Balls: Tissot Portrait Dress Diary, part 1


I’m not exactly sure how exactly to keep a dress diary, but the next task for blogging 101 is to write a post aimed at a ‘dream reader’, which for me would be a fellow costumer who’s interested in my process and those sort of details, so I figured I’d give it a shot.  I’ve looked through a bunch of dress diaries on other blogs and hope that I’ll be able to keep up.  As usual the challenge will be to try to make it interesting and coherent to people who don’t live in my brain!

Mountains of ball fringe!

Mountains of ball fringe!

First: I ordered two different sizes of red ball fringe – extra large and jumbo.  Of course the ideal size would be about half-way between the two, but what can ya do!  So now I need to decide which will be a better proportion.  Any opinions would be most welcome!

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I’m making the dress out of black flocked velvet from Fashion Fabrics Club.  It’s kind of a weird fabric; it’s not real velvet at all, it’s just solid flocking, which gives it a velvety texture.  It’s not the most HA (historically accurate) fabric in the world, I am okay with this because I don’t want to worry about having to work with velvet, or take care of a big velvet dress once I’m finished with it.  The fabric is 100% cotton, I’ll have to see how/if it holds up in the washing machine (I won’t mind not being able to machine wash it, but it would be a nice treat).  And honestly the price was right, and now I have a 14 yard bolt of the stuff – hopefully enough to make a few other garments after I finish with this dress.


Ruby wanted to help me mark my hem

For the skirt I wanted to make sure it was nice and full over the crinoline but not super extravagantly huge (it’s a day dress, not a ball gown).  I thought the fabric was 45″ wide, so I cut 4 fabric-width panels, for a total of 180″ circumference.  I figured out later, once I had sewn all the seams and the entire hem and had already started draping that it was really in the 55-60″ range (whoops).  For a different fabric a skirt with a 240″ sweep would have been fine, but this fabric has a LOT of body and would not have been fun to maneuver around in (and I have less than a month to finish this dress so an additional 60″ of cartridge pleating is not ideal).  I took out one panel, so now I’m back to about a 165-180″ sweep. I’ve draped it to have a side front opening and about a 4″ flat spot at the centre front, and the rest will be cartridge pleated evenly (hopefully) all around.  It’s hard to see exactly what’s happening at the waist in the portrait, but it does look like there’s a flat area in the front and you can see some deep pleats on the side.  It might be a double box pleat, though, and if the cartridge pleating proves to be unmanageable I’ll probably mess around with shaped panels and flat pleats.

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6 thoughts on “Balls: Tissot Portrait Dress Diary, part 1

  1. Lee

    Wow this looks amazing already! I personally think that the smaller trim looks much better then it’s larger counterpart but Hopefully choosing will become easier once more of the dress is complete. I’m looking forward to seeing where you go from here. Cheers.


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