Saturday, June 9, 2012

1912 Evening Gown Dress Diary

As I have already mentioned I made a 1912 evening gown for the titanic dinner at Dress U.
At first I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to make,well other than it being an Edwardian evening gown that is. All I knew was that I wanted to use stuff from the stash to save money. I went digging in my stash and came up with this lovely sari in a green changeable silk with pink and blue embroidery.

Embroidery detail of sari fabric.

I thought this would make a great top layer for an Edwardian gown, and decided I wanted to pair it with a magenta silk under dress. So I broke my rule of using stuff from the stash because of course I did not have magenta colored silk in the stash or anything that matched the green silk at all for that matter.... So I went on the search for magenta silk, after finding only yucky poly crap fabrics at the local JoAnn's I turned to the internet. Turns out magenta silk is not so easy to come by even on the web, but I finally found a lovely magenta silk sari at my favorite ebay sari seller!

The not magenta colored sari.

 You can't beat 5 yards of silk for $20 bucks so I bought it.
But woe, when it arrived it was much more purple in color that the magenta I had envisioned! Now I was torn between using the purple fabric which looked nice enough with the green but was not the magenta I wanted or find something else. After thinking abut it for some time and going back and forth on it ,my cheap nature won out and I decided to use the purple silk. Which I think was a good call  because I got many compliments on the color combo!
At this point I had come up with a general idea of what I wanted the dress to look like. I wanted a kimono style top, and a train and some sort of drapeing going on in front and beading one must have beading on an Edwardian evening gown, oh and there had to be a sash!

1912 illustration showing a kimono style dress with sash.

So I dove into my pattern drawer for my very very old titanic dress pattern. I was given this pattern for my 18th birthday back when I had a massive Titanic obsession. I never actually used it and it had just been rotting in  my pattern collection for the past 14 years. As a funny aside I found a love note written by myself  to some guy I had a crush on when I was 18, tucked in the envelope for safe keeping, it's cringe worthy what dramatic crap I wrote as a teen!

The Titanic dress pattern

Anyway I digress, the pattern was as a whole pretty useless, looking much more like a regency dress than an Edwardian, it did however have a usable kimono dress top so i cut  out this one pattern piece and ignored the rest.

The only useable pattern piece from said pattern.

 I made up a cotton mock up of the top. Which looked and fit pretty well .

And the result in mock up form.

 So I took the plunge and cut into the beautiful sari material made up the dress top and then attached a 3 inch wide  cotton waist band to the bottom .

finished top with waist band attached.

 Once I had finished putting together the top I went on to draping the skirts on Molly  my dress form . I was quite pleased with my preliminary draping result.

First attempt at draping the skirts.

This is how far I got before going to Europe for 3 weeks. When I got home I had 10 days to crank out this dress with lots and lots of beading and all sort of fun fiddly work! The first thing I did before constructing the skirt was to do most of the beading work. I decided on a simple beading design and just applied some beads to the embroidery already on the sari, as well as a single row of beads to the neckline and the hem of the train. I used lovely peacock blue iridescent glass beads that complemented the bluish shimmer of the green silk perfectly.

Beading detail.

 Before attaching the skirts  I made some self fabric covered buttons to close the back up. I had never made fabric covered buttons but it turned out to be super easy. I just got a kit at Jo Ann's and they turned out lovey!

Covered button kit, with some of the buttons I made.

Next I tackled the underskirt. It's a very simple skirt using the decorative edge of the sari for the hem. I just cut 2 panels and gathered them to the cotton waistband.

It's starting to look like a dress!

 On top of the underskirt I added 2 lengths of the beaded green sari fabric to form the overskirts. The more ornately embroidered part went in the back to form the train and the plainer part went in front where I draped it in a diagonal sweep across the the skirt front revealing the underskirt.

With draped front panel and train in back.

 Now the dress was all but put together except for the sash covering the cotton waist band. I had been wracking my mind about what to do with the sash, first I figured I could just use some more of the purple sari fabric but it looked kind of boring with just the 2 colors. I wanted something different, I briefly considered another shade of purple, but then decided  on a nice peacock blue to match the beading. A search of the local fabric store turned up nothing in the shade I was looking for, and of course everything as usual was super shiny poly prom fabric crap. I figured I would have to buy more silk online until I remembered a long white silk chiffon scarf that I had laying around. I had the brilliant idea  to dye it and use it as my sash. Dying it sounded easy enough, but of course I could not find peacock blue dye so I bought some teal dye and Bahama blue dye which was sort of a bright aqua color, and mixed them. Because I'm a huge procrastinator I did the dying the night before Dress U! I spend half the evening trying to get the shade just right and when that did not happen I settled for more of a teal blue than a peacock blue, but whatever it looks nice. I tacked it onto the waist band and did some pleating to make it look like it just naturally fell in soft elegant folds and voila I had a sash.

And finally finished with hand dyed sash and all!

This Dress was finished  at 3 am the morning off Dress U!  But hey at least I did not sit around at Dress U still sewing on it, so I did pretty well for my standards.
I ended up being quite happy with it.

The end result!

 I think the colors worked well and I got plenty of compliments. Too bad it 's probably going to be one of those one time costumes, since I usually don't do Edwardian period costuming and won't have any reason for wearing it again. But hey it was fun while it lasted, and it was great doing a new time period. Since I mostly do Regency I'm a bit intimidated by other periods , but this was a surprisingly easy project and wonderful learning experience that yielded a great result! And I feel it made me grow as a costumer. But now on to more Regency! The Louisville Jane Austen Festival aka Jane Fest is fast approaching and I will be busy busy busy making pretty things for that!

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