I started by cheating.
Yes, cheating. I knew that I couldn’t get started on my dress until I had the correct underpinnings, and I didn’t have the energy to make myself a hoop skirt from scratch, so I bought the biggest one I could find on eBay– a 6-hoop skirt that was at least made from cotton, so it wasn’t quite as bad as shiny polyester. Don’t I get credit for that much?
Anyway, I knew from experience that the hoops on these cheap skirts are adjustable in size, so once it arrived I tried it on and took a look to see what needed to be done. Continue reading
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):
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!
To really get the elegant silhouette of an 1890s ballgown I needed a good petticoat to go under the skirt. Just like the skirt, it would be relatively narrow at the top with a really wide hem for maximum swishiness. I made it out of 5 yards of white polyester taffeta.
I knew when I decided to make a day dress that I would need an appropriate bonnet to go with it– after all, I would be spending some of the afternoon outside, and no self-respecting lady would be seen outdoors without a head covering of some kind! A little searching found several tutorials about the simplest way to make a bonnet from a standard straw hat (here’s the best one I found), and when I located a straw hat at my local vintage clothing store for the low, low price of $0.00 (I had a free coupon for $10 credit– the hat itself was priced at $8) I snapped it up. The brim was a little smaller than I’d have liked, but for a free hat I wasn’t going to complain.
Once I had my design, it was just a matter of cutting the pieces out. The great part about this tabard is that it’s just geometry– no detailed ins and outs or anything like that. The only thing I had to worry about was getting the nap of the fabric right– because two of the arcs were facing in basically the same direction while the third was opposite, I cut the odd one in half to form the half-arc inserts, figuring that it would be better to keep things symmetrical. Interestingly, once things were cut and pinned there was surprisingly little difference between the two directions, so it didn’t matter much in the end.