Thursday, May 30, 2013

Inspiration: Costume College Gala Dress

Thanks to all who voted on my Costume College Gala Dress poll! A lot of you really wanted an inspiration post so that's what you're getting today! Some of you wanted to be surprised and some wanted to see construction posts so I've not decided what to do about that. The surprise people may win out just because I haven't taken any construction pics yet!

Patterns from the 19-teens are hard to find! I decided on this pattern from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library from 1918. Originally, I was going to do exactly this pattern but I changed my mind and I'm just using the skirt part and I'm drafting the bodice that I really want.

with flash

Fabric was a big issue with this whole gala dress project. A lot of early ideas had to be cut because either I couldn't find appropriate fabric or I couldn't afford appropriate fabric. I ended up with these two home dec fabrics (plus the white crepe underneath the sheer).

no flash
They are all polyester but home dec fabric is soooo expensive even at 100% poly! I found these at Hobby Lobby. They seem to have the best prices I can find locally on home dec fabric. These two were in the $10-12 /yd range verses the $30-40 /yd stuff I found at Jo-Ann's.

The theme of this dress is go big or go home and I've decided to add pearls to all of the little fabric poofs. So far I've sewn on about 150 of these glass pearls that were originally destined for my Renaissance dress but never made it and I need to run out and get some more for the sleeves!

I do like the idea of keeping part of this dress a secret, so instead of showing you the actual inspiration dress I thought I'd show you some of the ones that didn't make it. (Though it is on my 19-teens pin board if you want to try and hunt it down. ;) )

 One thing on my list of must haves for Costume College this year was a bustle! And I was really drawn to this bustled 1913-1914 dress pattern from Past Patterns. also featured a bustled dress c. 1914 (left). This idea ended up in the discard pile because I didn't like the bodice that came with the pattern and I couldn't figure out what I'd do instead.

After my great-grandma passed, I was gifted her lace stash and in it was some of this type of gold embroidered lace. Alas, I'd need like 3x as much as I had to pull off this dress from 1916. I did find some new lace online but at $30+ /yd, it was waaaaay out of budget.

I was really hung up on this 1915-1916 dress for a long time. It still had that gold embroidered lace, but I totally had enough for this one! My biggest issue with this dress was finding a nice brocade that didn't look super modern or super Asian.

I also really liked this handkerchief skirt that was really popular in 1915-1916 too. This yellow dress was one of my favorites.

I also love love love the Russian inspired winter dresses popular in the late 19-teens. I really loved the yellow fur trimmed dress and the white military inspired dress on this fashion plate from 1916.

I also just adored this coral dress with fur and tassels! And check out the kooky hat on the gal on the far right!


  1. Thanks for the reminder about the Vintage Pattern Lending Library, I've also been frustrated by the lack of teens patterns--as well as the difficulty of searching for them, since that era doesn't have as clearly established a name as other eras.

  2. Whoa, this is a total surprise to me! I love your fabrics; very good choice. The pearls with the sheer and the white are going to tie it all in so well. I hope you do at least some construction pics - I would really like to see how this comes together!

  3. Such beautiful dresses. I wish I could sew better.
    I will have to try my hand at simpler things first ; )
    Have a great weekend.

  4. *Swoon* So much Edwardian loveliness, it really does make one's heart and mind sing with happiness.

    ♥ Jessica