White Cotton 1797 Gown

Ok, this post is a long one, but I hope you’ll think it a good one.

I’m using this as my (slightly belated) entry for the HSM ’16 (Historical Sew Monthly) January challenge: procrastination. Doesn’t it just figure I’m a little late with ito_O

I started this dress for last year’s challenge: out of your comfort zone, back in……May? April? Something like that. Considering I was feverishly working on finishing my PhD thesis at that time I wasn’t about to take on a whole new branch of sewing/needlework for this challenge. Instead I decided to take on one historical sewing technique that had long fascinated me but I’d been unsure of trying for some reason. The technique is a particular way of seaming bodices in the late 18th century. It consists of finishing the separate pieces of the bodice with their linings and then sewing them together with a very scant seam allowance (you’ll see what I mean in a moment).

The style of the dress is from (goddess) Norah Waugh’s Cut of Women’s Clothes, the 1797 open gown:

I used the pattern largely as-is, adjusting just a little for size and making it a drop-front round gown as opposed to an open one (I didn’t have enough fabric for an open gown + matching petti and wanted something all white). I don’t know exactly how the extant gown from which the pattern was taken was sewn. I chose to use the method I did based off a very similar dress at the Museum of London I examined that used this seaming technique.

Like I said, it starts with lining the individual bodice pieces and clean finishing them:




The clean-finished bodice edges were then stitched together with a closely-spaced running stitch (backstitch and herringbone stitch were also used in the period, I think) taking up a seam allowance of 1/8″ or less:

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For comparison purposes, here’s an example of an extant dress seen the same way:


Manchester Galleries, Gallery of Costume at Platt Hall Acc# 1974.27

My seams are not quite as close to the edges as they ideally would be, but for a first try I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.

2015-12-19 21.07.07

As far as all that went things were good! The procastination came with working on the crossover fronts. The way Norah Waugh’s sketch looked to me, the fronts were meant to be slightly gathered along most theirbottom edges. However, when I tried that the result was not. good. Without gathering along the neckline, it created a weird rippling neckline edge. I tried gathering up the neckline as well by threading a cord through the hem edge, but that justmade the whole front look super dowdy. I camcto the conclusion that Waugh had drafted the piece incorrectly, that it should have had a curved bottm edge so that it could gather and the neckline would be fitted. Unfortunatle, this mean I needed new fronts, and because I had accidentally cut out 2 of each of the original front pieces I had no extra fabric except scraps. This is when the procrastination set in. I just could. not. be bothered to deal with it then, especially with all being hand sewn, and with both my thesis and our impending move to the US on my plate – I needed my sewing at that time to be relaxing, not frustrating. I put it away but allowed my subconcious to continue pondering the problem.

Fast forward to November/December and I finally started feeling willing to tackle this little beast again. I decided to take 2 of my fronts and graft a curved piece onto each trying to sew as unnoticeable a seam as possible. It wasn’t an ideal result. And gathering the bottom across its length was still looking weird to me somehow. Crestfallen, and feeling out of options because there was just no more fabric for this I decided to play with two of the first fronts again. And I figured it out!2016-02-01 13.55.28 Waugh’s pattern piece wasn’t wrong, her sketch was just misleading! The bottom edge of the fronts was only meant to be gathered up a little beneath the bust, to create the fitting over it. Duh. I felt dumb, but really relieved – it turned out to be such a blessing in disguise that I had cut 2 additional fronts way back at the beginning! Hallelujah, my dress was saved!

I went right on ahead with finishing constructing the bodice. The sleeves were another slight challenge, but a few tucks in the fronts near the bottom edge gave them some shaping they were lacking, and is a perfectly period technique. I should have used the sleeve lining piece rather than the sleeve piece from Waugh’s pattern. If I do this one again I will.

The sleeves were sewn to the bodice before the cross-over fronts were added, as they were meant to be applied over top of everything – as far as I could tell. This is also how the Museum of London dress I was referencing for construction was put together

2015-12-19 21.05.44

The skirt was just two lengths of the fabric stitched along the selvedges for the side seams, leaving an opening at the top for the front drape. Although I made mine a round gown I followed the pattern’s diagram for pleating the back, I think it’s quite a smart look!

I made a few new undergarments to wear with this, partially because the only petticoat I had was a quick & dirty make from a dark ivory old bedsheet remnant that would have looked quite bad under the sheer white dress, and partially to add extra fullness to the back of the skirt a la late 1790s silhouettes:

1796 Journal des Luxus und der Moden1796 Journal des Luxus und der Moden:

1796 Journal des Luxus und der Moden

I made a petticoat just with shoulder straps:

Then a bodiced one:

2016-02-05 10.25.01

(I like how the stitching turned out looking on the bodiced petti)

To put underneath it all I experimented a little and made a bustle pad that ties onto the back of my stays:

It works a treat to fill-in the small of my back and add just that little bit of volume…..unfortunately it’s REALLY HOT.

So, now here’s everything put together……the setting isn’t *quite* correct, but you work with what you have, right? And at least the new loveseat is *slightly* plausible! Ha!

White 1797 gown (1)

White 1797 gown (2)



The jewellery is a necklace and earring set from Dames a la Mode and the shoes are a pair of Pemberlies from American Duchess.


Here’s a sort of close-up of the back skirt pleating. It’s stacked box pleats that meet at the bodice back seams.

Clearly, I need some Neo-Classical décor for the mantle.


Just lounging around….you know, as one does.


Why yes, Madame Recamier IS a friend of mine…….why do you ask?


And finally…….Just the Facts Ma’am:

The Challenge: Procrastination

Material: Cotton and linen (for the bodice lining)

Pattern: 1797 open gown in Cut of Women’s Clothes by Norah Waugh

Year: 1797

Notions: thread (silk for most of it, linen thread for the bodice lining), shell buttons, cotton tape for ties

How historically accurate is it? 95-99%

Hours to complete: Who knows!?

First worn: To a Twelfth Night Ball in early January (with an open robe overtop – post to come!)

Total cost: Hmmm…..everything was from stash….I’ll guesstimate the total was around $30 Canadian

New Year, New Loveseat!

My husband and I moved to Washington DC this past August for a 3 year stint. We moved from a wee 2 bedroom condo in Kingston, Ontario Canada to a rather grand historic row house on Capital Hill. We had a loveseat back in Kingston that served as our sofa, but it was a hand-me-down and getting ratty so we left it behind and just brought our pair of Ikea tub chairs (I’ll hopefully be blogging about them in a bit, too). In our new house there’s a beautiful front room, but with just the 2 chairs and a small accent table it felt kind of empty and also forced us to use the dining room table as a sitting room stand-in. We needed additional seating in the front room!

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(front room – in Christmas mode!)

We intended to get something new, but then came across an old/vintage piece at a vintage furniture/housewares store that seemed well-built, was the right size and with lines we quite liked. And for $200, we really couldn’t go wrong!

However, it too is a little on the ratty side:


So a slipcover was needed. I’ve done this sort of thing more than once before. Over 10 years ago I made a fitted slipcover for a little chair I also found used that I loved – and I still love it and the cover I made for it. I also made a slipcover for the old loveseat.

This one was surprisingly easy to make a pattern for. All I did was take large pieces of tracing paper (I get it by the roll), pin it to the individual parts of the loveseat, and trace along the upholstering “seamlines” with marker. And fortunately the seat cushion is fully separate from the whole, which made things that much easier!

I trued-up the lines a little and cut out the paper pattern pieces as-is, without adding seam allowances. I added the allowances when I cut out the fabric. I got the fabric from a very yummy store over in Arlington called Haute Fabrics. It’s a sort of discount designer home furnishings fabric store. The prices aren’t rock-bottom, but considering it’s very high-end stuff and really beautiful they’re quite reasonable. I had gotten some money for Christmas that was meant to go towards furniture and I figured this counted.

The main fabric is a pale blue cotton (or linen?) and rayon (I think) blend with a woven design of little wee ivory/pale gold/warm silver circles all over. I made the piping myself with a figured silk fabric in a cream/pale gold colour that co-ordinated with the main fabric’s pattern:

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I felt the main, blue fabric was just a little thin on its own for so I backed it with muslin to give it a little more body and substance.

And here’s how it turned out:




And while it’s not the best photo, here is the room with all the furniture together:


Although it’s not absolutely perfect, I’m pretty pleased with it! So much so that I think it will come in handy as a prop for photographing some of my other recent makes – coming soon! And I’m already thinking ahead to making another cover in a dark red for next Christmas….hmmmmm…….

Now I just need to make the slipcovers for the tub chairs – which I’ve had cut out for probably at least a year but have allowed to languish; pretty dresses are just so much more fun!

New Year, New Ironing Board Cover

I know I am way, way behind with posting on here, and this post isn’t going to address that. However, after being out of the groove so long (not that I was or will likely ever be a terribly frequent blogger) I needed something quick and easy with which to get back into the habit. I have given myself the 2016 goal (I’ve never been into resolutions, but I like the idea of yearly goals, and it certainly worked in 2014 when I decided that was the year I would become a knitter!) to blog at least twice each month. It’s already 2/3 of the way through January, so expect more from me pretty soon! lol

I also used the new year and a desire for some fresh starts to replace my really, really tired ironing board. And it’s amazing how happy having a new on has made me!

My previous cover came from Ikea about 10 years ago. It was very lovely when I got it, but over the years ended up looking like this:

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It had even started tearing – which is what made me finally take action to replace it:

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I had initially thought of getting something pretty in white and aqua to go with the colour scheme I’m gradually developing for my sewing furniture:

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However, when I found this one on Joann’s website (and that it was on sale) I thought this was too neat to pass up!

June Tailor Press-Mate Ironing Board Cover-58"x19"

So here is my new-and-improved ironing board:

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I do a lot of hem pressing by eye (naughty, naughty, I know) and I have hopes this will enable me to be both lazy AND accurate! This can also be helpful for pressing self-made bias strips/binding and probably lots of other things. Also, it looks just so….sew-y, I love it!

Do any of you (whoever may still be following or paying attention to this blog) use the new year to replace, refresh or change anything?

Happy (belated) New Year, and I’ll see you again soon – before the month is up!

Regency Shako

Ok, so I have a lot of catching up to do on here! Between finishing up my PhD and then an international move, there hasn’t been much time for blogging over the past few months. But I have been sewing during a lot of this “away” time. I made a natural form era summer suit, a vintage mash-up summer suit for my thesis defense, and three new dresses over the past 2-3 weeks. I’m also in the middle of a white cotton regency gown to wear with the blue silk spencer.

Today, I present a project I made for a Historical Sew Monthly challenge back in the spring: War & Peace. I did get it done and posted to the fb challenge album in by the challenge deadline, but never got around to blogging it. In the interest of catching up, this is going to be short and sweet, but I hope will still be worth your taking a look.

I hummed and hawed about what to do for War & Peace for some time trying to figure out what to do. Then I remembered those smart military-inspired hats women wore during the Napoleonic wars – feminized versions of the Shako hat/cap:


However, I didn’t want to be so literal about it, and I also came across this image and totally fell in love with this hat, despite it being a modern costume piece:

HAT LOVE - Claire Skinner, Fanny Dashwood - Sense & Sensibility directed by John Alexander (TV Mini-Series, BBC, 2008) #janeausten

This is the character Fanny Dashwood from the 2008 BBC Sense & Sensibility. And it’s totally true what they say on Frock Flicks: the Austen mean girls get the best costumes! I mean, THAT HAT.

So I constructed a similar-looking form out of buckram and hat wire and started playing with some scraps of the olive-coloured fabrics left over from the Natural Form Tea gown (hooray for finding uses for scraps!). I draped a diagonally pleated cover for the crown, but before actually stitching it down did some digging for historical precedents to make sure I wasn’t going too far off the mark in terms of HA.

Low and behold, I found this plate on Pinterest, and it’s even green!

1812 M5053MA_214X02X00001_L_3 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

My version is sort of a mash-up of the S&S costume piece and the example in the fashion plate.

Although I didn’t manage a series of in-process photos I made sure to get one showing the cotton flannelette I used to cover the buckram frame (to pad it slightly). BANANA FLANNEL. Go on, say it out loud and see if you don’t end up with a smile on your face. I’ve had this fabric for FOREVER, as in, about 15 years. There was a set of pajama bottoms made of it at some point for someone, and I have enough for possibly another pair along with scraps of various sizes. Hooray for more scrap-usage!


And with no further preamble, here’s my finished Shako:


The main fabric is a cotton/silk blend sateen; the binding, cockade base and piping is pale celadon silk taffeta; the cockade inner is silk chiffon; the crown is lined with a scrap of white linen. The feather is ostrich, which I curled simply by wrapping it around a fat highlighter marker – I didn’t think it would work, it proved me wrong. So everything came from stash, mostly scraps, which makes me very happy. It’s entirely hand-sewn, which I find so much easier with millinery than trying to do any of it by machine.


Here it is with the blue silk spencer. I intend to wear them together, really liking the contrast between the olive and the pale blue. It actually looks better than this, the spencer is too highlighted in this photo.


So, because I’ve gone about this outfit kind of backwards I have no dress to wear these with just yet, it’s the white cotton gown that’s in-progress. Here’s hoping I can get it and a photoshoot of everything together before winter comes!

Illustration Imitation: Houndstooth McCalls 6566

A few years ago I discovered something really fun (at least I think it’s fun!): I had this early 60s pattern:

McCalls 6566

and this fabric:


For the longest time I thought it was just wool, but while working with it I started to think it may be mixed with raw silk. A very luxurious textile either way, and another great thrift store find!

You see where I’m going with this? Yep, I put them together:


As you can see it’s not an exact copy. I didn’t have quite enough yardage for the sleeves, but the wool (possibly silk blend) is scratchy and lining sleeves of this fabric would have made for bulky sleeves. So I’m ok with sleeveless worn with comfy knit tops underneath. This also means I have the option to add colour with tops!


I’m very delayed in posting this, I made it ….oh….. in March? April? And took photos in early May? So this is my 2015 contribution to my “Canadian Spring” wardrobe. I should also be able to wear it through much of winter as well.


I really like how chic this piece is. I don’t make a lot of “chic” clothes, so I’m quite happy with this addition, I think/hope it will be very versatile.


I think, however, that I’ll normally wear it with a narrower black belt I have, I think this wide one is too much for my super short-waisted-ness. But it matches the pattern envelope!


Look at that flawless pattern matching along the skirt back seam! Ignore the less than flawless result on the bodice! Oh well. Can’t win ’em all.


A couple views of the inside to show my finishing techniques:



Although using the houndstooth for the neck and armhole facings looks nice, turns out it wasn’t the most practical decision. The fabric is so scratchy that I’m always going to make sure I wear a top underneath that covers those parts and provides a full barrier between it and my skin. Oh well, I still really like it!

Have you ever tried copying a pattern envelope illustration?

After discovering this match-up between pattern and fabric in my stash I started looking for others and found a few more. So I’m thinking of making this kind of a thing. But I think I need a better moniker for it than “Illustration Imitation”, what do you think? Any ideas? Please?!

Natural Form Teagown

This project was finished about a month ago, but I only just got photos of me in it this week, so waited until now to do a proper post. I started this early in the year and used it as my entry for the Historical Sew Monthly challenge for March: Stashbusting.

My teagown is a combination of this inspiration original piece (It’s dated 1886 but I don’t know by what authority and the overall silhouette looks comparable to Natural Form to me):

Abiti Antichi- Abito da casa 3

Abiti Antichi- Abito da casa 3

Abiti Antichi- Abito da casa 3

Abiti Antichi- Abito da casa 3

Using the Truly Victorian 1882 Teagown pattern TV432 as my base pattern:

1882 Tea gown

And six fabrics in my stash ranging from a few months to over ten years of stashdom.

I put these all together and got this:

Hello! Welcome to my teagown!

Hello! Welcome to my teagown!

The main fabric is silk taffeta in a subtle stripe of celadon and a sort of pale gold/olive. The centre front panel comprises silk chiffon ruffles over a silk charmeuse base in closely matching shades of olive green. The collar, cuffs, and lapel thingies are a Chinese silk brocade – so a silk/rayon blend, but close enough says I! The front “ribbons” are made from a piece of cotton/silk satin in an olive green that matched really well with the chiffon and charmeuse. It really felt like these were all meant to go together!

It’s worn over my full set of Natural Form foundation garments, and my pink corset.

The main alteration I made to the TV pattern was the front panel, but was a pretty straightforward process. I simply drew on the front pattern piece (well, my traced off copy of it) where I wanted the front panel, took the centre most dart allowance out of the resulting edges of front panel and new gown front piece and smoothed the curves/edges. If I remember correctly, I even did this before making my first mock-up.

The next major divergence is the back. The line drawings for the pattern show 2 options: a smooth, seamed back or a pleated Watteau back. However, I think a third option, the one I chose in order to copy the original gown, is actually provided on the pattern itself. I haven’t seen any examples around the internet of this option made up, so I don’t know if people just don’t realize it’s there, or that’s what it is, or whether I’m the only one so far who likes it! (if anyone else has run across this please do share, I’d love to see other people’s take on this!)


Less major changes I made were to lengthen the sleeves from 3/4 to 7/8 length, and add more fullness to the back pleats and a bit of length to the train. I just drafted the cuffs and lapel pieces.

I flatlined the entire gown with a cotton sheet I got from Value Village. It has a little woven stripe in it that’s very subtle, but which I really like for some reason. I bound all the seam allowance edges with cotton bias binding that was already in my stash – hence why it isn’t all exactly the same, lol.


It opens and fastens up one side of the centre front panel from the lower hip to the neck with a combination of snaps and hooks & eyes. I’ve seen similar-ish combinations on extant garments and for some reason prefer sewing snaps to hooks and eyes, so used them wherever I could.


The collar fastenings are the fiddliest bit as the lower end of the free section needs to tuck behind the corresponding neck edge of the centre front panel, yet the upper corner of the panel needs to tuck in under the dress front edge where it meets the collar.


The gown front edges, hem and sleeve ends are all faced with the silk taffeta. The ruffle under the hem is made from a small piece of pale yellow vintage cotton organdy I found in an antique shop (and had for a few years knowing that eventually the right use for this little piece of special fabric would come along !) edged with some off-white vintage cotton lace.


My friend Sarah obliged me by taking photos. The location is the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on Queen’s University campus in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. The art centre is a museum/gallery with a particularly interesting feature – it’s attached to a historic house, Etherington House. It was the lifelong home of the art centre’s namesake, who donated it to the university during the mid-20th century as a place for art instruction to begin at Queen’s. Over time, the art centre grew beyond the house (by a lot!) but remained physically attached. It’s now a sort of informal museum space that’s also used for social functions and events. I was curious about trying it out as a backdrop.

It wasn’t as perfect as I’d hoped, the lighting was difficult, so we had to use the flash (which I hate doing). If I was more on the ball I’d have prepared an idea I’ve had for a while to make a little vellum sort of cover for my flash to (hopefully) diffuse the light. But Sarah was a really good sport and got some nice shots all the same! At some point I’ll try doing photos again – in natural light….maybe in a garden. Surely teagowns were acceptable to wear in one’s own backyard?

I also most definitely need a better wig. Someone help! I’m terrible at hair!


Yep, I know the hair could be better.









Fancy joining me for a cuppa?



Mood lighting fun.








I don’t know if this will help anyone out, but here’s what the back pleats look like from the inside:




Thank you for visiting, now it’s time for me to change into something I can actually wear in public. Ta!

Overall I’m extremely pleased with how this turned out, and I love wearing it! I have identified just a few things I may or may not address at some point. When I made the mock-up I was being good and running fairly regularly. That had dropped off some by the time of the photos, so it’s just a little too snug through the middle and that’s why it doesn’t lie smoothly down the upper back. I think I should let it out a tad (probably at the side seams where the marks won’t show much). I also got the length of the bodice lapels wrong, they should extend to nearly meet the top edge of the skirt lapels (skirt lapels, is that even a thing?). I misread the inspiration images and thought there was a gap between them, but now see I was wrong. I think it would help with the overall look of the proportions to make new ones that are as long as they should be – I’m naturally very short-waisted, I don’t need that emphasized. I have more of that fabric left, so that’s not a problem and it wouldn’t be horrendously complicated to do, but I’ll probably need some space and time to feel like putting in the effort. Lastly, I think my organdy hem ruffle sticks out too much so I’ll eventually either shorten it or move it up inside the dress.

But I’m still pleased as punch with it and am now determined to host my own Victorian tea so I have an excuse to put this to its proper use! Who wants to join me?


Garrison Ballgown 2015

Yes, it’s that time of year again! Or it was, a couple of weeks ago.

This year’s ensemble was nothing like last year’s mammoth undertaking. With a tentative PhD thesis defense date set, there was no way I could devote that much time this year.

However, I may actually love this year’s ensemble as much as last year’s, and I certainly enjoyed wearing it a lot more! lol (this year’s was much more user-friendly!)

To make things easier for myself I used sewing patterns I already had, and just did a bit of frankenpatterning. I combined two 1950s patterns for the dress and used one other for the bolero.

I took the dress bodice from this pattern:

McCalls 9881

And used the skirt portion of this pattern. Changes I made to this part: lengthening the skirt to be floor-length, eliminating the button-up front and making a seam + opening at centre back instead and I added a little extra fullness to the side front and side back pieces, because POUFFY:

Advance 6961 front

Once the drafting/frankenpatterning was done, the mock-up came together so well and so easily it was almost wearable itself! However, as not-bad as this ($1/m) fabric ended up looking, I had a GORGEOUS shot silk taffeta in mind for this and there’s really just no comparison.

, 2015-02-13 08.39.48

2015-02-13 08.40.16

2015-02-13 08.40.32

You may notice that the side pouffiness of the skirt is not even between both sides in the above photos. That’s because I was doing a little experimenting with my crinoline.

I made a new crinoline for this ensemble that ended up being a whole mini-project of its own. I don’t have photos of every step in its progression, but enough for you to get the idea. I knew from the beginning that I’d want some extra oomph underneath the skirt side gathers to fill them out nicely. So I tried adding an extra piece of gathered, softer crin fabric to one side and it did the trick. They look like this:

2015-03-13 09.26.17

I also, initially, started with a single-layer crinoline, but decided it didn’t have as much fullness as I wanted. It made the dress skirt look like this:

2015-02-27 13.12.31

(yes, that’s the “spontaneous” spencer with it, I was working on them at the same time. I think they actually look kinda cute together, what do you think? lol)

(here’s another view of them together. heehee:

2015-02-27 13.12.02)

Anyway. To get more fullness I added a second layer to the lower two sections and that gave me the added fullness I wanted. The crinoline photo farther up is with the two layers. Here’s a gratuitous (superfluous?) photo showing the separate layers:

2015-03-13 09.27.54

And here’s a photo of the actual dress showing the difference between having the extra piece under the side and not. It’s not super-dramatic, but I think it adds just that little bit extra which takes it from nice to really having presence. Or is it just me?

2015-02-19 08.29.11

As you can see, I decided to accent this (amazing coloured) fabric with black. Oh, and the bit of blue you can see peeking out the bottom is some thin (almost sheer) but crisp cotton I found at Value Village to use as underlining to give the silk taffeta just a little more volume. Probably the most perfectly timed find I’ve made there yet, as I was just about to order some silk organza around the time I came across this. Even though the organza was well-priced at $6.99/m (USD), I got the whole piece of cotton (enough to underline the whole dress and make facings, and the bolero as well) for $6-7 (CAD) – can’t really beat that!

The neckline piping is from some silk dupioni scraps I had, the shoulder straps are from a piece of vintage/antique silk velvet ribbon I had to which I also added some dupioni piping along the edges (not that you can see it in these photos).

2015-03-19 15.21.26

I got a 10yd bolt of wide vintage rayon velvet ribbon (it’s SO soft!) for the sash and back tails. I folded the ribbon in half for the waist sash (full width was way too much on short-waisted me) but left it full width for the tails. Initially I tried to find satin-back velvet ribbon, but couldn’t find width + length I needed. Instead, I doubled this up and whip-stitched the edges to make a de facto double-sided velvet ribbon.

2015-03-19 15.22.33

It has a hand-picked zipper in the back, which I initially, intentionally avoided. I wanted a really clean line down the back so tried and invisible zip first. I know they’re not as strong as regular zips, but I made the bodice with a little bit of easy and added a stay at the waist to take the stress there. However, just after I got the zipper in (one of the last things I did – even though I know you should add an invisible zip before finishing the seam) and tried the dress on – the zipper first separated on me, and then broke completely when I tried to fix it/get out of the dress. I was decidedly NOT impressed. I got the zipper from Fabricland and don’t know if I just got a bad one or if the quality of their supplier has fallen. I fear it may be the latter and will not be buying another one from them in a hurry. Ultimately, I used a regular zip I had in my stash in a well-matching colour and all was fine. With the waist sash and tails you don’t see much of the zipper and it’s not like it looks terrible or anything, so I’m good with it.

For the matching/co-ordinating bolero I used this pattern and just modified it a little to have 3/4 length sleeves and meeting centre front edges:

Marian Martin 9390

I had a devil of a time deciding whether to make it of the silk, accented with black velvet, or black velvet accented with the silk. I played around with the fabrics to try and help myself:

2015-03-21 11.13.42

I even posted this on fb to get some advice but the opinions were nearly evenly split between the two. In the end I decided to do both by making it reversible!

Even on the evening of the ball I couldn’t decide which I liked better, so I just kept switching it around during the event, lol.

I didn’t do a whole photoshoot like last year, but got enough snaps to show how it all came together.








Dramatic Carolyn is dramatic.




I didn’t get the constant compliments and attention I did last year, but still plenty and I just loved wearing this so much! It was comfortable, it fit under the table at dinner so I was actually able to pull my chair in properly (unlike last year – that is NOT a sitting dress), it was so much lighter, it took a fraction of the time to make, and I spent so much less money on supplies and accessories (approx. $120 this year vs approx. $700 last year when all was said and done).

ETA: This dress has one more feature that makes me love it all the more – I added POCKETS into the side seams! That’s right, folks, it’s a ballgown with pockets!!

Of all the formal gowns I’ve made in recent years, this is the one I’m most looking forward to wearing again (and again and again!).