Bath Victorian Ball 2015 – and what a ball it was!


 Amazing memories from the evening – and not only evening, the whole weekend was  a whirl of activities, pretty frocks and splendid food, all in even more splendid company!

 We started on Saturday afternoon arriving in Bath a tad later than expected ( the traffic on the slip road was very bad and many of us were stuck there – in fact, so many that we were considering a picnic on the roadside….), but unpacked, changed and  walked over to the Crescent for  a few relaxing hours of picnicking…. The weather was perfect, food lovely, and  as a perk we got to witness the balloon take off…. and  of course we took photos….


lovely original napkins were used..

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I wore my reversible Ripple Jacket and Ripple skirt:-) perfect for the picnic!

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 The next day saw us making last minute preparations, strolling around the town and slowly getting ready,,,

 The workshop started at 3 –  and we  practiced our quadrilles, lancers and waltzes for good 90 minutes – the practice was fun, but also cane in handy at the ball –  you not only know the basics of the dances, but you recognize the people, so you are able to relax in a more familiar environment.  our Dance master, Stuart Marsden,  kindly provided Carnet de Ball tickets – beautifully made, and very practical – at the end of the practice people were   making arrangements which dances they were to dance with who – really cuts on the chaos on finding a partner in the evening!

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 We will be using them next year as well, an excellent idea!.

 After the practice there was time to go and have a cuppa and a rest ( and for us organizers to get the photographers, musicians etc set up and ready), and then time to change into the evening’s finery….


Steaming my frock. Alas, I didn’t manage to get a new gown sorted due to an avalanche of orders, so had to make do with my old on – more on its creation here

Then it was time! The doors opened at & and the  guests started to arrive, dazzling us with their lovely creations. Drinks, chatting and photos made for a relaxed atmosphere – and since almost all the ball participants had been at the practice, people relaxed and chatted with their old and new dance partners. Traditionally, we started with a polonaise… It was a bit crowded, once all the people filled the  Grand Ballroom, but  Stuart managed to direct the dance nicely ! 150524-iz-001 150524-iz-003   And from then on, it was all dancing….. Spanish waltz was great to  get everybody  relaxed as you change partners a lot and get to know people, and then it was the amazing Lancers,  Quadrilles and Waltzes galore…. My personal favourite was the Cotillion waltz – simple, yet amazingly romantic, danced the the sweet notes of the waltz from the Merry Widow. Dimmed lights, romantic music, swaying on the dance floor in flowing silky gown – breathtaking.   10403574_10205243045328810_8612198867552845143_n 10641181_964655256900145_6214035122686672646_n 10404446_964657950233209_4098195498982672898_n 11329879_964655373566800_1271788064380533355_n 11350509_964655706900100_8438738575796585017_n 11351265_10205243045928825_6327791906229480019_n   150524-iz-014   11329879_964655373566800_1271788064380533355_n The  buffet break arrived  just in time to rest our weary feet and  get some sustenance for more dancing. And food, provided by Searcy’s was glorious –  beautifully presented, abundant ( and there was lots left!) and yummy – I must admit loved the desserts particularly… Then more dancing followed –  with a few  spontaneous waltzing breaks when folks just kicked their shoes off and took to whirling Viennese waltz at a moment notice ( our own Sissy here was the main culprit – though quite a lot removed their shoes at that point, myself included…). The evening ended with a Flirtation finale – lots of fun! And all that fun was mostly due to the  utterly amazing musicians – Alexis Bennett and the Liberty Belles, and our talented Dance Master, Stuart Marsden ( yes, the same one who has worked with BBC on Poldark, and many other projects…). The event would not have been the success it was without theses guys – so a huge thank you! musicians 11168031_10155795156300643_4697889363761570401_n   And while all the dancing was taking place, our photographers, Mockford Photography, were busy taking photos…. 10828141_10152878200577592_7286730915004478194_o 150524-iz-018 150524-iz-017 150524-iz-015   And did I not mention that there were some spectacular frocks  and very dashing gentlemen around?


Yes, we had Sissi too…


And a Dark Sissi too…

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oh yes, and, rather surprisingly, a 4 month old baby. That slept ( like a baby) all the way through…

11145192_10152878091267592_8419642355183554815_n     150524-iz-006   11219086_10152878091177592_446625806833074319_n bath-15-0952   Needless to say, by the end of it I could hardly walk ( need better shoes for next year….). but somehow I made it to the hotel, and although exhausted, I was still buzzing with the excitement – the night  was so much better than I had hoped for! there was just enough time to have a mini after party for the staff ( amazing how many people you can squeeze into a single Travelodge bedroom) and then it was time for sleep. IMG_20150525_010756 IMG_20150525_010807 And about 4 hours later we were up again and getting ready for our breakfast at the Pump Rooms….. IMG_20150525_103357 Victorian Ball and Picnic-117 Victorian Ball and Picnic-122 Victorian Ball and Picnic-124 The yummy breakfast ( and live music too!) was followed bu a short wander around town and some photos…. Victorian Ball and Picnic-128 Victorian Ball and Picnic-130 Victorian Ball and Picnic-136   Then it was time to go home and  tend the very sore feet….   Altogether, I must say the event fr surpassed my expectations. Music was delightful, fool glorious, venue splendid and the people – well, let me just say that you were all such a friendly and polite bunch of folks!  Everybody was relaxed and yet on their best behaviour – and that makes such a difference! it was also a good call to go for historical rather than an eclectic affair like the previous one –  since most of the dances were called, the dance floor was always busy, only clearing  up a bit at the end, as the pure exhaustion took over (  it was quite an exercise , especially the few more energetic dances…).  So thank you all, staff and guests alike for making it such a wonderful occasion! Also, many thanks to all the people who sent their photos:-)   And, guess what – we are having another Ball next year! The venue and caterers have already been booked and the tickets are on sale ( early bird  prices valid till September), so put the date in your diary – 7th May. We have the same set of musicians and Stuart booked too – and next year  we have an optional  dress sub theme – Crinoline.  We are already working on different offers  for the ticket holders ( discounted rates from dressmakers and product suppliers, or, for those who make stuff themselves, special offers on corset, crinoline and Victorian patterns and kits from one of our providers too). You can follow the news  on the facebook pages:

The event per se – Victorian Ball 2016

Page : Prior Attire Victorian Ball 

 Tickets and more info here  – Victorian ball tickets

 and the previous ball  Spectacular!



Fifty Shades of Sepia…



With the trailer of the film running amok in the internet and showing in every feed, we were a bit fed up with the 50 shades of Gray overexposure.  I do sincerely hope the film is going to be better than the book, which was a serious abuse of my gray matter – those who have read it know it, those who didn’t – well, if you fancy a badly written parody with hardly any plot, no character development worth speaking about and seriously bored soliloquies  and dialogues ( blessedly short, mind you  ) – have a go, you’ll enjoy it once you realize it is a bit of a parody:-). Anyway, fingers crossed the film will be at least a bit more interesting.

In the meantime, we decided to have our own 50 Shades – but in sepia… Lucas  went through our few last stock photoshoots ( the Edwardian corsetry and Stock photography) and picked out the most tasteful/funny/ridiculous/atmospheric  shoots of historical lingerie and render them in sepia….


Here is Mr. Sepia himself…


and  his girls…

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Hope  you like the experiment – some of the corsets etc are still available in our shop!

Many thanks to our elegantly playful models : Miss Lilian Love, Helen Radlett, Adrianna Renarde  and Anett Novak

Photography –Picturesque Imagery – you can find more  images from the session here


Victorian Commission


In February I was commissioned to work on a rather exciting project – a set of 7 Victorian dresses, ranging from late 1860 to 1885,  with a couple of sets of underwear.

 The  clothes will be used in a rather exciting venture – a set up photography studio where people can book a complete victorian make over – dress up in all the layers and have their photos taken by professional photographer, resulting in high quality photos of themselves transported into another century. What a cracking idea! 

 The budget limits and the target audience of the clothes  meant taking a few shortcuts and freedoms – the client, in order to save time and money suggested using an overlocker on the inside seams and edges; petticoats sport elasticated bands to fit most sizes. Corsets will be mostly purchased online – a few suitable vendors were recommended, where the client can get cheap corset that will result in approximately silhuette, and which woudl be easily replaced with wear and tear.

 after a few emails and sending over different pictures, I received a set of pictures I was to base the dresses on.  The pictures were to serve as  guidlines only: the aim was to reproduce the look  and the feel within the budget specified for each garment.

 I must say, that was a perfect solution for me – as it also allowed me to use my ideas and creativity – and in the end the client actually got a better deal out of it as i was using far more lace, nice buttons and quality trims etc simply because I enjoyed working with the items and was making sure they are pretty!

 Even before we have signed the contract for the frock, the client bought the first Victorian gown I have ever made – my mother’s outfit for my Victorian wedding:-)


Mother of the Bride outfit in silk brocade and taffeta

  We have arranged for the undergrments to be made first and then each month i would complete 2 or 3 gowns,.

  the first batch: the undergarments:

 bustle cages and pads ( 2 cages and 3 pads altogether):


steel boned bustle cages, decorated with lace


one of the pads


cotton petticoats – 2 flounced ones, one Natural Form era petticoat


2 flounced petticoats worn on the bustle cages


Natural Form slim petticoat with lace and pintucks, worn on a pad

The dresses were next.

1. a dress in green silk


inspiration photo…


the rendition – in green silk, detachable lace cuss and optional belt. size 14




2. A dress in black and gold silk






black silk satin, gold taffeta, gold antique braid. size 12, so could try it on!


3. A polonaise


polonaise – the client requested cream instead of navy, and lace


skirt in silk taffeta, with lace overlay, polonaise in cream silk brocade, size 14



back unbustled



or bustled up


4. a Natural Form era dress in ivory and navy


the inspiration


rendition – silk taffeta in ivory and blue, size 14



too big, but had to try it on!


5. 1885 walking dress


the inspiration


rendition_ silk velvet and ivory brocade with pink pattern. size 12



and the inevitable happened..



6. a dress in red velvet…


the inspiration


red velvet, cream moire skirt, white lace



7. the same dress, but in black velvet, size 18


black velvet, white satin skirt,





 As a freebie, ii enclosed 2 hats – two boaters and 2 visiting, flashier ones.

 the boaters:




  Altogether, a very iinteresting commission that was a pleasure to work on – the client is very happy and we are currently discussing a similar order, for children’s clothing, also Victorian – so there may be a follow up!


 The moment the studio starts thier Victorian make overs, will post a link here too:-)

 Hope you have enjoyed  lookign and the results of the work as much as i have enjoyed making them!

Victorian/Steampunk Costuming Course

  I spent the last weekend in the well appointed studio belonging to a friend of mine, Julia Bremble. Julia is the corsetiere artist behind the Clessidra ( specialising in bespoke corsetry, and she also runs an online shop,  Sew Curvy, with corset kits and supplies.

 An author of a very helpful e-book on making corsets, Julia teaches corsetry as well – and her workshop is ofen used for courses and classes of other creative artists – Jenni Hampshire from Sparklewren holds regular classes there,  as is the owner of the lovely  Crikey Aphrodite.

Last weekend it was my turn, and we spent 2 lovely days working on Victorian bustle cages, bustle pads and petticoats – either in their proper Victorian form or with a twist, as Steampunk renditions.   Saturday was the bustling day. The aim was to produce either a traditional cage, or a steampunked one. Time permitting, we will also have a go at bustle pads.


Victorian bustle cage in cotton twill


Steampunk version – in silk, with funky decoration

The students, Jane and Helen, arrived on time and after a cuppa and a short chat we set to work.  The morning was spent on using the provided pattern to make their own versions, and the girls cut out the pieces and set about hemming them. Helen was creating a more traditional version of the bustle in white twill and lace, to go with the ball gown for our Spectacular ball in April (, whereas Jane was making a more colourful version in brown cotton dill and red lace, leaning towards steampunk sensibilities.



channels sewn in, time to add the boning!

Apart from learning how to construct the bustle, both ladies had a go on  Julia’s sander,  filing their steel bones – i believe it was the first time for both of them! After lunch and a good chat, fuelled by leafing through the costuming books, the girls tacked the main task of the day  – boning the bustles.


Helen’s Bustle is slowly taking shape… the lovely lace was from Sew Curvy stock!

 One of the most challenging tasks was sewing the bustle together after the bones have been inserted – you can see that Jane is enjoying every minute of that particular task!


Jane taming the cage….

just the final touches:


measuring for the waistband…

and it was done!


back view


and the side view!

 We just had enough time left to have a go at the bustle pads – most work was done in the class, with the girls being assigned homework – finishing the pads and adding lace.


Helen’s bustle pad in embroidered cotton

 After such a busy day it was now time to hit the supermarket to get the provisions for Sunday’s lunch, and thenI spent a delightful evening at Julia’s, with her lovely family – i admit I was especially taken with their greyhound, Marley…


Lovely Marley

 Sunday was a day for petticoats.  Again, the aim was to make a flounced petticoat according to authentic Victorian patterns – though  there was an option of adding  some cunning bits and to make the petti into a steampunk dress…


Victorian petticoat on a bustle cage


same pattern but in Steampunk version – in different materials and with secret ties making it possible for the skirt to be bustled up on both sides

The stundents, Jane and Suzy, opted for the Sgteampunk versions, and after measuring and drafting the patterns, the girls were soon cutting out the fabric.


cutting out those flounces…

Both girls decided to trim their flounces with lace, and to speed the proces up we decided to use the overlocker for serging the edges – and it was their first experience with the machine.


Suzy learing how to use the overlocker


And Jane having a go – and loving it!

All the flounces serged and decorated, it was time for lunch and a chat, and then promptly back to work. and a lot of wark it was as we were sewing the flounces onto the back of the petticoats and that involved a lot of pins and a lot of patience.


Pinning the flounces. and singing along to the 80ties tunes coming out from Julia’s room to make th task more cheerful!

 After that it was just assembling the petticoats,  adding waistbands ( both  girls chose elesticated waists for ease and comfort), and it was done!  we did overun and the class ended a bit late, but the effect was worth it!


Suzy in her steamopunk petticoat – it will need support in the future, but as a first major sewing project, it was simply amazing:-)


and Jane in hers, here worn on the busgtle cage:-)


both girls at the end of the day:-)

 Altoghether, a very satisfactory and a very productive weekend –  there are more course planned on bespoke basis, so if you wish to have a go, check out the workshop page of Sew Curvy!

Detailed article with insgtructions how to make Bustle cages and petticoat, in both proper Victorian and Steampunk rendition are available on amazon – links  to UK sites below, but they are also available in the US or everywhere else in the world!

 How To Make Flounced Petticoats

How To Make a Bustle Cage

Steampunk Travellers Collection






  A few pics from our first steampunk collection, shot last autumn, at the Milton Keyness Museum. The collection was a first , but certainly not the last forray into the exotic world of Steampunk, and this one was inspired by  the notion of travel and exploration, plus  some great music from the famous steampunk group, Abney Park.

 I have published the articles on the inspirations and creation of the collection on The Wardrobe Unlockd site (, so will keep this entry here just to the day of the shoot.


 Our team on the day: 


Jez, from

Paul, from


 Lucas – my husband, amateur snapper:-)

  Stylist: hair and make up :Sarah from

Costumes – me! so prior Attire, though in this case the branch:

 Models, me,  Lizzy (< Cathy Hay and Sarah in her double role as a stylist and a model.

 We had 7 characters to portray so it was a long day, fortunately, the venue, Transpiort Museum Hall was entirely at out own disposal – a perfect location for the shoot, so many thanks to MK museum!

 Let me introduce the travellers then::

 1. The English Huntress


Sarah sporting a tweed Edwardian corset, tweed skirt and bolero jacket


skirt on suspenders…

The Time traveller


Lizzy in silk Victoriana costume


just the corset and the skirt…


with added effects, Paul’s work!

 The Cyclist


Sarah in wool pantaloons, and silk corset


closer up…


The Omnibussiere…


wool skirt, corselette, jacket and a silk overskirt. all ready to sell some omnibus tickets!


with the Time traveller…


and after work, in my study…

The Colonial Explorer


Cathy in a cotton corset and a silk and lace skirt. nicknamed: Barbie on safari’.. lovely image by Jez

 The Neobedouin


Sultry Lizzy in linen pantaloons and kaftan tunic, with silk corset


Neobedouin and the Colonial explorer… up to no good no doubt

The Arctic Huntress


me sporting a corset with fur trimming, leatherette skirt and some weaponry:_0


close up!

 The Gypsy traveller..


Sarah in a linen blouse, linen corset and silk skirt… also sporting my Nubian scarf:-)


better view of the corset – with decorative lacing over a silk panel


  Many thanks to all the team!!!!


 Most of the items are now sold, i believe there is only 2 or three items remaining for sale – they are in my shop, among other steampunk merchandise