Masquerades are vibrant, colourful balls that began in Europe around the 15th century. The elaborate styles of that period made masquerades a whirl of fanciful fashion. The gowns women wore were made of rich, ornate fabrics and decorated with jewels, embroidery, feathers, or beads. Today, masquerades are still held, and contemporary masquerade fashion is much the same as it was a few hundred years ago. Your own handmade masquerade gown in a traditional style will make a bold statement as it recaptures the colour and mystique of earlier eras.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Gown sewing pattern
- Decorations (beads, jewels, feathers)
- Ribbons and lace (optional)
- Sewing machine (optional)
- Glue gun (optional)
Select a gown pattern that suits your sewing expertise. The classic masquerade style usually has a large, bell-shaped skirt and a renaissance-styled bodice. You may do a bodice either with or without sleeves. You can find patterns from your local sewing shop or fabric store. Your local fabric store may also have pattern catalogues on hand with whole sections on costumes for you to browse through, and you may order a pattern. Many patterns may be found online.
Select rich looking fabric for the gown. Avoid cheaper looking fabrics, such as polyesters. Remember that certain fabrics, like brocade or velvet, will be heavier and warmer to wear. Select colours as bright or dark as you like, depending on the effect you want. Remember that masquerade fabrics and costumes tend to be eye catching.
Lay the fabric on a flat surface and pin the dress pattern to it. Cut through the fabric and pattern paper using the pattern guidelines to cut the correct shapes required. Make sure you are cutting along the right line. Patterns often have several different lines for several different sizes of garments. When finished, unpin the pattern paper from the fabric pieces.
Sew the pieces together as indicated in the pattern instructions. Gather the skirt evenly at the waist and remember to give it a nice neat hem at the bottom. The bodice will be fitted, with seams that take it in at certain places in order to make the fabric shape itself to your torso. Take your time on the bodice because a crookedly sewn bodice can be very obvious, while a mistake in the voluminous skirt is not as apparent.
Use your imagination to decorate the gown with jewels, beads, feathers, ribbons, or even added folds or drapes of different kinds of fabric. For example, sew or glue jewels and feathers in a row at the neckline. You could also sew the skirt into gathered bunches in specific places evenly distributed around the skirt circumference, adding a bow to each gathered point for decoration. Crisscross ribbon across the bodice. Sew beads along the sleeves with lace at the wrists. Masquerade fashion knows few boundaries.
Complete the gown with accessories. A masquerade mask is almost a must, as well as the right shoes. Try to find or make a mask that has decorations to match your dress. The shoes should be closed-toed and have low, squarish heels. Also jewellery, a headdress, a fan, or a handbag are excellent additions that will set off your masquerade gown to best advantage.
Tips and warnings
- You may want to find or make a petticoat to go underneath the gown to make it fuller. Some people even use wire frames to get the right skirt shape. A bridal shop or a costume shop might have petticoats to suit the masquerade gown.
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