The very first historical costume that I owned was a Civil War era “ball gown” that I bought off of e-bay. I was so proud of it!
It looked a lot like this one:
Except the bodice was floral, it was attached to the skirt, and there was white lace around the sleeves and neckline that I later re-purposed for my Edwardian corset.
I wore it for a few Halloweens and then for a couple of school functions that required a costume and I loved every second of it.
Then I started getting more and more into historical costuming and I couldn’t help but think about ways to improve on the design.
This was one of the earliest sewing projects I did. I saved up my money to buy an actual pattern (my very first one) that was era-appropriate. After I saved up to buy my first corset, I pulled the pattern out of it’s place of honor and cut into the dress.
I tore the whole thing apart and cut a new bodice out of one of the skirt panels.
This was before I had a sewing machine so I spent night after night carefully cutting, pinning, and hand-sewing before bed.
To this day, it’s not quite finished.
But that didn’t stop me from dressing my sister up in it and taking lots of pictures over the years!
It doesn’t have any fastenings on the bodice, so it’s held together by pins.
And I’ve since made proper under-sleeves (she’s wearing an old button-down shirt underneath in the pictures).
But this dress will always hold a special place in my heart. It helped ignite my passion and, although my enthusiasm for the Civil War era has slightly waned over the years, I’ll always remember it as my very first historical costume.