Titanic Gowns (2015)
Way back in 2015 I took it into my head to make Teens Era dresses for myself and my sister, so we could have a "Titanic Tea" together in costume. The process started with a shared Pinterest board where we batted around ideas and identified our favorite elements of various dresses. Then I collected fabrics in the color schemes I liked: green and gold for myself and purple and burgundy for her.
For each dress I started with muslin and made a self-draped bra-bustier contraption (to approximate the bosom support that the Edwardians would have achieved with a long line corset). Then I draped the dress on top. However, as this was a few years ago, and I had neither blog nor camera at that time, you only get the finished pics.
The dress is satin and chiffon. The embellishment on the bodice is a crazy interesting net thing with sequins on it, which I hand-sewed to the satin on the bodice. As you may remember, I'm not always good at sleeves. I would have left this sleeveless, save that it wasn't period appropriate. So I faked sleeves from the same chiffon as the rest and trusted to the fabric to drape well.
The back train is the pointy fish-tail style, but to make it easier to walk in public, I contrived a way to hold it on my bracelet. At the bottom of the post you'll see me using that!
MY SISTER'S DRESS
The two extant dresses below were my sister's inspiration. She liked the sheer overlays on the red-bodiced Worth dress on the left, and the back v-neck and squared-off train of the one on the right. She wanted more wine-red colors, though.
My sister's sleeves got the same pin-it-and-cut-the-extra-off treatment that my dress did. As for the fabric, the inner construction is a stiff sturdy cotton, like a twill or coutil. The outer fabrics are a combination of ponte knit, chiffon, and a heavily beaded choli top I found at the Bins. (Actually, I got all the materials at the Bins! Crazy!) Once I made the bodice base, I draped the rest, which was super fun. The train is detachable at the waist: it's held on with snaps and hooks. More of the awesome Indian embroidery from the choli top is on the bottom of the train and the small of the back.
So how do these compare to historical dresses from the same era? Mine are more structured. Teens era dresses are softer and more drapey, because they were worn over stiff corsetry that shaped the body. My dresses have to be stiffer in the bodice and shoulders, to do the work of a corset in supporting the bust. Teens era gowns have complicated concealed closures, even dog-leg closures, that make it hard to tell how the woman got in. My green dress, on the other hand, has a simple side zipper, not really concealed. My sister's dress closes at center back with hooks and eyes, nothing complex. And the fabrics are not period appropriate (ponte knit? polyester satin?!). But the look is right, and the beaded choli details on my sister's gown are very true to the Edwardian's interest in all things exotic and foreign.
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Quilting, dressmaking, and history plied with the needle...
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