend I experienced my first Civil War reenactment as a participant.  Granted, I didn't camp out overnight with the others, as my grandparents live about five minutes from Greenfield Village where the event was held and I wanted to see them, but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. 

Mike and Katie had pitched their tent near the other civilians, and we used it as a sort of home base and general storage area since we spent most of our time hanging out with Tyler's unit, the 26th Michigan.  It was a lot of fun getting to know the 26th MI guys.  There were some really interesting characters and they were very welcoming and generous (and authentic... in an 1840s dress I was the farb of the group!).

I actually remembered to bring my camera with me, but only have pictures from Sunday, as I left it in the car on Saturday. [info]rvqavalon has a bunch of Saturday pictures (plus a few from the ball) on her journal.  I apologize in advange for the absence of an LJ cut... it doesn't seem to want to work for me today.


A few of the guys from the 26th MI posing outside the tintype studio.  From left to right:  Ian, Tyler, Craig, and Ethan.  Ian and Ethan seemed to be an inseperable duo, and I was constantly confused as to which was which, though by the end of the weekend I think I had it down.  Craig, the sargent, was in charge of the unit and seemed very... comfortable with his position of authority.  I liked him though.  I liked all of them.


At one point in the afternoon, Mike hauled out a Meijer bag and asked if anyone wanted a gummy bear.  Gummy bears?!  WHAT?  We refused, and Mike grinned for the camera.


While Katie and Mike bustled about making lunch, Tyler and I sat in the shade with the kids and messed about on the tin whistles.  The two boys with the whistles belonged to the 26th (and were very intelligent and entertaining, they added a lot to the group) but the kid with the drum seemed to be their groupie and kept popping up out of nowhere.  He was a very peculiar child, and nearly had a conniption fit when he found out that Tyler didn't know how to play Battle Hymn of the Republic. 


I picked up Tyler's whistle and managed to remember a couple of Irish jigs from ye olde days of playing with Rebekah's fiddle class.  I hadn't played for several years, but it came back very quickly and kind of made me miss it.  I should dig out my music and get reaquainted with the whistle.


Craig and Tyler got all kitted up for the grand tactical demonstration. (Which I did not attend.  As one of the other ladies said, once you've seen one battle, you've seen them all.)


And then we got ready for the ball!  Mike had just whacked Katie with his riding crop, and I am at an utter loss as to what to DO with these people!


And then Katie got a hold of the riding crop...


... and came after me!


Things calmed down a bit and we started walking to the ball.




Tyler had my camera and took all of the pre-ball photos, so this is the only one he's in.  ;)  He took a similar picture on Katie's camera too.


Group picture after the ball.  The guy sitting between Mike and Tyler is a friend of Katie's from her first year at Michilimackinaw.

I have to leave for work shortly, so that's all I have time to put up and write about.  There are a whole lot more photos on my flickr page.

Overall conclusions?  I quite like this Civil War thing, and am looking forward to my next event (whatever and whenever that may be).  I came home filled with all sorts of ideas and inspiration for dresses and accessories, and can't wait to start putting together a proper wardrobe. 
gwendolyngrey: (Default)
The house is currently filled with rollicking, foot-stomping Irish music.  My mom had her high-school graduation today (yes, she just got her high-school diploma... her life is a long and slightly odd story), and there are bunch of people over to celebrate.  My sister brought her electric violin, and there's someone playing backup guitar, and they're going through all the tunes they normally perform on St. Patrick's Day.

Since I've heard it all before (and can hear the music from anywhere in house), I am about to slink away to my room to work on the ballgown.  Yesterday I sewed all the eyelets on the back opening, and am now working on the bertha and trim.  This is, of course, after deciding the finished neckline was too high, and cutting it down and re-piping the edge.  Twice.  Ripping out hand stitching is always a little soul-crushing.  But hopefully all mistakes are now behind me and I will be able to finish the gown in a timely manner.  I have three days.  I think I'll be fine. 
gwendolyngrey: (W&D Cynthia and Molly bright)
For the past couple of days I've been looking at all the pictures being posted from Costume Con, and have been quietly seething with jealously.  The more I looked, the more I told myself that I HAD to be there next year, and WOULD be there, by hook or by crook.  After all, I won't have school or finals to interfere with my plans and drain all my finances.  Upon looking up CC28, I discovered, to my great joy, that it's being held in Milwaukee.  Compared to the east coast (and west coast last year), that's practically local!  I can drive there!  So yes, unless there is some sort of horrible tragedy I will be at CosCon next year.  This thought now gives me comfort as I continue to be bombarded by the fabulousness issuing from all you lucky attendees this year.

Speaking of fabulousness, the civil war ballgown saga continues.  As in: I am making one after all.  Katie (my lovely [livejournal.com profile] rvqavalon ) took pity on me, and purchased the silk I needed as a birthday present.  It hasn't arrived yet, but I can't wait to get started on the dress!  I'm adapting the bodice pattern from my 1840 dress as it already fits and the neckline is appropriate for CW evening wear.  If it turns out as I want it to, this dress is going to be the ultimate confection... light pink and creams, with oodles of lace and trim and ruffles.

I'll have less than three weeks to actually make the dress, but after putting together my senior show, that sounds like cake.  Of course, I say this now... we'll see how I feel as the deadline draws ever nearer and I still haven't finished trimming the thing...

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