Friday, November 25, 2011

How It's Made: Teal Ballgown


Sometimes when I'm lacking in inspiration, I'll go to Samantha and say, "Sami. I have a job for you." She says, "Uh...okay?" no doubt fearing that I'm about to ask her to do something crazy. To be fair, sometimes I do. But in most cases, I'll then continue, saying, "Find me some ideas for my next sewing project." When I went to her and said, "I need a new ballgown but I don't have any ideas," she came through!


I loved the lines of the red ballgown, and I had eight yards of teal silk taffeta just lying around in my stash after a once-in-a-lifetime sale at I figured the hardest part would be finding a suitable lace. While I wasn't able to find a fine black lace of the type pictured in the plate, I stumbled upon a gorgeous wide scalloped Alençon lace at Etsy shop Uncommmonstuff.


Because of the type of lace, the best treatment was to apply it flat and trim the extra fabric from under it, like you would do for a camisole or lingerie piece. In fact, the instructions from this Threads article, Create Couture Lingerie details pretty much exactly what I did.

The bodice is mounted on a lining of cotton twill, with white silk organza over the bust and the teal taffeta for the faux swiss waist. The organza is wide strips cut on the bias and hand sewn around the neck, bust, and shoulders of the bodice. The waist was sewn separately, the top edge piped, and then mounted by hand over the organza. All the layers were then treated as one for piping the bottom and attaching sleeves. The sleeves are gathered silk organza over an organza undersleeve, to make sure they stay puffed high on the arm. The bodice itself has a deep v-neck, which is filled in with a cotton net tucker. The tucker is finished off with a tiny black silk ribbon, 2mm wide, from Silky-Way.

Photo by Samantha Bullat

What's left? Oh, the underskirt--it's just a simple white cotton underskirt with a layer of the silk organza mounted to it just above knee level. I'm not actually sure how correct that is, but it solved my two problems of, "How do I make an underskirt with minimal bulk at the waist and minimal use of expensive fabric," and "I don't have a petticoat long enough to wear under a skirt this length." Combine petticoat with underskirt, et voila! Problem(s) solved.


  1. Wow! That lace looks like it took a lot of work, but it looks fantastic. I also like the Swiss-waist effect on the bodice.

  2. It's lovely and you look gorgous!

  3. You did an amazing job bringing a fashion plate to life, thanks for writing about it!!

  4. That looks fantastic! I love it how Samantha gave you the inspiration. I'll have to ask her about my green silk... (since Fort Washita burned down I haven't had a place to where it.) And the Original Cast totally used cheap fabric where it didn't show. They got really sneaky with those multi-tiered skirts!