This fantastic gown was made for me by SarahBellem Designs, aka my good pal Sarah. I bought this stunning (and frighteningly expensive) embroidered silk in the LA Garment District at Costume College ’08, with the vague intention of making something 18th century. But, knowing me, the material would have languished in The Stash because I was afraid to cut something that pretty — until Sarah suggested making me a new gown for the Colonial Williamsburg invasion before Costume-Con 27.
She draped it on me and created an en fourreau back (although she pleated and re-pleated that several times, finally ripping it out and pleating it directly on me). There was some problems caused by the bulky embroidered motifs too. But she finalized the gown in a few hours at my house a couple weeks before the event. W00t! I will take credit for the sleeve though, since it’s a thrice-perfected pattern of mine that fit beautifully into this gown’s armscye. No idea if it’s accurate, but it works.
At first, I wanted a pink petticoat to go with it (using dupioni silk from The Stash, earmarked for a different project), but then I decided to just use the same black silk petticoat that I’d made for the Stripey Polonaise. And that lead me to trimming ideas…
During an insomniac fit — when I get hit wit many costume ideas — I remembered how much extra black lace fabric I had from the Eugenie gown. That wide scalloped-edge black lace. Surely I could make that into trim somehow, or sleeve flounces, or something. And I have some 1920s black lace mantillas that might be usable too.
So when I got up, I pulled things out. One mantilla could work as a fichu, but I’m not fond of fichus (too much fussing to get them to work and stay). But it was a backup. Then the Eugenie lace — too wide for the neckline, but perfect for sleeve flounces. I messed around making tubes of lace fabric as poufs, but that was too poufy. Lace ruches were too crazy for this dress too (but now I have a bunch of OTT trim for *something* later on!). This gown’s fabric is so fabulous, and I didn’t want super-mega-crazy trim, even though that’s my mandate these days.
Then, looking in my swatch book, I realized I had a leftover yard of dupioni that’s barely a shade darker than the embroidered burgundy. Perfectly fine for ruffled trim! So I set about sewing strips together, scalloping them, and gathering. Then I had to find something for down the center. That proved tricky, because I was low on yardages of everything (having used up so much on the stripey). I had exactly enough of a velvet trim for the neckline. Good for starters. Later on, I did buy another kind of black velvet trim to go down the center front edges.
Accessorized with a burgundy and black feather hoohah in my hair, plus a bunch of gothy jewelry, and it was perfect for evening at Christiana Campbell’s Tavern then tea at Hill and Dale Farm. And someday more!