This weeks project is one I’ve had roughly planned ever since I saw the first season of Downton Abbey and fell in love with this dress. I love the deep green color, and how elaborate it is while still being simple in design. Back in April I bought four yards of green satin faced chiffon with plans to make something similar.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find an eleborate lace in a matching color, so I decide to make my dress a bit simpler. After some more research I came across this dress, which I really like (especially the lace undershirt and use of black netting), along with these dresses.
The finished dress takes inspiration from all of them – plus some stuff I made up!
I didn’t take any pictures of the drafting process, but the bodice is a simple three panel pattern with darts to shape the back and front. The skirt is also three pieces, with a straight front, flared sides and a bit of gathering at the back.
I cut all the pieces out from a light green polyester charmeuse that I picked up for $4/yd during my shopping trip in Pennsylvania. It was a tight fit, but I managed to get all the pieces cut from the three yards I had.
The skirt panels were sewn together with one inch seam allowances. I left the edges raw, and facing outward since the satin faced chiffon will cover them.
I leveled the hem since it was a bit wonky, then sewed horsehair braid into it to give the skirt a bit more body. I also sewed the darts into the bodice, and the waist seam.
Then I repeated the process with the bodice – here you can see it on the dress form, along with some matching appliques I found on etsy. The darts on this didn’t turn out very well since satin faced chiffon is a pain to sew with, but luckily it wasn’t too noticeable in the end.
I cut the skirt out of satin faced chiffon too, then sewed the pieces together. I trimmed the hem and turned it inward by a half inch, then inward by another half inch to create a rolled hem that was whip stitched in place by hand.
I sewed the chiffon to the charmeuse around the neckline, with the right side of the satin facing the wrong side of the charmeuse. Then I basted the layers together around the arm openings and waistline.
I sewed some black lace around the neckline by hand, then placed the appliques. It took me longer than I would like to admit to get these symmetrical, but I’m happy with the end result.
I should mention that the appliques match the fabric perfectly, but something about the sheen of the chiffon makes it look teal in photos rather than the emerald green it actually is.
(I made sure to confirm this with every member of my family so I know I’m not crazy)
I’ll edit the color balance in worn photos of it if it becomes necessary, but I couldn’t be bothered for the progress photos.
I sewed the appliques on and now it was time for sequins. A couple years ago a follower of my blog (I’m not sure if she would want her name mentioned) was kind enough to send me some beautiful vintage sequins. I’ve used the clear ones on a few projects, but this was the first time I had a project suitable for the black ones.
I can’t even tell you how excited I was to finally work with these – look at all those colors! They are black but shine purple and green, almost like an oil slick effect.
I started off with just a few around the neckline, and some on the sides of the waistband (which is just a gathered rectangle of mesh).
But I quickly came to my senses and realized it needed way more sequins, which led to this!
This shows the sheen of the fabric (and the sequins) a bit better. I think it’s a pretty dreamy combo!
After a fitting I realized the lining was visible below the hem of the satin faced chiffon, so I raised the hem with a horizontal dart a few inches below the waistline. This way I didn’t have to mess with the horsehair braid in the hem.
Speaking of the hem, I decorated it with some green lace that was stitched on by hand (which once again, matches the fabric but doesn’t look that way in photos) and more sequins. The trim had little swirls that were perfect for embellishments.
I sewed the back seam of the charmeuse and satin faced chiffon separately, and left the top eight inches of the skirt open. Then I turned that edge, along with the back edge of the bodice inward by an inch. Then I turned it inward again and whip stitched it down.
The back closes with hooks and bars. I sewed the waistband down to either side of the closure point, and when it’s worn the waistband ties in a bow.
It isn’t the prettiest bow, but it’s still a bow!
Now it was time for sleeves! These are just simple straight sleeves I drafted, then cut from the satin faced chiffon and charmeuse. The hem is finished with black lace, and a doubled band of netting. I embellished the hem with some sequins and finished the top edge with lace binding.
The arm openings of the dress were finished with lace binding too, then the sleeves were sewn on by machine.
There are a few pulls in the sleeves that I’ll have to steam out, but other than that the dress is finished! I really love how it turned out. It’s the elegant, sparkly, simple, edwardian gown I’ve always wanted, and I can’t wait to get photos of it!
The construction isn’t my best, but I don’t think you can tell from the finished dress. I think it’s pretty lovely for a week and a half of work and less than fifty dollars of material!
I intend to wear that dress over a blouse, as inspired by this dress. I don’t think it’s necessary for modesty like it is with that gown, but high lace collars are a big part of the early 1900’s, so I wanted to have the option.
I made this from scraps of silk satin I had leftover from a chemise, and a piece of lace that was slightly larger than a fat quarter. Since I didn’t have enough lace for the whole blouse, I made half of it from muslin, and used lace trim down the center of the sleeves and back.
I don’t think I took any progress photos of this, but it was pretty easy to make. There was just a lot of hand sewing since the lace was sewn to lace trim, then basted to satin.
The back closes with snaps.
I think they look very pretty together!
To finish off the ensemble I made a headband. I started with a strip of black mesh, then chopped the lace trim I had leftover from the hem into tiny appliques. These were sewn on by hand, with gaps left in between.
I covered the gaps and edges with sequins, then whip stitched the visible netting inward.
And the final touch were some dyed feathers I got in the garment district last year. I glued most of these onto the underside of the headband with E6000.
And that’s it! I haven’t tried all the pieces on together, but I plan to this weekend so I can get photographs of it. It’s so different from the other projects I’ve been working on recently and I adore the end result. Though part of that probably has to do with the materials – emerald green satin faced chiffon and vintage sequins do a lot of the work for you!
Thanks for reading!