Author Archives: Prima

Botticelli Regency/mid-1400s Dress

Hello! I am Prima, frequent unwitting contributor to this blog, photographically speaking; but this is my first post about my fabulous sewing career. Enjoy.

Voila my new Easter dress, completed the day before. I am seriously in love. The main fabric, a gauzy luminous cotton, is the same color as the background in one of my favorite paintings, The Birth of Venus. Here the story of its own birth, so to speak, as I tend to consider all my creations my children… (Odd this attachment we develop with our fabricky things, isn’t it?)

This is the somewhat unglamorous start to the dress. I learned this uber-professional draping  technique at school at Smith College during an independent study in tutu making. Here is what  you do:

1. Obtain a dress form (Naomi and I made ours out of paper tape wrapped around our bodies. It was odd but fun. You can search the internet to find out all about this method). It’s important that it be your size.

2. Pin twill tape in the outline of the shape you want your bodice to be. Include all proposed seams.

3. Use muslin to drape the bodice within the lines. Start with a nice big piece, and start at one seam, making sure the grain is the direction you want it to be going. Ease it over the dress form, tucking in darts where they need to be.

4. Use a pencil to draw the twill lines underneath onto the muslin above and on either side of the darts.

5. Cut along the lines and clip out the darts.

6. Continue until all the pieces of the bodice are filled in with matching muslin. Unless you are extremely asymmetrical, you only need to do one side.

7. Remove the pieces from the dress form and use them as patterns to cut out two of each piece with seam allowance (I always use 1/4″) in muslin.

8. Sew together the pieces and try it on. Make corrections as needed, and then pull it apart and use this as the pattern to cut it out your dress fabric. At which point I got this:

The most complicated part is now done! I then added sleeves to the bodice, lined it by making another bodice and sewing them right sides together along the top edge, turning, and then sewing the skirt in between them. This dress is a wraparound, so I used a button and hidden hooks and eyes to attach the center inset panel to the opposite side of the dress.  The finishing touch was this gorgeous French trim I found.

And here she is! See this dress in my Etsy store here:

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