|There is A LOT of weight to this dress|
Up first: the patterns
TV 420 1879 Cuirass Bodice (evening option for back and side back only)
TV 416 Ball Gown Basque (front and side front only)
TV 292 1893 Bell Skirt
Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion Vol. 3 (pattern for the sleeves page 123)
I went with the Bell Skirt instead of a much larger train because I needed something practical to move around in. I get the irony of combining practical and court gown, but when you're throwing a party you need to be able to handle things. Things like stairs. A lot.
As always Truly Victorian patterns are great. Nothing was altered besides combining the front pieces from one pattern to the back pieces of another. It was easy to do (they lined up on their own with no adjustment from me. I will not question this). It might seem odd to mix and match the patterns like this, but it worked to give me the shapes I needed.
For the sleeves, I scaled it up so that each square in the book was one inch on paper. It just worked out to be about the size I needed (I will also not question this). This was my first time scaling up a pattern from a book. With grid paper it was easier than I expected, but I didn't change anything which helped with that.
Next step: fabric (this was actually easy)
Black velvet for most of the gown.
Duchess satin in an oyster shade (otherwise known as off white, which describes numerous shades of white. I call it oyster because that was the shade of my wedding dress and this is pretty close to that).
Pre-embroidered net for the silverwork. This is the exact fabric I used for my embroidery. Yes, it is expensive. Yes, I know I could have purchased a lot of appliques created a pattern that way. I saw this. I wanted this. In my mind, nothing else would do. It's wide and it has a lot of embroidery to work with within a yardage. It has beads and sequins to really catch candle light. To determine how much I would need, I measured the length of my hem on the velvet portion of my skirt. I wanted a repeating symmetric pattern on my skirt. I needed a lot. My measurement was pretty close. I only had to fudge one portion of the embroidery with a design I put together. I'm chalking that up to the fabric being cut in a spot that didn't work out in my favor.
|I don't think anyone noticed|
The long haul: assemble and embroidery
Sewing together the outfit was quick. If you've made up a Truly Victorian pattern before the time to do this step of the project will pretty much be the same as the last time you did. What took me forever was the embroidery.
Embroidery for the velvet section of the skirt: First I figured out which portion of the pattern on the embroidery I wanted at my hem. I then carefully pinned and trimmed and moved and cursed and moved again until I had it laid out just so. I took a picture incase all the pins fell out. They liked to do that as I wrestled with all the fabric. Then, in sections, I carefully unpinned the embroidery, and used fabric glue to attach it to the velvet. I folded it over a heavy book, applied the glue, and then very very VERY slowly used the book to roll it back on to the fabric. The book acted as a weight while the glue dried. I always had a cup of water and a towel on hand to remove any glue mistakes. You have to get to them quickly before they dry on the velvet and annoy you forever. I would let the glue dry overnight on a section before moving to the next. Something that I hadn't thought about until I started the process is that the glue helped hold down all the threading that attached the beads and sequins. I still lost some, but the vast majority didn't go anywhere once a section was glued in place.
Embroidery on the satin section of the skirt: Russian court gowns have a ribbon with buttons that runs the full length of the front. I chalked lines on the satin panel where that would sit, and figured out my embroidery design around those lines. I trimmed and pinned. And then stitched it down by hand. This took a lot more patience and even more pins and even more time than I thought it would. I had tried a test with glue and it bleed through. I tried using a paintbrush to put less glue on to prevent that, and it wasn't enough to get it to stick to the fabric. So I stitched.
|Flat back buttons sewn into place. Pinned from behind for the dinner.|
Embroidery on the bodice: the section on my back was glued. The vines everywhere else were stitched down because they were tiny pieces.
Embroidery on the sleeves: Glued.
Important note: I'm sure a lot of you know that the embroidery comes on a netting that is the same color as the threading. Mine was silver. The fabric it was going on is black and off white. Which means I either would have super visible netting or I needed to cut it away. I cut it away. Using my super tiny Martha Stewart scissors I carefully cut away all the netting so only the embroidery remained. It was a lot of work. Boring, mind numbing work. But it gave me the look I wanted.
Ribbon button thing: I made a long tube out of the satin, flipped it inside out and added buttons! Mine was just shy of an inch in width.
Final step: ADD BLING
I doubt anyone needs help with this step. There was no holding back when it came to the jewelry for this event. A lot of the "royal orders" can be found in the jewelry section of your craft store. Add some ribbon bows and done (I had help with the ribbons because I am terrible at them).
|Found at Michael's Crafts|
|A modified pendant from Hobby Lobby|
|Lots of fun fake medals on Aliexpress.|
You didn't know I was the best fisherman did you?
|There's no such thing as too much bling!|
|Don't forget your tiara and bracelets|