Jenny La Fleur
texture, layering & drape - Jenny La Fleur — LiveJournal
adventures in costuming
texture, layering & drape

It has taken months or pondering, researching and plastering my sewing board with images to ponder but I finally have a design for my Epic Titanic Dinner Dress - yay!

I started with the fabrics. One of the keys to this period seems to be the fabrics. Everything is soft and drapey (little taffeta is used and even the rare velvets are drapey silk ones). There is also an emphasis on varying textures (textured vs. smooth, shiny vs. dull, solid vs. sheer) and layering those textures. Most evening gowns have three fabrics in the gown, some more, fewer less. I don't have many fabrics of this description so my choices were narrow, but that isn't always a bad thing when there are SO many gowns of this period I love!

My finial choices are these two dresses. I love the multiple layers and added texture on the chiffon (beads & sequins) of the first but I also adore the simple asymmetrical lines of the second. So mine will be a hybrid of the two.

While I love the rows of black seed beads that cover the chiffon above I knew that was not achievable in 3 months. Besides I loathe sewing beads on chiffon - very fiddly! Then I found photos of the original and Jordan Bentley's spot-on repro of the Lady Maude Warrender gown found in Arnold's Patterns of Fashion. Wow! I've always loved this gown in Janet Arnold's book, have seen some lovely versions of it and even planned to make a version myself at one point but I never pictured it properly it was until I saw those pics.

What particularly struck me was the loveliness of the sequin's sparkle and how similarly dense the black net and my black chiffon are over their cream base fabrics. One of the great advantages of sequins is their light weight and the fact that they can be glued on. I know, I know! But I only have three months and really gluing that many sequins is no small task!

So here are my fabrics. The base is poly cream damask, then a layer of gold lace, topped with black silk chiffon. The cream crinkle silk chiffon will be used in the layers of the bodice.

The black chiffon will be covered in small gun-metal sequins. For the "border" at the bottom of the chiffon I'm going to over-bead lace and trims (I don't have time to do a beaded border from scratch) with glass beads, sequins and pearls.

The sequins. Originally I was drawn, not only to the scattered grid of the Lady Maude gown but also the lines of sequins/beads on the gowns above. So how to choose? I layered my fabrics, pulled out my teasers and started laying out sequins. I used the pattern on the gold lace below as a guide for the scattered sections, doing two versions, while I had to rely on a ruler for the rows.

After taking pics (none of which really do the combination of fabrics and sequins justice - this is going to be a beast to photograph!) and pondering which one I liked, I took measurements. I counted the sequins by a 6x6 square. The top scatter count was 22; the denser scatter was 40; the rows were 96. Yeah that definitely helped me make my decision! The dense scatter of 40 sequins it is!

I've since ordered some 3mm and 2.5mm sequins (I used 4mm in the testing) from Cartwright's Sequins and can't wait for them to come in! But I'm not allowed to play with them until I've worked on the foundation of the dress. First things first!


23 comments | comment?
dawnluck From: dawnluck Date: January 4th, 2012 04:41 pm (UTC) (link)
That blue one is just stunning!

For what it's worth - from your previous post: I think you're on the right track - get the undergown structure right and then drape the beautiful part in all those gauzy-sheer fabrics over top of the structured and fitted undergown. Use the fitted undergown to support all the draped outer fabrics.

Thinking of a local Titanic event myself.

That blue gown is just stunning. ;o)
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: January 4th, 2012 04:49 pm (UTC) (link)
Thanks for the advice and encouragment! Yeah, I adore that blue gown! I came very close to just making that one!
padawansguide From: padawansguide Date: January 4th, 2012 04:53 pm (UTC) (link)
I really look forward to see ing what you do with this!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: January 5th, 2012 02:44 am (UTC) (link)
Thanks - I'm excited! I mean how can one not get excited about something covered in 3mm sequins! :>
vanessa_lynne From: vanessa_lynne Date: January 4th, 2012 05:06 pm (UTC) (link)
Ooh, this is going to be pretty!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: January 5th, 2012 02:45 am (UTC) (link)
I hope so - it will be sparkly anyway!
nuranar From: nuranar Date: January 4th, 2012 05:14 pm (UTC) (link)
Hurrah for a plan! This will be lovely. And I so admire how you've re-thought your approach to this period. It's my default setting to obsess and research and end up never getting anything done. The guild has been really good for me, not just for having a purpose and deadline, but in getting me to jump in and make the first stays and gown or two, knowing nothing will be perfect, but knowing I'll learn, and determined to make the pretty stuff along the way.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: January 5th, 2012 02:47 am (UTC) (link)
Plans are good. It certainly took long enough to get one for this project - whew!

I usually pretty good at starting, it’s that last hurdle of finish work that I find hard to overcome.
nuranar From: nuranar Date: January 5th, 2012 08:09 pm (UTC) (link)
Yeah... I'm bad at that, too. This year I finished up two vintage dresses/outfits that were SO close to being done, but I lost steam or didn't want to deal with fiddly things at the end. Such a shame, because they became two of my favorite outfits. Maybe that'll teach me!
fancyfrocks From: fancyfrocks Date: January 4th, 2012 05:31 pm (UTC) (link)
This is going to be AWESOME!!!!
And it's all gluing the sequins on. Sounds like a great idea!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: January 5th, 2012 02:49 am (UTC) (link)
Hee - I sure hope so! I'm sure gluing on the sequins will not be fun at some point but it's better than sewing on chiffon - ewww!
mlsdesigns From: mlsdesigns Date: January 4th, 2012 07:40 pm (UTC) (link)
Your plans sound so yummy, it's going to be so much fun following on with your Titanic progress at the same time as I make mine :) you're much further on than me though, I have no underwear!!!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: January 5th, 2012 02:52 am (UTC) (link)
Well all I have is a corset, I need to make a proper chemise and petticoat. So I have lots of sewing to do before April! I can’t wait to see what you come up with for your frock - I know it will be lovely!
From: aimeekitty Date: January 4th, 2012 10:37 pm (UTC) (link)
I'm no help! but I find all the layering and beads fascinating! I really dont have time to do a titanic gown this year, but I'll enjoy seeing everyone's work as it progresses. :)
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: January 5th, 2012 02:53 am (UTC) (link)
I'm glad you are enjoying the journey so far... hopefully it won't be too bumpy a ride. :>
jubilima From: jubilima Date: January 5th, 2012 12:21 am (UTC) (link)
Oooh! Oooh! Oooh! I'm so glad you're blogging your Evil Titanic Plan. Your inspiration gowns are lovely, and the cream/gold/black color combination will be divine.

I've been agonizing over the design for my own gown for weeks now, and I have decided that this weekend is The Weekend to Commit and Purchase Fabric. Stay tuned!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: January 5th, 2012 02:55 am (UTC) (link)
Yeah it took me a while to warm up to the black and cream combo (I tend to go for more color in my costumes) but since adding the gold to the mix I've fallen in love with it.

Ooh, ooh I can’t wait to hear what you decide on! You can do it! :>
idlewild_grey From: idlewild_grey Date: January 5th, 2012 01:30 am (UTC) (link)
Can't wait to see how it all turns out! It's pretty impossible to go wrong with black and sparkly, but I think this gown is going to be really lovely! You starting this now makes Titanic stuff feel like it's coming up REALLY quickly though... a little bit frightening.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: January 5th, 2012 02:59 am (UTC) (link)
Thanks! Yeah tell me about it! There was something about suddenly being in "2012" that made it seem more real. Then I made the mistake of counting out the weeks until the ETD. You might want to brace yourself - only 15 weeks (14½ weeks now). It pretty much scared me silly!
girliegirl32786 From: girliegirl32786 Date: January 5th, 2012 02:14 am (UTC) (link)
I love your ideas and I cant wait to hear all about them in person!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: January 5th, 2012 03:01 am (UTC) (link)
Thanks! Yeah the photos don't do the combination of fabrics any justice. The gold lace under the black chiffon shimmers in a very cool way while the gunmetal sequins subtly sparkle on top - I'm so excited!
mandie_rw From: mandie_rw Date: January 5th, 2012 02:29 am (UTC) (link)
Can't wait to see your progress; this is going to be a gorgeous dress!

And thanks for the link to the laurel dress especially...that's my "I want to make this eventually! ...when I get good enough" dress for the 'teens. Needless to say, that's not what I'll be making this year. ;)
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: January 5th, 2012 03:01 am (UTC) (link)
Thanks! And you are most welcome. I squeeed when I saw that link - it's such a lovely dress!
23 comments | comment?