Construction notes · Historical Costuming · Pattern Review

A Natural Form Ballgown for Prom

I already knew quite early that my outfit for the Abiball (German equivalent to Prom) had to be unusual. First I had planned to wear some sort of a suit because that would definitely have been unusual (and badass on top of that!) but then I somehow grew fond of the idea of showing off my sewing skills and interest in historical clothing… after all that was what my peers expected me to do, so why not. The decision to go with Natural Form was made quickly although I had some insecurities during the process of sewing – Late 1870s? 1882? Or rather 1883? – because that makes a difference. But in the end even I am not sure anymore which year it became :’D

The main inspiration is Adolph Menzel’s painting Das Ballsouper from 1887. I had seen it in Berlin in person and immediately fallen in love with the sumptuous dresses. In addition to that I looked at the evening dresses in Fashions of the Gilded Age Vol. 2.

Das Ballsouper by Adolph Menzel (1878)


  • Golden shot pink silk taffeta from bangkokthaisilk on ebay
  • Sturdy white fabric for the foundation skirt
  • Lace bought on aliexpess (my N° 1 source for habadashery/notions)
  • Flower garlands



The pattern for the corset was self-drafted (with the help of this tutorial: Draft Your Corset Pattern ). For the Petticoat I used TV121 1879 Petticoat with detachable train (but I haven’t made the train yet).

Latenight bathroom selfie… so beautiful :’D

The foundation skirt and the bodice

Originally I wanted to draft the patterns myself but then it turned out that on Saturday, one week before the ‘ball’ I had only finished the undergarments and I still had oral exams on Monday and Tuesday, so no sewing until these were over. Result: 4 days to make the rest. Awesome. Luckily my favourite pattern supplier ships fast and on Monday I got TV221 1878 Tie-Back Underskirt und TV416 1870s Ballgown Bodice. The bodice is flatlined and closes by an invisible zipper in the back (inaccurate, I know). I removed the pleats in the back and finished the edges with piping.

TV416 (does not fit my dressform)

The train

Isn’t yet finished. I did a very simple version (90cmx180cm rectangle held by a weird band construction that creates the poof because it was saturday noon and I had literally no time)

When I have time this will be done propery with lining, scallops, roses, lace and a pleated section.

My cat is helping… NOT


So far only a tiara I ordered from ebay.



I had practiced on my sister before and tried a beautiful late victorian hairstyle, but even though I had been able to do it on her, I knew that I couldn’t do it on myself. So in the end a not-at-all-period style was what I did. It looked nice nonetheless.

The result of 3 hours *sigh* I need to teach her how to do this on me…
1/2 hour for the hair, not bad

And finally the finished result. I will have a proper photoshoot soon, until then this will do. My sister said I look like a Disney Princess and she is is right :’D Wasn’t my intention though.

I still need a name for it. Maybe Coral Prom Dress, I’m not creative *sigh

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