September 20, 2011

The Lattice Gown, Final Edition (Until I Decide to Make Lattice Gown 2.0)

Oh hai.  The Real World™ stole me for a bit, and "tomorrow" turned into next week.  Anyways...

When I left off the skirt was totally done and amazingly awesome, but the bodice... meh.   It was just a super basic bodice; no sleeves, no bertha or any trim and ill-fitted to boot.  While I plan to make a completely new bodice in the future, I decided to get another wearing out of this one by finishing it off and correcting what bits I could.  Again, I didn't take many pictures of the process, but hang around till the end and I'll show you lots of the finished dress!

First up- sleeves.  Although I used Simplicity 5724 as a base for my bodice, I find the sleeves on the pattern to be almost comically ginormous (although that could be a result of my fabric choices the one time I used it).  Judge for yourself-

I'm pretty sure that enormous sleeve has devoured my upper arm and is making plans to snack on my elbow.

I like them for some things, but for this dress I wanted a smaller, more delicate sleeve.  I opted to use the sleeve pattern from Truly Victorian 442.  Unfortunately I don't recall if I used it as-is or added some fullness.  I used the evil silk gauze of evil, but since these were just two small sleeves I didn't mind that I had to hand sew them (and pin the everloving s**t out of them, and deal with the fabric deciding to shift and veer off in unpredictable directions, and washing my hands every two seconds, and... yeah, ok it was still annoying as all hell).  Since you can see through the gauze I used French seams so that no raw edges showed.  I decided to bind the top and bottom edges of the sleeves with skinny bias tape made of the cream silk used in the skirt for the same reason.  The sleeves were fully finished on all seams/edges/what-have-you before I attached them so that they can easily be taken on an off at will.  I whipstitched them to the bodice at the top and sides of the armscye, leaving the bottom open.  I wasn't sure what the range of movement would be with these sleeves, and since they are made of such a delicate fabric I figured leaving the bottom unattached would allow me to raise my arms without the possibility of ripping them.  I'm quite a fan of how the sleeves turned out and will probably take them off of this bodice and sew them to bodice 2.0 when it is made. 

 French seams, handsewn bias edging, and the bottom portion of the sleeve left detached from the bodice.

Fresh from a fairly successful experience sewing the evil gauze, I started on the bertha with high hopes for fairly painless success.  That quickly devolved into growling and cursing.  I wanted the softer look of the gauze for this part, rather than the crispness of the taffeta or dupioni.  Initially I  wanted to make a pleated bertha, perhaps with the cream dupioni to back it, but with this gauze?  No friggin' dice.  After much fussing and pulling of hair (figuratively speaking of course; I had a buzz cut at the time) I just took a length of the stuff, pinched and tacked it to the bodice at CF and the shoulders and let it fall loosely in between the tacks. 

I couldn't quite figure out what to do with the excess in the back.  I tried a few things, then ended up tacking it a few inches shy of the CB and letting it fall freely from there.  The ends aren't finished or anything; I figure if they fray too much I'll trim them between wearings. 

To finish off the trimming I tacked the two roses I'd saved from earlier on at the shoulder.  To see how these roses were made, go here.

I still cannot get over these roses.  LOVE THEM.

As mentioned previously, the bodice was in serious need of some padding on top.  Each bust pad in the Simplicity pattern is made with three stacked layers of batting; each layer is cut in a sort of teardrop shape and each one is smaller than the previous one so that the pad is thicker in the middle and thinner on the edges.  I wasn't able to use the original pattern as is b/c I'd modified the neckline too much.  Cutting the pads down on top didn't quite work either; for some reason they just didn't set right.  I ended up making custom pads.  I started by laying down a single layer of batting across the whole bust to give a smooth line.  I "feathered" the bottom edge of this by gently pulling the batting apart so that there wasn't an obvious ridge where it ended.  I then cut a small oval to fit in the pointiest part of the bust, then a slightly larger oval, etc etc.  The shape of each piece changed slightly to accommodate the shape of the area it covered.  As I added each layer, I loosely tacked it to the previous one.  Periodically I held the bodice up to my body to see if there were any spots that needed more padding.  When I'd added enough to fill out the bodice adequately I cut a scrap piece of lining to cover the whole mess and carefully stitched it down around the edges.  

And more padding, and more padding...

I could have ripped open the side seams and let the waist out some, but I didn't care enough about the gap in the back to go through all of that, so I called it done.  On with the finished pictures then!

You can see the sleeve quite nicely here.  You can also see that I forgot to understitch the lining at the bottom of the bodice so that it wouldn't creep out and be visible.  Ah well, next time I'll likely pipe it as I usually do.

So far I've worn it out to dance twice, but currently I've got it packed away waiting for some awesome event to pop up that requires an over the top dress.  Any suggestions?


  1. Oooh fabulous!

    I've always had a lot of problems with berthas, so I'm impressed with this one. I also love that you are clearly another member of the fun lining club.

  2. Thanks!

    Fun linings are the best, aren't they? I like the idea of a little fun surprise on the inside!

  3. OMG!! This is gorgeous! Amazing work!

  4. Thanks so much! BTW, I've just discovered your blog and what you've done with your shoes gives me the courage to attempt to decorate mine myself!

  5. That gown is amazing. I've never seen a skirt trimmed in such a way before, and I really like it. The waist-to-bust line is beautfully curved, just like in the fashion prints - the padding works well.

  6. Thanks! I'd never seen such trimming on a skirt either- that's why I was so taken by the fashion print that inspired it.

  7. ... I think my Civil War reenactor self just shed some tears. This is beyond gorgeous! I am a huge fan. I only wish I may summon up this type of patience for my next ball gown, which is currently in the 'pining after' stage, to be started after my new corset and 97 other projects are under control. But, you have inspired me! :)

    1. Aw thanks! My boyfriend will tell you there wasn't a lot of "patience" involved; rather there was a lot of cursing and muttering under my breath! But either way I'm honored to have inspired you :)

  8. That is a stunning dress, i love the whimsy it has but still maintaining a period look. That would be an excellent dress for a masquerade ball, with an over the top hat.

    1. Thanks! Now you've got me thinking of how to make a mask to match...

  9. It's fabulous, this dress is incredible.


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