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The · Couture · Courtesan


Gown Guts

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I learned so much during my internship at the Margaret Hunter Millinery shop of Colonial Williamsburg this summer. I wanted to put a lot of what I learned to use in the creation of my new fluffy white gown. While I do not feel at liberty to do a full tutorial or anything like that out of respect to the people who taught me, I thought I would share a construction aspect that I think is really neat.

Firstly, this gown was draped on me... by me. I don't recommend this! For one thing, it was not done in the period, and secondly it is also a pain in the tush! However, I really wanted a gown draped to my body and I don't have a dress form here at school. So... draping on myself was the only way to get what I wanted.

Once everything was draped to my satisfaction, I started putting things together. The part that I find coolest is attaching the fronts to the back. The edges of the fronts are finished and then it's time to attach the side back edges to the back (which has been pleated onto the lining). The outer fabric (in my case, silk) is stitched onto the back first, and then the lining is slip stitched to the lining of the back piece. Does that make sense?

Here's a view of the inside, before the lining has been stitched to the back lining (the silk has already been stitched on at this point). You might notice that the top inch of the back is folded down and pinned... I decided to lower the back neckline. I plan to cut it down eventually, and it will get covered with a facing... thing.


Here, my hand is holding the front lining. You can sort of see my curved line of stitching on the back lining from where the silk bodice side back has been stitched on to everything. I am folding over the front lining to go on top of this line of stitching...

... like this!



Then that will get slip stitched. For now, it's pinned.


Also, forgot to mention your skirts should be pleated and attached before you do any of this!

One side all neat and tidy, one side still left to do.


The outside of the gown with one half of the lining pinned and ready to be stitched.



Close ups of the prick stitching at the 1) side back and 2) center back pleats.

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