Saturday, March 10, 2012

2012 Conference Highlights - Conference Fabric

There are many highlights to attending the Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860's conferences but everyone always looks forward to Saturday morning and the grand reveal of the "conference fabric"

Traditionally, all the female presenters receive a cotton dress length of the fabric with the instructions "make an 1860's dress", the male presenters receive a smaller length of silk or wool to make a vest.

This year was different - all the presenters received a length of the beautiful Italian merino wool seen above and were told to make "a garment".

On Saturday morning, all the presenters come up on the stage and give a quick explanation of what they did and why - so let the show begin!

We'll start with a dress and look at the gorgeous bodice! The way it was darted creates really interesting lines and the little lapels are great. The lapels are quite easy to create, it's just the customary jewel neckline turned back and trimmed.

Something to notice on all these ensembles - the wearers have all the appropriate accessories, hairstyles, etc to complete the look - so look for the details!

Some speakers show the image that inspired them - not only are the outfits a match, so are the facial features!


Trim and it's placement can really effect the look of a dress, and this is perfect. Just a bit can make all the difference in creating a custom look. While it doesn't show especially well in my photo, the little fringy faux buttons were dead on, perfect reproductions of those I've seen on original garments.

A fabric this beautiful doesn't necessarily need a lot of trim, especially when your fit is good - it's all a matter of personal style.

Vests were represented:

And trousers:

Here's a traveling outfit - sacque and petticoat, with all the accouterments, including carpetbag, shawl and umbrella.

Here's a way to stretch your wardrobe, a wool skirt worn here with a blue velveteen bodice. The skirt can also be worn with it's matching wool bodice. While skirts and bodices of the same fabric are the most common, this is a great example of an appropriate use of a coordinating bodice.

There are over 100 pompoms on this rigolette:

And here's Emily, in her very own conference dress:

A couple ladies created a garment we seldom see - coats:


Remember, this year the instructions were for a garment - can you spot it?   (And, yes, he is singing!)

And his inspiration:

I'm in the planning stages of a bathing suit, so I was thrilled to see this outfit:

It was based on an original:

Effort was made to replicate all the details:


Including the polka dot lining - it's the original "itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, yellow polka dot bikini"!

Some of my shots of individuals didn't turn out well, but here are some group shots showing everyone:

Speaking from experience, it's both exciting and terrifying when the box of conference fabric arrives: what if I don't like, what if it just won't "speak" to me, what if I totally mess it up? But I'm always amazed at the variety of creative ways the fabric is used and the Saturday morning reveal is a definite highlight of attending conference. 

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