21 February 2014

Striking Gold

Making this gown was great! It came together really quickly and I feel like I perfected the pattern I made last fall. Here are some notes and learning points about its construction...

I had gold silk in my stash reserved for another project, but since I needed a Regency ballgown in short order I decided this c.1810 gown from the McCord Museum was a better use for the swooshy stuff. In looking closely at the extant gown the "bandeau" type bodice is much like the pattern I made for my What Cheer Day gown. Since I was never really happy with how that gown fit, I used this chance to make a few alterations.

The skirt panels are the same, the bodice is the same but this time I used a lining. And I made a poofy sleeve pattern.

When I cut the bodice lining, I made it about 1.5in smaller than the bodice to minimize bulk from the drawstring.
Unlike constructing an 18th century gown, the lining is unfortunately relatively separate from the bodice. I whip stitched it in place along the drawstring.

For my c1800 gown, the eyelets for the drawstring along the bodice top are right at the top of the bodice, which regularly pops out. This time I made the eyelets just below the drawstring which is less noticeable.

Why do these gowns require so many drawstrings?

Pretty pleats! The skirt circumference is about 100in, which is more fabric than I can fit into the pleats so I tucked the excess fabric into the far left and far right adding a really nice fullness.

 Inside the gown you'll see that I didn't line the sleeves...
...and that the lining isn't turned under where it's back-stitched to the skirt panels.

The sleeves on the McCord Museum gown are super poofy--but I couldn't get a good enough sense from the photo what makes it poof. I interpreted this with stroke gathers...

 ...I gathered about 7.5 inch of fabric into 1 inch. I then rolled the armband and applied it to the end of the sleeve.

When making the stroke gathers, I found that it would work best to have a third hand. Since that's not feasible, here's another approach I tried:
1) I created the gather, then left the long thread. I didn't knot it, I didn't cut it. I just left it there.
2) I applied the band and sewed it on partway.
3) When I reached the point to attach the stroke gather to the band, I pulled the long thread to adjust the gathers so they aligned more tightly and together so I could whip stitch each gather in place.

To attached the sleeve, I used the usual 18th century method and made deep pleats to create the shoulder poof.

Last but not least, the gown needs trim. 

 I used a neoclassical-looking gold braid just above the skirt hem.

The trim I had planned to use along the bodice and sleeves (above left) wasn't the right fit after I reviewed the museum's description of the trim...

The front of the bodice and the short, slightly puffed, sleeves are embellished with hand-made bobbin lace of a blonde type and chenille embroidery of running small floral motifs in an undulating line in stern stitch and leaf stitch ornamented with pearls. The lace is applied by the French insertion method. There is a small appliqu├ęd leaf motif in matching pearls at the back of each sleeve. A narrow band of handmade bobbin lace torchon type, possibly a later addition, embellished with the same pearls, borders the hemline.

...I ordered a champagne-colored lace, but I didn't order enough. This detail will have to wait until the next fancy dress event.


  1. Oh, SO PRETTY! I love the color. I have yet to do a yellow gown. I keep wanting to, but then never do. You've inspired me, though. I think the time has come!

    1. Thank you, I feel so honored! Yellow is a nice spring/summer color.

  2. I love the neoclassical braid!! The negative space it creates is really eye-catching!

  3. lovely, simple dress and gooooorgeous silk!


Your feedback is appreciated. :)