Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas at Biltmore

Hi everyone! I hope you are all warm, safe and enjoying this beautiful season. 
I have wanted to share this post for a while, and thought Christmas would be the perfect time to do so. 
As a college student, I was involved in Early Music Ensemble, which every year presented a series of Madrigal Dinners in early December at our university. This group also performed each year at Biltmore House in costume to celebrate the Christmas season. We were actually featured on NBC's Today Show one Christmas morning singing there at the house. But singing wasn't all I was doing.  I designed and made costumes for the group totaling more than 40 by completion of my college career.  I remember so fondly being home during Thanksgiving finishing everything up for the performances. My mom, who had a clothing design business, and my grandmother always helped me get everything done and we spent many late nights sewing together. How I miss those days:-) Sewing is something I love and definitely inherited from my mom and both grandmothers. My great grandmother was also a tailor and I've been sewing and designing since I was 9.

Here are a few of the photos taken at Biltmore House. I'm amazed that I actually have photos of several of the group members. It was the late 1980s after all. 

These were mostly made from upholstery material and remnants that I put together with what I could find at home.  There are patterns for this style of costume now, but there were none then. I designed all of them myself.

This one, I designed and cut out for Dr. Bob Holquist, our director, then his wife put it together. She had been a student of my mom's when she taught clothing design at a community college here. 

I made all the hats too. 

It was always freezing cold inside the house, so we looked forward to going in costume knowing that we would be semi-warm. 

We also enjoyed looking around where visitors are not allowed to go in the house. 

The Madrigal dinners were actually presented at the university and always sold out. We looked forward to them so much each year. 

One of my favorite costumes is the red and grey one below. I made it from three different dresses I cut up and put together. I wish I had a better photo. 

Of course, Queen Elizabeth I was always in attendance. 

One last photo performing inside at Biltmore...

If you are near the Asheville N.C. area and have not been to Biltmore House, you must go see it. I always took away so much inspiration for Christmas decor and still use some of the ideas I got from the house then. The sights, scents and sounds of Christmas are honestly just unbelievable in there. 

Click on this link for info and tickets.


Thanks so much for stopping by! I posted a preview of Christmas decor yesterday, then my mom called me up to her attic, and I came away with a huge box of ornaments some of which belonged to my great grandmother. I *had* to add ALL of them, of course! Can't wait to share all of that soon. 


I'll be joining:

Inspiration Friday


  1. i am always amazed when someone has many different
    talents, bu tyou have at least three!

    this was a lot of fun to see your gorgeous costumes.

  2. Anita!!! You are so talented!! The way you use the wonderful gifts the Lord has given you is such a tribute! The costumes are beautiful and I know you'll always cherish the memories of sewing and visiting with your mother and grandmother. Have a blessed day!

  3. Oh my, my, my. I have been to the Biltmore 7 times in which last Christmas was my first Christmas time visit. We saw the carolers and enjoyed music as they strolled throughout the house. We also dined in the stable dining room. We've done behind the scene tours. It is the most magical place even when it isn't Christmas. How blessed you are to be able to be there and perform so many times. Also, to be able to sew like you do is envious. I am downright envious. Is there anything that you CAN'T do Anita? Such a lovely and talented woman. I feel so blessed to be able to follow your blog.

    ~ Lisa ~

  4. Dearest Anita...WOW!
    Neat that you have pictures that you can share. A wonderful accomplishment.
    Someday, I hope to visit this magnificent mansion.
    One day!

  5. Anita, Bless, just genius your talents. Being from SC, I always dreamed of visiting Biltmore. Instead I spent a summer taking care of "upper crust" grand children of a resident of Ashville, almost like Cinderella. I had to sleep in unfurnished attic,had Thursday afternoon off, not treated well, including food given only if leftovers! I remember thinking, when I "grow" up( 18yo) I would return to visit grand estate. Thank you for sharing this precious part of your life. What an honor to know you. Blessings to you and family this Advent season. Hope you still have some of your masterpieces.My grandmothers were seamstresses.What a beautiful post..... :)The town was just idyllic...

  6. Anita, the costumes are all so beautiful; your design and sewing talents are amazing! I think there is nothing you couldn't do superbly...sing, sew, decorate, furniture finishing, tablescapes, the list goes on and on...

  7. Lovely dresses and a stately old house, what fun to go back in time if only for a little while.

  8. You are so very talented and creative, Anita. It runs in your family. All very blessed. I hope to visit here one day. xo

  9. Anita- Christmas at the Biltmore is amazing. We were there about 5 years ago on the day they brought the big tree into the main room with the horse drawn sleigh- It was amazing. xo Diana

  10. You are without a doubt one of the most gifted and creative people I "know". I love all the costumes. I would love to see you all in person and in action. I've been to the Biltmore and loved it. I think it would be a great place to go at Christmas.