Tree Progress

Since finishing the project that popped up and took over most of my November I busily got back into working on the Tree Gown.  I only had a week in which to go like gangbusters before heading out of town for another week (where I am now – in Quebec City, where it appears they will surely be having a very white Christmas! lol).  However, I pretty much got the rest of the muslin-ing done.  Hooray!  I was even able to start cutting and assembling parts of the foundation in their ‘real’ fabrics/materials, but I’m keeping this post focused on the multiple layers of muslin!

For reference, here is the post on the first muslined layers, the bodice foundation and the innermost petticoat.

I decided to be super-thorough and do up another innermost petticoat muslin so I could try out the ruffle at the bottom in terms of length and proportion.




I intentionally left this open at the back towards the hem as it appears to be so in the original dress – I imagine to help with walking.  I kind of wonder if this is original to James’ making of the dress, or an ‘amendment’ made by the wearer, lol.

News Photo: Evening dress Tree 1957 Silk taffeta by Charles…

The next layer was the ‘buttress’ petticoat.  This has the same silhouette as the innermost petti (this is the pattern I drafted the innermost petti from) but is cut on the bias, has a v-waist at front and back and cut-outs in the lower back to guide the shaping of the buttresses.  This was my first go at putting that layer all together.  (In case you’re wondering, I used some buckram I had lying around leftover from making a bonnet for the buttress mock-ups)




Not quite right.  The buttresses are sticking too much out to the side, they need to go out the back more.  To do this I trimmed about 1/2″ off the peak of the buttress and then just played around with placement against Maddy’s backside.  This is what I got:



Much better I think.  The two buttresses are not sitting the same because I cut one on-grain and one on the cross-grain – a good reminder of what a difference that can make to how your fabric/materials behave!  You probably also noticed the darts pinned along the waistline at front and back.  I did not like the idea of sewing actual darts along the waistline and adding any additional bulk, so I slashed and overlapped the pattern pieces to take out the extra fullness.

The next layer is called the ‘petticoat flare’.  It covers the buttresses and follows the line of the buttress petticoat hem around the front.




I only had enough buckram left to do go around 1/2 of the hem.  Also, the petticoat flare won’t actually be stiffened this way.  The shape of the buckram pieces are actual pattern pieces, but just get cut out of the fashion fabric and act as a facing inside and outside this layer.  To create the shape on the actual garment, the petticoat flare is cut from several layers, including 1 or two stiff material ones, all quilted together.  However, I think this does give an indication of the shape this layer will have, and I think so far so good.

While it would have been pretty fun to do a mock-up of the layers of tulle I didn’t think it was absolutely necessary, I didn’t think I had the time, and I didn’t have the tulle on hand or want to buy extra for it.

So the last layer of the foundation I muslined is called the skirt yoke.  It’s a rather ingenious little idea.  It’s just this band that wraps around the petticoat flare:




This is what the skirt flounce of the dress is mounted to.  The layers of tulle will be mounted to the petticoat flare directly, but the skirt flounce separately via this yoke.  I think this means it may have some extra movement of its own in addition to reducing the bulk of gathers attached onto the petticoat flare and allowing the flounce to ‘float’ over the foundation structure.  I think it’s a neat idea and am looking forward to seeing just how it works out.

Now to start on the REAL THING!!!

4 thoughts on “Tree Progress

    • Thanks! I’m also fascinated by how sculptural/architectural James’ process was. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the foundation looks when all made up in the proper materials. I have a feeling my favourite parts of this dress are going to be the ones no one sees.


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