Saturday, September 7, 2013

natural form ballgown

I have one more new dress from Costume College and the Historical Sew Fortnightly that I need to document, but I think I have developed "post-traumatic sewing disorder" and I can barely force myself to write about it.  I had intended to make this one for the Pretty Pretty Princess HSF challenge back in mid-June, but even though I picked an understated natural form style specifically to be "quick and easy", it turned into nothing but constant stress and design problems.  It ended up being 7 weeks late for the challenge, and I was actually still sewing and trying to figure out the final decorations just hours before the gala.  While there are some things that I like about the way the dress finally turned out, the main things that I see when I look at the pictures are things that wish I had done differently.  Don't you hate it when projects turn out like that?  :P

Anyhoo.  Here's a few details about this one, and then let's never speak of it again.  LOL!

One of the many gowns from 1877
that helped inspire my dress  
The dress is made for a combination of 4 different patterns from Fashions of the Gilded Age, and I did not base it on one particular fashion plate or image - it's a hodge-podge of a lot of different sources from around 1876-1878.   I broke from my stash-only rule this year and bought 6 yards of heavy sateen for the body of the gown, a yard of silk taffeta for the trim and bertha, and several yards of 6" rayon chainette fringe for the trim (I bought the fringe from Dove Originals and definitely recommend them as a source for trim!).  I also used up several dress-lengths of misc. fabric from my stash for the mock-ups and linings, so the stash-busting goal wasn't completely ignored.  I only had 6 yards of the sateen to work with, and while I thought this would be plenty of fabric when I started, I ended up having to scrap the decadent long train that I originally envisioned for my dress, which was a real downer because that was one of my favorite parts about my original plan.

The one part that I was really excited about experimenting with on my dress was the fringe, which I dyed and knotted myself after realizing that there was no way on earth that I could find pre-made fringe to match the odd salmon color of my gown.  The fringe is my favorite part of the whole dress, and I loved the way it moved when I walked or danced.  I also found that knotting yards and yards of fringe was strangely zen-like and relaxing, and that was the one part of this project that I really enjoyed.  I seem to be a bit of a fringe-making fanatic after working on this dress and my fringed Redingote from last fall.  I think it's my own quirky equivalent to women who knit or crochet.

Here are some of the posed pics from the night of the gala.

Although this project was difficult in many ways, I am still so grateful that I made it because it allowed me to be a part of a somewhat accidental theme group with my friends Merja and Elizabeth in our pink-hued natural form gowns.  I had SO MUCH FUN spending time with these ladies all weekend, and being a part of a "pretty pink princess" group with my buddies at the gala was one of the best highlights of my trip.


And the pink dress luv didn't stop there either.  There seemed to be fabulous pink dresses everywhere this year, and mingling among all those gorgeous pink confections made my matchy-matchy brain delirious with happiness.

So that's pretty much it for this one.  I'll be back sometime in the next few days to talk about the foundation garments that I also made to create this outfit.  Special thanks to Loren, Meilin, and Lauren for allowing me to use some their photos.   I also wanted to thank a few amazing friends who helped me find inspiration, make decisions, buy supplies, and stitch on last-minute sleeves.  I couldn't have done it without you!  


Quinn said...

I love your fringe, too! Thanks for sharing your source.


Gina said...

Laaaaaaa!!! I loved seeing pictures of you in this dress! It turned out so fabulously and I love the color!!!


Calevey’s Closet said...

I love the trim! Was this something you found or something you made?

- The Modish Victorian

The Dreamstress said...

Oooh...I love it! I'm sorry it frustrated you, but I think it's spectacular. And one of my favourite things is the demi-train. It was the first thing I noticed, and I thought "I'm so glad she didn't go for a full train"! So it has at least one fan!

The knotted fringe is amazing! It might even turn me into a fringe lover.

And I think I'm going to be just as late with my Robes challenge...

Laura Morrigan said...

That dress is exquisite, I love the colour, like a faded photograph, very classic! There are so many lovely gowns there! I only really wear pastel pink, but I would make an exception for those bright pink ones anyway. Yours is my favourite colour of those ones!

Gabriela said...

Wow, I have fallen in love in your gown! It's gorgeous! :)

Cathy Raymond said...

That's beautiful, Jen. I really love the color, too. Brava!

Gabriela Salvador said...

I love how your dress is such an unusual color! The color, the fringe, that crazy interesting train (how DID you do that??), it all looks so unique and elegant!

fixitfaerie said...

Your dress is beautiful! I love all of the detail you put into it. You are very talented, and you shouldn't be so hard on yourself. Thanks for sharing.

MaiLoan said...

I love your dress and every gowns you do :) I wish that some day I can sew like you

Anonymous said...

That is a very lovely dress! I love the back! How pretty is that! You rock that color too!

Black Tulip said...

Lovely dress, and such a perfect colour. However I know from experience that if YOU aren't happy with it, then no amount love from other people will sway you.

Best solution for me has been - hide it right at the back of deep cupboard for 6 months, and forget about it. When you look at it again, once the trauma of making it has faded, it won't look nearly as bad!

Anonymous said...

You look gorgeous, I love how this turned out!

Anonymous said...

Love the fringe, and the whole dress! All I see is the pretty and delightful!

Kendra said...

I know what you mean about projects like this -- BUT I love this! It was so stunning in person, especially the back. Swoon-worthy! And you 3 were so cute in your pink bustle-y-ness.

Jaquelinne said...

I think it turned out lovely, and that fringe is amazing!

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