gown

Glitz, glamour and silly headpieces, that’s what! My home town Stockholm, Sweden, is blessed with a great burlesque club, Fräulein Frauke Presents, housed in one of the city’s classic dance palaces with quite the bad reputation back in the 40′s, 50′s and 60′s. Their annual New Year’s masquerade is the perfect  opportunity to break your sequin seaweed and your frivolous mask-making abilities.

New Year's Eve, photo by John Paul Bichard.

I bought this red sequin seaweed for last year’s celebrations, actually, but it got delayed at my local post office and I’ve been sitting on it since. The plans for the dress have changed during the year, for the better I think, and instead of a complicated, slinky number with a high slit and back cut-out, I made… a dressing gown. Sort of. I drew inspiration from a simple, but very glamorous and slightly quirky evening gown that Katharine Hepburn wore in the 1938 screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby, the one that has the entire back panel of the skirt ripped off in a memorable scene. I translated the inspiration into a long gown with an a-line skirt, containing all the width I could squeeze out of 3 yards of fabric, and a surplice bodice, buttoned at the side, with elbow-length sleeves and a modest v-neck. I really like that combination of the rather casual, simple cut with the inherently festive fabric. It’s a dress that looks comfortable, and feels easy to wear.

The entire garment is flatlined with red cotton poplin, to protect the skin from the somewhat scratchy sequin fabric and counteract a slight transparency, since the base material is a synthetic tulle with very little stretch. I put it together with french seams throughout, for further protection against scratchy sequins on the inside of it, and finished the hem and edges with poplin bias strips on the inside. I also spent a lot of time cutting tiny 2 mm sequins in half, to clear at least some of the seam allowances of the extra bulk. The end result is a very heavy, but, yes, quite comfortable evening gown that I really think I will get a lot of use out of. It’s formal enough for white tie events at a pinch, what with the full length, but also frivolous enough for black tie and just plain parties, and I also think it turned out quite flattering.

Cutting a thousand little sequins in half to clear the seam allowances = major pain in the behind.

I also made the pearl… thing. It’s a masquerade, after all, of course you want a mask of some sort, and I didn’t feel like repeating last year’s sequin glove mask, especially since this year’s theme was the roaring 20′s, which really isn’t my decade, normally. I toyed with the idea of simply draping a few strings of pearls across the eyes, but that seemed a little too easy, and the project grew into this, after having a closer look at showy Art Deco headpieces, the Ballets Russes and Russian kokoshniks. It’s all based on a plain plastic headband with teeth, my favourite notions shop turned out to have an old lot of vintage glass pearls in stock, and the  rest is steel wire, lots of pearl string and thousands of knots, topped off with two enormous artificial peonies.

Pearl headdress in progress, from the very beginning to close to finished.

And it was fun. All of it, including New Year’s Eve. Hope you all had a great New Year’s too, have yourselves a happy new year!

More on both projects over at the Fashion in Shrouds, for once.

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It's all paper!!!!

I was recently invited to submit a piece for the New Orleans Creative Alliance’s annual Bal Des Artistes. This event is comprised of a runway show of local designers and artists and a masked ball. The theme this year was “1920′s French Quarter Bohemian”. Now, I jumped on this train rather late. Just three weeks before the event and in the middle of the Christmas holidays. So on a budget and a short deadline I had to get creative. I wanted to pay homage to what I think were some of the greatest costumers of the time period: The Russian Ballet. I found that paper lent itself very well to the Deco look I was trying to achieve. The headdress is modeled after the traditional Russian Kokoshnik which was still a popular motif with the ballet in the 1920′s. I am quite pleased with how the whole thing turned out!

Jazzy looking fabulous and me stoked to get to finally drag out Grandma's fur.

Needless to say there was a lot of folding a ironing here.  Not to mention paper punching to get the lacy edges.  The bodice is wheat pasted to achieve the form of my model.  The headdress I made by making a buckram and wire base and wheat pasted the paper fans and doilies to it.  The paper doilies on the skirt, bodice, and headdress are from my secret stash (yes I have a doilie  stash) and some are from the very secret vintage 1950′s collection.  Never mind they put the skirt on sideways.  She looked just grand.  I know this is a bit of an unusual entry but I just had to share,

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Hiii!

Check out this latest creation – I am SO pleased with it!!

A few details:

Pattern: Butterick 3989 – from early to mid 40′s I think. From the amazing Evadress Patterns
Fabric: Awesome tropical print rayon WITH PINEAPPLES from eBay. This isn’t vintage as the selvedge mentions “Hoffman Internation Fabrics 2001″. How COOL is it!? I have another piece which has Plumerias and palm trees on it!

butterick3989_0025

I actually made a mistake while creating this! More details and pics on le blog

:-D

 

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