Blue & Gold Shot Silk Ball Gown, 1861

Early 1860s ball gown made of blue and gold shot silk taffeta, from patterns of my own creation. The dress is sewn with silk thread using a combination of machine and hand sewing. The skirt panels are seamed, and the waist pleated flat at the front and then cartridge-pleated the rest of the way around to fit the waistband, and closes at the back with a hook and eye. The bodice is of the silk taffeta and lined in cotton, and has (cotton, covered in silk taffeta) piping on all the edges and on the join of the sleeve to the shoulder. Several pieces of boning help maintain the shape of the bodice. The bodice closes with hooks and eyes down the back.
Blue & Gold Shot Silk Ball Gown, 1861
Dress Diary
I'm ready for a new ball gown, this time in silk taffeta, but I haven't settled on how I will trim it yet, and it all hangs on what I find at the fabric district in New York when I go there in February. For now, I'll get started on making the basic gown in a c. 1860-1865 style, using the blue and gold shot silk taffeta that I got in the LA fabric district over the summer, which can be seen below.
Shot silk fabric
I used a rather-new-to-me method for making this skirt. Instead of enclosing the raw edges in a waistband, I folded them under and whipped them to the lower edge of the waistband, (using measured pleats in the front and gauging the back), so it doesn't add any bulk at the waist and looks fabulous. My new favorite way for making skirts! :)
And, I have a bodice muslin that I'm happy with, and will use to make a pattern.
Making great progress! The sleeves are each pinned on with one pin for now (just to give the idea), and I've got a few more things to do (like piping the lower edge, hemming the skirt, finishing the back of the bodice with pretty eyelets) but it's finally starting to really look like a ball gown! This picture was snapped before I started attaching sleeves. . .
Well, I'm happy to say the dress got done in time for wearing at the Gala at Costume College 2006, excepting trimmings, and I used hook & eye tape down the back instead of hand-sewing eyelets. I think I may still switch to eyelets yet, but I'll definitely wait a while since there are often balls in the fall/winter in my area, and I don't want to get stuck with only half the eyelets done, or something silly like that! So before I address that, I'll work on the trimmings. . . But for now, here are some pictures of this gown's debut, at Costume College:
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