For my Queen of Hearts outfit I needed several metres of fabric, and something with a bit of body and weight to it. Luckily I never throw anything away, and I still have a red curtain that my mother made for my sitting-room a few houses ago. It's very faded on one side, but the other side is fine.
So to make the bodice of the gown I cut the pattern pieces out in the curtain fabric and also in calico. I basted the pieces together on the sewing machine, then sewed the front panel to the front side pieces.
I wanted the front panel to be a bit stiffer, so I added a piece of heavy interfacing between the top fabric and the calico. I also added three boning chanels in calico. The only boning I could find at short notice was some flexible plastic boning at Clegs. I put one piece down the centre front and one at either side.
I sewed the centre back panels to the back side panels, and then put a zip in. I almost instantly regretted using such a short zip, as it made it incredibly difficult to get in and out of the bodice. I should have used an open-ended zip. Silly me. I ended up having to rip it out and hand stitch in a longer zip.
Here is the bodice. I'm pretty happy with the fit, it's nice and tight.
From the side. It's a little wrinkled at the waist in the back, but the skirt will be so heavy that it will pull the bodice down and straighten it out.
The skirt is made in six pieces, and takes about 4.5 metres of fabric. I didn't scale up the pattern pieces, instead I worked out the dimensions in inches, and then just measured directly onto the fabric and marked it with tailor's chalk. I also cut out a second lot of skirt pieces for the lining, using a red double-bed sheet I got at the op-shop for $2. After I sewed the two skirts up, I basted the outer skirt and lining together along the top seam.
The front pieces of the skirt are pleated, and the side pieces are gathered. This is a photo before the back piece was gathered into cartridge pleats and hand stitched to that tiny gap at the back. The back piece of the skirt was also stiffened with a piece of wadding 20 inches deep which was sandwiched between the skirt and the lining. It made the cartridge pleats bigger and more squishy.
The original pattern has a kirtle that is worn under the gown, but I just made a separate front panel to go under the gown. It is black velvet (just cheap cotton velveteen like the sleeves) backed with wadding. I bought some cheap gold ribbon at Lincraft and made a lattice over it. My cousin Bella kindly cut out a whole lot of red felt hearts.
Here's an idea of what the gown will look like, on the dummy at my cousin Alice's shop. I'm making a farthingale to go under the skirt, to hold it out, and there will be some trimming and a headdress too. I'm quite pleased at how it's turned out so far.
As you can see in the photo on the dummy, the front of the bodice was buckling a bit around the waist, despite the plastic boning and the interfacing. I had the idea of using a piece of flexible plastic slipped between the lining and the front. I used one of those black plastic art folders, and used the front pattern piece to cut out the shape, then trimmed off the seam allowance. It worked perfectly and it's given the front a nice hard feel that mimics a boned under-bodice. Yay!