My Fair Lady Ballgown, Part III: Selecting Overgown Embellishments

When I first started this projects I started bookmarking every applique, trim, rhinestone, or other embellishment that I thought might be useful in recreating the lavishly beaded overgown. There were so many options!

It looks as though there are a few different types of embellishment:

  1. Narrow trim down the center front that outlines the central panel. This appears vaguely floral in design and may or may not also be used to outline swags around the hem of the dress. It looks to be about 1/2″ wide.
  2. Circular embroidered motifs that are graduated in size– the largest appear to be about 1.5″ in diameter, and it looks as though the largest few sizes are pad-stitched with a bead or rhinestone in the center.
  3. Narrow embroidered trim around the very bottom edge of the hem. It appears scalloped on a large scale, but it’s tough to see detail.
  4. Filler appliques of some kind to embellish specific points on the gown– for example, the center front of the skirt and the high points of the swags I mentioned earlier.
  5. Clear rhinestones, sequins, and beads in various sizes.
  6. Baguette beads or sequins sewn in straight, short lines.

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The hardest thing to find was the graduated circular motifs– I had no means of embroidering them from scratch to the right size, and I didn’t fancy the idea of making ribbon rosettes or something similar because they would be too three-dimensional to really mimic the original gown. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t find any plain circular or oval appliques or trims that came in enough different sizes to get the graduated look. I opted instead to go with floral appliques (cut from yards of trim) that were daisy shaped– I stacked two together, slightly offset so the petals formed a more continuous circle. They weren’t perfect, but they were the best I could come up with. Also, the floral appliques seemed to coordinate better with the narrow trims and other appliques available– they all seemed to be very floral rather than geometric.

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And here are the rest of the trims I purchased– a narrow floral trim, a wavier trim for the swags above the hem, and a scalloped trim for the hem itself:

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I next purchased 6,000 sequins. That’s right, six THOUSAND. They’re 4mm flat silver sequins, and I’m sure I bought too many, but better too many than too few (especially at $3.00 for 1,500 sequins). You can see in the photos above that they’re all over the gown, so I wanted to make sure I got those right.

embassy-sequins

I also got a package of 200 sequins in 10mm size for accents, since I need something for the centers of the circles and you can also see some rows of larger round sequins in the pictures. Sadly, they have not yet arrived from my supplier, so we’ll see how they look when they get here. I will note that there appear to be clear/translucent white sequins on the gown as well, at least in some areas. (you can see them on the sleeve detail below) I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll use those, since they tend to discolor over time.

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Finally, I bought 1,440 5mm clear rhinestones (ss20), 288 6.3mm rhinestones (ss30), and 144 10mm rhinestones (ss50). Looking closely at the pictures of the dress I’m not entirely sure that there are actually rhinestones on it, but I figured that they would be nice accents to sprinkle here and there in lieu of beads, which are most assuredly on the original (but which I’d have to sew on individually, and that is SO not happening).

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So there you have it. All of the trims I’m going to load onto this dress. Wow, seems like a lot. Now all I need to do is actually stitch together the overgown…

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