Today I unpicked the entire dress. I've removed the sleeves and separated the skirt, the panniers and petticoat from the bodice. I spent pretty much all day washing the fabric (everything except the tulle). I've also ironed it to try and get most of the creases out. It took forever because I did both the front and the reverse hoping to get it smooth. It's almost there, I'm probably not going to take it further because it'll just collect more when it gets crammed into my baggage so I'll wait until I'm in Queensland until I iron it completly. I've also ironed the 12 meters of blue (artificial?) silk sari that I'll be using for contrasting trim. So much silk-stuff!
The brocade after ironing (left) and before ironing (right) - this is why I went over it two times!
Adjust the hoop skirt -
I cut off the waistband of the skirt by cutting off the skirt 8 inches above the top hoop and adding a new waistband made out of random white fabric. As the skirt was originally A-line I needed to gather the fabric in a little. I sewed a straight band to a majority of the skirt and gathered the remainder in the last section before the tie. This pulls against the hoops unevenly, resulting in the hoop sitting closer to the legs and puffing out in the back like so:
Tulle skirt gathered to true waist -
This was a little challenging as both tulle layers had been attached to the bottom of the bodice, as a result it had V shaped dips in the waistband. I started by straight sewing a new 120cm long waistband to the tulle. Given the difference in measurements between my hips and waist and the extra distance added by the V shapes I ended up with a significant overlap. Happily, I could position the frontal V at my front and the two extra 'puff' sections of tulle that used to be for the panniers wrapped around and overlapped at the back giving me better bustle.
I started by over lapping the two sections over each other and attaching three hook and eyes to the side of the waistband. Though this gives me the best bustle, as you can see it's pulling oddly. I tried to fix this by extending the opening all the way down to the ruffled tulle layer but the overlap proved to be too much and was lopsided no matter how I fiddled with it. The bit that under-lapped wouldn't sit flat and kept pulling towards the side with the clips.
In the end I angled the waistband and used three hook and eyes. The extra lengths on each side folded in under the waistband and overlapped themselves like this ><. The fluff of the bustle wasn't as amazing but it sat right so I went with it.
On a side note - I really don't like tulle, it's so easy to catch your scissors on it and tear it.
Work out right drape for fabric
Determine how to extend bodice with brocade
Placement of blue accents and ruffles
Hand sew in front panel