1920s Blue Pintucked Dress

blue-1920s

So while I was working out the bodice block pattern for my green 1920s dress, I did some experimenting to determine whether I wanted to do a pintucked detail at the shoulders. I thought that the tucks might be a good way to narrow the shoulders while still allowing more space through the torso and around the hips, so I gave it a try on an early mockup made of a blue cotton sheet, figuring I could always cut it narrower if it didn’t work out.

I started out by cutting my torso piece as a rectangle instead of a trapezoid– the difference meant that each piece (front and back) was about 4″ wider at the top than it had to be. To take in the extra width I stitched in four 1/4″ tucks on either side of the neckline before stitching together the shoulder seams, grading the tucks so they were longest towards the center and shortest towards the armholes. They actually looked pretty decent once the shoulder and side seams were done, and they did provide a little shaping in the shoulders that let the dress hang nicely without needing an underarm dart.

blue-shoulder-tucks

In fact, despite the fact that I eventually decided not to do pintucks on the green dress, I liked the effect so much that I decided I might as well complete the mockup, so as to have another option to wear to future events.

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Green Striped 1920s Dress, Part III: Construction

green-1920s.jpg

Once I got all of my pieces properly cut out, assembly *should have* been fairly straightforward.  Do you sense foreshadowing here? Because you ought to. I’ll tell you now, after this series of disasters I went to bed vowing that I would just scrap the whole dress and wear the blue one instead… but the next morning I decided to give it one more try, and eventually managed to salvage the project.

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My Fair Lady Ballgown, Part XI: Supply List

Now that the outfit is done, I figured I could take some time to provide resources for any other would-be Eliza Doolittles!

I will note that I wasn’t able to make my dress exactly screen-accurate– I didn’t locate all of my reference images until I’d already done some of the work, and it wasn’t worth it to me to re-do things like the embroidery on the center skirt panel to get it exactly right. I did, however, try to reproduce the original as best I could under the circumstances. For what it’s worth, the dress has about 7,000 individually-applied sequins and rhinestones, so you’d better be up for a lot of handwork!

Here’s what I used to make the dress:

Materials:

Bias-cut ivory gown (purchased)

4 yards ivory English net, 56″ wide

3 yards clear beaded teardrop fringe

At least 8 yards of 1/2″ wide ivory floral trim

4 yards 1 1/2″ wide scalloped ivory trim

5 yards 1″ wide ivory trim

2 yards each of 2.9cm and 3.2cm round floral trim to make round appliques.

1440 ss10 rhinestones, 1440 ss20 rhinestones, 288 ss30 rhinestones, 144 ss50 rhinestones, all in clear flatback (no AB, no hot-fix) (I had a ton left over, especially of the ss30 and ss50 sizes, but these quantities were pretty inexpensive from this seller so it’s better to have too many than too few!)

4mm and 6mm round flat sequins in “moonshine”

4mm round flat sequins in silver

Gem-Tac adhesive (I only needed one large bottle, using syringes as applicators)

Invisible thread

So, final notes and tips:

  1. Definitely use blunt-needle syringes as applicators for the sequins and rhinestones. Once they’re full of glue you can store them point-down with the needle tips in a mug with about an inch or water in the bottom, and they’ll stay usable almost indefinitely. The water keeps the glue from drying inside the needle section, though Gem-Tac does occasionally get clumpy so I can’t promise you won’t need to occasionally swear a little as you un-clog the needle by soaking it in hot water. I worked with two syringes at once so I’d be sure to have a working one at all times.
  2. Toothpicks (the blunt ends) were perfectly good tools for picking up sequins and the tiny rhinestones. I wouldn’t bother with Q-tips or the special wax sticks you can find online.
  3. If you can’t find perfect appliques, don’t be afraid to cut apart/combine other appliques to get the effect you’re going for. Particularly since this gown has so much sparkle on it, no one will be looking closely enough at the precise type of lace you’re using to see if it matches everywhere.
  4. While it might seem easier to do the embellishment on the overgown before attaching it to the undergown, I think that it’s necessary to have the whole thing hanging on a dress form before you finalize the placement of the swags and appliques. Otherwise you might end up placing something incorrectly and not finding out until it’s too late to fix.
  5. Don’t finalize any embellishments at the hem until you’ve tried on the mostly-embellished gown and ensured that the net hasn’t stretched out. Don’t store the dress on a hanger or dress form– keep it flat to avoid further stretching. It may also be a good idea to leave the bottom few inches relatively plain in case you need to hem it again later and don’t want to lose detail.

And of course, if anyone needs help with laying out embellishments or figuring out how best to drape the dress, feel free to comment on this post and I’ll try to respond! Good luck!

Green Striped 1920s Dress, Part II: Pattern and Cutting

Unlike my last two 1920s dresses, I decided that I wanted to make this one with just a tiny bit more shaping than the standard “cut two rectangles and sew up the sides” that I’d been using before. I’d never really drafted my own pattern before for something like this, so I did a little reading and got started!

I started by digging out the mockup I’d made for my white embroidered dress— it was actually in reasonably good shape, so I laid it out on a roll of paper and drew out the basic rectangle pattern to begin. I cut it out of an old sheet, stitched together the shoulder and side seams, and tried it on. Not particularly flattering.

I decided that if I was going to omit the kimono sleeves from the original, I would need to narrow the torso around the bust and shoulders for a better fit– my hips are just too big to cut a straight rectangle and expect it to fit all the way up and down. After some experiments with pintucks (more on that in the next post), I ended up cutting a slightly trapezoidal shift dress, which fit a bit better but still pulled oddly at the sides and gaped at the armholes.

Based on a very useful tutorial I proceeded to pinch out a dart in the armhole, then rotate it around to the side seam. Cutting a final mockup, I was at last happy with the fit– somehow the added shaping at the bust helped the whole thing hang properly, so it was straight up and down both front and back, with no weird pulling at my backside or hips.

I transferred the new pattern to fresh paper so I would have it for future dresses.

1920s-pattern.jpg

Once that was set, I cut out my green striped fabric. And it was there that I made my first mistake. Or rather, my second, but I didn’t realize that until later.

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My Fair Lady Ballgown, Part X: Final Photos!

I can’t believe that I’m finally done with this project! I’ve been wanting to make this gown for so long that it’s just amazing to see the finished product and know all the work that went into it– I think the last time I was this thrilled with a costume gown was my very first foray into costuming, when I made a noblewoman’s outfit for the Renaissance Faire as a high school sophomore. (That dress had tons of hand-beading as well, so maybe it’s the sense of accomplishment after doing hours of detailing work?)

Anyway, here are some photos taken the talented DROO Photographer, at the convention I attended (sadly, the sparkles really don’t come through in photos the way they do in real life):

DRO_9887 revised.jpg

DRO_9891

DRO_9885 revised

And all of the links to the progress posts:

Part I: Inspiration

Part II: Underdress

Part III: Selecting Overgown Embellishments

Part IV: Overgown Construction

Part V: Appliques and Trim

Part VI: Neckline and Sleeve Beaded Trim

Part VII: Tiara

Part VIII: Stitched Sequins

Part IX: Rhinestone Choker

Part X: Sequin and Rhinestone Swags

Part XI: More Appliques

Part XII: Sequins Redux

Part XIII: Paillettes and Rhinestones

Part IX: HAIR!

 

My Fair Lady Ballgown, Part IX: HAIR!

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(Yes, I realize it’s been ages since I posted about this outfit, but I needed to get photos back to complete these posts! Forgive me?)

That’s right, today we’re talking about HAIR. Not just “hair,” but HAIR. Seriously, it’s deserving of all caps in this context. After all, you didn’t think I’d go to an event decked out in this gloriously glittery gown without correspondingly fabulous hair, did you? Of course not– you know me better than that!

So yes, Audrey Hepburn had some seriously gigantic hair in the Embassy Ball scenes– obviously not Edwardian in style, but hey, filmmakers in the in the sixties loved the gargantuan updos, so who am I to quibble when it comes to making the ensemble recognizable? Let’s take a closer look at it, shall we?

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Green Striped 1920s Dress, Part I: Design and Fabric

1920s green sketch

So last year I attended a Roaring 20s Lawn Party in this One-Hour Dress made of antique white embroidered fabric. However, as much as I liked the dress in theory, I have to admit it was not the most flattering of frocks– too straight, no movement, and the embellishment just kind of faded into the background. With the event coming up again this year, I decided to give the 1920s another shot! I searched for some appropriate fabric for inspiration, going through several design iterations based on various options…

1920s options

But I finally decided on this one, which I designed after seeing some sheer cotton striped batiste in a pale green. The fabric just looked so fresh and springy that I had to have it!

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Unlike my previous 1920s dresses, this one has a waist seam, which will allow me to play with the skirt a bit more. The front and back panels of the skirt are flat, but the sides will be cut out of quarter-circles for a bit more fullness and movement.

You can also see that I’ve sketched in some floral decorations at the hip and shoulder– I haven’t yet decided whether those will be pre-made embroidered ribbon appliques (I ordered some on Etsy but they may not arrive in time), or flowers that I’ll make from hand-dyed ribbon. I’ll decide once the dress is made and I can get a better idea of what scale of embellishment would look better.

The main fabric is so sheer that it definitely needs another layer, so never fear, I also ordered a yard of plain pale green voile to make a slip to wear underneath.