Wishing Gown #3: UK Replica!
This commission was inspired by Christine Daae’s Victorian Gown in The Phantom of the Opera. It differs from the US version with it’s trimmings – most notably, the appliques in the bodice, woven trims, and many tassels arranged in tiers!
The bodice is the most complex piece. This is partially due to how many trimmings are on it, but also because the pattern of the fabric must be cut extremely carefully to either line up, or compliment to bodice. Each piece has to be cut separately, in the same direction, and to match up. It takes twice as much fabric and triple to quadruple the amount of time to cut!
This bodice is heavily lined and boned with flat steel boning and spiral steel boning, both within in lining and throughout the seams. It closes in the front with a series of large snaps and the small bow is detachable.
There are three areas of luscious cobalt velvet – the collar, the faux vest front, and the “cuffs” at the back of the sleeves. They are all adorned with custom-embroidered appliques and hand-stitched down onto the velvet. They are all trimmed in various trims; the collar in white, the sleeve cuffs in all 4 trims seen on the skirt; and the faux vest trimmed at the sides in a custom-woven silver and cobalt trim.
There are 4 (or 5, depending on how you break it down) main trimmings seen prevalently on the costume. They appear in rows: the top being a woven white scroll braid, followed by navy velvet ribbon, followed by another row of woven white scroll braid, and the last trim. The last trim is a looped fringe that is dyed to compliment the light blue tassels. Although it looks like a home decor trim with tassels attached, the tassels are actually stitched on separately (painstakingly!) in small tiers. The supplier of these tassels have them originally about 1/3″ longer and with a loop at the top, so each one has to be trimmed at both the top and bottom to be shorter.
The sleeves have an incredibly decadent cuff – the underlayer/engageante of chantilly lace, with a pleated cuff overtop. Then a small back cuff of the decorated/appliqued velvet, and rows of trimmings. Simple from far away; very complex when studied closely. Lace is also seen around the neckline, but it is of a different (yet complimentary) style, ruffled and attached.
The skirt carries many more yards of fabric than one might think. The back waterfall drapery is about 6 yards and has the most yardage of trimmings. It is almost a crescent moon shape that is then carefully folded on itself and secured.
The side draperies are also trimmed in the 4 (5) trims, and the front drapery is special: in this version it is cut on the bias to form a chevron pattern. It is hemmed in pleated fabric and the trims seen in the rest of the costume.
To hold up the very heavy skirt, there are special underpinnings: a large bustle pad and a special Victorian elliptical hoop skirt made for bustle dresses. Unlike a large elliptical hoop skirt of an earlier period, or a normal A-line hoop skirt, this bustle-friendly hoop skirt is skinny at the sides (when looking straight on) and very flared out in the back to accommodate heavy trains/bustles. The support is needed; if one was to use a economical A-line skirt, it would be pushed forward from the heavy weight of the train and look very incorrect.
The bodice and skirt are met in the middle back with a charming oversized bow, trimmed and filled with crinoline.
I include loops in the skirt and train to be lifted and carried on the wrist when walking over perilous mud puddles (!) if any were to come across a lady’s path.
I went way over-budget on my hours for this costume which surprised me! I thought I’d save time because I had a few things like the front, side, and back drapery patterns already drafted from a previous wishing gown. But I ran into a few hiccups seeking out one or two of the materials, extra time altering them, and had to spend extra time on mockups to get the perfect fit. I also hand-stitched in channels in the seams for boning – I like this effect better than just the boning in the interlining like I normally do. However it took far more time than I was used to, since I normally do it with a machine. This is probably the first time I’ve copied a commission (did the same version of a dress) and spent way MORE hours on it than the first – usually I can find more efficient ways to do things the second time around – but each commission is unique! All in all, it took more time, but it’s always worth it :) I’ll probably be more efficient on the next wishing gown.