Making a Pink Sateen Ball Gown, 1860’s Inspired, Part Four

Here it is, the final post about my lacy 19th century confection! If you haven’t already, definitely check out the first few posts about this project. They can be found here, here, and here. They will make this post a lot easier to follow!

The final thing I had to make for my dress were bows. I didn’t have enough material left over to make them as large and frilly as I wanted, but they still turned out okay! The first step was cutting out the rectangles…

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Then the slightly longer rectangles were trimmed so the sides ended in points.

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I didn’t have very much lace left over, so I ended up trimming these pieces (which will be the tails) with the offcuts from cutting the lace to be more narrow. Not ideal but better than nothing!

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And what little lace I had left went onto the rectangles that make up the bows. Since only one side will be visible I decided to only sew lace onto half of each rectangle.

DSC_5810After it was sewn on I ironed the edges inward. Now this is where I should have hand sewed the edges down to finish them nicely.

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But I didn’t do that because I was feeling lazy, so instead I used strips of fusible interfacing to keep the edges down. Not my best work, and I kind of regret not taking a few hours to sew these properly, but I had been working on this project for soo long at this point and saving an hour of time was too tempting to resist.

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I gathered the tails down with two rows of stitching that are an inch apart.

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The rectangles for the bows were folded in half, then sewn together and gathered down in the same way.

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Then I pleated the bows to make the centers smaller.

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Look at all of them!

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The tails were tacked onto the backs.

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Then I cut much smaller rectangles out which will make up the centers of the bows. The edges of these were ironed inward and finished with interfacing (does that even count as finishing?). To make them a bit prettier I sewed on bits of alencon lace trim.

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All finished! I love bows, they are cute.

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Somewhere along the way I finished sewing on the scalloped panels, which left the skirt looking like this.

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Then I trimmed twelve inches of fabric off the back of the skirt, since there was a big gab between the scalloped panels there that didn’t look good. I finished the raw edge of the back panels with lace tape, which was sewn on by hand since dragging this skirt through my sewing machine is really difficult (it weighs eight pounds!).

I also sewed up the back seam (this time I did use my machine) leaving the top ten inches open to make it easy to get on and off.

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And now it was time for attaching the bows.

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There was still a slight gap between the scalloped panels, but nothing a bit of lace and a bow can’t fix.

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Here is a close up of it before the bow.

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Tah dah! I used a bit of the leftover chantilly lace and sewed it between the panels. Then slapped a bow over it and it’s perfect!

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I cut out the waistband from the skirt offcuts, then fused interfacing into it to keep it smooth. The edges were all turned inward by a half inch.

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I sewed it on with a half inch seam allowance.

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Then folded it over the raw edge and pinned the other side to the line of stitching. This means the bulk of the skirt will be in the waistband, but since the skirt was pleated (as opposed to being gathered) it doesn’t look too bad.

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This edge was whip stitched down.

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The skirt closed with four hooks and bars.

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Quick fitting to make sure everything looks okay. The waistband was perfect, the only problem was a bit of visible petticoat the back seam where it was left open. To fix that I sewed in a modesty panel and the skirt was finished!

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The skirt needing a modesty panel reminded me to add one to the bodice. Which reminded me that I still hadn’t finished sequining the bodice, nor had I fixed the gap in lace on the back of it. Luckily, much like with the skirt, a bow fixed the gap in lace and upped it’s cuteness factor!

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And that’s it for the dress! But are we done yet? No. Of course not.
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For accessories I bought a necklace (which probably isn’t accurate) from forever 21, and a pair of lacy shoes from Funtusma (definitely not accurate). Unfortunately the petticoat issue forced me to wear higher heels with this skirt instead of my pretty boots but i’m determined to wear them with a different costume someday.

The final thing I needed was a headpiece. In the 1860’s evening caps or headbands were the most popular. I made mine a combination of the two. It’s made from interfacing strips with wire sewn into the edges. It’s covered with bias tape made from the sateen and has a chantilly lace ruffle across the back.

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I covered the top with alencon lace trim that was further embellished with sequins, faux pearls, and pink seed beads – the same beads used to detail the bodice and sleeves.

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Then I used some fake flowers and metal beads to add volume to the sides.

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Now it looked weird, which means it’s perfect because these headpieces were pretty weird.

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And that’s actually it! Every piece is complete (and fits)! Which means it’s time for some worn photos. I’d love to get more photos of this in a better environment, because (shockingly) it against a white backdrop with dim lighting doesn’t really do it justice. But for now these will have to do!

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Bonus: My dress compared to the one that inspired it.

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And compared to the sketch I made before starting – it isn’t too far off!

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That’s it for today – thanks for reading!

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Making a Pink Sateen Ball Gown, 1860’s Inspired, Part Three

It’s taken me two months but I finally have another post about making my 1860’s ball gown! I’ve already showed the process of making the bodice and sleeves, and today i’ll be going through the first steps in making the matching skirt.

The skirt wasn’t hard to make, it’s just massive so every step involved in making it was time consuming. And the underskirts for it took up half my sewing room, so working on it was a commitment which required packing away the other things I had in progress. Because of this it took ages to finish, but it’s finally done!

The first step in making this skirt was making the support structure for it. When photographing a more casual 1860’s costume I had success with layering petticoats over my farthingale to get the shape of an elliptical hoop. I decided to use this method again, but instead of pinning existing petticoats onto the farthingale, i’d make a massive one to sit overtop of it.

I thought this was a great idea. It meant I didn’t have to buy sixty dollars worth of hooping wire (and wait for it to arrive), and I thought it would save time since even if I did make a new hoop skirt, i’d still have to make a petticoat to go overtop of it to smooth out the shape.

This was stupid. It didn’t save time at all. In fact i’m pretty sure it took me twice as long to make this petticoat than it would have to make a new hoop skirt and a smaller petticoat. I also massively screwed up my neck while making it since I was hunched over my machine hemming for days…

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And the petticoat didn’t really work. Because it collapsed.  And by that I mean the netting compacted under the weight of all the ruffles, making it much smaller (and longer!) than it was originally, so it doesn’t have the silhouette i’d wanted at all. I tried steaming it and storing it in a variety of different ways (laid flat, hanging upside down, laying upside down, on the dress form, etc.) but it refused to come back to life.

Because of all that i’m not going to talk about how I made it, but you can see photos of it above. Those were taken right after it was finished, before it started collapsing and losing it’s shape. You’ll probably notice it looking smaller (and sadder) throughout this post, and now you’ll know why!

*bonus photo of petticoat standing on its own looking like a creepy ruffly ghost haunting me with its failed ruffly potential*

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After the petticoat disaster I did look into making a proper elliptical hoop, but it turns out hooping wire has been discontinued! And the replacement is twice the price, meaning the hoopskirt would cost more than the dress did to make.

Plus by this point the skirt was finished and made to fit over the petticoat/farthingale combo, and likely wouldn’t hang properly over an elliptical hoop without major alterations. I still haven’t figured out a solution for this, so unfortunately my dress doesn’t have the silhouette i’d hoped it would. But it’s still ruffly and pretty so i’m going to talk about it anyway!

When it came to actually making the skirt, I failed to photograph the first few steps. But they weren’t very interesting anyway.

I began by cutting out eight strips of fabric that were seventeen inches wide. I sewed them all together with french seams, and hemmed them by machine with lace tape.

Then I cut the borders off three yards of alencon lace fabric. This particular lace had two thin borders on each edge which could be fussy cut away from the mesh and serve as lace trim. It took me a few hours (and a few hand cramps) but eventually I got all the lace cut out. Then I sewed it onto the bottom edge of the massive strip I assembled earlier – by hand, of course.

The top edge of the strip was gathered down by hand until it was five yards long. Then it was set aside and I got to work on the rest of the skirt.

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I put the petticoats onto my dress form, then adjusted the form to sit at my height. I measured from the waistline to the floor at a half dozen points and wrote the measurements down. Then I came up with a simple seven panel pattern for the skirt that could be cut from the fabric I had leftover.

The pieces were cut to sit approximately ten inches off the ground, with the hem trimmed to a more even length after I figured out the pleating of the waistline.

I could have sworn I took photos of my pattern, but this is the only one I have. I believe this was one of the back panels (maybe?)

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They were all sewn together with french seams, though the back was left open to make embellishing the skirt easier.

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After sewing the panels together I pleated the waistline. It has three double box pleats at the sides and front, and double knife pleats at the back.

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I’m so grateful I cut the pieces to be longer than I thought they needed to be. Though each panel should have hat 5 inches to spare, some were just barely long enough!

And I know it looks really messy here, but it will be steamed and trimmed later on which makes a huge difference.

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I sewed across the top of the skirt to secure the pleats.

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Then I pinned the ruffle onto the skirt and fiddled with it until I was happy with the length. I looked at a lot of evening dresses from this period and many of them had long hems that dragged on the ground, so I chose to leave mine long as well.

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I used a pen to mark where the hem should be cut. This was marked before removing the ruffle.

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After trimming the hem I pinned the ruffle on. Even though I gathered the ruffle down long before knowing the exact size of the skirt, it ended up being the perfect length! It was only off by a half inch, which was a very happy surprise.

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Here is the skirt after sewing the ruffle on.

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At this point I chose to do a try on test with the skirt and realized it was a bit too long (and one side was longer than the other). I didn’t want to hem the skirt again, so I chose to sew a half inch wide seam a few inches above where the skirt attached. This lifted the hem by an inch.

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Now it was time for the frills. In my original sketch i’d planned on doing scalloped panels that were embellished with lace appliques and covered with gathered tulle, which is the same technique used on the collar of the bodice. This was challenging since I didn’t have very much cotton sateen left over, but I managed!

Step one was draping the scalloped pattern.

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I transferred it to paper and cut out five from the sateen. Since I was working with limited materials, some of the panels had seams running through them or were made from multiple pieces sewn together.

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Then I fussy cut out a ton of appliques and pinned them onto the scalloped pieces. The tulle overlay will be denser near the edges so I kept the appliques towards the center of each piece.

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They were all sewn on by hand.

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Then I gathered down strips of tulle and sewed them onto the top edge of each piece.

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The bottom edges were gathered down as well, then sewn in place. The excess tulle was trimmed away.

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For maximum frillyness I wanted the edges of the scallops to be finished will lace. I ordered twenty yards of trim from etsy, which was advertised as being white but was actually light blue! Luckily all it took was a two minute bath in tetly tea to get it to a more neutral ivory.

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I trimmed the lace to be one inch wide, then pinned it onto the edges of the panels.

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The lace was sewn on with a half inch seam allowance.

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Then I turned the lace inward and sewed it in place by hand to avoid visible topstitching. The finished edges looked like this!

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Of course they still weren’t finished. There weren’t even any ruffles on them! To fix that I sewed together four pieces of chantilly lace to make a twelve yard strip.

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Then I gathered the top edge down by pushing it under the presser foot as I sewed.

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The lace was sewn onto the hem of each scalloped panel, and now they were finally done!

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Look at this stack of them.

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Before attaching them to the skirt I decided to jazz the skirt up a bit with some more alencon lace. I debated about whether  or not to use so much of this lace (since it isn’t very accurate) but ended up going for it since it’s so pretty.

These are also lace borders that were fussy cut out, but these ones are much wider.

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I sewed the widest one onto the front of the skirt, and the narrower one onto the back. This was stitched on by hand as well, which took quite a while. Here you can see it pinned in place.

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And here it’s sewn on!

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The lace originally came up higher at the center front, but I cut it down to a more even length since I thought this was a bit too much. Also the gap between the lace and the ruffle is intentional, since the scalloped panels will cover that area up.DSC_5688

After another fitting (this was after my petticoat problems) I realized the skirt was now too short. So I removed the seam I made earlier. This was kind of a pain since some of the lace trim was sewn overtop of it, but it ended up working out alright.

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Now the scalloped panels could finally be pinned in place!

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This photo shows them before they were sewn on, but I think it gives you a good idea of how they look!

And with this, I finally reached adequate levels of frilliness.

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The next post will cover adding the bows (did you think I would forget bows?!) and boring stuff like the waistband and closure methods. I’ll also have worn photos up along with it!

If you want a sneak peek of all that, I do talk a bit about this project in my most recent weekly progress log!

Thanks for reading!

Making a Pink Sateen Ball Gown, 1860’s Inspired, Part One

Today i’m blogging about another bodice that I have in progress. This one is based on one of my favorite 19th century dresses, which was worn by Countess Anna von Hallwyl in 1865. The portrait of her wearing it can be seen here, and the actual dress can be seen here. I’m pretty sure that’s the same dress, but the exact details are hard to track down since the gown is part of a swedish museum archive that doesn’t allow english search terms.

I discovered this painting years ago, before I was even making historical costumes. I was instantly charmed by it and those feelings haven’t changed at all. I still adore the dress and think it’s a really interesting example of 1860s fashion. I love how it has the traditional bertha style neckline, but instead of being created with pleats or ruffles it’s ruched! And the banding details on the collar carry over to the sleeves, which create a paned effect that dates back to renaissance times.

I bought fabric for this project shortly after seeing the painting for the first time, but I didn’t have the confidence to make it until now. So i’m very excited to finally be working on this gown.

Even though this project is based on a specific painting, and has the same color scheme, i’m not aiming to recreate the dress linked above. The finished project will be a mixture of elements from the Boutibonne painting and my own design choices. But the similarities are pretty clear in the bodice! Since one of my favorite things about this dress is the collar, that will be prominently featured in the version i’m making.

Here is the sketch that I started out with.

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And a full length sketch.

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I started by draping the bodice, then turing it into a paper pattern. At this point I realized the collar would have to be a bit wider, and the neckline a bit higher than I had originally planned.

I made a mock up to check the fit, which made it clear that some alterations were needed.

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I lengthened the basque waist and trimmed a half an inch off the waistline. I took in the front seams by half an inch, lowered the shoulder by a half inch, and made a few alterations to the arm holes. Overall these are pretty major changes, but at this stage they were easy to make.

(also I should mention that this is pictured over my Cotton Sateen Corset)

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After fixing the pattern I began cutting out the bodice. The bodice has two layers – a top layer of pink cotton sateen, and a base layer of stiff cotton to prevent the top layer from stretching.

My fabric choice for this project was kind of poor (in my defense I made it three years ago when I had way less fabric knowledge) the material is too lightweight for the bodice, so I backed the cotton sateen with lightweight fusible interfacing before cutting it out.

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I created boning channels on the front and side panels with twill tape. The boning channels are visible on the front panel (sewn after attaching the cotton sateen to the stiff cotton layer) but the side ones are hidden.

This bodice will be worn over a corset, so the boning isn’t for reduction purposes. It’s just to support the bodice and keep the material laying smoothly over the body.

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I sewed the right sides of the sateen/stiff cotton layers together around the arm hole, so once they were turned the right way out I had a finished edge. Then I hand stitched around the edge to keep it in place.

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The bodice was sewn together by machine with half inch seam allowances. A few things didn’t line up as well as I would have liked, but overall i’m happy with it.

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I boned the bodice with quarter inch steel, then sewed an alencon lace applique to the front. This lace was another one of those bad material choices, since alencon lace looked very different in the 1860s and wasn’t common at the time. But I love this fabric and it matches perfectly, so i’m using it anyway.

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I folded the bottom edge inward by a half inch, then sewed piping to the edge. I tried doing this a few different ways with various sizes of piping, but this looked the best.

When the bodice is worn tension keeps the piping smooth and it looks symmetrical. When it’s flat the piping does it’s own thing and it looks like this, which is a bit unfortunate!

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At this point the exterior looked pretty, but the inside was quite messy. I didn’t want to line it, since that adds bulk to the garment, but I didn’t want frayed edges either.

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So I trimmed each edge slightly, then whip stitched lace hem tape overtop. this was a little time consuming, but i’m really happy with the end result!

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Now I could finally move onto the collar! The collar started as a single piece of cotton sateen, which was also backed with fusible interfacing.

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Then I pinned lace appliques overtop. All the appliques used on this project were fussy cut out from a piece of lace fabric. That lace fabric had borders on each edge, which were also fussy cut out and used to trim the skirt. It’s a much more affordable way of buying lace appliques/trim as long as you don’t mind spending a few evenings cutting it apart!

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Here the lace is after being sewn on. It looked very pretty at this stage, but unfortunately that didn’t last, because the next step was covering the collar with two layers of gathered tulle.

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After adding the tulle the lace became really difficult to see. But even though it’s barely visible it still adds a lot of dimension and sparkle to the collar, so I think it was worth doing.

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I made the bands for the collar out of one inch wide strips of cotton sateen. I ironed the edges inward, then fused a small strip of interfacing over the back side. This isn’t the most secure method, but it was much faster than hand sewing them and it looks much cleaner.

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The bands were pinned in place two inches apart, but after draping the collar over my dress form I made a lot of changes. I probably spent and hour arranging them until I felt they were perfect.

The bands were sewn on by machine. Then the raw edges of the collar were covered with bias tape that was stitched on by hand.

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Close up showing the lace detailing beneath the tulle.

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I liked how this was coming along, but it was a bit dull looking. So I did the obvious thing and added sequins.

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They really do fix everything! They should be advertised as the duct tape of the embellishment world.

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Now I started adding the frills. The first addition was a scalloped lace from etsy, which was hand sewed around the top and bottom edge.

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Then I sewed a bit of lace trim to the center of the neckline. I had to sew the lace to tulle, then sew the tulle to the collar to get it to stay like this.

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Now it was time for the lace ruffle which goes across the underside of the collar. I used chantilly lace for this, and trimmed the edges so the lace will be longer in the back and shorter in the front. I also saved the bits I trimmed off – they were helpful when it came to making the sleeves!

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I gathered the lace down by machine.

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Then pinned it onto the collar. This was almost as time consuming as placing the bands, I spent so long lifting portions by a quarter inch only to drop them again. There was also a big struggle in getting both sides to be symmetrical, but I think I got it figured out!

Here it is sewn in place.

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I love how frilly this is. Everything should involve a minimum of four different types of lace.

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Then the collar got sewn onto the bodice, and suddenly it started to take shape!

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I tried putting it on my dress form so you could see how it drapes, but that didn’t work so well. The proportions don’t look right since my dress form doesn’t fill out the shoulder and bust of the bodice. I guarantee that it looks much better when worn.

On the bright side it does show how nicely all the materials work together!

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Now it was time to finish and bone the back of the bodice. I did this by making a one and a half inch wide facing. One edge of the facing was turned inward by a half inch and sewn down to create a boning channel, and the other edge is sewn to the centerback of the bodice.

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The facing was supposed to be attached with a half inch seam allowance, and hidden by the exterior of the bodice…but when I measured the waistline it was only 25″ and I didn’t want to lose a whole inch of seam allowance. So the facing was sewn with a quarter inch seam allowance and didn’t get folded under completely.

Then I sewed a quarter inch away from the edge to create a boning channel. The end results looks pretty bad, but it’s at the back of the bodice so i’m not that bothered by it. The lacing will mostly cover it, and If I have leftover chantilly lace when i’m done making the skirt i’ll stitch some overtop to cover it completely.

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Boning was inserted, then I embroidered eighteen eyelets into each side. They are spaced more densely near the waist of the bodice since that’s where the most tension will be.

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I lined the collar with muslin since the interior of it was a mess.

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And that’s about it! I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I think the materials work nicely together and it’s just as frilly as i’d hoped it would be.

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I haven’t included a worn photo in this post since the silhouette didn’t really come together until after I added the sleeves. But I promise there will be some in the next post about this project!

In the mean time, here is a detail shot.

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Thanks for reading! I don’t think I have any more bodices in progress right now so the next post will probably be about poofy sleeves and skirts!

Making a Cinderella Inspired Dress, Part Two

We are onto the final blog post about Cinderella! And more exciting than that, once I finish writing this I don’t have to see the dress ever again!

Can you tell i’m still a bit annoyed about how frustrating this project has been? I was so looking forward to having a fun/sparkly/easy side project. I expected it to take two weeks, if that, and here we are two months later and it’s only just been finished. Sometimes projects don’t go as planned, and this one definitely didn’t.

But it’s done! And it actually came out pretty cute.

I made the skirt from two rectangles and a lot of gored panels (which were just rectangles cut in half diagonally). The fabric wasn’t wide enough to cut it as a partial circle skirt, otherwise I would have done that.

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All the pieces were sewn together with the wrong sides together, then the edges were trimmed and sewn into french seams.

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Since the skirt was made from rectangles and triangles the hem was pretty blocky and uneven. I cut one half to the shape I wanted, then used that side as a guide for cutting the other half.

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After being ironed, this is what it looked like!

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It was really sheer, so I decided to use chiffon as lining. I used the skirt as a guide to cut the chiffon down to be the same size….or at least close to the same size. I did a sloppy job on this part!

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I sewed up the back edge of the chiffon with a french seam. Then the lamé layer was pinned to the chiffon, with the right sides facing each other.

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I sewed a half inch away from the hem.

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Then I turned it the right way out and stitched a quarter inch away from the hem.

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And I also sewed across the waistline to prevent the chiffon from drooping down and being visible.

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I knife pleated the top of the skirt down to twenty five inches.

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And sewed across the top.

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I cut a slit up the back to help me get the skirt on and off. I used bias tape to finish the raw edges, but I didn’t take photos of that part.

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I made the last minute decision to add a ruffle. I felt like the hem was missing something and when in doubt always add ruffles.

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For the skirt overlay I gathered a five yard block of tulle down to the same waist measurement, then sewed it to the top of the skirt. I like the effect this gives, but I really needed more tulle. If I did things again I would probably use ten or fifteen yards of tulle, and have two separate layers. That would create way more volume and give the skirt a nicer silhouette. It would also hide the seams in the lamé a bit better.

I think the way it looks now you can kind of tell it needs more tulle. It just doesn’t look right to me.

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But I carried on! I trimmed the hem of the tulle to match the hem of the skirt.

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And the final step was attaching a waistband. I made mine from more lamé which was fused to interfacing to add the necessary stiffness.

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The waistband got pinned on, then sewn. I also sewed a snap onto the centerback to keep it closed. I opted to keep the skirt separate from the bodice just to make it easier to get into and store. But I can always sew them together later on if I feel like it.

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Now, with the skirt finished, it’s time to complete the bodice. In my last post I had the bodice mostly finished, it was just missing the collar and sleeves. So those are the things i’ll be talking about today.

The gown in the film doesn’t have sleeves, but puff sleeves flatter my arms nicely and I think they work well with the dress design. The pre-transformation dress had puff sleeves, so who says the transformed ball gown shouldn’t?

I made the sleeves similar to the ones on 19th century ball gowns. Which means they are short, sheer, with boning in the cuff. I started by cutting two three yard lengths of tulle.

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Then I gathered the sleeves at one end, about an inch away from the edge. This edge will be the cuff and this gathering creates a cute one inch ruffle.

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I pinned the tulle onto my sleeve pattern.

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Then sewed around the top so they would hold that shape. I decided my sleeves were a bit long so I sewed one inch away from that line. I also sewed ribbon across the gathering at the cuff. This ribbon was supposed to be a boning channel but the boning kept getting caught on the tulle. If I forced it, it would tear.

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So I sewed tiny strips of lamé overtop the ribbon, then inserted the boning into that, which totally worked! I also trimmed the sleeves down to the line I sewed across the top.

I pinned the sides to make sure they fit (they did) then sewed them up.

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Pretty little finished sleeves~

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Those got sewn onto the bodice with a whip stitch.

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I made the collar from two rectangles of lamé and two of tulle. I think these were about ten inches wide and twenty something inches long. The tulle was cut to be fifteen inches longer since I had planned on tying the ends into a bow at the front.

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I pinned the right sides together and sewed the rectangles into tubes. This is what they looked like when turned the right way out.

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I gathered one end of each tube down to about an inch. This will be the center point of the collar and attach to the center front of the bodice neckline.

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It was at this point that I started pinning the collar on. I tried the bodice on with the collar and hated it. The proportions were really off and it didn’t look the way I wanted at all. I decided the only way to fix it was by lowering the neckline. So I used a sharpie to draw a “V” in the center and chopped off three inches. The edges got finished with ribbon so it won’t fray.

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Then I pinned the collar on again. I was much happier with it this time!

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I decided against the bow – it looked silly on the bodice. So I ended up cutting most of the tulle off and wrapping the few remaining inches around the gathered parts of the collar. This hid the stitching.

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I finished the bodice off with little fabric flowers which I got from Joanns. I pinned three onto the cuff of each sleeve and three to the center point of the collar.

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With those sewn on it was finished!

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I paired the costume with a home made headband. I sewed iridescent beads and more ribbon flowers to a dyed strip of organza. This adds a little sparkle to the wig without destroying it with E6000 and rhinestones.

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Here is a closeup of the bodice. I liked the webcam photos of this a lot more than the ones taken with my nice camera (the lighting makes them a bit weird looking) but i’ll post those below as well!

Photo on 7-12-15 at 3.44 PM #3

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Considering all the struggles I had with the first half of this project, I’m pretty happy with the end result. I think the bodice especially ended up really cute. If I were to do it again I would add several more tulle overlays to the skirt. I would also use a different lining fabric for the bodice. One of my favorite things about the live action dress were the different textures in it (the skirt, collar, and bodice were all completely different). But my dress only has one texture – and even though it’s a pretty texture,  it’s all the same all over so it lacks visual interest.

I’d also set the eyelets properly the first time and make the bodice a little differently. If I had done that the first time I would have enjoyed this project way more!

Thank you for sticking with me – hopefully my next project will go a little better!

Making a Cinderella Inspired Dress, Part One

If the title sounds familiar it’s because i’ve used it before! This is the second dress in my Cinderella dress series, and part one about making it. The posts about making my previous Cinderella dress and the petticoat that goes with it can be found here. This dress is based off of the ball gown from the live action film, with a few major changes – like the length, and the fact that i’m adding short sleeves.

I’ve run into a few problems (okay, a lot of problems) throughout making this costume and to be honest, it hasn’t been fun. So if that frustration seeps through into this post then I apologize! If you would like to see the process of me making it, without the complaining, I’ve made a video of the process – it’s posted here!

Step one was draping the bodice. I draped it as two pieces, but planned on the bodice being five pieces in total.

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I traced the draped muslin onto paper, which gave me a pattern. I added seam allowances between the pieces, but not around the neckline and waistline. This was because i’m too lazy to fold the edges over on my mock ups (they get thrown out anyway! I just can’t be bothered…)

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Here is the mock up. I altered the neckline a bit, but I was pretty pleased with it! I’m basing the shape more off of ball gowns from the 1860s, instead of the dress from the film. So it stops at the natural waist instead of curving over the hips.

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I made a new pattern, this time with all the proper seam allowances and boning channels. I also took the pattern it a little, since I am adding boning and wanted a bit of waist reduction.

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Then I cut out the first layer of fabric. This bodice has three main layers – the top layer (the one you’ll see, made from pretty fabric), the base layer (from a heavier fabric that supports the boning channels), and the lining.

This is the top layer. It’s made from chiffon which I fused interfacing onto so it isn’t floppy.

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Obviously the color and texture isn’t a great match, which is why I placed a layer of iridescent lamé overtop. I basted this layer down by machine.

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I still wasn’t super happy with the texture, so I added another overlay. This time it consisted of two layers of matte tulle, which diffused the lamé nicely. Below you can see one piece with tulle (left) and one without (right).

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I basted this on by hand since my machine doesn’t like tulle very much, and it often stretches or warps it, which isn’t good!

Here are all the panels covered with both overlays.

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Then it got sewn together! Unfortunately my iron wasn’t working very well at this point (my laptop was at a higher resting temperature than it, which was a bad sign…) so these seams didn’t get pressed as flat as they should.

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Then I switched to focusing on the base layer. I used a medium weight starched cotton for this. After cutting out the pattern I trimmed all the edges by a half inch, this will remove bulk from the edges later on.

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I used a colored pencil to mark out all the boning channels.

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And turned the edges of one inch wide strips of fabric over to create boning channels. These got pinned between the lines I marked earlier.

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Then the channels were sewn down and the pieces were stitched together!

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I cut out all my boning and tipped the ends with tape.

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All the boning got inserted and the base layer was complete! The only thing left to add were lacing panels. The bodice will zip closed up the back, but to get the reduction I wanted I really needed a hidden lacing panel.

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I made the lacing panels out of more of the same fabric, with a layer of quilted fabric inside to add structure.

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With the grommets added.

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And after being attached to the base layer!

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I wrapped the edges of the top layer around the base and sewed them down.

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I cut out and assembled the lining from a lightweight cotton.

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The edges got folded over and pinned in place.

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Then whip stitched down.

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Here is what the front looked like.

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I had a bodice, it was great! Sure the seams aren’t pressed as well as they should be, but that isn’t a huge deal.

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It was less great when I tried it on because THIS happened…

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Okay, this sucked. I know how to put grommets in, I don’t need advice on that. I should have used an awl to make the holes, not a punch, and braced both sides with boning instead of just one. But i’ve had issues with metal grommets in the past and I figured this was some type of karma for being to lazy to hand sew them (what I usually do). So I remade the lacing panels and spent four hours sewing pretty little eyelets.

Tried the bodice on, and you’ll never guess what happened…

 I think the major issue was the fabric, it was a medium weight cotton which was strong in theory but pretty prone to tearing (which I didn’t realize at the time, otherwise I wouldn’t have used it). I know I could have done a better job supporting the eyelets but honestly i’ve never had this happen. My flower dresses have embroidered eyelets up the back which are set into organza and chiffon, the most delicate tear prone fabrics ever and they are fine!

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The third time around I embroidered the eyelets again but used two interfaced layers of cotton sateen with a quilted canvas strip running through it. So these things better not budge. Luckily they stuck, but the problems didn’t end here.

When I finally got it laced up I realized zipping it closed would be a problem. I can lace it tighter than what you see below, and get the fabric panels to touch, but it isn’t a pretty site. It involves a lot of spilling out at the armholes and an ugly crease of back fat. It also creates a conical silhouette which I wasn’t going for.

Photo on 6-16-15 at 11.14 AM

So I made a modesty panel, addition, thing. Which gives me one inch of room at the waist and three inches at the upper back. I inserted the zipper into this and though it isn’t pretty, it’s prettier than heaps of back cleavage.

(Not to say there is anything wrong with that, it just wasn’t something I wanted to have while wearing this dress)

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Here it is sewn onto the bodice. That back it such a mess, ugh…

Photo on 6-30-15 at 11.17 AM #6

And the front is rippled too, which is frustrating. I honestly wish I could remake it but at this point i’ve had so many troubles that I just want to get it done and never see it again…which isn’t a very nice mindset to be in when trying to make something!

Photo on 6-30-15 at 11.16 AM

Part two will be about the skirt, collar, and sleeves – and hopefully it will be a bit more positive!

Thank you for reading!

Making a Orchid Inspired Dress, Part Two

This is the second post about making my Orchid Inspired Dress! Today i’m going over the process of making the lower half of this costume. The post about making the bodice can be read here.

The skirt base is a really big circle skirt cut from striped upholstery material. Unfortunately at the time I bought this material my math skills failed me and I purchased wrong amount. I only bought three yards and I really needed another eighteen inches. I had to crop the front and back of the skirt by four inches just to cut the skirt out. Yikes.

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Here you can see how that ended up looking on my dress form. Do you see the problem?

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Luckily I had a plan that would cover the hem! It would involve the three yards of organza I bought without  a real purpose in mind.

So I did a rough patching job that lengthened the front of the skirt. It was pretty ugly, but it’s okay if it’s ugly, I can cover that up later.

(that could be my personal motto)

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The back of the skirt was also too short, so I used leftover fabric to make a train. I planned on using the organza to cover the seam, so the stripes not lining up shouldn’t be noticeable in the end.

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With the skirt the right length all the way around, I could move onto hemming! I started by stitching a half inch away from the lower edge. This was done to prevent fraying more than anything else.

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It still frayed a huge amount in some spots, so I trimmed those places with pinking shears.

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Then I used a basting stitch to turn the edge over.

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And then the edge got turned over again, this time by two inches.

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I sewed that down, by hand, with a whip stitch. This hem was ridiculous, I think it was six yards long or something similar. It took all afternoon to finish!

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It was around this point that I felt the skirt looked a little boring. So I decided to paint spots up the back of it. The logic here was “My Orchid has spots, so my dress should have spots!” which seemed like a bright idea at the time. I drew these spots out with a colored pencil, then filled them in with a jacquard paint in the color “violet”.

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After putting on the first layer I had a “Oh god what have I done” moment of immediate regret. I definitely didn’t love how it looked, but by this point I was committed so I kept going.

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The paint wasn’t as opaque as I had hoped, so I did a second coat with a setacolor ink. This stuff wasn’t very opaque either, but I was running out of it so I decided two coats would have to be enough!

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With the spots done it was time to decorate the hem with organza. I debated about what technique to use, but finally decided to sew it into tubes and to tack them down kind of haphazardly. It all sounds very strange but I had a vision!

Here are the strips of organza.

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They got sewn into tubes, then the seam allowance was trimmed down, and they were turned rightside out.

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I had a few different sizes. I really wish I had bought more organza because I didn’t have nearly enough. I had hoped to use some of these on the bodice and top of the skirt but I needed them all for just the hem,

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I didn’t steam or iron any of the tubes, so they still had a lot of volume after being pinned and stitched onto the hem. I also used all the remaining mesh from my Fluffy Feathered Dress to make it look like flowers were growing up the dress. I’m pretty happy with how this turned out, though I wish I had more organza so I could have made the strips wider and the effect more pronounced.

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With the bottom of the skirt done, it was time to focus on the top half – I guess this part could be considered a peplum, but that isn’t a word I think of applying to part of a ball gown!

These are the pieces that drape down from the bodice in petal like shapes. I drafted these by hanging my few remaining pieces of organza from the waistline, then trimming them into the correct shape.

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Once laid flat they looked like this. I sewed the darts and cleaned up the edges.

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Then I finished those edges off with home made bias tape.

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Now it was time for the draping! This would be done with purple taffeta, like the bodice was. I used the same technique and cut strips of taffeta which got folded in half and stitched up the side, then turned right side out.

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After a lot of pinning I came up with something I liked!

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So I took it off the dress form and tacked the strips down so the draping pattern would stay put. Then I stitched the tops of the “petals” together so sewing it onto the bodice would be easier.

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But before sewing anything I decided to make another piece for this dress: A bow. I cut three more strips of taffeta and sewed them into tubes (see a running theme with this dress?) then folded the edges into points and whip stitched them closed.

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Then I put the bodice, skirt, peplum, and bow onto the dress form just to make sure everything looked the way I wanted.

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I was really happy with the draping and placement of everything (and the bow, I always love a good bow) but I thought the skirt was lacking in volume. Though it had tons at first, my petticoats have a habit of deflating, and after two weeks of working on this project the skirt had shrunk and looked pathetic.

But any good seamstress should have a bolt of petticoat net on hand! And I did! I cut out a few large rectangles and sewed them into strips.

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Then the lower edges got trimmed with home made bias tape so they wouldn’t catch on anything.

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The tops were gathered down and stitched together.

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And in no time at all I had a netting lining for my dress!

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Now I felt comfortable sewing everything together. But (isn’t there always a but?) I had to fix up the opening in the back first, because it had turned into a frayed mess.

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I trimmed back the worst of the frayed parts, then attached taffeta bias tape around the opening.

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I also sewed a zipper underneath the bias tape, but for some reason I didn’t take photos of that part.

Now I could finally begin assembly! The peplum was sewn onto the skirt, then the netting was sewn in. The photo below shows the netting just before being tacked to the interior of the zipper.

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With all the layers together I could finally attach bias tape to the top. This prevents fraying and any scratchiness from the netting.

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And then the bodice got attached!

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Here is how it looks finished! I wish I had photos of the back but this dress is too big for my room, the train ended up being cut off in every picture.

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Thank you for reading!

Making a Orchid Inspired Dress, Part One

I’m back with yet another fashion project, which has kept me from going insane while finishing up the final details on my tudor costume! As the title suggests, this is a dress inspired by my orchids. I got the materials for this project (and talked a bit about it) in my birthday haul.

 In that post I mentioned that i’m really easily inspired, especially by things around me. I’ve had a pretty little orchid sitting next to my desk since January, so it was only a matter of time until I made a dress inspired by it. I’m honestly pretty impressed with myself that I  managed to hold off for three months.

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The original dress design can be seen below. I wanted it to be simple and elegant while still being visually interesting.That is a description I would use when talking about orchids, so I think it makes sense that my orchid-inspired-dress can be described with the same words.

. I had hoped to find materials in dark ivory, light purple, and a dull fuchsia, which when used together would create a gradient effect.

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But then I got another orchid. And I found the color patterns of this one a lot more interesting. I think the deeper purple spots and contrast against the lighter ivory better fits my “Simple, elegant, and interesting” description. So the sketch got revised a bit, and my fabric choices became much different than I had originally planned!

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I ended up with three yards of 120″ wide striped fabric, three yards of silk organza, and three yards of silk taffeta. I thought I bought four yards of the silks, but I remeasured and realized I was wrong about that! Honestly I should have bought four yards of all these fabrics, I  almost ran out part way through the project.

But I standby the actual fabrics I picked, even though I got the wrong amounts. I love the color, sheen, and weight of the taffeta, it was lovely to work with. The striped material gives just enough texture to what would otherwise be a boring circle skirt, and the organza gave it a lightness that the project needed.

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And here is Dotty (yes, I name my orchids) with the inspiration fabric.

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Okay! Now for actual progress photos! I wanted the bodice to be asymmetrical, and by that I mean as asymmetrical as I could get with everything still being covered. The majority of the bodice would be made from off white material, with a purple taffeta “collar” across the neckline and shoulders.

 I managed to accomplish the shape I wanted pretty easily, and my mock up fit on the first try!

Photo on 4-23-15 at 11.07 AM

I made a few slight alterations to my pattern, the most major of which involved lowering the waistline. Then I marked out the boning placements and where the lacing loops would be.

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After making the skirt (which I will blog about next week) the fabric I had planned on using was almost entirely gone. I had enough to use for the bodice, but none of the stripes would have pointed in the right direction, much less matched up. So instead I decided to make the bodice from organza, with the option to add lining later on.

This is the bodice cut out.

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And with the boning channels marked out!

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I cut my boning channel casings from the leftover striped material. I cut these  out across the fabrics grain so you can see all the stripes. It isn’t very noticeable when the bodice is worn, but I think it’s a fun touch!

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Those got sewn in place. Unfortunately this part didn’t go smoothly. The two bobbins I had made in advance had something (I have no clue what) wrong with them which caused a tension problem and left me with very messy loose stitches on the underside. Ripping out stitches on organza is hell so I just went over the channels again after fixing the bobbin.

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Then I added boning! These bones don’t go to the top of the bodice, so  I had to hand stitch stoppers to keep them in place.

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Then I added another layer of organza overtop. This diffuses the look of the boning channels and makes the bodice slightly more opaque.

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I cut two inch wide strips of purple taffeta on the bias and folded them into double fold bias tape. Then I pinned them around the bodices edges.

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I sewed it down by hand and for once i’m pretty happy with how it looks! My hand sewn bias tape hasn’t been cleanest in the past, so this is a big improvement for me.

Not sure if it balances out the sloppy boning channels, but it certainly helps!

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I also cut out one inch wide strips of fabric on the bias. These got ironed and sewn into quarter inch wide strips that are three inches long. I made about twenty of them, all to be used for loops up the back of the dress. I think loops look a lot more elegant and since elegant is the buzzword for this project, I decided it was worth the extra time to make them!

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They got folded into loops, then pinned onto leftover bias tape.

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I sewed over them several times until I was confident the loops were secure.

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Then the loops got sewn onto the bodice. This part doesn’t look as pretty. I was trying to avoid hitting the boning channels while being unable to see where the bone ended since the loops covered them.

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Now it was time to add the collar. I cut more strips of taffeta and sewed them into tubes, so the raw edges were hidden inside the tubes. It’s a little wasteful fabric wise, but saves the time it takes to hem the strips and completely avoids having to combat puckered silk hems.

I can’t really describe how I draped this. I pleated the end of the strip and placed it at the waist, then I just tugged, folded, and pinned until I was happy with how it laid. I cleaned it up a little bit after taking this picture, since the neckline wasn’t as smooth as I wanted it to be.

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Then I tried it on! I liked how it looked a lot, but it needed a couple of alterations. The biggest one was taking in the collar (that feels like the wrong name for this, though i’m not sure what else it would be called) at the shoulder, and taking the entire bodice in by more than an inch.

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I re-draped the collar so it was a little smaller in the shoulder, then tacked everything down so the pins could be removed.

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Before doing that I took it in by a inch. I did this in the under arm area, right next to the boning channels. Then the extra fabric was stitched underneath the boning channels. It’s obvious from the interior, but from the outside it is hard to tell!

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Back to the collar. Here are all the tacking stitches. Not the prettiest thing ever, but much nicer to look at than tons of pins or puckers, which are the two alternatives. The edges of the taffeta were tucked underneath the loop closures and whip stitched down.

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With the collar done, all I needed to do was finish the lower edge with bias tape! So I did that. This time I used cotton bias tape that I had leftover from making the skirt.

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And it was done! Could probably use a steaming, but that’s all that I have left to do on it.

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Thank you for reading!

Dewdrop Series – Making a Velvet Cloak

I really love cloaks. They are so dramatic and different from everything in modern fashion. Putting one on makes you feel like a magical princess from another time and world.

So it’s pretty weird that I haven’t actually made one. I made a hooded dress, a dramatic velvet overdress, and even a cape at one point, but never a proper cloak. Horrifying, isn’t it?

But don’t get scared! I’ve resolved the problem and can now officially say that in addition to being a cloak enthusiast, I’ve also made and worn one. And this post is about that process.

….

I started with a bunch of doodles. Doodles are the best way to figure out how on earth to make something.

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I actually wanted the hood shape to be very similar to the one made for my Blue Dress, but I wanted to achieve the shape through gathering, which meant I couldn’t reuse the same pattern.

On the bright side, there is a lot more wiggle room when you’re gathering, if something is too big it’s easy to gather it down to be smaller, and if it’s too small you can let it out. Because of this I felt really confident – so confident I decided not to make a mock up.

In my defense I probably wouldn’t have been able to get a good idea of the finished product through a muslin mock up. Velvet is so much heavier then most materials, it reacts really differently and I don’t have anything around that will imitate that.

I also have an extra two yards of velvet, so mistakes were acceptable.

The main pattern pieces looked like this.

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I set aside the brim pattern (which is just a long rectangle) and recut the hood pattern from my ivory damask, which I decided to use as lining. Then I basted these pieces together by using the largest stitch length on my sewing machine.

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Then I set that aside and began work on the brim. The brim is the most important part since it supports the rest of the hood, and it’s also the most visible piece, so it needs to be very nicely finished.

I started by fusing a heavyweight interfacing to the back of it, this gives it more body, and it also prevents the fabric from stretching.

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I cut two strips of my demask material, then I folded them in half and sewed them on to the underside of the velvet brim. These are channels that will eventually house hooping wire, which is what gives the hood shape.

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I could have just rolled the edges and been done with it, but I decided to be fancy and add cute little chiffon ruffles. I used three inch wide strips of chiffon which were folded in half and ironed down, then I ruffled them by hand and stitched them onto each side of the brim.

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Next I prepared the hooping wire. I used bolt cutters to cut two forty-four inch pieces – I later decided these were too long and cut five inches off each piece. These got threaded through the channels I made, and were then set aside.

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Moving on to the  actual hood piece!  There wasn’t that much to do here, I just had to cartridge pleat it down to the right size.

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Once that was done I sewed the brim on and it looked like a hood! Wow.

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Though there was still a bit of work left to do on the hood I decided to take a break and work on the cape instead. Capes are really easy, they are either half circles or rectangles that are gathered down. In this case I was using rectangles, I cut three panels of velvet to make up the cape, after they were sewn together the final measurement was 67″ x 118″ or so.

It’s a real beaut, huh?

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I pinned my hood and cape up on my dress form and it looked like this, already taking shape!

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 I went around ever edge and hemmed them with a three inch seam allowance. I usually use a slip stitch so you can’t see the thread from the other side, but I found that puckered the velvet. So instead I did two rows of a running stitch, and I kind of like that it’s visible from the other side. It gives it character.

I apologize for the lint – I did all the handsewing on the couch and i’m pretty sure my dogs used this as a blanket for part of that time.

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After that was finished the cape needed to be gathered. But first I had to figure out what to gather it onto. I really didn’t want to do the traditional cloak attached to the hood type of thing, because that’s no fun. So I came up with a funky idea that involved these U shaped bits of material. I rolled the edges over and sewed around them, then used a heavyweight interfacing to make these a little more sturdy.

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I gathered my cape down with cartridge pleats and sewed it on.

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Then I did the same thing to my hood.

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I cut away the excess material, then used linen as lining to bind the seam closed. I sewed the edges of the hood piece and cape piece together, so the back ended up looking like this. I think it’s a lot more interesting then the traditional hood back, plus it doubles as a sweat vent in super hot weather.

(is that gross?)

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The last step was attaching hooks and eyes to the cloak and dress so they would stay together. The weight of this thing is pretty crazy, there is no way it would stay on without them.

So that’s that!

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And here are a few of the dress, after trying it on for a few minutes I quickly realized the petticoat will not work – it really needs a pair of pocket hoops underneath it to achieve any sort of shape. But other then that, i’m really pleased with it!

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 So theres that project, all finished! I currently have a few things in the beginning stages, but i’m not sure what my next post will be about. At this point it could be a regency dress, a tulle ball gown, or a Raphael painting i’m trying to bring to life

Thanks for reading!

Dewdrop Series – Making a Ivory Dress, Part Three

As promised, here is the final post in about making this dress. But I still have to post about making a crown and a cloak, so the Dewdrop series isn’t over yet!

I have two other blogs about this project, post one is about making the bodice, and post two is about the skirt. If you haven’t already, I would highly suggest reading those first!

I started by drafting my sleeves – I wasn’t that particular about these, so all I did was take a few measurements, then sketch it out. I was pretty confident and decided not to make a mock up

DSC_7071 I cut the sleeves from my damask print, and also cut a few strips of linen which would serve as seam tape.

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 I used them in place of bias tape to make sure none of the edges would fray. After this was done my sleeves were ready to be gathered!

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 I gathered the sleeves down by hand and used loose cartridge pleats to get the look I wanted. You can really see how wimpy these pleats look with lightweight material, now does it make sense why I used quilt batting in the skirt?

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I really wanted to integrate chiffon into these sleeves since the cloak is decorated with two chiffon ruffles, but I didn’t want to add anymore length. After a bit of playing around I decided upward facing ruffles would be really neat.

I created these the way I usually do, by cutting strips of chiffon and folding them in half to get a finished edge.

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I gathered these down by hand and sewed them onto the edge of each sleeve.

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I really liked how this looked, but they were still missing something important – cuffs. I cut a three inch strip of damask to be the cuff, and a slightly smaller strip of linen to serve as lining.

DSC_7075These were sewn on and my sleeves were just about done!

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I did up the side seams, sewed them onto the bodice, and tah dah! It looks like a proper dress. Even after altering a few petticoats it doesn’t have the shape I want. Some day I’ll make a pair of pocket hoops to go underneath this, but today is not that day.

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So that’s that. I’m quite pleased with it, aside from the skirt shape it came out just as I’d hoped.

Thanks for reading!