Apr 152011

Navigation for this costume:
IntroductionMaterialsSmockFarthingalePetticoatBodiceSkirtingsRolled SleevesOverskirtForepartRuffsPartlet and SleevesJewelry making: Headdress; Necklace; Pelican Jewel; Sleeveband; Girdle; Wristbands; FanFinished gownFunny CommentsMiss StarkieQuiz

Nevertheless, when looking at the Pelican Portrait, …

(large picture – almost 1MB, so be patient when clicking on it)

…which, as you all might know, depicts a red gown, decorated with emerald and golden jewels and pearls, I discovered that I’ve had most of exactly those materials right at hand…:

  • From former fabric shopping, I’ve had five yards of cherry red, *very* lush cotton velvet;
  • My parents who run a florist’s wholesale some years ago had Russian „Christmas decorations“ for sale – of which quite some remained, which went right into my storage – golden filigree disks in various sizes, with an acrylic stone (in different colors – red, clear, blue, green) in the center and prongs (to attach them to, for example, ribbons) on the back.
    These disks are just this – round disks. All decorations on the original „Pelican“ gown in the portrait, however, are square, yes, thank you, I know that.
    However – I have really, really searched for *square* filigree parts but could not find any (at *that* point of time. Just after I had attached all disks decorations to the gown, however, I discovered about a dozen sites selling that stuff, which just verifies the theory that if you need something you won’t find it, and if you don’t need it you’ll find it more often than you want…), so… my „Pelican“ decorations are round instead of square.
    The only thing I really intend to change at a later point of time are the acrylic stones with which the disks are decorated – by replacing them with large emerald Swarovski flat back rhinestones (SS34-40 should be the right size, I guess).
  • A big plastic tube with big pearls,
  • a small plastic tube with golden beads,
  • several packages of small pearls,
  • a spool of fine golden wire,
  • rhinestone glue,
  • rhinestones in several colors and sizes,
  • leaf gold and silver plus the necessary fluids to apply and secure them for the jewelry,
  • small and big pearl strings by the yard on spools,
  • Half round pearls for the forepart decoration,
  • a scrap of approximately 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 yards finest silk-linen batiste for the partlet and sleeves,
  • some linen for lining,
  • Leftovers of red silk satin and habotai fabrics to make a petticoat,
  • old barbecue pliers with wooden handles for the fan,
  • scraps of white habotai silk left over from other projects for the puffs on sleeves and for backing the slashes in the bodice,
  • liquid rubber to secure the slashes,
  • a few yards of black lace, white lace and golden trim for smock, partlet, ruffs and sleeves,
  • stamped, wine red velvet trim edged with gold to edge the petticoat with,
  • cream cotton trim, woven with golden geometric designs for the farthingale,
  • some black twill tape for the hoop casings,
  • some corset boning I had left from former projects for the bodice and stays and, of course,
  • the great „Lady’s wardrobe“ patterns by Margo Anderson as well as
  • some necessary notions, such as hooks and eyes, pins etc. of which my storage will probably never run out (or does run out when I actually need them – I guess you all will know that problem…).

The only things I needed to buy were:

  • golden pearl caps (Many! I stopped counting when I used the 150th);
  • three fine black and one yellow waterproof fabric markers (you’ll later see what those are needed for)
  • red yarn (due to the fact that I don’t often make red gowns, as I’ve already mentioned, I only had half a spool of it – which was by far not enough – I ended up using 4 spools, I think)
  • some packets of dark red fabric dye – I didn’t consider cherry red to be the color of my choice, so I had to dye the velvet a tad darker; plus I needed some dye for the underskirt and farthingale;
  • some white-silver netting
  • two fashion necklaces which I cut open for the jewelry
  • some jewelry making elements, like golden wire and emerald glass beads and a jewelry making tool to assemble them
  • golden foil and special crafts glue
  • an assortment of acrylic jewels
  • Ostrich feathers for the fan,
  • tiny point-back Swarovski jewels,
  • Some cutwork silk and woven flower trim for the smock,
  • twelve yards of hoop steel for the new farthingale,
  • a nice fabric for the forepart and
  • belting for the overskirt.

I think that was all – I tried to keep the list as updated as possible, but it may be possible that I have forgotten something.
I’ve bought these things over a timespan of about four to five months (that’s how long the making of this gown actually took), and I think that I have spent about $400 on them. I guess I would have spent more than $1500 if I wouldn’t have had most of the materials already at hand (which, and please keep that in mind, I had to buy at some point of time myself) – and those are just the material costs, as I have made each and every part of the gown and jewelry myself…
If I would have to make a gown like this for someone else, I’d estimate that the price would be about $5000-6000, depending on the size of the customer.
Considering that I estimate this gown & jewelry having taken roughly 300 hours of work, and considering that a *good* costume maker should earn at least $15 per hour (remember, she must pay taxes from that, *plus* make a living somehow!), *plus* adding some funds for research, shipping of materials and the finished gown, notions etc. – about $150 or so….
This means the price for a gown like this should have at least $4650 *added* to the above estimated material costs, if you would want a professional costume maker to make you this gown.)

Dyeing the velvet

The whole dressmaking progress started with two things: First, I ordered the forepart fabric and on the same day I dyed my velvet for that dress.

I dyed the red velvet to a slightly darker shade of red. Imagine my surprise when I found that the velvet didn’t shrink a single inch while being dyed in the washing machine while washing and dry-tumbling (I was scared that it would actually shrink – five yards are, ahem, *not* too much for such a gown!).

The velvet didn’t suffer from the dye; it even became more soft and more plushy so that I almost had the feeling of touching soft butter when it had finished drying. Nevertheless – and unlike silk velvet – it still had substantial body.

No pictures on that subject – sorry; no „before and after“ pictures – which would have probably been in vain, anyway – digital cameras *hate* red and will almost never depict it the right way….

But one picture I have: A picture of the velvet I had left *after* making the gown. The fact that these remnants fit perfectly into one hand will probably tell you something about someone being incredibly scared that said velvet wouldn’t be enough 😉

This is why I would never suggest *any* beginner to make such a gown from just five yards of velvet….. it was already very difficult for someone like me, who *has* practice, to lay the pattern pieces out in a way so that the velvet *was* enough for the gown… So if you plan to do something likely but don’t have much experience – I would recommend to get at least 6-7 yards of 54 inches wide velvet…

By now I guess you’re curious as to how I made the gown. Please follow me through this adventure by starting with the smock making.

Navigation for this costume:
IntroductionMaterialsSmockFarthingalePetticoatBodiceSkirtingsRolled SleevesOverskirtForepartRuffsPartlet and SleevesJewelry making: Headdress; Necklace; Pelican Jewel; Sleeveband; Girdle; Wristbands; FanFinished gownFunny CommentsMiss StarkieQuiz

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