While I like my feminine dresses as much as the next lady, never before have I sewn a frock that deserves so much to be called a confection. Between the chiffon overlay, the beading, the embroidery, and the lacy pink satin slip, this is definitely more frou-frou than anything I've ever sewn before!
|I tried to follow American Duchess' 1920s makeup tutorial, but I don't think it worked so well...mostly because the idea of wearing that much eyeliner freaked me out. I don't usually wear any makeup, so when I came out of the bathroom, I think Mr. Cation was kind of shocked.|
I used to think that 1920s fashions were the most unflattering styles ever, what with the straight bodices with little to no shaping and the dropped waists. But just like 19-teens era fashion, Downton Abbey has won me over and I just had to make an evening dress that would be appropriate for a party in West Egg. Besides, the Great Gatsby movie's coming out this week!
|To get the |
I actually used to hate The Great Gatsby as a novel, too, but a second reading, a decade after high school English class, really helps me to appreciate it a lot better. Something about not having to finish it, along with homework for other AP classes, and write an essay at the end...
|It was so bright outside that the embroidery and beading got kind of lost. Here's a better picture of what it looks like in person. Much pinker than the outdoor photos!|
I originally wanted to make an 1840s-ish gown for this HSF challenge, but decided that between Elaine's wedding preparations and the AP Exams, I should probably hold off on such a complicated project. I turned instead to this embroidered and beaded crinkle chiffon, which was originally purchased with the intention of making a Titanic evening dress when I was still in the middle of Season 1 of Downton Abbey. That never happened, but thanks to the progression of time in the Downton world, this is still appropriate for an evening dinner party there!
|I decided that the sash tied at the side was totally a thing. For example, these extant gowns.|
To start with, and to ease myself into slippery fraytastic fabric sewing, I made a pink satin slip to go under the very sheer chiffon. Thanks to Lauren, the American Duchess, for the very easy tutorial!
|1920s slips are not flattering, but I did my best to pretty it up. I was inspired by these two extant slips, which are much more elaborate, of course. I figured that it was okay since the slip would be mostly hidden.|
To make the overdress, I started by looking at the 1923-25 evening dress in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion. It's got no shaping (side seams go straight down, no darts) and is essentially a giant tank-top. I went with that general shape (but graded down for my size) for the bodice, but I was afraid that a straight-down side seam for the entire dress would be more unflattering than necessary. Fortunately, there are plenty of examples (from both sewing patterns and extant gowns) of straight bodices with fuller skirts, either through the use of godets or gathered rectangles. I didn't want to deal with either of those options because of the fussiness of my fabric, so I opted for a fraction of a circle-ish skirt, like these sewing patterns or this dress. I put together the front and back bodice and skirt pieces, then sewed them together at the shoulder and sides by machine, and finally hand-overcast the seam allowances to make them as unobtrusive as possible. The worst part by far, though, was trying to finish the armscyes and neckline with self-fabric bias binding; crinkle chiffon is the worst fabric ever, and yet I persist in using it for some reason. Even with all of Andrea's tips, I couldn't get it to behave! Between the crinkles, the general chiffon shiftiness, and the beads on the fabric, I ended up with the wiggliest bindings ever. To camouflage some of the worst of it on the neckline, I added a couple rows of extremely ugly beading. Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking.
|You can see how crinkly the chiffon is here. Also my hand finished seam allowance, which almost turned into a rolled hem due to the lightness of the chiffon.|
|It's like I was drunk when I sewed on the beads, except I totally wasn't.|
HSF Challenge #9: Flora and Fauna...I've got the flora thing going on in the embroidery, and I guess the feather clip can be the fauna? I didn't make the clip, though.
Fabric: For the slip and sash, 2 yards of dusty-rose polyester satin; for the overdress, 3.5 yards of 45" wide polyester crinkle chiffon in cream, embroidered and beaded with a floral pattern. I didn't include these in my stashbusting pledge pile, but both have been in the stash since Oonaballoona and I ripped off the FIDM scholarship store, so I'm pretty pleased to have used it.
Notions: Cream-colored 1/2" polyester ribbon for the slip straps, cream-colored lace from last year's Vintage Fashion Expo, almost 300 silver bugle beads for the overdress neckline (which I've saved for six years...thereby rewarding my penchant for never throwing away any craft supply ever)
Techniques used: French seams on the slip, hand-overcast stitch on the overdress
Hours: About thirty? I don't even know anymore, I've been working on it so long. I managed to watch a good chunk of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, all of North and South, and listen to a whole bunch of Radiolab podcasts.
Will you make it again? Extremely unlikely. I'm pleased with the overall experience and dress, but I'm not in need of more 1920s evening dresses!
Total cost: Thanks to the FIDM's mistake and the LA Fabric District's prices, less than $15!
First worn: Just for pictures, but hopefully to see the movie when it comes out
Final thoughts: When I was walking out of the apartment to take pictures, I felt super glamorous, and as a bonus the whole thing is remarkably comfortable. I am incredibly pleased with this dress and how successfully I was able to get the general look of the era, despite the anachronistic materials and accessories! As for those who might turn up their noses at the polyester and less-than-stellar beading, well, all I can say is, "Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone...just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." In this case, that would be the advantage of beading lessons and a large enough pocketbook for authentic materials?
And because B&W automatically equals old-timey...I did my best to channel my inner Anna May Wong, despite the failings of my make-up application: