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Topic: Firefly's Banning Miller Ball Gown - Shindig episode  (Read 5099 times)
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SkyyAngel
« on: June 22, 2009 08:28:58 AM »

So... I got it into my head that I wanted to make this dress. It started with my husband purchasing a Jayne t-shirt (the yellow one he wears through most of Serenity) and then deciding that he wanted to go to the Browncoat's Ball this year (he said it was in Austin which isn't too far from where we live).

Since everyone and their gramma has done up Kaylee's dress and I'm not entirely sure I have the budget/sewing skills for Inara's beautiful gown, I thought Banning's was the next best thing.

For those unfamiliar it's the gold/green ruffled gown on the right in these screenshots:





I started to look around on the net for better pics (of which, there apparently aren't that many.... ) and discovered that the Browncoat's Ball is going to be in Portland this year (was in Austin last year). Ahh boo!  Cry

But I still kinda want to make the dress. You get some shiny idea into my head and I just have to make it. Besides, I might actually get a job and be able to afford to go to the ball anyhow.  Roll Eyes

But anyways, here's my question....

Any ideas as to what the BACK of her gown looks like?
At first I thought it was a 2 piece (like Inara's) and the bodice/top portion was kind've like a doublet/corset/blouse mix. I notice there's 2 "flaps" of material on the bodice front to match the ones around the neckline and decorated with 3 buttons each. I originally thought this was mimicked all the way around.

But when I paid more attention to the episode (slowed it down and went through frame by frame) I realized the back is much much longer. There's 3 box pleats (or even double box pleats... it's kinda hard to tell) shown in a shot from the back and the fabric drapes down for at least 4 inches and out of the shot. This leads me to believe it goes down a LOT further than just the bodice and covers quite a bit of the back of the skirt even if you can't see any of it from the front. I can catch a glimpse of it as she turns away and flounces off screen after being insulted and it looks like it goes down at LEAST halfway to the floor.

At first I was thinking a bustle of some kind since a lot of the outfits at the ball are Victorian but after looking at some pics on the net, that doesn't seem *quite* right but maybe it's just a modified version of one.

Any ideas? Or patterns would be great too. I'm more of a medieval/renaissance gal, so this Victorian-esque stuff is just not my field.

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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2009 07:30:09 PM »

It is definitely NOT Victorian, at least the Victorian we, think of.  No bustle about it.  It is a Crinoline period dress, or to those of us in the states a "Civil War period" dress, though really Crinoline is a better description.  What it really all boil's down to is 1850-60's.  When you say Victorian, people tend to think 1870's-90's, even though, yes, Victoria was on the throne earlier than that.  Anyways, look for some of the following books, for period research.  They will help you find ideas and styles to go by.  Check out:
The Cut of Women's Clothes by Norah Waugh
20,000 Year of Fashion by Boucher
Patterns of Fashion I & Patterns of Fashion II by Janet Arnold
Period Costume for Stage and Screen 1800-1909 by Jean Hunnisett
Corsets and Crinolines by Norah Waugh
Costume In Detail 1730-1930 by Nancy Bradfield

Then check out some issues of Vogue from 2000 for inspiration on that collar style. 
If you have trouble with getting those books, check to see if your library does inter-library loan.  One in their "network" is bound to have it.  Or check the nearest university library to you.  Anyone that has a theatre department is bound to have those in their library. 

Good luck on your dress.  And have a shiny time at the ball!
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SkyyAngel
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2009 10:22:57 PM »

Oh I know there's no bustle (as in undergarment hoop thingy), I just think there might be the bustle fabric design hiding back there.

Since most of (well all really) the costumes in the scene are mix and match periods, I was thinking that perhaps from the front it looks very crinoline (thanks for the vocab) but from the back it might look more Victorian and have the fabric bustled (more like the "modern" bustling... like the bustled train on a wedding gown) but still only supported by the crinoline.

Or have I confused myself again?? lol

I'll have to check out those books. I have a PoF but it's not this time period. I've been trying to find pics on the web or gowns that are close. You're right that the Civil War era gowns look exactly like the front but I can't find any examples where the back swoops down in a mini-train at all. If the bodice "hem" (for lack of a better term in my vocabulary... the gold fabric of the gown) goes past the waist at all, in all the photos I've seen, it goes down all the way around, not just the back. Or is this not the case and google has failed me?
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noelle
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2009 10:34:35 PM »

The top looks like a modified caraco to me.. the way it tapers in the back, and the center box pleat makes me think of the precursor of tuxedo tails.

or it could just be long, but slightly pulled up in a semi-bustle or polonaise style.

here's a basic pattern

and this is what I think the back might look like:



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SkyyAngel
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2009 06:31:45 AM »

Thanks noelle! I think you've hit on very much what it might be! Or at least, what I was trying to explain what I thought it might look like with my poor period fashion vocabulary.  Grin
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« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2009 07:39:54 AM »

Oh I know there's no bustle (as in undergarment hoop thingy), I just think there might be the bustle fabric design hiding back there.

Since most of (well all really) the costumes in the scene are mix and match periods, I was thinking that perhaps from the front it looks very crinoline (thanks for the vocab) but from the back it might look more Victorian and have the fabric bustled (more like the "modern" bustling... like the bustled train on a wedding gown) but still only supported by the crinoline.

Or have I confused myself again?? lol

I'll have to check out those books. I have a PoF but it's not this time period. I've been trying to find pics on the web or gowns that are close. You're right that the Civil War era gowns look exactly like the front but I can't find any examples where the back swoops down in a mini-train at all. If the bodice "hem" (for lack of a better term in my vocabulary... the gold fabric of the gown) goes past the waist at all, in all the photos I've seen, it goes down all the way around, not just the back. Or is this not the case and google has failed me?


It's the ruffles of the skirt that really kill the bustle idea.  Don't think of it as a "dress".  It is a jacket-like bodice and skirt.  The skirts ruffles are tiered, but they all run horizontal, and will do the same at the back.  
The back of your BODICE might be doing something like this, but the SKIRT is in no way bustled:  http://www.koshka-the-cat.com/plates/victoria1869.jpg

Also, check out the Costumer's Manifesto.  costumes.org
Here's a link to the 1850's section:  http://costumes.org/history/100pages/victlinks.htm#1850%27s
When you scroll further down you can see 1860's too.  

A really helpful set of fashion plates from the period:  http://costumes.org/history/100pages/timelinepages/1850to70a.htm

A gallery of photographs from the period:  http://www.npg.si.edu/exh/brady/index.htm

More fashion plates:  http://www.koshka-the-cat.com/fashion2.html

On this, scroll down to dress number 5.  http://dept.kent.edu/museum/costume/bonc/3timesearch/tsnineteenth/1840-1859/1840-1859.html  That is what your skirt is doing all the way around.

This is a great website for reproduction mens' and women's accessories, like fans, gloves, walking stick, a hoop, etc:  http://www.gentlemansemporium.com/gentlemans.php

River Junction is a similar site, but the guy who runs it is HORRIBLE.  He called and screamed at me while I was working at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, even though I had never spoken to him before.  Another girl was trying to do a return.  He refused and told me to go f*** myself, and said we were not a reputable theatre.  (The festival has been in existance over 20 years and employees actors like Christopher Reeve, Gweneth Paltrow, etc.)  http://www.riverjunction.com/

Anything from Godey's Ladies book would be helpful to you:  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0486248410/thecostumersmani
« Last Edit: June 23, 2009 07:44:25 AM by jennieingram » THIS ROCKS   Logged

SiakelA
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2010 11:53:23 AM »

I can't remember her name, but the costume designer for the show is on twitter, and you might be able to get a hold of her to ask there.
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