Instructables
Picture of The Architecture of a Formal Gown
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One of the many things that fascinates me about high fashion is the innards of a true couture gown.  The interior boning and stitching means that the dress can basically stand up by itself!  No double-sided tape or plastic strips along the top edge or Spanx is necessary.  The understructure is built right into the garment.  For strapless pieces, especially, this interior structure is vital!

So when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to make my own gown, from the inside out.
 
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Step 1: The Beginning

Picture of The Beginning
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The first step is to decide on a design.  Some people prefer to drape on a dress form, others to work from design blocks.  Myself, I like to start with a pattern and make any necessary changes as I go.

And this pattern has been on my mind for the past few years.  I really love it! 

The first thing to do is pull out the pattern tissue and inspect those direction sheets to make sure I know what I am getting myself into!

After familiarizing myself with the directions I cut all of the pieces apart.  And I will admit I like to be as sloppy with my cutting as possible.  It feels a bit wicked, but how fun is it to slice through something with abandon, when you usually have to be so careful?!

Then comes a quick iron to get everything to lay flat.

Large pattern pieces are always a bit of a bear to work with.  The skirt on this gown requires not only one extension piece, but two!  That means that the skirt is so large that the tissue cannot accommodate it, and my table will have the same problem. 

I know that some will consider cutting a pattern piece in two sacrilegious, but I cannot think of a bodice pattern that I have made in the past 10 years that could not be improved by adding length.  So in the interest of cutting down on the number of muslins I will be making, I am making this initial alteration before I begin cutting into my scrap fabric.

I iron all those extra bits of unmarked tissue and mark my ¾” strips in pencil.  I like to tear up bits of masking tape to match the two pieces together.  Masking tape will not melt should the pieces have to be ironed at some point like scotch tape will.  But since I plan on transferring everything to muslin right away, I do not anticipate this being a problem.  To insure that the bodice, now in two pieces, is matched correctly, I use my gridded mat and match the grainline running through both pieces along one of those blue lines.  If the grainline marking is only on one half of the bodice, I use a ruler and extend the line so I have something to work with.  This is especially important because unless the edge is a straight line, chances are the extension will cause the edge to be off line a bit.

As the two front bodice pieces are different, and they are not duplicated, I have to remember to cut them right side up, or will end up with piece that do not match.

No matter how long I have been doing this, designs that are not symmetrical always give me pause when I am cutting fabric.
Gorgeous! Love the cape-let too! :)
Absolutely stunning. I love all of the invisible structure that goes into couture work. Backless dresses are downright architectural feats! Beautiful attention to detail here, and a GREAT appreciation for how well each piece has been documented.