Diary of a Titanic Dress

By Jennie Chancey

We’ve got a centenary memorial event for Titanic coming up on April 12th, which is a costumed formal dinner reproducing the last meal served in first class on the ship. The event promises to be a spectacular one, so I’m making an authentic evening gown from my 1910s Tea Gown pattern. I’ve been very inspired by the designs of Lucile, Lady Duff-Gordon, who was on Titanic (and survived). Having access to dozens of Indian-run fabric shops here in Kenya made finding fabric an utterly wonderful experience! As you can see in the photos below, I landed some amazing finds:

The peacock blue and gold silk above is a long saree that will be used for the main portions of the bodice and overskirt. The copper-colored spun silk will be the underskirt and will also go under one of the other coppery-gold materials below to serve as the inset.

I haven’t quite decided how I want the final dress to look, so I’ll be soliciting your feedback as this gown goes together in the following week!

I began this project by tracing the bodice pattern piece onto interfacing from the original:

Next, I corseted my mannequin to match my shape and pinned the bodice darts to fit correctly over the corseted form:

Here’s a close-up from the side to show the second (horizontal) dart:

The object of the darts in this case is to create a smoothly fitted lining. I actually plan to drape the outermost part of the bodice rather than using darts, as I’m aiming for the more “freehand” look of the time period (see the evening gowns I posted in a recent article on Titanic fashions). But I want my lining to fit nicely and provide a firm foundation for the drapery of the saree material. Another plan I have is to make the lining sleeveless so that I get the full advantage of the saree’s marvelous, almost “watery” drape in the sleeves.

I’ve already gotten through the toile fitting steps and have cut out the bodice and inset, but it’s late here in Kenya, so I’m signing off for now and will post again tomorrow night if all goes well!

Click here to read Part Two
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7 Comments on Diary of a Titanic Dress

  1. Deanna
    March 31, 2012 at 2:47 pm (3 years ago)

    That is going to be stunning, Jennie! Thanks for blogging it – since I am making Titanic dresses too, I will be able to learn some skills from you!

    Reply
  2. Lauren
    March 31, 2012 at 2:49 pm (3 years ago)

    Wow- this is going to be gorgeous! Your fabrics are stunning!

    Reply
  3. Janel
    March 31, 2012 at 4:06 pm (3 years ago)

    Oh I’m so thrilled to see you’re going to write about the process Jennie! The fabrics are amazing and I can’t wait to see the finished result.

    Reply
  4. Pam
    March 31, 2012 at 7:06 pm (3 years ago)

    Your project is wonderful!!

    Reply
  5. Krista
    March 31, 2012 at 9:08 pm (3 years ago)

    I’m looking forward to this, too! With such beautiful fabrics that you chose, however did you decide to leave all the others you saw behind:).

    It’s going to be a beautiful dress!

    Reply
  6. Katrina - Edelweiss Patterns
    April 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm (3 years ago)

    Lovely materials! I can’t wait to see the finished product, and I hope you’ll be posting pictures of you wearing the gown for the event!

    Happy sewing,

    Katrina

    Reply
  7. ~Mrs. R
    April 5, 2012 at 6:43 pm (3 years ago)

    I look forward to following your dressmaking progress! I have your apron pattern that I am hopeing to start on in the next week!!!
    Blessings, ~Mrs. R

    Reply

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