I've been wanting to give a 1920s style dress a shot for a while--it's an era I'm kind of wary of. I think it's the lack of corsetting. Can any historical gown without an elaborate network of corsets and petticoats really work?
I think it can. A friend of mine hosts a Prohibition Party in February (aptly nicknamed the Bootlegger's Ball), and I decided that a new dress would be just the thing (thus, the Bootlegger's Ballgown). The plan--make it in a classic 1920s shape, and also create a self-belt so that I can wear it with some waist definition as a modern cocktail dress, too.
Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion II has (along with a bevy of other historical gowns I must needs haves now) a very lovely, very simple, very 1920s evening dress:
The dress as featured is a silk sheath, heavily beaded, with a decorative hem.
And this is the pattern:
Yep, that's it. Incredible how the complicated, pieced, fitted garments of only a decade earlier gave way to....this. Lest you think that the lines on the pattern are some fancy fitting or pleating or pintucking, rest assured--those are just the lines that the beading is done in on the original.
I plan to make the dress in silk charmeuse, with (hopefully) a beaded silk gauze overlay. The beading will be far less extensive than the original. I'm still deciding on the hem--do I want to do an allover uneven hem, or a decorative hem on the overlay and a straight one underneath? Decisions, decisions.
Phase one was getting the fabric ready. I ordered white silk charmeuse and gauze from Dharma Trading Co, and finally, after much debate, settled on a rich, dark royal blue dye.
I think it turned out gloriously. There's just something about dark blue, isn't there? My door kindly offered to model the uncut fabric.
And the gauze: