Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dance Hall Girls

Before I get started, hello again! I know it's been a while, but this year alone I interned in the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop, worked on George Washington's Marquee Part 2: The Dining Tent, and moved to Omaha, NE. Quite a change in location, which will mean some changes for this blog. But, now that I'm settled the first step is to start posting again!

This years Teslacon storyline took us to Texas to be a part of the Wild West. With the busy schedule I settled on a long-term single outfit that I could pick up off and on for a few months. We had been embroidering a great deal in the shop and I wanted to use that in my design. I settled on a show-girl style costume, the type seen in cabinet cards advertising the Follies Bergere and other similar shows. It may not be the most accurate to put such costumes in the West, but the 20th century does again and again in movies, so I'll claim that part as good enough and try to make the garment itself heavily based in surviving images. While the bodices often do closely resemble 1890s evening gowns, they are their own style and I have yet to find a surviving example. So, images it was.

I didn't use a single image to copy, but tried to pull in lots of elements (loads more on Pinterest). I really should have made the whole thing much gaudier to be stage-appropriate, but since I wasn't going to be on stage I just wasn't fond of that idea.

I managed to find some amazing double sided silk satin on Etsy to start. I decided to design the embroidery using Aesthetic Movement styles and set about sketching. The embroidery thread is un-spun Japanese silk.

I also managed to find silk passementerie on Ebay, coming from Portugal, to trim the edges with.

The final colors chosen. I went with the green side as the main color so the pinks would pop better.

I knew I was going to need an absurd amount of ruffles for the petticoat. Looking at the images, most appeared finely pleated rather than gathered. Organza seemed like it would have the best hand and resembled the images as well, so I ordered about 10 yards and sent it off to International Pleating in NYC to save my sanity (it's really not expensive and there's no minimum!).

During the Spring I started sketching out the embroidery designs, settling on four different panels. I found inspiration in everything from spoons to wallpaper.

I estimated the size/shape of the 8 panels I would need for the skirt and seamed pairs together to start embroidery. The seams I felled over. I scaled up the embroidery designs and sketched them on with chalk, detailing with pencil. I worked off and on on the embroidery between April and the end of October.

To be continued....(tomorrow)


Loretta's CC said...

Welcome to the state of Nebraska.

bauhausfrau said...

Stupid question - do you hem the pleats before you send the fabric out?

ColeV said...

I didn't hem first, though they offer hemming through the company as well. I wanted the edges to be flared and ruffled more. The fabric is pleated as a whole, then I cut dozens of narrow strips and hemmed them.

RLC said...

What a fun project. I've always been fascinated by dance hall girls. Ever since I read Good Time Girls of the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush: Secret History of the Far North when I was in high school. I don't know much about Texas history, I confess, but I can attest that there is photographic evidence in Alaska of girls wearing these outfits. So, they at least got that far west. :)

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