Iron Dress 2012

The competition runs from April 1 to July 1. The winner will be announced on July 15.

The outfit must be made using Margo Anderson's Historic Costume Patterns. The outfit must be made using only what is in the contestant's stash plus $25 for "extras." So anything that is needed like more trim or fabric or embellishments has to come out of the $25.

Underpinnings like a corset, smock, bumroll, ect do not count for the competition, but must be worn.

Pattern may be modified for another country, like Italy or Germany.

The Plan:
I decided that, first and foremost for this competition, I wanted to do something fun.  I have a tendency to nitpick and obsess over details and I haven't really made a dress that I had fun with for awhile now.  I knew that I would be sewing for someone other than myself and that my model would be living several hours away and not immediately available to try things on.  We had to schedule a few visits throughout the process to ensure fit, but other than that, I was pretty much on my own.  I was very lucky that Kat, my model, is exceptionally open minded and willing to do anything.  She also works at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire on the pirate ship, so I wanted a dress that she might actually be able to wear to work once in awhile.   After diving into the stash and a lot of debate, I decided I wanted to do a Venetian Courtesan gown with two looks. 

Look 1:
Black velvet Italian v-front gown with red silk underskirt and paned sleeves. White linen chemise. Gold veil. Fan. Girdle belt and jewelry. Very traditional courtesan.

Look 2:
Same black velvet gown and chemise, but with breeches and a hat.  Kat is definitely a pirate at heart, and I wanted something a bit more roguish for her to wear.

Chemise:  The chemise was made out of very lightweight linen.  The sleeves and body were machine embroidered.  Neckline is gathered into a band and then gathered again with a drawstring. 

Underskirt:  The underskirt was made with red cotton.  The forepart is red and gold fleur de lis silk.  The bottom was trimmed in black satin ribbon edged with gold braid and metal findings and clusters of small glass pearls.

Sleeves: The paned sleeves were constructed out of the same red silk as the forepart and lined with the same fabric.  The sleeves are caught together at the points with small brass fleur de lis.

Overgown:  The overgown was made of black velvet lined with black linen.  I took Margo's bodice pattern and created a muslin.  From that, I cut a deep v into the front of the gown.  I wanted to do an Italian v-front gown because I love the look of that style and the flexibility of lacing would help with fitting a model that lives several hours away.  I had to alter the fit over several visits, adjusting the v in the front as well as taking several inches off the bottom of the back to prevent wrinkles.  The shoulder rolls are padded and cinched with brass adjustable rings that were stitched in place. 

The Breeches:
The pants were made of black velvet, slashed and studded with glass pearls, over green and black shot taffeta.  The inner lining is linen.  The pants button with a hidden fly and tie at the waist and leg bands with black grosgrain ribbon. 


Veil:  The veil was made out of gold silk and edged with pearls and garnet teardrops.  The corners are finished with pearl teardrops. 

Hat:  The hat was made out of scraps of white leather that I dyed black.  I used the sueded side of the leather as it took the dye a little better than the smooth side.  The pieces were cut first, then dyed, cleaned and softened with saddle soap and then assembled.  The hat was stiffened with plastic embroidery canvas and wire and padded with felt.  The hat pin was made from a oxidized brass finding and peacock spears and the trim is gold and black rope.  The hat is lined with black cotton fabric and the band is made from a scrap of satin ribbon. 

Fan:  The fan base was made with stiff cardboard.  The handle was a dowel that was lathed, painted with black and metallic gold paint and then wrapped in gold braid.  The front is decorated with a scrap of trim, pearls and onyx beads and gold fan findings from the stash.  The back of the fan is decorated with a seven pointed star made by layering a printed design over a piece of styrofoam, pinning the gold braid into place over the design, supergluing the points and then lifting the entire piece off the paper and stitching it into place on the velvet.  The embellishments are a small round mother of pearl bead and pearls. 

The necklace:  The necklace was made with pearls from the stash, an onyx and brass piece I had in the stash, and a clasp from an old bracelet. 

The girdle:  The girdle was made from pearls and onyx and brass pieces from the stash.  The bottom is a pearl tassel.  The pearls end at a jump ring and then the girdle is tied with white grosgrain ribbon.

The Completed Project:

1 spool grosgrain ribbon $1.99
Black feathers $5.50

Total:  $7.49

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