The Spirit of Autumn Dress Project


Autumn Spirit dress

Well, that was something different.  One week I have an idea, next week the outfit is ready….   absolutely loving the  result of the friendly/professional cooperation on this project – it looks like the other seasons will be represented by organic, ephemeral dresses as well.

But – the Autumn. A detailed  article on how to make the outfit will soon appear on the Foundations Revealed website, but in the meantime a few pictures and a bare bones here…

The original sketch


 A week on, the leaves and other autumnal bits were gathered…




naughty Merlin kept dive bombing the leaf pile…

the dress base was made up of cotton  and the fun begins…


 The leaves are first stapled on ( only the first layer/ and then glued with copious amount of glue…   a few hours later, having run out of glue and the leaves,  the skirt already looked rather splendidImage

Second leaf gathering mission took place on the next day, and at last the skirt was finished. all together it took roughly 350-400 different kind of leaves ( maple, oak, birch, copper beech, chestnut, hawthorn etc) and 4 packets of glue sticks…


  Leaves preservation – well, since waxing or treating each and single leaf with glycerin was beyond the time scale allocated for this project, I did not preserve the leaves at all – I simply made care I collected freshly  fallen leaves – and keeping the thing outside seemed to do the trick admirably – and almost a week on, the dress is still ok, though a few leaves look a bit tired. the idea is to  do the skirt cheaply and discard it later – however, for a lasting garments artificial leaves can be used.

And since the corset to go with the skirt was to be a lasting creation, that;s what got stitched on it – artificial leaves, vines and beads pretending to be berries:-) then only a few real leaves were added on the day of the shoot. it is now available to purchase in out online shop, btw…. 🙂


The wig and contact lenses turned up on time, and Lucas even managed to make up some autumnal jewelry too….



 On the day of the shoot the usual team  turned up just in time for a cuppa and a breakfast muffin – and got to work. Lucas and Paul drove to the location – we decided to shoot in the sample place that inspired me – Harrold Odell Park. And so the boys went over early to look for a fitting spot  and set up the light etc.

Sarah unpacked her goodies and started working on the make up – a very different look for me, but went well with the wig and the contact lenses –  my first time as far as the lenses are concerned, but really liked the effect and will invest with more funky ones in the future…

Then it was time to get the wig on and drive over to the location.  The boys were ready with their gear and special effect ( the ‘mist generators’ )  so i just needed to change and Sarah styled the wig and the crown on …


all ready!


and the work started – most of it was getting the light – both artificial and the fleeting sunshine, and the smoke right. so lots of waiting for the sun to appear for a few seconds, upon which the special effect team would get the mist sorted and Paul was shooting.   Lucas took a few photos as well – and the result of the work below….


Autumn Spirit dress in its glory…



 and a few ones from Lucas




 and more piccies here


  and the job done, team happy, things were packed and we drove back. I liked my look so much i wore it for a bit longer…


  and the credits –

Photography – Paul from Mockford Photography – fb page:

Make up and wig styling  Sarah Dunn –  Sarahfrom Sarah’s Do Whoop Up does 

 costume: – Prior Attire  the corset is now available on sale at a bargain price – get it here!

 model – me! Izabela Pitcher:-)

 wig from


Spectacular! Spectacular! Masquerade ball April 27th 2013


 Spectacular!Spectacular!  Masquerade Ball  April 27, 2013


  So you get engaged, spend 10 months organizing the big day,  you get married, a bit surprised at how smoothly things went, go on a honeymoon and then back to normal life.

 Although my ‘normal life’ is according to generic standards not particularly normal; none of the 9 to 5 thing going on, more of a 8-23, but with breaks for running, coffee, training, naps etc; no work dress code, but then dressing up for events, (one week as queen Katherine of Aragon, the next as a Victorian lady, or  a 15th century merchant’s wife, or an aristocratic escapee from the French revolution…), I found that I missed the excitement of the preparation for the wedding.

 So when my newlywed husband asked me a few months into the wedlock if I had any particular plans for the following year, the answer was: ‘I want a ball! Preferably a Victorian one, but a fantasy/steampunk one would not be frowned upon either’.

 This sort of wishful thinking is generally ‘easier said than done’, but, with lots of contacts in the re-enactment community, dance groups and alternative subcultures, it turned out to be a bit more feasible.

 We started with some basic market research, asking a simple question on Facebook. Within a few hours we had lots of positive replies, and although you do tend to take such things with a pinch of salt – usually about a third of the people who declare they are interested in doing something ends up doing it – the rest fall behind as the timing, cost or other life issues pop up.

 Still, it was a start.


Sculpture gallery, woburn Abbey

 Finding the venue was the next big step. We visited a few suitable venues – Woburn Abbey was stunning, but  well above our means – we could afford it only if we didn’t want to offer food, and we felt that a nice little buffet served half way through would be quite popular.

 Still, the stunning surroundings of the place offer a lot of potential, and I suppose it would be a very strong contender if we ever considered a ball without the option of food.

 Wrest Park was the next on our list – again, absolutely lovely and one of my firm favourites, but  the catering option would eat our finances down to nothing in no time at all, or make the price of tickets far too high.


Heatherden Hall

 And then we found Heatherden Hall, a part of Pinewoods Studios. After a short visit, we were enchanted. Lovely rooms, stunning gardens, and what’s more important – within our budget – even with the catering.  We needed to pay a bit more to cover the cost of covering the entire ballroom with proper dance floor, but it was worth it.

   Venue booked, ticket prices and guest numbers more or less agreed on, it was time to get a Facebook event going and start advertising, marketing and selling tickets. It was relatively early and we still had about 9 months, but it never does any harm to plan early!

 Lucas & I came up with some lovely wording for the page and the rest is history…

    So, let me show you the place and explain what is happening on the day….


 The Venue: we have the use of the following rooms on the ground floor:

 Most important: the Ballroom. This will be floored with oak panelling, entirely suitable for about 200 people to throw themselves around in waltzes, tangos and more modern rhythms.


the ballroom, at the moment minus the floor


 The Pools room – That’s where the grub will be! Tables in the middle, with casual seating all around. It even sports a very elegant little lounging section with a working fountain!


the lounging area


Pools room in different light – we will be aiming for more mellow, golden light and decor…

Club bar, selling quality booze!



 Hitchcock room –  ideal to serve the welcome drinks, and for sitting and chatting  before the ball starts.


  The Pine room – this will form the ladies’ boudoir…. a place for the girls to change into their frocks, and to leave their coats and bags behind.


The PIne room, entry to the conservatory

 The conservatory – Sarah, our stylist, with her helper Lizzie, will be setting up a beauty parlour there. Lots of room to change as well, and it has a direct access onto the patio and to the gardens.  If you want an appointment with Sarah to have lovely make up done and your hair styled, drop her a line – I understand there are only a few places left!


the conservatory


 The gardens – absolutely stunning, and hopefully the weather will be kind enough for us to have a relaxing walk about – there are some really lovely spots to take pictures in all your finery too!






The place will be staffed, including security guards, to make sure everybody can feel safe and relaxed.

 A professional photographer, Paul Mockford, will set up a stand in one of the rooms – there you will have an unique opportunity to have your photo taken by a professional photographic artist, and printed on the spot, for a small charge.

  Access to the venue will be from 6pm: you will then have about an hour and a half to make any final preparations, enjoy your welcome drink, have a stroll in the garden and enjoy the surroundings.

 The ball will open from 8pm. For the first hour, the talented Charlotte will be putting us through our paces in some historical dance tuition. Do not be afraid, most dances are not fast (though we may have a go at a waltz and a polka…) and can be danced with either male or female partner. Sophie and Chris from ‘Blast from the Past’ will be providing live music for this part of the ball!

 Once we have practiced our dancing and are all warmed up, our DJ will kick in with more traditional music: we will have some waltzes, tangos, polkas, etc – since the ball is named after a song from the Moulin Rouge film, the music from the movie will feature strongly on the agenda!  We will mix in slower dances with more modern beats, so expect a fully eclectic mixture – from polkas, jazz, cha -chas and salsa to rock and roll and modern dance pieces, so that everybody will find something to hop, jump, glide, swoosh, sway and spin around to. We will most likely start with the traditional and dance our way towards more modern tunes as the night progresses – so ladies wearing more cumbersome frocks are free to dash to the Pine room and change into less restricting attire, should they wish.


 And when hopping around gets a bit tiresome – the buffet in the Pools room will be available from 9pm onwards. The menu is rather impressive we combined two different sets, making sure there is a more or less balanced choice for all of our carnivorous and vegetarian guests, with special diets catered for as well. The Hitchcock Bar will be open until 12.30 … so there will be plenty of drinks to quench your thirst.


 Menu: Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagels
Rare Roast Beef with Horseradish in a Mini Yorkshire pudding
Broccoli and Stilton Quiche
Mini Chicken Salsa… Wraps
Samosa Selection
Salmon Fish Cakes with Lime Mayonnaise
Crispy Vegetables with Plum Sauce
Sea Salt and Black Pepper Potato Wedges

Assortment of Finger Sandwiches
Chicken Satay with Coconut and Lime
Breaded King Prawns with a Mango Salsa.
Oriental Seafood Parcels with Soy Sauce
Mini Cheese burgers
Mediterranean Bruchetta
Lamb kofta kebabs with mint and yogurt dressing
Spinach and Feta Goujons

dessert:Wild Berry and Apple Crumble
Mini Tiramisu

 Dancing, chatting, lounging and all the revels will last till after midnight, carriages are planned for  1am


  The dress code:

  Although Moulin Rouge Victoriana/Steampunk or evening wear is recommended, we expect a truly eclectic feel to the evening; simply wear whatever makes you feel Spectacular and Special, and you will  dazzle! So whether it is a Tudor dress and a top-hat, a Venetian carnival outfit, a Steampunk gown or a modern evening wear, simply be whoever you want that night.

 We have pinned an inspiration board here…


 I will have a few dresses for hire on the night – link here:


 The one thing that WILL be expected of you, (at least for the first hour or so), will be a mask….


 More details can be found on the event’s pages:


 Tickets – not many left and the deadline is 12th April. After that date only recycled tickets will be available – a step necessary since as we are providing food, the catering folks need to know the exact numbers 2 weeks ahead…  Tickets can be purchased by BACS, Cheque, (details on fb), or for those preferring Paypal, you can buy them here: 



  And so now, with just 6 weeks to go, the pressure and the expectation are starting to build – I cannot wait to see  all the people dressed in their finest, swanning around, swaying to the music, or lounging around the fountain; gallant gentlemen helping the ladies to find the tastiest morsels, the chevaliers whisking their sweethearts away for a romantic walk in the garden; ladies chattering behind their fans about the dances and frocks; the men enjoying a whiskey at the bar… ‘romantic, nostalgic and passionate’ is the feel I would like to experience for the night – and that depends on the people taking part.  Somehow, I do not feel I will be disappointed – and I know we will have a great time – in fact, we will have a Ball!