I am slowly whittling down my list of JAFA items to make. It was a big and daunting task in the beginning, but I have been determined to get it done. And here we are, another one down. My ballgown.
It was the one gown that I was adamant had to be done. I felt so plain last year in my ballgown, so this year, I have put a heck of a lot more work into it and come up with something that I am supremely proud of. It has taken a lot of work and a heck of a lot more handsewing than I would have really liked. I have used four fabrics. The mauve satin is a synthetic that I picked up on sale (3.95/metre) at East Coast, however it has the same weight as silk satin and the texture is quite similar. Then there is the black flocked chiffon. Again synthetic, but on sale and it looks very similar to a lot of fabrics that I have spotted in extent gowns. The final two are the lining of black cotton voile and the quilting - a bamboo quilting which is a hell of a lot nicer to use than some of those awful synthetic ones on the market.
To start with, there were the sleeves. They were the first thing that I tackled. I did post a little about them previously, but they are basically made up of three components. The first being the mauve satin pointed arm band. The pieces are flat lined with cotton voile and some black satin piping is sewn to the upper edge and then tacked down on the underside to hold in place. (I'll be honest, I didn't make my piping). Then comes the chiffon overlay. The corresponding points are gathered up and sewn (by hand) to the points on the arm band with a back stitch. I then whipped it all down on the inside (again by hand) to make sure that it would hold in place securely and hopefully not fray apart. I then attached the sleeve lining (satin with cotton voile lining to the wrong side) with black sating piping on the bottom. I then stab stitched the points of the outer sleeve through all layer to the inside to make sure that they would not slip out of place. Then it was simply a matter of gathering the top of the satin piece and chiffon piece and inserting them into the armhole.
The next step was putting the bodice together. I back stitched the gathers in place on the shoulders where the chiffon gathers over the satin. The next step was to dart the satin fabric to fit me wearing says. The chiffon was then gathered into place loosely along the neck edge and the lining was stitched together. I then stab stitched through the layers to add a thin cord tie along the neck. This is where the sleeves were added to the bodice. The next step was to sew all the skirts together and join them onto the bodice. The chiffon layer of the bodice is gathered tightly in the centre while the back is gathered evenly. I stitched a cotton voile bias in the seam. The bias is then folded up towards the bodice to encase the seam and allow for another tie. Again, I stab stitched this down.
Then came the hemming. My mother kindly lent herself to pinning up the length of the satin underskirt. I then sat down with a heap of pins and pinned in place a 10cm(ish) piece of the bamboo wadding in the hem. I doubled it up so that it would be a little fuller than just one single layer. It took a lot of pinning and re-pinning to get the wadding sitting smoothly. Next was to stitch it in place. A running stab stitch in two rows accomplished this. Then it was time to hem the chiffon. I was going to do it by hand, but it was really driving me insane with the slipping, so instead I decided to do a fine rolled zig-zag hem.
And finally, I added a couple of hooks and eyes on the back of the bodice. I was only going to rely on the ties at the top and bottom but because the cord is rather slippery, this was not working. It was simply a matter of adding some black hooks and some thread eyes and it is much more securely held in place now. All I have left now for this ensemble is the reticule and the hair garniture. I have to say, after all the work I have put in, I am really looking forward to wearing this now.