Shocking, I know. Remember that Russian Court gown I teased and then never did anything about? Well, this entry is an attempt to make up for that. "Long time coming," you say? I totally agree with you.
I finished and delivered this project last August (I know, I know. I'm the worst blogger ever). I haven't asked P about getting photos of her in it, so you'll have to make do with images of a dress form. Just pretend there's a pretty girl in it, okay?
The inspiration image: Maria Fedorovna by Makovskiy, 1912
After lacing P into her new corset, I fit the toile. Like you do. I have no pictures, because who takes pictures of their poor, unsuspecting, client who just got off work? Not me. So pretend there's a picture of the fitting. It went pretty well.
Onto the building process! First off, this was a time-consuming project, even with cutting corners on embroidery and such. P had a specific budget and time limit (and I pushed that deadline way farther than I should have), so instead of the insane amount of silver embroidery depicted, we agreed to echo the look with rhinestone and sequin appliques. P also preferred an aubergine (how's that for a $2 word?) velvet over the lighter purple in the portrait. So when you see black velvet in my crappy cell phone photos, know that it's actually eggplant.
On to the pictures!
Laying down the trim was pretty straight forward, there was just a lot of it - about 150 yards, in fact. After marking off my lines and stitching down the wider trims, I started on the lattice work. The silver lattice on just the skirt took roughly 16 hours. On an industrial sewing machine. Did I mention this was a labor-intensive project?
Here's another shot of the skirt while I was sewing the lattice. See those stars in the bottom bit of the photo? Those are my PJs. More precisely, those are the PJs I stole from my fiance. Yes, I work in my pajamas. Don't judge me.
The skirt/train after I finished up the lattice. How many times can I say 'lattice' in this post? Too many. If the fabric looks small, check out the hip curve (curved metal ruler) laying next to it. That hip curve is 24" long.
And here's the train after I finished with the silver trim. So much trim. So much. Again, the picture makes this look like a smallish piece of fabric. Wait till we get to the end result.
And then the fun part: Laying out appliques and finding a configuration I liked! Fun! Well, it was fun for me, anyway. After coming up with about 20 different patterns, I narrowed it down to this one.
And then I changed my mind. This ended up being "The One" after I bought a bunch of other appliques, because of course more is more.
Sewing on appliques. So thrilling.
And then came the sleeves. Second verse, same as the first. Mark, trim, lattice. So much lattice.
And more trim to finish off the raw lattice edges.
And then came appliques! Because more is more!
For some reason, I never took construction photos of the bodice. or the underskirt. Because I'm a clown. But it did happen, I swear. This was after making the main part of the bodice, itself. I was testing out applique placement. I love appliques, especially rhinestone ones. But after this project, I needed a year away from them.
Closeup of the bodice detail. Thrilling. I am in love with those buttons, however. They were the right ones for the job, and added a bit more glitz without detracting from the rest of the garment.
After the sleeves and bodice were completed, I hand stitched the sleeves into the armscye. Normally I wouldn't do that, but these had some cartridge pleating at the back to give them a bit more oomph. So far, so good.
And then I finished the train! See? I told you it was kinda big. I ended up making the train and underskirt as one garment, to avoid having too many pieces to keep track of. I have no idea if this was how it was done in 1912, but from a costumer standpoint, it made the most sense.
See? More totally is more. Overall, I was quite please about how this turned out. I would have loved to add more silver embroidery and maybe some soutache to more closely follow the original portrait, but quite frankly there just wasn't time or budget for it. Again, I don't have photos of P in the dress, so just pretend that this cheapo dress form is her.
Here's a closeup of the completed bodice, taken by my mother. She's a good photographer, no? You can see more (read: better) of her work on her flickr site.
I'm still chuffed with the way this turned out. Would I have liked to add more silver trim? Yes. Did I have to take a break from purple fabric for a few months? Heck yes. But it was a joy to work on, a pleasant challenge, and the customer knew what she wanted, which made it easier to build this costume. I have no idea what event she wore it to, but I hope she enjoyed it and knocked the socks off of everyone she met.