I was being kind to myself.
I only planned on one new outfit for Teslacon this year.
It would have worked out so well, if I hadn’t waited until the week before to start it!

At any rate, here is the saga:
I found ( 2 months after the Teslacon that “happened” in 1883 Paris) this gorgeous black faux silk taffeta with a little embroidered fleur de lis pattern. I don’t remember how much it was, but I know it wasn’t expensive because I can’t afford that shit this year.

I decided this black and gold taffeta would become a ballgown. I love the look of Truly Victorian’s French Fan Skirt, so early on I planned to use the pattern again for the bottom half of this gown. Now, this particular skirt pattern doesn’t usually lend itself to fabric with directional stripes or patterns, but the little fleur de lis are small enough that I felt it wouldn’t be distracting.


My vintage research provided the inspiration for the bodice:


I love the pleating here, as well as the off-the-shoulder feel, but I tend to like a longer bodice, so I knew I would just be taking this look and running with it.

I found this *adorable* trim on Etsy, a black and gold embroidered ribbon with little skulls and fleur de lis. Perfect!

I started with the skirt, since the bodice would have to be fitted over the actual undergarments and skirt. Following the pattern was painless… thanks Truly Victorian! (I am an !unpaid! fan of their patterns)

The *interesting* part came in at the trim… I cut evenly spaced strips of the black taffeta and sewed them together into one long piece, giving the top and bottom edge of the strip a narrow hem.

Then, I box-pleated…. COMPLETELY ignoring the fact that I said I would never box pleat again (I remembered about 20 minutes in). I centered one fleur de lis on each pleat, measuring, folding and ironing along the entire length. Then I sewed the skull ribbon onto the top  edge of the strip. With the skirt on the dressform at the correct level for the shoes I had planned for the gown, I pinned the ribbon and pleats onto the bottom of the skirt. Here are some pics that cannot express the pain:

20171030_201612Here is the finished skirt over the bustle and petticoat, before ironing:

(I had my dress form set to my measurements with the corset I planned to wear)

One more step…. take vintage rhinestones harvested from a disintegrating 1940’s crepe dress and stitch one to each eye socket of the little skulls!! Because, insanity.


Next up, the bodice. I was really short on time (2 days before the con), so I took the muslin mockup of a jacket that I’d made a couple years ago and just cut it down to the general shape I wanted for the ballgown bodice. Then it was cutting out the fashion fabric (paying attention to matching the pattern!), the interlining and the lining, and flatlining all of them together.
For flatlining I just use a big ol’ needle and embroidery or upholstery thread, and run big stitches along the edges of each piece so when I sew them together the three layers stay in place and don’t do any sliding around. I zigzagged each edge afterwards to reduce fraying.



You can see in the above image how large the stitches are- they don’t need to be small to keep the fabric from shifting around.

Once the panels were sewn together I got them up onto the dressform and decided how I wanted the bodice to close. Originally I was going to have a hidden front closure, but my planned decoration shut that shit right down.  I also didn’t want a closure down the back due to some lovely pattern centering I did.


The only thing left to do? I decided to go a bit unconventional and lace it down both sides (after reinforcing the sides with boning, of course).

Finishing the interior of the bodice included stitching steel bone casings along most of the seams for structural support. I turned the edges over and hand-stitched them on the top edge, only finishing the bottom edge with handmade bias trim…. mostly to save time.

The exterior bodice decoration was completed in a mad three hour frenzy of experimentation, pleating, ironing, cursing and hand-stitching. I got caught up and didn’t take pictures of the process. 😦

But you’ll see in the pictures I DO have that I applied the same trim (and rhinestones) to the pleats on the bodice, and made more fleur de lis centered pleats for the little cap sleeve decoration. Two shades of gold mesh went between the bodice base and the pleats, much like in the inspiration photo- though the actual pleating on the front only went halfway down the bodice and ends in a V shape. I used gold accents, and a large German black glass shield as decor on the bodice. Since the shield had no holes of attachment, I made a base with prongs from black Sculpey and baked it onto the glass gem. The gem matched those in a crown I made to wear with the gown. Yes, a crown. Well, see for yourself:

20171101_184955 Done, the night before the con.

And below, at the con with gloves, crown, and completely inappropriate jewelry because I never wear gold. But how about that immaculately centered trim?23456400_10209921706254866_8496993106251255603_o - Copy

(No, it’s not the photo, I had red contacts in. It made perfect sense at the time, trust me.)