As I cut out the collar and bodice front pieces from my hot pink silk, it was hard to believe this was it - the last pieces of silk I needed to finish this gown I’d been working on since February.
When I actually started sewing these last few pieces together, it was crazy! Could they actually be going together this fast? Was this dress seriously almost finished?
And when I finished hand sewing on the last hook and eye, I stared at the finished bodice in disbelief. Then I couldn’t stop smiling. It was done! This project that had followed me all throughout 2020 was actually finished! It was almost unreal!
After draping, drafting, and just generally sorting out the pattern for my 1901 evening gown bodice, the first thing I did was make the collar. It was the last piece of this gown that would be trimmed in fur.
I started by cutting the collar out of both silk and cotton muslin (for flat lining) using the pattern I'd drafted. Then, I cut it out of lace was well, and attached all three layers together with a zigzag stitch around the edges.
|See the stitching lines on the flat-lining here? That's where the lace is pieced on the right side.|
Once the entire collar was covered in lace, I cut out two more collar pieces from the silk, sewed them to my lace, silk, and cotton collar pieces right sides together, then turned my collar right side out and pressed it.
|Photo from Munich City Museum|
Evening Dress worn by Countess Courten, around 1901
Thanks to an estate sale, I had the perfect trim!
Next, I made the fluffy bust covering/overlay piece out of what was left of the white silk crinkle chiffon I'd used for the sleeves.
The Challenge: Get Crafty - I’m claiming this bodice counts as I got pretty crafty with the fur and lace trims as well as the pattern, which had to be draped and finagled as I went along.
Material: Silk Lustring, Silk Chiffon, Silk Organza, Vintage Lace, Fur, Modern Lace, Cotton Twill, Cotton Muslin.
Pattern: Black Snail 1890’s evening gown bodice, altered for the bodice lining. I draped the outer layer of the bodice myself.
Notions: Thread, bias tape, hooks and eyes, rayon ribbon, cotton tape, petersham ribbon, spiral steel boning.
How historically accurate is it? The materials and pattern are pretty good overall. The construction started out well-researched in the beginning, but as time went on on I just wanted to get it done and I just went for it in a way that made sense to me, and stopped caring if it was HA or not. We’ll say 75% when all’s said and done.
Hours to complete: I don’t even know. I was supposed to make this for an event in April, but then COVID happened and I lost my motivation to finish. I then picked up this bodice and worked on it in starts and stops throughout the year. Well, it’s finally, finally, done! But the construction was too broken up for me to have any clue on the time spent.
First worn: Not Yet.
Total cost: I spent $80 on all the silk for the complete gown and $60 for the vintage fur coat I repurposed. I used about 1/4 of those materials for this bodice, so let’s say $35. The other materials either came from my stash, left over from other projects, or thrift stores, antique malls, or estate sales for very cheap. Let’s say $15 total for all those materials for a total of $50 for the bodice.