Tree Progress: SKIRT FLOUNCES!!!! (or – where one’s vanity can lead)

You guys, I think this was probably the most fun part of the whole project!  Huge, multi-layered tulle and silk flounces?  YES PLEASE.

I did not have any pattern pieces or measurements for the flounces so I had to wing it.  All I knew was that there was supposed to be a lot of fabric in these, so with “a lot” I went!  My math went something like this: guestimating that the circumference of the petticoat flare was in and around 2m (just over 2 yards) I figured 4x fullness should be pretty good.  So, each flounce layer is 8m (about 9 yds) in circumference.  Whee!

I knew there were supposed to be six layers of tulle flounces from the exhibition catalogue Tim Long gave me, and I also knew I wanted to try and re-create the effect from a couple of original examples:

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Tree Progress: Petticoat Flare

After the “buttresses” the petticoat flare was the most revelatory aspect for me of Tree’s foundation.  With support from the buttresses this piece really creates the base shape for the dress skirt and I found it a really interesting piece of dressmaking.

I didn’t take as many construction photos of this layer as I perhaps should have, but for such an odd-looking piece I think it’s actually pretty straight-forward once you see it made up and on the form.

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Tree Progress: Buttress Petticoat!

For me, the buttress petticoat is really one of the most fun and illuminating aspects of the structural design of this gown – and Charles James’ approach to couture overall.

This was also one of the trickier bits to get right … so far (I’m still terrified of the bodice and upper skirt pleated draping to come!)

This is one of the buttresses below with all layers quilted together – with pink silk thread, of course!

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“Tree” Progress: Bodice and Inner Petticoat Foundation

This isn’t the most exciting progress post there will be for this dress, but you have to start somewhere, right?  And while I’m currently much farther along on the dress than this, I think it’s preferable to keep the posts shorter and be able to publish them sooner rather than doing a single massive one that will take ages to put together.  I think these are also more digestible ‘bites’ of the process. ;o)

So, this is the very first layer of the actual dress that I cut and put together, where it all starts – the silk taffeta bodice foundation.

I think the photos show what’s going on pretty well, so I won’t write a lot about this step, except to confess that I’m still fine-tuning the shoulder straps and figuring out their exact placement.

And to say that I think this is quite a pretty design on its own that I’d consider using as an outer bodice sometime in the future (probably several years from now so I’ve had enough distance from this dress, lol).

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“Tree”: Materials!

Hi from Canada again!

I’m back home and now able to blog about how the Tree gown is progressing!  I’m still going to finish the V&A virtual tour, but thought I should get going with Tree since there’s been a lot going on with it!  I actually started this post a couple of months ago, but wasn’t able to get all the elements together until today.  So, let’s dive right in, shall we?

An interesting combination of fabrics and materials were used by Charles James for his “Tree” gown.  While I will mention what all of them are as they are incorporated into my version, I thought it might be useful to have a post that lays them all out in one spot as a sort of reference.  This also gives me a perfect opportunity to show off the amazing coloured silk I got for the fashion fabric, hee!

To make things even clearer, I decided to draw a little diagram of each layer of the gown to make it even easier to visualize what goes where and how.  I’ll be going from the innermost layer out.

#1 Bodice foundation

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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.

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“Tree”: Bodice Foundation Muslin

I have not been working on “Tree” as much this month as I’d originally envisioned.  Towards the end of October a friend let me know about a pretty nifty event happening in town at the end of November and I’ve mostly been working on a project for that.  It’s been very fun and I’m looking forward to blogging about it soon!

However, I have been getting somewhere with Tree too.  I decided to start with the bodice foundation as it appears from all the images I’ve so far seen that the whole skirt gets mounted to it, so I figured I’d better get that sorted first.  I’ve now done 2 bodice foundation muslins.  It’s still not perfect but I’m hoping I can get away with just fiddling with muslin #2 and the pattern rather than make a 3rd.

Let me start by showing you the pattern pieces for the bodice foundation as traced from Tim’s “originals”

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“Tree” Intro

Between now and March 29, 2014 I have two big sewing projects going on (in addition to other small and medium/everyday ones).  These are for the annual Toronto Garrison Ball – a big military ball.  Because I’m married to a member of the Canadian Forces, I get to go!  I’ve gone three times now.

2009:

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