This was a labor of love for my wonderful friend (and fellow Fashion Doll Review writer), Carolyn, who asked if I could recreate this iconic dress for her small-bust Tyler. I'm always up for a challenge (especially when it involves fashion!), so of course I agreed!
I made sure to take photos throughout the creative process so that you could see how it all came together.
The entire dress, including the ruffles and bows, are made from a matte black satin that I picked up at my local swap meet for $1/yard! I lined it with white cotton broadcloth to prevent staining, and made a custom "panier" for underneath, to give the top of the skirt the right shape.
The inspiration: the "Maria-Luisa" gown, designed by John Galliano for the House of Dior in 1998. It currently resides in the Collection Database of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The base of the gown complete (without the panier), just awaiting decoration!
The first ruffle pinned on the hem. To my absolute relief, this fabric does NOT fray when cut on a bias (45 degree angle), so I didn't need to finish the edges of the ruffles.
I cut several yards of bias strips with my rotary cutter and ruler, which I've never been more grateful for! I then used a long, basting stitch down the middle of each to help gather each strip into a ruffle.
With ruffles added all the way around the hem, I drew the "loop-de-loop" design on the underside of the fabric with chalk, then basted over it in red thread so that I could see it from the front.
A close-up of my lovely basting stitch. :)
The ruffle pinned over the red basting stitches. In retrospect, I would have pinned it a chunk at a time, not all at once. Although, it does make for an impressive shot - that's a lot of pins!
Ruffles sewn, pins and basting stitches removed. I repeated these steps to add the "bow" design between the loop-de-loops, then added 4 bows in graduating sizes to the front of the bodice. Ready for some shots of the final product?
A close-up of the 4 bows on the bodice.
The bow design on the skirt, made of slightly narrower ruffle strips.
The dramatic train - what a great silhouette. :)
Close-up of the train.
The cotton skirt lining, with a large ruffle to push the hem of the skirt out just a little bit more.
Her custom panier, made from 2 strips of boning. To keep it in place, I attached it to a pair of lacy panties, made from 2 strips of stretch lace
Back of the panier, where it closes with metal snap.
After several days of sewing, she finally came together!