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Fancy Fabric Challenge

Wedding/Ball Gown

I love the "zig-zag" sleeves! I have never seen anything like them before.

Unfortunately, my pictures hardly do this beautiful dress any justice. This is a dress (top/skirt combo) that I wore for my best friend’s wedding in August. The top is a white satin brocade with pearl-beaded fringe. It is very fitted–I discovered that playing the violin wasn’t as easy as I thought in this dress! The bodice alone contains 10 peices of fabric. I have a very small waist and this was the perfect pattern to show off my slender figure. 🙂 If you want fitted tops, always look for patterns with Princess seams.

This is the first time I have ever used beaded fringe, but it makes a world of difference and adds such elegance to any article of clothing. The top is lined and is supposed to have the fringe inside the lining to give it a nice finished look. I chose to sew it on the outside of the inside and it looks just as nice–I figured no body should be looking at that part of the blouse, at least not while it was on me. ! 🙂 It saved a lot of extra time.

The skirt is a beautiful midnight blue bridal satin. It is actually the bottom of a dress. I simply took the skirt part at the top and made an elastic waistband. Since the blouse is supposed to be on the outside, you cannot tell that there is elastic hidden underneath.

Both top and bottom are from the Civil War era. They are from two different patterns, but are both acurate examples of the style of clothing at that time. Technically, there should be undersleeves with cuffs under the zig-zag sleeves. Adding lace gloves, hat, and parasol, this is what a wealthy woman would have worn when she was out visiting or shopping. Unfortunately, neither the top nor bottom are in print although you may still be able to purchase them from Butterick in their out-of-print department (Top–B 6694; Skirt–B 3992).

I love sewing with satins! Since they are usually better quality materials, they seem to come out much nicer than other fabrics I have worked with. Even if you don’t want something that is too shiny or noticeable, you can still get satin material with a duller sheen. Sometimes you can even turn a shiny satin inside out to give the garment a less “overdone” look.

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  1. Cordelia91 | | #1

    Remarkably beautiful and well designed gown. I appreciate your attention to detail and the true loveliness of the garment !

  2. Clarasita | | #2

    Beautiful and timeless with such wonderful attention to detail. Looking at the body mechanics of playing violin, I have some suggestions for constructing performance outfits. On the right side (I've never seen a violinist bow with their left arm, but if that's your thing, just reverse the suggestion), consider adding about 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches to back armhole scythe and subtracting a corresponding amount of fabric from front armhole scythe. This has the effect of positioning the right arm in slight internal rotation with the scapula able to protract (slide forward)without feeling as much pull across the center back. It also helps keep the fabric draping on the straight grain. A slight elbow dart and/or an inverted pleat in center back may also improve right arm mobility. I've seen this technique described in the "Depika (spell?) Pattern Review blog and think it's worth a try. Clothing should enhance performance, not limit it. It's only a matter of fitting pattern alterations to your biomechanical needs. Analyze the activity you're performing in relation to the fit of garment, decide where you feel fabric stress and alter for function. Sounds easy--would take me hours of trial and error on a muslin, but you're obviously a much better seamstress than I am.

  3. KharminJ | | #3

    @ USMarinesGirl ~ Beautiful! Brava!

    @ Clarasita ~ Thank *you* for all your sharing of insights and encouragements! I really look forward to your comments, no matter the topic!

    Bright Blessings ~ Kharmin

  4. User avater
    AmericanPatriot | | #4

    Thank you Clarasita for your comments. I will definitely keep your tips in mind if I make another outfit that I will be performing in. It's amazing about all the things you have to think about for such occasions! Oh--and yes, you bow with your right arm even if you are a left-handed person. :-)
    Thanks!

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