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!

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 Two

This post is the second one about  making my Civil War Era evening gown. Part one talks about making the bodice and can be read here. This post will cover the process of making the sleeves and include photos of the finished bodice.

I really enjoyed this part of the project. Puffy sleeves are relatively easy to make and don’t require too much precision or fitting (unlike most sleeves). Plus they are adorable. Something about them makes me ridiculously happy. These ones are ecspecially frilly and detailed, which made them even more fun to work on.

The first step was drafting a pattern. Since this bodice sits off the shoulder I didn’t have to worry about fitting a sleeve cap, which made the process way easier.

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I cut the pattern out from cotton sateen, then pinned lace appliques onto the lower half of each sleeve.

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After sewing the appliques on by hand I cut out the tulle overlay. The tulle overlay consists of two layers of gathered tulle (one layer is white, the other is ivory – when layered the create a warmer white tone, which better matches the lace used on this costume).  I didn’t use a fancy pattern for the overlay, I just cut out strips of tulle that were one inch wider than the widest point of the sleeve, and three times the sleeves length.

Then I used my machine to gather the edges down to the sleeves length.

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I pinned the overlay on and trimmed any excess material at each edge. Then I sewed the overlay down.

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This is the same process I used on the collar. The tulle really dulls the appearance of the lace, but the lace is still slightly visible and adds a lot of texture to the sleeve.

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Then I gathered down the top and bottom edge.

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And now it was time to create the “paned” effect. I did this by cutting out one inch wide strips of cotton sateen. The edges were ironed inward then covered with interfacing to stiffen them and hide the raw edges.

Then they were pinned onto the sleeves.

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I secured them by sewing across the top and bottom edge – they look a bit silly here, but after steaming them they started behaving a bit better.

I also covered the top edge with lace ribbon to hide the raw edge.

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Now it was time to work on the cuffs. Each cuff was made from strips of cotton sateen that were folded in half. I sewed a quarter inch away from the folded edge to create a channel. Then I filled the channel with a piece of plastic boning. This helps the sleeves keep their shape.

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I gathered down some chantilly lace (these were the scraps leftover after trimming lace for the collar) to create lace ruffles.

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Then I sewed those onto the hem of each cuff.

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I still felt like the cuffs were missing something so I added a bit of beading. I used glass seed beads and white fake pearls for this.

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They were sewn onto the sleeves with a half inch seam allowance.

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Then the raw edges were turned inward and covered with more lace ribbon.

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The side seam was sewn up with a french seam, and that was pretty much it!

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The final step was adding a bit of alencon lace to cover the topstitching on the cuff.

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The sleeves were sewn into the bodice by hand, with a slip stitch. Then the top edge was whip stitched to the lining. This is the finished interior of the bodice.

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And the exterior!

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The back currently looks like this. After taking this photo I realized the sequins don’t extend all the way to the center back, so i’ll need to fix that. And i’ll probably have to add a modesty panel at some point. But other than that it’s finished!

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Here is how it looks worn – these were taken on a very overcast day, and my lighting isn’t the best, so I apologize for that. But hopefully you can get an idea of how it looks!

I was seriously thrilled when I tried this on because it fits! I was worried the shoulder would be too small, and I was concerned about the waistline, but both those things are perfect!

In addition to liking the fit, I also really like how it sits on the body. One of my favorite things about historical fashion are the ridiculous proportions, and how effectively they create a flattering silhouette despite the overwhelming amount of fabric, ruffles, and lace. I think this is a good example of that.

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I think my only regret with this bodice is that I didn’t made the front point longer. From the side the point looks quite dramatic (it extends six inches past the waistline).

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But from the front it doesn’t look long enough. I’m not too upset about it, but it’s something to keep in mind for future projects from this period!

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Here is the back – it isn’t laced perfectly since this was just a fit test, so ignore that and just focus on the fact that is can lace completely closed! I

But I am a bit peeved with how the lace ruffle abruptly ends. I think I need to add a bow to cover that since I don’t have anymore of this lace.

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And that’s it! This is probably my favorite bodice i’ve ever made. It’s so frilly and lacy and sparkly, I can’t help but adore it. The design of it is also quite special to me since i’ve had this project planned for so long. I was worried I might be disappointed by the end result since I had this project built up so high in my head, but so far it’s surpassed all my expectations and I hope it continues to do so!

Thanks for reading! I think my next post is going to be a fabric haul…

 

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!