Sunday, 9 November 2014

Southern Belle dress diary - Part 1

How to make a Southern Belle dress?

Some people visiting this dress diary may have googled "how to sew a Southern Belle Dress" as I did. There are surprisingly few 'how to' guides and I took me at least half an hour to work out why! Let me rewind and start from the start:

I've been invited to a themed birthday party, Wild West, and my character is a western girl pretending to be a Southern Lady. So... I'm from Australia. Melbourne specifically. "Southern Belle" is not at all part of our culture. So I googled it, and googled it and pinterest-ed it and realised what they mean is (American) Civil War (or thereabouts). There are many Civil War patterns available however I currently live a good hour from the nearest fabric store and as semester is over, I'm currently unemployed. So I need to use my patterning skills (limited), my preexisting costumes (some) and my fabric stash (lots) and create something appropriate.

I have two other requirements; it needs to be able to pack down so I can fly with it, and it needs to be cool-ish so I can wear it in muggy Brisbane. I think I'm going to fail on the second one and the first one will be tight so here goes:

This is the base dress I'll be using. It's someones old wedding dress that my sister bought for me from the op shop (American: Thrift Store) for $75. It was probably once whiteish but now it's a nice creamy-ivory colour. I've picked it because it has an excessive amount of fabric in the skirts which are plain heavy satin and a brocade and I doubt I'll be dressing up as Marie Antoinette again.

To make it into a more civil warsy look I need to modify a number of things - waist line needs to be moved to true waist, sides need to be brought in so it works with my corset and I might need to lower the neckline.

One of the problems of using a second hand dress is the make-up stains that came with it. They weren't such a problem for zombie Marie-Antoinette but will be for a clean cut Southern Belle. This stain in particular has ensured the arms will go.

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