I’ve been dreading trying to put into words the emotions I felt watching the MS Balmoral set off. I think it would be best to start off explaining the costume I created for this historic event and then to share my experience with you towards the end.
In a completely odd way my costumes were planned starting with Sunday and working my way back to the Train outfit I wore on Friday.
So to start. Unlike my other projects were I worked with a few images in mind, my inspiration image came from the fashion magazine De Gracieuse:
I knew this costume was the one for me when I realized I owned the parasol already. The first thing I did was go to Goldhawk Road and spend too much money!
How utterly perfect did that turn out?
I wanted to try to conquer the skirt first so using the same Thornton’s pattern (notice a trend?) I set about creating the skirt. Unlike the other skirts where I added an overlap I drafted this skirt pattern as it was originally meant to be:
A fun tip when making a lining: press the darts in opposite directions to reduce the bulk!
Voila! One finished skirt (minus the buttons).
Moving on to the half coat!
I cut the top part on the stand and then transferred it to my body to finish fitting it. This is my toile using leftover fabric and I was very pleased with the way the sleeve turned out.
Once I was happy with the fit I cut out and stitched the real one together. I initially pinned in the sleeve because I don’t have a good track record in putting sleeves in but it actually worked out fine!
Here is my terrible toile! Once I was satisfied with the fit I drafted the same skirt pattern and altered it so that the waist would close at the side.
A quick slip stitch and the half jacket is complete!
I completely forgot to take photos of how I made the trim. I ended up using leftover scraps from my brown linen train dress and created binding which resulted in all my slip stitching ended up being covered! I was rather amused since I thought I did such a lovely job on the hem. C’est la vie!
I made a quick belt and added one of my Victorian (shh!) buckles.
The reason I wanted to have such a wide cuff was because I planned to deviate from the fashion plate by adding a trim to break up the color. Using my leather thimble (the hide was a little too thick to use my normal thimble) I attached the fur to the wide trim and then attached it to my sleeve.
I’m pleased with how I did this but looking back I’m rather annoyed because Lizzy was terribly late on finishing her costume and we ended up running late and missing most of the boarding.
I lost my original velvet trim and had to make do with this trim. If you are Stateside you would recognize this trim from Joann’s, the only difference is that I pulled the leather out of the center.
All packed and ready for Southampton!
I ended up being very lucky by running across a pair of shoes on Ebay that looked like they would match, when I opened the box I realized the Gods of Fashion had intervened in my Ebay search by sending me a pair of shoes that were made for this dress. They were also Clarks which only added to their complete awesome-ness.
(Sorry for the bed spread! I forgot to take pictures and stole the photos from the ebay page!)
And now I feel the need to apologize because I am about to post A LOT of photos from Sunday!
I have to mention the amazing gentlemen at The White Star Memories who really made this event absolutely spectacular. Bravo gentlemen! I honestly felt like I was stepping back into 1912 and preparing for an adventure at sea!
When I walked down to the docks to wave farewell to the smiling masses onboard the MS Balmoral, I saw the ghosts of those who set sail for a better life smiling back at me. For this moment 1912 and 2012 were intertwined as one, the past and the present overlapping through the pages of history.
Ok I will admit that at first I was slightly miffed that we couldn’t actually go down to the docks but I do understand that in this day and age safety precautions have to be the priority. Luckily the lovely Captain of the SS Shieldhall invited us onboard and saved the day!
When the Balmoral first started up the band was playing modern music which ruined the mood. I stood on the stern of the SS Shieldhall and were talking about how we couldn’t cry when songs like “Save the last dance for me” and “Sway” were playing. “On Moonlight Bay” was the popular song of 1912 and I was looking forward to hearing that!
So we stood there thick as thieves promising not cry . . which was a complete and utter lie since we sobbed like little girls.
When the Balmoral started off and the shout went up we both began to wave, our handkerchiefs flying in the wind. I was so happy to see the smiling crowds and suddenly I realized that 100 years ago the crowd stood here full of joy and happiness never knowing that for many this would be the last sight of their loved one. I’m not sure which one of us started crying first but when we looked at each other we dissolved into tears.
I was starting to calm down when the sun came out and we both started sobbing all over again. The sky had been dark and grey with black clouds rolling in all day. When the Balmoral turned the clouds parted and the sun highlighted the ship. We both firmly believe in our hearts that this was a blessing from the ones lost aboard the Titanic.
I stood there on the stern of the ship celebrating for the Balmoral and mourning for the Titanic. Somehow in the middle of my tears I let the Titanic go. The ghosts are laid to rest and she will forever live on in my memories. We stood there until she disappeared and then turned to leave.
I fully recommend The White Star Tavern if you are thinking of visiting Southampton! Not only were the staff friendly and amazingly knowledgable about the Titanic, they were kind and so wonderful to work with. The food was delicious and I’m still dreaming of the wonderful bed!
And so to end the Titanic Project I present the original fashion plate:
Followed by my own recreation.I still see flaws but I hope I was able to do justice with my humble attempt at re-creating the beautiful work of art from De Gracieuse: