Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ravenclaw Bustle Gown

The dress is based off several different fashion plates - I knew I wanted to mix plaid and solids, but in the end, I couldn't find any that were exactly what I wanted. The bodice, pleated trim, and the outside of my pleated tail are all navy wool from a sale- the same wool left over from my Victorian and Edwardian bathing suits from last year. It held pleats very wonderfully. Most of the pleats have a selvage edge, but I did a rolled hem on the serger for the areas where I ran out of selvage. I starched the wool first, then pleated it while sitting on the floor at my little ironing board. All of the pleats are eyeballed. Then I pinned and stitched the tops of the pleats, and serged over that, so it wouldn't fray. To trim everything, I attached the pleats first with a straight stitch, then used a zig zag to attach the fur trim ($1/yd from the fabric district) about an inch above the pleats, and the metallic gold braid (also from the fabric district) at the edge of the fur. These trims went on my skirt hem, my overskirt hem, and the sleeves, each with a different pleat length. I love the way the pleats fan out on the skirt train!

I took my Ravenclaw bustle gown out for another outing on Halloween. I wore it for most of the day just because (it made my trip to the bank, to pay my rent check, and to post my ballot more interesting), and then at night I hosted a Halloween game night for our board game group, and we wandered around Ballard afterwards. Luckily, one of our regular attendees is a photographer, and he was kind enough to snap some pictures for me. All photos in this post are by Richard Tran.

As those of you who have been reading my livejournal lately have noticed, a fair bit of work went into this gown. This was my first foray into Victorian bustle gowns (unless you count my Jane costume, which I don't). I attempted pleated trim (tedious, but pretty!), worked with rabbit fur for the first time (pretty sure I inhaled a fair bit of it), and learned that bustling a skirt is not as hard as it seems.

Pleated Tail
I knew I wanted to incorporate the waterfall or cascade pleats in the back of the dress, even though I found very few fashion plates with this feature. And now I know why - it is amazing how much fabric is required for those things! In the end, I had to make mine much smaller and shorter than I originally planned, but I think it worked out. I can't imagine how heavy it would have been otherwise. It's actually quite easy to make, too, if you're not attempting to scrimp on fabric like I was - the backing of mine is the navy wool. The inside is a base of gold cotton (Joanns), with some salvaged gold velvet pillowcases (that came with my $20 couch) on top. I had to place them very strategically, since there was not enough to cover the whole back, and I didn't want to see any of the cotton. I wound up cutting them into triangles and angling them into areas where the insides of the pleats would show, then stitching them down with a zig zag stitch before attaching, turning, and pleating the whole tail piece. Even then, it wound up much shorter than I wanted, so I decided to make a yoke out of canvas and wool to hang the pleats from the waist, where it wouldn't really show under the peplum of the bodice. The joining seam between the yoke and the pleats had 26-28 layers and was over .5" thick, but my Viking made it through! I tacked the pleats in the center in two places, so it wouldn't open up and show the cotton fabric inside.

Bodice and Skirts
The bodice is interlined with ticking, and the peplum is lined with another scrap from the velvet pillowcases. I didn't wind up having to bone any part of the bodice. The pattern was based off of a Truly Victorian pattern given to me after HMS Pinafore, and altered to have a V-neckline, and to have the peplum pleated up in back (I used the technique from the pleats on 18th c jackets). The buttons began as tacky white and gold plastic things that I think came from Michaels years ago, but I antiqued them with black nail polish. The sleeves and the skirts are all plaid cotton homespun from Joanns, unlined. I purchased the Ravenclaw patch from ebay, and attached it with a zig zag stitch. The velvet wand pocket was the pouch that came with my wand (purchased at Dickens Faire in 2010), which I shortened and tacked to the bodice. The overskirt is bustled up with twill tapes on the inside. I gathered the skirt where I wanted the tapes to be, then stitched the gathers to the tapes. It was quite easy once I figured out how it was supposed to work! The pattern for the skirts was based off of one from Period Costume for Stage and Screen. I added an additional two panels to the underskirt, though, since the overskirt seemed to be too fitted (I made that one first).

I accessorized the outfit with my Timeturner (orginally purchased at Alnwick castle), my Ravenclaw Prefect badge (from Whimsic Alley), my wand, my vintage mink muff (ebay), black gloves (Value Village), gold earrings (Disney World), a black velvet purse (I think the GBACG 2011 Bazaar), lacy Victorian boots (Funtasma) and a big wired ribbon hair bow.

I'm really happy with this outfit, and I can't wait to wear it again at Costume College!