So there I was, with a tight schedule for larp and a ton of projects, and what happens? A party invitation. 20's themed. So, fast-forward 200 years and party dress it was.
The biggest problem, it turned, with 1920's fashion is two-fold. One: There are so. Many. Nice. Things. I get totally destracted by all the extant garments and actual photos of actual people wearing actual clothes that drape around actual bodies - not at all like trying to figure out if Veronese airbrushed it all, or if there was a clever solution that made the shoulder straps stay on the shoulders and bla bla bla. Two: It's surprisingly hard to find good fabrics for it. I wanted something draping, since I needed the dress to be not overly complicated to make.
In the end, there was an emergency trip for fabric shopping (which isn't such a very bad thing, especially not since I had my wits about me and picked up the fabrics I needed for the rest of the Regency stuff, too, which saved a LOT of tears and agony later!). I came home with a pale brownish violet sandwashed silk, and some plum-coloured chiffon to go over it, and while shopping that I also had to finally settle for a style of dress.
Wonderfully simple, is it not? A lot of the 20's stuff I found was actually some truly genius dress engineering, and I might end up doing more of it at some point.
Only problem is that for most draped dresses you need an under-dress, too. This is where the sand-washed silk entered the picture. After some more googling, I ended up using this as a reference:
Sorry about the size. The original is at the helpful page here
, and is sadly no bigger.
I found a vintage pattern somewhere online (facsimile from a book I think) and now I can't find it, but it was super-simple, basically two pieces, both constructed out of two rectangular pieces. I can't for the life of me find the pattern now, so here are my best paint skills instead:
Basically, the top part is a tube that sits about on your hipbone, and the lower part is essentially a slightly bigger tube, gathered into the smaller one at the sides. The result is thoroughly unbecoming, shape-wise:
As you can see it's fairly long - I went for rather early 20's in the end.
Easy enough, right? Well, you have obviously never sewn anything in sandwashed silk if you think that. It slides. And slides. And walks when you work it. And to cut a straight line is near impossible. I ended up handsewing the whole thing, I didn't even dare start thinking about what it would have done in a sewing machine *shudders*. Good for me it was very little actual sewing involved. I was soooo happy I didn't go for a bias-cut thing. I really was.
After that, cutting the chiffon in two, with a slit in each side, and making a rolled hem was a breeze. Draping it and attaching it with a few stitches wasn't too bad either.
The end result was more than ok, I think:
There are photos, somewhere, of me in the dress with hair done up and feathers and pearls and gloves and everything, but I don't have them. This is instead a photo of the finished dress, slightly wrinkled from being at the party and in my bag, on my mannequin. As you can see, the draped fabric is slightly less wide than the inspiration picture, giving it less of a curve at the bottom, but I like it this way too.
What the item is: 20's evening dress
The Challenge, and how this item fulfills it: #4: Circles, squares and rectangles - overdress is two rectangles. Underdress is basically one square (above waist) and a larger square (below waist) times two. The shoulder straps are rectangles, too ;). The rest is draping and gathering.
Fabric/Materials: Silk satin for underdress, silk chiffon for overdress
Pattern: None as such, but there are guides for draping from the period.
Year: 1922-24 or so
Notions: Silk thread (underdress) and polyester thread (overdress)
How historically accurate is it? Fairly, actually. I know too little to say it the combination of the pattern and a sheer overdress was used, but patterns and materials are ok - I'd say 90% with a ? for the "unsure" part, as well as the polyester thread.
Hours to complete: Hand sewn, since the silk satin was a pain and rolled hems was easier to learn to do by hand.
First worn: at a party 8th April
Total cost: Due to the silk, about 85 euros including notions.
I have just over one metre of silk left. To use for something. When I have managed to forget how dreadful it is to work with, and only see the pretty silk in the pretty colour....