1860 Civil War Ball Gown Blue and Cream

This lovely civil war ball gown brings to life the crinoline era, or early Victorian period.  The pale cerulean blue and cream striped fabric is embroidered with flowers and butterflies in the stripes. This is a silk fabric with rayon embroidery from vintage curtains found at auction, yes, this makes it a real Scarlet O’Hara dress since it is made from curtains. We removed the linings and hooks and recycled them into new curtains.

Pale colors were much favored for candlelit ballrooms and by younger ladies. My daughter loves blue, butterflies, and flowers so this fabric was a given for her gown. The bodice is pieced to center the embroidery motif on each side and it is finished with a self fabric bertha proportioned to balance the gown on a small stature. The smooth line of the body emphasizes the small waist with wide shoulders and the width of the hoop.  The bertha, or gathered and ruched section across the neckline, emphasizes the width at the shoulders and creates a lovely self-fabric trim.  This gown is made from silk taffeta and is hand finished to complete the period look.

  • 1860’s Chemise with smocking on the front and tiny cluny lace at the edges
  • Unboned “Sensible Stays” rather than a corset to create shape
  • Ballgown with smaller cup sleeves and self fabric ruffle bertha- later added antique lace along edge of bertha
  • Machine sewn inner seams
  • Hand finished (hems, edging, hooks and eyes)


civil war blue front civil war blue front detail civil war blue dancing civil war blue dance civil war blue back view

5 thoughts on “1860 Civil War Ball Gown Blue and Cream

    • Unfortunately, this was made on a tight deadline and I didn’t document the process, but I am doing more video now and will share when I do the next civil war era gown. 🙂


  1. I know this post might be a little late but gorgeous dress! She looks so pretty in it. I wish I could find balls like this because I am so fascinated with the mid 19th century. How do you find these balls? Another question is what is the difference between sensible stays and a regular corset?


    • Search online and on facebook events for Civil War or Victorian Balls/ Dances. Once you attend some you can get on email lists for notices and there are often fliers at the door for other upcoming dances. The Sensible Stays are unboned soft stays and the name is from the pattern, Corsets are generally later and are boned (orginally with whale baleen) now with reed, steel, cable ties, etc.


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