Belle’s golden ballgown

This ballgown ended up needing almost 40 yards of fabric, which is what happens when you have fabric over fabric over more fabric over a massive hoop!  But it’s alway fun to play with so much fabric.  I was in the middle of packing to move while making this gown, so please pardon my neglect of pressing the skirt properly before taking pictures.

I decided to base this skirt on the Belle skirt that was used for the Cinderellabration festivities at Disney World in 2005, though with different fabrics, and the top layer is a bit longer, and the bottom layer scalloped. Still, that’s where the general idea comes from.

The undermost layer isn’t exciting. Simple six-steel-hooped cage (aka “hoop skirt”). The skirt on top of that is rather heavy. The satin I used is a heavier satin, and, rather than eliminate weight by goring the skirts, I pleated tons of yards of satin to the waistband. The swagged layer has a cut that’s not circle, not gored, not exactly pleated or gathered. It’s something I devised for this gown. The top layer is a few layers of fabric, topped with a swirly vine organza to keep with the rose motif in the story. The satin swags at the bottom are a slightly darker gold. If I were to cut a bunch of threads, this layer would hang evenly all the way around. And, as you can see, at the top of each swag point, I placed a red rose. Golden fabric-covered buttons just wasn’t doing it. The skirt closes with a hook and eye, and has a series of hooks to connect it to the bodice.

Though boning channels aren’t visible, the bodice is fully boned and tight-laces as much as a stand-alone corset. I drafted a Victorian corset pattern to start with, raised the top, then cut the bottom up until I was satisfied with it. Rather than drafting a shorter pattern to begin with, I drafted what I know works for the top of it, and cut right into my fabrics. So cutting up the bottom happened on the actual bodice itself. Each panel has six, SIX, layers. Two layers together of a light cotton twill to line it, and the two layers of the same as interlining (that’s how I hid the bones), and then the satin and organza. Not including the binding, modesty panel, or shoulders, there are sixty, that’s 60, as in six-zero, pieces on the bodice. I debated whether or not to add gold trim on the seams, but ultimately decided against it. Sewing the inside of the bindings was interesting since it was two layers together. As I was doing it, I found myself unable to see what I was going half the time. Hard to explain, but let us just say that many swear words were uttered. The modesty panel in the back is different than usual. Rather than being only as long as the back, it’s several inches longer and is meant to of under the waist band. This gives a path of sorts for the bodice lacing to be fed down between the skirt and the hoops. And it’s all topped off with a bertha (the shoulder piece) made from the same swirled organza lined with golden plain organza, and another rose at the front.

More photos are available in this Facebook album.

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