Almost reluctantly, I write my couture carnival entry. I couldn’t have delayed it any longer. I had a hard time deciding which garment to feature and being the collector I am, I have a lot to pick from. My first choice would have been the slip but I already wrote about it. I guess it’s only fitting then, that my second choice be similar in some regard to the first. Actually, I bought the slip and this dress (below) on the same day and from the same person. For the same price.
It’s a full length silk sequined gown, underlined of course. Pattern wise, it couldn’t be any simpler. With that piped waist and darted, scoop-necked bodice, it’s your basic fitting shell. Does it surprise you that I picked something so simple? Yesterday I said that I liked technically complex patterns but today, I was in the mood to pay homage to someone who had other kinds of skills and abilities. So, technically speaking, pattern-wise it’s no biggie. It’s special because it was handmade by an individual. It took a lot of patience, dedication and follow through. That’s more than I can say about a lot of my projects. I feel guilty about owning it; I’ve never worn it. Only tried it on once. I don’t have any place to wear something like this. It should belong to someone who will wear it sometime. Below is a close up of the bodice.
Below is a close up of the embroidery detail. What hasn’t been embroidered in silk ribbon is sequined. The shell is silk, the lining is silk, the ribbons are silk. Can you guess what the sequins are?
I always thought the sequins looked a little off. A little different. I couldn’t figure out why I was noticing them. Long story short, the sequins aren’t plastic -they’re mother of pearl. They’re REAL sequins. I guess it only makes sense if you think about it. Sequins existed before plastic did but it didn’t occur to me. I wish I could find a good home for this. Something like this should be worn. It’s too beautiful to live out the rest of my life in the back of my closet. It’s not my color either.
Below is a photo of the inside of the dress.
The dress has been underlined. It has the extra wide seam allowances so it can be altered. All the seams are finished, facings are separate. The piped waist seam is bound.
I wanted to mention something about underlining. The description of underlining is that two pieces are worked together as one layer. Underlining is done for either warm or strength. With embroidery, you need strength; the shell can only handle so much weight, particularly when it’s also having lots of little holes poked all over it. The second reason for underlining is warmth. You’d add an underlining to a coat if needed. These days, underlining has come to mean the fusible layer that is bonded to the shell fabric -in other words, a product. Using fusible underlining has become so prevalent that when you use the word ‘underlining’, most people are thinking about a product, not a process.
And speaking of vintage, Jinjer passes a link to view the Lacis Museum. I can’t date these dresses correctly (I only took fashion history because I had to) but I doubt any of them were made in the 20th century. 1700’s-1800’s would be my guess. Naturally, I was most interested in the structural engineering of the bustles.