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!

 

Regency Muslin Shift

regency-shift

When I made my first Regency dress, I wasn’t sure if I’d be sticking with the period for costuming so I didn’t bother making the necessary underpinnings. As a result, my outfit was nice but didn’t have the little details that make an outfit look really right. Now that I’ve really gotten into the sewing, however, I need to build the outfit from the inside out.

I have a mostly irrational fear of making structured/tailored garments, so I found an Etsy seller (Beth is awesome!) to make me a set of short stays– they turned out quite well, and I saved a little money by agreeing to hand-sew the thread eyelets myself. In the process, I learned how to do buttonhole stitch, so that was an added bonus!

But of course, once I had the stays I needed a shift to wear underneath them– not only to keep them clean, but also to keep things… er… contained up top. I picked up 3 yards of bleached fine muslin at the fabric store (not as nice as my sheer cotton voile, but much cheaper and probably sturdier), and got to work.

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My Fair Lady Ballgown, Part XI: More Appliqués

I know, you’re probably curious to know what happened with the sequins, but you’ll need to wait until later because I had to get the center panel’s appliqués done first. The larger floral appliqués I ordered were some of the last components to arrive, which is why I had to leave it for so long. I bought both venise and alencon lace appliqués because I wasn’t sure which would work better– neither were quite in the same style as the other trims, but I thought they’d work out all right.

embassy-appliques

You can see in the reference images below that there are leafy floral motifs at the center front and sides of the center panel, and smallish motifs at the high points of the swags of trim around the hem.

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My Fair Lady Ballgown, Part VIII: Stitched Sequins

embassy-embroidered

After I attached the beaded fringe on the neckline and sleeves of the dress, I did some hand-stitching of sequins. I had not originally realized that this would be involved, but closer examination of the sleeve decoration showed that the straight lines (and by extension, the straight line segments at the neckline and hem of the dress) were not baguette sequins or beads, but were actually alternating lines of sequins and what looked like stylized vines with sequin leaves. See?

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So I bought a bunch of clear 4mm sequins to go with my silver 4mm sequins, and got to work. Again, to assist in accurate placement I ran basting stitches of white thread to mark the lines. Then I used ivory embroidery thread to stitch down lines of silver sequins and to make the central vines for the clear sequins. I used a basic running stitch– since the net is see-through, the stitching looks like a solid line. I then used regular white sewing thread (finer but still visible to match the original) to stitch clear sequins along the edges of the vines.

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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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