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Dawn Vautier's "Iron Dress"

Among the entrants for the Iron Dress competition was this outstanding effort from Dawn Vautier, known to the members of Margo's Yahoo Group as "Dawnkitty." Unfortunately, the overall photos don't quite do it justice, but they still convey a good impression of this stunning (but inexpensive!) costume.

Dawn's description:

"Doublet bodice with trim divided into eight sections (four front, four back), the chevroned slashing in the black velveteen to expose the ivory satin underdeanth. This design is continued down the front of the skirt and around the hem; as well as on the sleeves and the attifet. There is also a lot of detailing with faux "diamond" buttons with faux pearl and silver beads of varying sizes outlining the decorative buttons.

"I made the doublet styled bodice with the "fitted" sleeves opening down the front, shoulder rolls, split skirting, and the open fronted overskirt and the matching attifet. The forepart and underpinnings are not included in what is in the competition.

"I did not make any real alterations to the pattern except for the sizing. I made the doublet in a fitted size, but I used the largest size of the sleeves in the pattern. I was looking for a baggier sleeve but not the Pheonix sleeve shape. I also wanted it to open down the front. On hot days it's more comfortable to wear them hanging than closed, and it's more 'correct' than not wearing your sleeves. To make it fit in the armscye I simply pleated the excess fabric in a decorative manner. The sleeves lace in using grommet tape on both the sleeves and the shoulders of the doublet in a 'hidden' manner.

"The black cotton velveteen is slashed with ivory satin showing thru from underneath. I used faux metal and jeweled buttons surrounded by faux pearls and silver beads as my decoration. The slashing and beading also continue down the front and around the hem of the skirt. The slashing and beading pattern on the sleeves and attifet match. All of the beading is actually hand sewn on. Black and white braid outline almost all of my seams and edges. The lining of the sleeves matches the forepart (that isn't finished).

"The button and pearl decorations are actually made individually with jewelry wire and then each sewn on. I made over a hundred of these, each containing one button, four 6mm pearls, four 4mm pearls, and eight 4mm silver beads. On the sleeves and attifet I used larger pearls (forget the size) to punctuate the slashes.

"I must say... I used all the pattern pieces from Margo Anderson except for the skirt. I always just cut that out of 4 pieces of the same length fabric and pleat it onto a grosgrain waistband. Also, while I did use the pieces of the pattern, in most cases I didn't really use the instructions. The research in the manual is invaluable. I read thru it all when I first recieved it, but did not refer to it during the construction of this dress. I've just been doing it for so long, I don't really find that necessary.

"Oh, yeah.... didn't spend an additional penny on the dress. It's 100% from my stash, notions included."

Her accounting of aquiring the stuff involved, in her words:

  • Black cotton velveteen $1.98 a yard 8 yards. earlier this summer
  • Ivory satin gift from Nana when she was cleaning her closet... the stuff must be 50 years old. [She] gave it to me last year.
  • Same story with the white lining fabric.
  • Forepart and sleeve lining $1.98/yard 2 yards, from two years ago.
  • Various pearls and beads $5 (give or take $2) acquired over the years. (Some beads and pearls came from Mom's old craft basket she gave me in college.)
  • Buttons $6.98 a gross... don't know how many I used. [I] bought them for my Yule outfit last year and never used 'em.
  • Grosgrain waistband $0.99 for the roll (must be 50 yards there, only used 2 yards though) bought earlier this summer.
  • Hook and eye tape $1.75 a yard; 1/2 yard bought earlier this summer in bulk.
  • Grommet tape $1.29 yard 1 yard bought the bolt of it 2 years ago.
  • Laces for sleeves $0.25 each, used 2. I pick 'em up when ever I see 'em over the last 3 years.
  • Roll of rigiline $5, only used 1 1/2 yards. purchased 3 years ago.

"Total over the years: $40.44."



Margo Anderson - One Tough Costumer!