FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
“Death kindly stopped for me”
Outline the story …
The creation of this dress was inspired by the poem, "Because I could not stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson.
In the poem, a voice (perhaps the soul of Dickinson) is enchanted with death while slowly grasping that it is passing on from life. Accompanied by death personified, the soul travels though all the stages of earthly life and finally arrives at her own grave, realizing she is in the afterlife. To evoke part of the spirit of the poem, a ghostly love affair, the dress resembles both a wedding gown and a shroud.
I took literal inspiration from this line in the poem and made the dress all in sheer cotton lawn.
"The Dews drew quivering and Chill-
For only Gossamer, my Gown-"
This is a short poem, only 24 lines, but it takes place over centuries.
"Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day"
The poem has a pervading feeling of slowness, of a loss of time. Since 90% of this dress was handsewn, the unhurried, tarried feeling of the poem felt captured in my fingers and I feel, rests in the gown.
Outline the construction…
I'm really proud to say that this dress pushed my skills TO THE LIMIT and I now feel a better sewist! I challenged myself to embrace the slow process of getting a good fit and putting it together purposefully, beautifully Everything in this ensemble was done by hand, except for the long straight seams, so about 90%
I made the corded petticoat (with the yards of cord sewn in by hand), and two more petticoats, one with cartridge pleating and a shaped waistband and the other, just a simple gathered skirt.
The corset was a challenge! I was having trouble finding a pattern that I liked, so I thought draping a corset pattern would save time. In hindsight, that was no time saver! I've only made a couple of corsets and I was really out of my depth and lost in this whole process. I ended up making 7 mockups for the corset to arrive at something workable. The corset is single layer coutil and lightly boned.
For the dress, I modified a pattern from "Patterns of Fashion". The fit of the original bodice pattern was way off though, and it took much head scratching and MANY mockups to get a good fit. The dress is made from the sheerest cotton lawn I could find, with a lightly boned underbodice. The bottom edge of the bodice is finished off with double piping. The skirt has 1/8" cartridge pleating. The skirt flounces are hand eased over a tiny cord.