Friday, August 21, 2015

1915 Pearl Ball Gown

     Yes, I have tons to catch up on (Costume College and tons of other projects). For now, here's my 1915 "Pearl" ball gown that I made to wear over my 1910s corset and to the 2015 Costume College Gala.

Photo credit to Vivien Lee!
     Thank you, Vivien, for the lovely photo! I think you were the only one that snagged a shot of me. Please check out Vivien's blog. She has awesome photos from CoCo:
     I really should get more views of it. I've realized that it really limits the perception of garments (naturally a 3D form) when I don't show all sides of it. 
     There's a little story behind this dress. The first time I wore it, it was for a ball in April and it was not finished! It looked pretty awful... But I still had a good time. 

Grainy photo taken by sweet Boyfriend.

Our little themed group!

     It was a bit of a mess at first wearing. Here are the making details: 
Inspiration Images: 

     My materials were silk chiffon, silk organza, cotton sateen, cotton muslin, and silk (I think) shantung. All in varying shades of ivory. I tea and coffee dyed some of the fabrics that were too white. 
     I used the underbodice pattern from the Laughing Moon 1909-1913 dress pattern. I hacked it up a bit and put on straps of silk to replace the sleeves in the pattern. It is made from silk shantung and flatlined with cotton sateen. The back fastens with large hooks and bars. It is unboned. 

     I gathered and sewed a cotton underskirt that was about 3.5 yards wide onto a twill tape waistband. Then, I sewed 1 gathered yard of silk organza onto the front of the waistband to serve as the "under apron". The top skirt layer was the silk shantung, which was left open in the front to reveal the organza "under apron". 

     Then, I hand sewed the skirt to the bodice. You can see the bare bones of the dress below. 

     At this point, I draped some silk chiffon over the should straps and gathered them over the shoulder point. Then, I free-form pleated them over the bodice and tacked them down by hand. Below shows the unfinished-but-wearable state that I first wore the dress. It looks...unfinished. I hope to never do that again. 

     Now, to finishing this sucker! I fixed some of the chiffon overlay and tacked some vintage lace to the neckline. Then, I added a proper placket to the back of the skirt and began draping the shantung layer of the bodice. I was very inspired by the drapery in this image: 

     And here is my drapery. It still needed to be ironed down. I hand-tacked everything down. 

     I worked the drapery all the way around to the back and managed to conceal the underbodice hook and bar closure by making the drapery partly detachable in the back and cover the opening. I was proud of the little thread loop I made to daintily fasten the drapery. I'll post proper photos of that later.

     Then, I started beading the bodice. I don't know anything about beading, so I was really just sewing pearls onto fabric. I chose small and large natural pearls. I think there's something sexy about 
the ridges and forms of pearls that have not yet been polished into spheres.

     I sewed pearls following the lines of the shantung drapery. The photo above shows them only on one half of the bodice, but I put them on both sides. I love the effect so much that I think I want to add even more! 
     I don't have any more photos, but I promise to post more when I get good and proper photos of all angles of the dress.
Over and out.


  1. Breanna your dress is so dreamy! I'm glad you made this post so I know what all the layers are now!

  2. Heavens....this is drool worthy! Good thing I wasn't there...I would have been a nuisance!! It is gorgeous, as is everything you make! Love the colors and the fabric combinations! So very well done!

    1. Oh...and your tiara makes me happy!

  3. Amazing gown! And your drapery is perfect and stunning! !

  4. Amazing gown! And your drapery is perfect and stunning! !