Hello everyone! It’s that time of the year again where I make a dramatic holiday themed gown, and photograph it at a local Christmas Tree Farm.
This year I was inspired by a beautiful green velvet I found at joanns – I knew it needed to be turned into an elaborate velvet robe or cloak of some sort, and paired with an equally striking dress.
I raided my stash for fabrics to match it, and came across a seven yard cut of silk satin. The sheen and contrast of the white satin against the green was lovely. So then there was the matter of what I should make with it. I ended up turning to the 17th century for inspiration, and came up with a relatively simple dress design based on paintings from the 1630s.
Or at least a design that looks quite simple. Dresses from the 1630s were worn without foundation garments, instead the structure was built into the bodice of the dresses. Meaning making one is sort of like making a set of stays…and also making a dress. Plus dresses from this era had cartridge pleats and hidden closures which are always more time consuming than the alternatives.
To prevent the dress from being boring, I decided to decorate it with jeweled details. These were made by sewing glass montees, pearls, and brass cameo frames masquerading as gold settings onto organza ribbon. The ribbon drapes over the shoulders of the dress and is supported by the volume of the sleeves, and a pin at the centerfront.
I made a matching necklace as well, and a coordinating waistband. I think the end result is quite lovely! I don’t have photos of the construction process, but a video showing all the steps can be found below, along with photos of the finished garment.
Now for the robe! As I said, this was made from a velvet I found at joanns, and served as the main inspiration for this project…even though I couldn’t start on it until finishing the dress that goes underneath it!
Because the dress was so time consuming to construct, it was kind of a mad dash to get this done in the end. But I managed!
Like the dress, this was self drafted. The bodice pattern was draped over top of the finished gown, and is a single piece with a separate panel at the front that forms a lapel. I had this vision from the very start of a lapel or collar turning into a hood – which is created by sewing the hood in between the layers of the collar by hand.
The hood was the most challenging part of this project, it went through six different mockups, with lots of changes between them. I started by making it a heavily gathered rectangle with sloped sides, but thought it would be too bulky in the collar. Then it was shaped with darts. Then the darts were combined and replaced with a single seam. Then it was taken in by a lot. Then more darts were added for further shaping. And it was taken in some more. And here we are!
The brim of the hood is reinforced with three layers of ban-roll and two pieces of plastic boning so it holds itself open.
For once, the sleeves were the easy part. Their pattern was based on the one used for the satin dress, but altered to have more volume and more of a bell shape. The sleeves are split at the shoulder seam of the robe, revealing the satin sleeves worn underneath it. The bottom edge has a drawstring in it to allow for adjustments.
I intended on having the robe tie at the waist, revealing the dress beneath it. But I added closures all the way to the neck to allow for more options. And I actually love how it looks all buttoned up! It causes the hood to sit so nicely over the shoulders.
Also it’s not technically buttoned up. It actually closes with rhinestone encrusted clasps, that were set alongside pearls to make them look more fancy. Speaking of fancy, the robe has a belt sewn to the waist with beading similar to that featured on the dress, made up of pearls and glass montees.
The video below goes through the construction process in detail.
Overall, I’m very happy with this project! I hope you like it too, and thanks so much for reading. I hope you have a wonderful holiday~!