Tree Progress: Bodice and Upper Skirt Covering – aka: Very Scary Part!

Draping is not something I have a lot of experience with.  So choosing a style to reproduce where one of the main features is a lot of draped tucks to create a very sculptural look was not a decision that was good for my stress levels.  This part was far more intimidating than any of the hard-core foundation work that came before.  I think a lot of my trepidation came from when I was working on my wedding dress.  I spent at least 3 months trying to make a one-shoulder draped and ruched bodice work and just couldn’t.  Ultimately I scrapped it and went for a much simpler design – ironically, it was taken from another Charles James gown!  Aha…ha….ha.

I was scared to start this, so I put it off as long as possible.  As part of procrastinating against the inevitable I decided to do a really nice finish to the upper edge of the bodice that would never been seen once it was finished.  Unfortunately, I only remembered to take pictures after the dress was back on Maddy and ready for muslining the bodice covering.  Putting the dress on Maddy and taking it off her again had got to the point of being pretty labour-intensive, so exterior photo of this only. Sorry!  There was only a 1/4″ seam allowance for the bodic upper edge; what I decided to do was sew a length of narrow double fold bias tape around it, turn it to the inside and hand-stitch it to the bodice foundation interior.  This did have the practical advantage of adding more substance to that edge so it would hold-up better when it came time to fold all the pleated fabric of the bodice covering over it.  At least it seems logical to me that it would.

NB: the shoulder straps are not sewn to the bodice front here, just pinned.  And no, you’re not seeing that wrong, they are not showing identical fabrics…..

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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: 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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