1860’s Belle

Where do I even begin with this dress? Or should I really say: series of petticoats? This dress has from the foundations up: Hoop skirt, Bum pad, Corset, Foundation petticoat, Secondary petticoat, Smoothing petticoat, Overskirt, and Bodice. That’s 8 pieces to make up what looks almost to be just two: Skirt and Bodice.

This behemoth of a dress is almost entirely made of organza – or at least the petticoats are. The over skirt with the petals is made from hand-dyed silk gauze (you can read more about their construction on my blog), and the bodice is made from silk taffeta.

My favorite part of the dress is the bodice. The bertha is made of these layers, in order from skin to visible: linen, shantung, sequin lace appliques and beading, and glitter tulle and silk gauze. The binding and strips are made of the same shantung as the base. And then, to finish things off, I applied scallops of beading (each with exactly 13 beads for symmetry – also happens to be the number of roses on the skirt) and chandelier drops for finishing off the bottom edge.

The finer details: the wig was styled by me and is mostly just a collection of curls, the top bun is simply a braid that has been wrapped on itself – I find this is the best way to make buns for cosplay as they hold up to lots of stress and wear. Finally, the necklace: I hand-netted that necklace with the same seed beads that are found on the bodice. It was something new that I very much enjoyed doing.