Making this costume was an adventure for Diana, both in
materials and in time, as she describes:
chose the fleur pattern fabric because it was the only piece I had
long enough to make the bodice, sleeves and overskirt. This piece
I had for a while thinking some day I will justify the purchase. The
first bodice I made I had to toss aside. I used some upholstery lipped
cording I had which made all the seams too thick. It was awkward and
most uncomfortable. Made the second one without the lipped cording.
"The bodice is lined in a creamy taupe antique
drapery satin I had. There was just enough for the bodice, forepart
and sleeves. Boning I keep on hand since my first corset from Ms.
[Drea] Leeds' class. I added 27 freshwater pearls purchased for another
project. At this point cost is 0.
"The fabric is an upholstery cotton blend. I have
no idea of its contents other than the cotton. The drapery is another
cotton blend. Since I had washed it and it turned out well I didn't
hesitate to use it. I used the more satin side as the right side not
the nubbed side. It felt smoother and cooler on my skin.
used two 1⁄4" boning down the front instead of one. All
the boning used is spring steel. The rest are according to the pattern
instructions. I did flatline the bodice and sleeves with muslin I
had on hand. Some were scraps I had left over from my green gown.
I stitched the boning channels on the two pieces of muslin I used
to flatline the bodice. Once the bodice was completed I hand stitched
on the 10 yards of gimp trim. I had to purchase 10 yards at .99 per
yd minus 15% = $8.40.
"Next I made the overskirt, not a single problem
with layout or fit . Went together like a breeze. I used the four
panels with the four gores for the skirt. The cartridge pleating took
a deal of time. I mark every inch with a chalk pencil. I had used
pleating tape before and did not like the results. I measured the
fabric waistline, marked it, and ran the button twist thread though
my markings getting better results. For the closure I used white hook
and eyes. Over skirt is done except for the trim. I tried to use some
of the trim I had on hand. Nothing worked well. The color of this
fabric is odd at best.
can't tell you at what lengths I went to avoid using any of the miles
of gold trim I own. All I could come up with was the satin ribbon
at $2.99 per spool. I used two spools. It was discounted also. I should
tell you I work for Jo-Ann's fabric stores. I get a 15% discount on
all I buy. The satin ribbon cost me $2.54 for a total of $5.08 for
both spools. Now my cost is up to $13.48.
"The hard part came with the forepart. Nothing
I owned would work. I tried yellow brocade I adore, it made the fleur
look peachy. I tried ivory damask, that didn't work -- it made the
fleur look dirty. Patterned pieces I have clashed or made it all look
too busy. I was nearly going to sew a seam up the front of the over
skirt and let it go like that. Then it happened: I saw the perfect
creamy white damask with a matte and satin finish in scrolls. This
fabric cost me $3.88 per yard, used one yard.
"Total cost so far: $17.36.
used silk twill that I had on hand (for a planned chemise) for the
underskirt. I flatlined the forepart with the remaining scrap drapery
"I took all of this to my weekend visit to faire
on September 27th to return home the 30th. A friend helped pin the
skirts for hemming. I used a blind hemstitch on the machine since
I was down to the wire. I still had the finishing touches to do on
the sleeves. On October 1st, I was covering the rings with matching
thread for the sleeve ties, covering as much as I could without making
the holes difficult for the lacings. At 9 pm on October 1 added the
last bit of trim to the sleeves but had the buttons to add. Since
I had so many buttons I put it aside. I was sure I would have buttons
that would work. I cut out the partlet pieces from the scraps of silk
twill I had remaining. When I looked at the clock I panicked. I was
out of time for sewing. I had to find the buttons. At 11:00 pm I discovered
I had one right button and I needed six. I still had to get the rings
attached to the shoulder of the bodice. I was able to get five done
on one side when the clock struck 12. Midnight, the deadline, I was
incomplete, unfinished. I knew with all that happened I was running
behind, I couldn't give up. I wanted to make this deadline so much
am still submitting what I have managed to finish up to the deadline.
The chemise and hat are not included in the competition. This includes
the bodice, the two skirts and the narrow curved sleeves. (I chose
the narrow sleeves because I didn't have enough fabric left for the
"I don't think the two months from start to finish
is unrealistic. If it weren't for unexpected events in my life the
gown with all the embellishments would be finished.
"I work, go to faire on the weekends I don't work,
take care of my daughter and granddaughter, plus play on line with
my friends and sew. The three weeks running back and forth to the
hospital, and having a two-year-old in my care did make things rough.
However I gave it all I could. I am most pleased with the hand stitching
I did on this gown. Yes, the machine is faster; no it doesn't make
it look better. None of my trim is machine sewn. The waistband is
hand worked on the back, each one of the 27 pearls is individually
sewn on, the tabs on the bodice are hand stitched. Total out of pocket
expense $17.36 plus tax. The experience is priceless. I am looking
forward to the next one."
We'd like to extend our compliments to Diana, both on
the beautiful costume she created, and on her rigorous honesty regarding
Photos on this page used with permission.