• 64°

Ogden makes ‘pretty things’ for Gaineswood Belles

DEMOPOLIS – She starts the sixth month of her fifth pregnancy on Saturday. She has four children in her household, ranging from toddler to preteen. She runs a catering business, preparing everything from entrees to dessert and is currently volunteering what’s left of her time to make costumes for some of the Gaineswood Belles.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure that Elizabeth Ogden is a busy woman, but through it all, she manages to complete all her tasks with a smile.

With a large, round belly poking from her small frame, Ogden sat in her sewing room, working on the second Gaineswood Belle dress.

“I just like to make pretty things,” she said. “This isn’t the first time I’ve made period costumes.”

Ogden said she has worked in the costume department in college, stitching anything from capes to corsets and has created medieval attire for re-enactors.

“I used to do wedding dresses and wedding cakes but I had to stop,” she said. “There is just so much emotion involved in that day.”

But, Ogden has temporarily strayed back to her dressmaking days since she recently volunteered to update the dresses for the Gaineswood Belles.

“I only made two new dresses,” she said. “I may try to recondition the rest.”

Ogden has done her research to make the dresses as historically accurate as possible, while still being convenient for the Belles.

“I’m putting zippers in the back. The old dresses had these eyelets and the girls spent a good half an hour just getting into the dress,” she said as she demonstrated the pulling motion needed to tighten the strings on the previous backs. “That’s the one historically inaccurate part in these dresses.”

Ogden said she is also making the dresses different enough so they don’t match exactly, but still depict the period.

“Could you imagine the fuss that would’ve happened if ladies back then went to a ball and someone else had on the same exact dress?” she laughed.

Because the dresses are technically costumes, they must be durable and able to be altered numerous times for various girls.

“These dresses are for theater essentially and they won’t be worn just once,” she said. “They sometimes have to go through three different girls so they have to be made out of sturdy fabric.”

In between being a wife, mother, caterer and baker, Ogden still finds time to spend about 10-12 hours a day on the Belles’ dresses.

“Most of the time when I sew, I get involved and I go straight through,” she said.

Even though Ogden believes “Gaineswood is an exceptional home and the girls should reflect the grandeur of it,” she also hopes to find time to prepare tablecloth and curtains to accessorize the historic mansion.

“Sewing for me is just an creative outlet,” she said. “Plus I have the joy of seeing these girls in the dresses and I can say ‘I made that.'”

Ogden added she wants to teach her children the importance of community service and finding time to serve the neighborhood.

To see Ogden’s creations in person, visit Gaineswood this evening from 5:30-8 p.m. at Christmas in the Canebreak. Bluff and Lyon Hall will be open tonight as well. Admission is $3 per guest for each house.