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The Best Reception of All
Outline the story …
As an experienced seamstress, I've worked bridal, prom, sportswear, and dance wear I wanted to try something a little different by going to a historical garment – a Victorian dress. I've done pieces, but not a complete work. To achieve this, I chose the book "Scarlett - The Sequel to Gone With the Wind" by Alexandra Ripley. Scarlett O'Hara is one of my favorite characters, and the Victorian era has always intrigued me. I had read this book once before. I know it has been made into a television mini series, yet I have never seen it, which I think is to my own advantage, not being influenced by Hollywood. This book starts out in the US after the Civil War, and carries us to Ireland, where Scarlett's family heritage lies. The story itself starts out with the passing of Melanie Hamilton Wilkes, Scarlett's sister in law. This puts Scarlett into mourning apparel. I believe the mourning period is about a year, depending on the familial relationship. After following protocol for the traditional apparel and time frame, Scarlett is very ready to rid herself of the crape material and return to society. My garment is my interpretation of a Scarlett O'Hara transition from "ordinary" mourning dress in the early 1870's, merging back in to society. Scarlett does this by hosting the first social event of the year. Being a strong willed, flamboyant woman, she would not remain in plain gowns, she will be dressed to be seen.
Outline the construction…
I drew on the help of multiple Facebook historical sewing groups, Victorian picture books and internet research. With these resources, I determined that the era of this dress is the early bustle period. I chose to use Truly Victorian patterns to guide me with historical constructions. In the past I have made modified Victorian garments for horse show classes, but I hadn't made a complete true Victorian era ensemble. Feeling intimidated, I made this project much bigger in my mind than what it actually was. Once I realized that the skirt was just a base for all the trimming, my creativity opened up. I researched historical fabrications available after the Civil War. I chose Moiré Bengaline, because I love the watered effect of the Moiré and the cross ridges from the Bengaline weave. The aprons are of polyester taffeta because I wanted a contrasting fabric. All pieces are underlined with cotton broadcloth.
Trimmings are based on the story descriptions, black beading trim and tassels. The construction of the bustle and petticoat were critical to have completed before tackling the skirt, as they are necessary to support the skirt. The bustle has 3/8” steel hoop wire. The jacket has covered 1/4” steel spring boning in all seams except the center back. The hemline is trimmed with 3/4 inch pleating, which I am quite proud of the evenness of the pleats. The tassels and beading pulled everything together.Time didn't allow me to finish my corset, but it will be completed soon.