Edwardian Dress

February 2006

Rene is my youngest daughter and has recently become involved in period re-enactments and social dancing, which require formal dresses of different eras. One such dance was done in the "Titanic" theme. We both remembered that when the movie, "Titanic" came out, Simplicity patterns printed a reproduction dress, based on the movie. Sadly, the pattern is now out of print .. BUT .. I was able to track one down and purchase it.

Rene picked out and bought the fabric herself. The dress itself is ice blue crepe-backed satin. Black tulle makes up the first overskirt and black point d'espirit is a shaped, second overskirt. The curved edge of the point d'espirit is edged in black sequins, which I had Rene sew on (nothing like putting a little sweat-equity into something to make you appreciate it!) In the movie, the tulle layer has two rows of beaded motifs and fringe but Rene is very much a "less is more" kinda girl, so she wanted just one row of embellishments. Knowing that trims, lace and beading can cost much more than the actual dress, I suggested that I embroider the motifs directly on the tulle instead of buying black lace or motifs ... which I wasn't even sure we would be able to find.

Fortunately, Rene was able to find a lace design in my files that she liked. The snowflake-like design she chose was part of a freebie package, that unfortunately, I am unable to supply the URL for it. I downloaded these designs before I realized how important it was to know the source of the designs. So, although I am able to show you the design, I can't direct you to the site nor can I share the design with you. I do apologize for that.

This is a single motif. It has 18,200 stitches. I figured out how many complete motifs would be required to go around the hem of the dress (22) and, more importantly, how LONG it would take my machine to stitch them out. I have a Janome 300e .. a right dandy little machine .. a real workhorse, but it's maximum speed is 650spm. With this design being so dense and on tulle, I ran it at its middle speed of 500spm, so it took about 45 minutes to stitch out each motif. I held my breath on every one cuz I didn't want have the machine burp!

I hooped Floriani's Wet-n-Gone and pinned the tulle in place. About mid-way through the stitching, I realized that I was going to run out of time to stitch all the motifs *and* this design is very, very dense. I decided to reduce the density of it; this didn't seem to affect the visible outcome of the design and certainly speeded up my stitching. The design stitches out in a very reasonable, logical manner ... one arm at a time. However, to ensure that the tulle didn't move as the motif was being stitched, I added in some radial lines as a first step. This produced a star-like design that simply fixed the tulle to the stablizer for the entire design before any of the decorative stitches were done. These radial lines were completely covered by the design itself.

After all the motifs were stitched completely, I soaked the hem of the dress in water to dissolve the Wet-n-Gone. When dry, I sewed on the black fringe.

So, after all of that, I suppose you want to see the completed dress, huh? :-)