The Costume College theme this year is “60s” and the Gala theme is “Dinner at Tiffany’s” so I am making a black 1660s dress with large pearls, inspired by this portrait of Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Tuscany and his wife Vittoria Della Rovere by Justus Sustermans at the National Gallery in London.
This is a stash-busting project!
A while back I got 10 yards of 36″ black silk taffeta for $5/yard. With this project my goal was to stay as close to $50 as possible, which meant the other materials had to not only be stash, but what I call “legit stash” (leftovers from other projects). As much as we like to pretend it doesn’t count if you buy it and hide it in the closet for a few years, it still cost money up front. Aside from the black silk I wanted to use things that were already accounted for in the costs of other projects. Luckily I had scraps for lining, reed from my stays, and other miscellaneous materials:
- Black cotton for flat-lining the silk (to keep the boning from showing): from my Downton Abbey maid costume
- Silk taffeta for the interlining: from my wedding dress
- Silk organza for interlining the sleeves: from my chemise project
- Reed boning: from my 18th century stays
This means not all of the materials are ideal. However, my rallying cry is STASH-BUSTING!
I used silk taffeta for the interlining that encases the boning because I didn’t want my bodice to be too thick, since I will have to add more layers afterward (a fashion fabric that has to be flat-lined to prevent the boning from showing).
Please keep in mind that silk can be rather insulating and warm! I used silk interlining anyway because:
- I’m going to be wearing this in the evening and indoors, in an air-conditioned hotel.
- I feel cold all the time. I promise I’m not a vampire.
I am using the Nehelenia 1660 Baroque dress pattern.
Please note, this pattern is not for beginners. No boning channels are marked, and you have to figure them out by yourself. I recommend having made stays before you tackle this project, because the bodice is essentially stays with fashion fabric on top.
The pattern calls for about 2.5 meters of fabric for the skirt, which is 98 inches. That is not particularly full. I looked at some other bloggers’ recommendations and Kendra of Demode and the Dreamstress both recommend about 150 inches for a modern frame, even though a smaller circumference was historically accurate. I ended up using 4 panels of 36″ fabric.
Here are some quick progress shots of the inside and outside of the bodice. (The sleeves are still a mess and I have to add eyelet closures down the back and some silk gauze to the neckline).
I have cartridge-pleated about 3/4 of the skirt. My trick to save time marking and measuring is to sewing gingham to the inside and keep it there as a way to make the pleats fuller.
For a “simple” black dress this is proving to be a lot of work (much of it hidden). There is. boning, binding of tabs, cartridge-pleating of the skirt and sleeves, etc. I am having surgery later today so I will have to take a bit of break from sewing and the computer. I hope I can still finish before Costume College!