Finished: Empress Josephine Ballgown

8 Jul



This gown has been a long time coming. I had been planning a gold taffeta ballgown since last Fall to wear to an event in January. When it became apparent that I wouldn’t get that done in time I shifted my deadline to a Regency Ball for June. With that shift, I also ordered this silk organza as an overlay to the taffeta. While not a replica of any of Josephine’s gowns, I used many of her portraits as inspiration.

I used the same Laughing Moon 126 pattern as the dotted swiss and made the adjustments for lengthening the front of the bodice. However, next time I need to start it closer to the sides as I need more length there as well. My biggest complaint with this style is that it tends to “poof” out at the hips due to the overlapping fabric where the slits in the skirt are. I’m sure part of it is the fabric and another part of it is I’m rather “hippy” as it is, but it’s something to keep in mind if you use a fabric with a lot of body to it (and especially if you use two layers like I did). The sleeves are the regular short sleeves with a small tuck taken in at the base. I intended to do the puffy sleeves, but this actually worked out better since I was running out of fabric and they’re probably more flattering on me. I lengthened the ties so they can go around my waist and tie under the bib instead of the back. I cut the medium length train for the organza and left the taffeta layer floor length so if I needed to pick up the train, I didn’t have to worry about two layers of fabric.


The time-consuming part of the gown was all the trim. The lace came in panels which needed to be cut apart, carefully placed on the organza, clipped around the curves and then hand-stitched. I added the pearls afterwards.



The shoes were trimmed using leftover lace and trim. They looked beautiful until I kept snagging it on the hem of my dress which pulled off the metal part. Lesson learned.


Even though I didn’t copy one of Josephine’s gowns, I did want to match the jewelry that she often wore in her portraits. I contemplated making it myself, but ended up finding an etsy seller that was willing to make what I wanted. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

Many thanks to Jen Thompson for taking photos before the ball. Here’s one last one of myself and Megan Martin (who has an etsy shop) channeling the Bingley sisters.


Pattern: Laughing Moon 126

Fabric: Renaissance Fabrics & Pure Silks (which came with a lot of creases, so I don’t know that I’d buy from them again)

Lace: Fabric Empire on etsy

Brooches: large one is vintage, smaller ones on sleeves and shoes: etsy

Jewelry: Custom order from Tudor Shoppe

5 Responses to “Finished: Empress Josephine Ballgown”

  1. Isis July 8, 2015 at 11:16 pm #

    Absoluetly stunning!

  2. demodecouture July 9, 2015 at 11:56 am #

    This is SO gorgeous, and as a fellow curvy girl, super flattering!

  3. cmadeleine0816 July 10, 2015 at 9:08 am #

    Fantastic! I love the colors, the stripes, the sleeves – everything.

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