Romantic Ball, Kasteel d’Ursel, November 2016

Kastel D'Urseel Ball 2016 (34)

Romantic era ( late 1820s and 30s) is a rather,  well, ‘interesting ‘ period, fashion wise.  Men’s garb is superb – nipped in waists, tailcoats, cravats, waistocats galore – very smart, very dashing. Women’s fashions are – a bit extreme. I used to look at the bonkers hair, ridiculous sleeves and short skirts and thin – gosh, no way! But – it has grown on me.  Yes, it is silly, yes, it is over the top, but it is also fun to make and even more fun to wear. Admittedly, the silhouette needs lots of adaptations and hair takes some work too – but somehow, it works – it is dainty, feminine and surprisingly comfortable to wear.

So I had been thinking about it for some time really ( ever since i got an original 1832 spinning wheel some 4 years ago in fact…) before last year we learnt about a 1830 ball in Belgium. It was a no brainer – a perfect excuse to make some silly romantic stuff! fortunately we have learnt about it early enough to plan our wardrobe – we had about half a year to get all the fabrics, ideas etc sorted, especially since out friend Kelly wanted to come along too, and needed a frock for it too.  But new decade also meant new set of clothing for Lucas – and I don’t really make men’s outfits from that period – i am a dressmaker, not a tailor.

Still, since we couldn’t afford commissioning, I had to tackle it somehow.  with  lots of help, advice and useful books,  I ended up making a silk waistcoat  ( my first ever go at welted pockets, eeek!),  pantaloons in cashmere, and an evening tailcoat in silk satin. There is some nice superfine and silk velvet waiting for a day coat, but that will be for next time…



and the rest of the attire…. not perfect, but wearable…

with the girly stuff, it was somehow easier –  corded petticoats were great fun to make and wear ( ad since i made mine suitable also for the 1840s, the construction etc will be discussed in detail in my forthcoming book – The Victorian Dressmaker ).

Victorian TV Dresses (32)

Sleeves were a bit of a challenge, and I ended up making 3 main styles from the period – the beret sleeve, gigot and folded one. Experimenting with drafting the patterns was fun too…



the beret sleeve looked quite indecent….

I have also discovered I love piping…. everywhere….


Still,   almost everything was ready on the day of departure –  Lucas’s  garments, Kelly’s, my own evening gown and a day gown -plus a half finished cloak i planned to stitch   while travelling.

After a pleasant but uneventful travel on the overnight ferry, and a short drive from Hoek van Holland to Belgium, we were settled into our hotel – we had enough time to stitch the cloak, have a wander around and eat lunch, then a nap, curling hair and dinner…



The ‘romantic ‘ look….

And then the hair was done, dressed donned and we were off to the kasteel….

And it was amazing.

The place, the dancing, the music, food – and especially company – superb.  what a sensational evening filled with dancing, photos, eating, chatting, meeting people you so far knew only from the Instagram… Loved the international  flavour too,  mostly you heard English, and of course, Flemish, Dutch and French – and y the end of the evening my brain was whirling from trying to converse in French, Spanish and the little Russian i have…

But let us have pictures speak far better than I can!

Kastel D'Urseel Ball 2016 (3)

ready for the evening 🙂

The dancing!!! I must say, the short Romantic dresses are perfect for dancing. No cumbersome trains to trip over, the skirts are very light and very puffy – perfect to polka around with gusto!

Meeting people! There were some spectacular garments around!

Kastel D'Urseel Ball 2016 (72)

Amazing food!

 we were also allowed to explore the place in detail 🙂

 and the person who organized it all – the dashing host, Koen de Vlieger 🙂

Kastel D'Urseel Ball 2016 (40)

 The evening was amazing, and we were sorry to leave…

Kastel D'Urseel Ball 2016 (75)


But then we were back the ext day, this time to shoot the day gown 🙂

I admit, I loved the look. the silhouette with huge puffed sleeves, the hat,  the  matching shawl and gloves the antique pelerine and belt buckle! The relatively plain frock in silk taffeta with no decoration apart from the piping in the bodice came to life when paired with the accessories. Again, the fashionable short skirts are a breeze to walk in, comfy boots (no heels! yay!). My favourite outfit  currently 🙂

1830s Gown and Hooded Cloak (32)

We also met with a few of folks from last evening…

1830s Gown and Hooded Cloak (37)


Altogether, a great event – we will be back next year…..

And I will be making more 1830s gowns, including a more modest version to go with the  spinning wheel – and  good news is, we already have a 1830 booking for an event we will be working at next summer! Exciting!



Clothing – all me,

boots –

shawl, hats, pelerine, gloves etc –

location –

photography -




13 thoughts on “Romantic Ball, Kasteel d’Ursel, November 2016

  1. 💝💝💝💝

    Am 27.03.2017 22:27 schrieb “A Damsel in This Dress” :

    > A damsel in this dress posted: ” Romantic era ( late 1820s and 30s) is a > rather, well, ‘interesting ‘ period, fashion wise. Men’s garb is superb – > nipped in waists, tailcoats, cravats, waistocats galore – very smart, very > dashing. Women’s fashions are – a bit extreme. I used to look ” >

  2. Oh my goodness!! The dresses absolutely beautiful, of course, and the event is so lovely!! But you did absolutely wonderfully on the menswear! That vest – divine! Handsome husband is very handsome!

  3. How fantastic, very impressed. Everyone looked wonderful, such hard work. Great to receive the update, made my day. Thank you

  4. Wow the clothing is delightful ! I would love to go to one of these balls! How do you find out about them? You are such a talented dressmaker and tailor! You did a great job you both look wonderful x

  5. I made one of these ballgowns as a costume rather than a perfectly accurate replica (so it closes with a zipper, is made of partially synthetic fibers, and was completely machine stitched) and it’s too long. Would a small tuck above the flounce look accurate enough? The flounce itself prevents me from just tucking up the hem. The bridal hoopskirt I wear with it would show if the gown was shortened so I am also looking for advice on making a corded petticoat.

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