Once the tea gown was wearable, I added a few extra bits and bobs.
First, covered buttons. I bought several sizes, since I didn’t know which would look best on the finished gown, and ended up using sizes 45, 36, and 30 on the top, and sizes 60, 45, and another 45 on the bottom, all covered in turquoise dupioni. (I tried using 60, 45, and 36 on the bottom but it just didn’t look right) I stitched them not only to the lapels themselves but also to the gown fabric behind them, so they kept the lapels from flipping forward. I will note that I bent the wire shanks slightly so the buttons would stay flatter against the fabric.
I also added two size 24 buttons to the cuff of each sleeve, and let me tell you, covering buttons that small is kind of a pain. Quick tip: don’t try cutting out circles to the correct size and maneuvering them into the mold– instead, cut out larger pieces of fabric, push them into the mold with the button-top, and then trim around them.
Next, I made a decorative mini-belt to span the waistline in the front between the lapels. I’d originally intended it to be just a shaped piece of fabric, maybe with some piping along the edges, but my ambitions got the better of me and I changed it out for an elaborate frog closure made out of self-fabric cording. I made the cording from bias strips of my two main fabrics using this technique. Remember, to make a particular length of finished cording you need interior cording that’s *twice as long* as your finished length– otherwise you won’t have any cord inside your fabric tubing when you turn it inside out!
I used narrow nylon cord for my inner cording, which gave it a little body but wasn’t too thick. The turquoise dupioni was easy to work with, but the embroidered sections on the main fabric made it really difficult to turn inside-out, particularly given how narrow the cord was. If you’re making your own I would counsel against embroidered fabric– the embroidery barely even shows and it makes everything harder. I did try making a wider cord using fluffy yarn on the inside (didn’t have anything else) but it just didn’t work as well– it flattened out too easily when bent, and the width ended up being too much for my design. You can see it below, but I didn’t end up using it.
Once I had my cording I tried several different designs, including Celtic-style knots and more traditional frog-type closures. To work it out I pinned the cords to a throw pillow and adjusted them until I had the right size and design.
Once the design was set I hand-stitched everything together on the back side so the it would stay together without being visibly stitched.
Then I stitched it firmly to the waist of the teagown on one side, adding a size 30 button to the center just for looks. I added a hook and eye to the other side of the closure to hold it in place, but there’s no real strain on it– all of that is on the waist stay and the snap tape.
And it’s done! Once I actually wear this to Costume College I’ll get some better photos!