adjective:old fashioned, out of style, unfashionable [from French, the past participle of démoder "to go out of fashion," from mode "fashion"].

the concept

wings of the dove
more images: full length, closeup, three-quarter, and half

the fabric

green/orange taffeta
green/orange shot silk taffeta (green for overskirt and bodice, orange for collar)
orange & green cotton sari (for bodice inset, sash, cuffs, and underskirt)

the pattern

bodice: custom draped/drafted by me; skirt: adapted from butterick B4092 (1914 skirt)

the deadline

GBACG event: Belmont Stakes, An Afternoon at the Races (April 9, 2005)

the result

wings of the dove dress

what's on the dvd player?

Wings of the Dove

useful links

Demode: 1913 French fashion plates

Costumer's Manifesto: Timeline of Costume History: 1910s

GBACG: Sewing Dresses from the Teens Era

Images from the film: Eras of Elegance, Tribute to Linus Roache

About the designer and costuming the film: Queen of the Cross Dressers


Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion Vol. 2: Englishwomen's Dresses and Their Construction, c.1860-1940. New York : Drama Publications, 1997.

Bradfield, Nancy. Costume in Detail, 1730-1930. New York: Costume & Fashion Press, 2000.

Coates, Lydia Trattles. American Dressmaking Step by Step. 1917.

James, Henry. Wings of the Dove. 1902.

Olian, JoAnne. Everyday Fashions, 1909-1920, as Pictured in Sears Catalogs. New York: Dover, 1995.

Olian, JoAnne. Victorian and Edwardian Fashions from "La Mode Illustrée." Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 1998.

Sirop, Dominique. Paquin: Suivi du Catalogue de L'Exposition "Paquin, une Rétrospective de 60 Ans de Haute Couture": Décembre 1989-Mars 1990. Paris: Adam Biro, 1989.

Waugh, Norah. The Cut of Women's Clothes 1600-1930. New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1968.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Event photos and report shall be forthcoming asap, but in the meantime here's the finished product! I think I am most excited about the hat, which is a faaaabulous vintage 1910s brown plush velvet hat that I found two weeks ago at a vintage store that is going out of business (in other words, on sale enough to be in my price range). I couldn't believe that it fit, and then I couldn't believe they were willing to knock $125 off the price. Wow.

wings of the dove dresswings of the dove dresswings of the dove dresswings of the dove dress

posted by démodé 12:07 AM

Sunday, March 27, 2005

I truly think that I should get a nicer room at the costumers' retirement home, given that not only have I continued to work on this project when I am in full lust for another project, but I am 99.99% done TWO WEEKS EARLY. Bow down before me, all ye who suffer from costume ADD!

In other words, tonight I sewed on all the necessary snaps for the multi-layered closure (okay, while watching Dangerous Beauty) and faced the lining armholes. All that's left is buying covered button forms, making them, and sewing them on, and I am finished!

posted by démodé 11:38 PM

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Much as I would rather be thinking about my courtesan gown, I really need to finish this first (given that I'm in charge of the event to which it shall be worn!).

First I sewed the bodice to the skirts. I'm feeling lazy, so then I zig zagged the seam allowance (yay for covering everything with a belt!).

For the belt, I put the sheer sari fabric over a layer of the orange sateen to keep the color match with the underskirt, and used the green/orange taffeta as a lining in case it shows. Best part was I got to use SNAPS (oooo, it's the 20th century!) for the closure, which will be so lovely and easy (vs. hooks & eyes).

with beltwith belt

posted by démodé 10:37 PM

Sunday, March 20, 2005

And we have achieved underskirt! I'm all excited to have this sucker done well before the event (April 9) -- we'll see if I make it, but it's currently looking good.

The underskirt went together relatively smoothly, except even tho I cut out the squigy sari fabric very carefully, it's not totally on grain so the hem border doesn't line up perfectly. I decided I didn't care (obviously this will NOT be a competition project!) and moved ahead merrily. The orange cotton sateen lining really goes well with the sheer sari fabric. I did do a CF closure, which should deal with my closure questions in my last post.

So here's the underskirt, and then with the bodice and overskirt pinned on top:

underskirtpinned onpinned on

After that, I put on the cuffs. All I've got left is buttons & buttonholes on the bodice (want to do that first before I sew it all together, as it'll be less fabric to deal with). Then I'll sew all the skirts together, put in the staybelt, face the lining armholes, and make the belt and bodice inset. Shouldn't be too bad as long as I keep at it!
posted by démodé 12:56 PM

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I have sewn, and I have photographic proof!

First, I WAS able to sandwich the bodice lining between the bodice and the facing, which helpfully provided something to sew the facing TO. Very good. Evil facings. This doesn't make for a very good visual aid, however, although I was able to gather the bodice hem along the sides and back, so you can get a clearer idea of what that's going to look like.

Next, in between nose blowing and fever, was the overskirt. Why the overskirt and not the underskirt first, I have no idea. I'm lining everything with an orange cotton sateen, which means necessito facings. Got the facings sewn down all the overskirt lining edges and then started to sew the lining to the real deal, when suddenly I find that my overskirt front somehow ended up about 3" longer than my overskirt back. Bastards. That was enough to finish me off for sick sewing, so it all went back into the tub for a few days until I was well enough to tackle redrawing the overskirt front pattern, recutting the overskirt front pieces (at least I was going smaller, so I could use the same pieces of fabric!), and redoing the lining front facings.

Finally tonight I sewed the overskirt together. Isn't it funny how much of sewing is actually pressing? I think I spent more time at my ironing board than my sewing machine. Had to futz a bit with the front pleats when I put it on my dress form, but all is well now.

So here's a general idea of the bodice and overskirt. It's funny; if I didn't make the underskirt, I'd basically have a 1950s cocktail dress!

Oh, and the CB seamlines do line up, I just wasn't being picky when I put everything on my form.


So I'm starting to think about closure, and I gotta say, geometry was never my strong suit and it's showing. I've got a bodice with a CF closure, a wrap overskirt, and an underskirt that could close CF, side, or CB. So what do I sew together? I can't see a way to sew both skirts to the bodice. I could sew the overskirt to the bodice, leaving the past-the-CF part unsewn on the top half of the wrap skirt, and from the side to the front edge unsewn on the under half of the wrap skirt, and then just leave the underskirt separate... That's the only option I've thought of. Am I missing something obvious that would allow me to sew everything together (to some degree)?
posted by démodé 10:02 PM

Sunday, March 06, 2005

I shall not be vanquished!

FINALLY finished drafting and cutting, after experiencing the joy of not buying enough lining fabric and having to go back for more. I ended up going with a nice orange cotton sateen, which promptly lost it's sateen-ness when I prewashed it, but still has a nicer weight to it than cotton broadcloth.

So now I'm at the fun part! Spent Friday night and a bit of Saturday morning putting together the bodice and bodice lining. The collar was fiddly but eventually worked.

Now I need to figure out how exactly I'm going to attach the bodice and lining, or if they're only going to go together at the waistband. I foolishly made a facing for the collar, and now I have all these exposed seam allowances and extra bits of fabric flopping around inside. I was originally planning to put the bodice inset on top of the bodice lining, but now I'm wondering if I can tuck the edges of the bodice lining between the bodice and it's facing (thereby giving me something - the lining - to sew the facings down to), and then I could put the bodice inset on the INSIDE of the lining. We'll see. It doesn't sound promising, does it?


posted by démodé 3:10 PM

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Lethargy broken! Last night I finished up the skirt patterns and even started cutting -- got the underskirt cut out. Whew!

Question: as you can see from my design, the overskirt is a wrap skirt. Would you put a facing along the skirt hem and front opening, or would you line the whole thing, or would you face the back and line the front?
posted by démodé 9:59 AM

Friday, February 18, 2005

I have been filled with hate for the last week or so for pattern drafting and mockups.

First I spent at least 1.5 weeks being totally wiped from work, which got really busy as the semester just began. I actually did a bit more beading on my 1897 dress (in between falling asleep on the couch every evening) because I was just so tired.

Now work has calmed down, but I haven't been able to bring myself to get back to work on this because I'm just not in the mood. Just writing this post is making me irritated! I don't know why; I'm in the mood to SEW, but not to pre-sew. But it must be done as deadlines will start looming if I don't stay on track.

So last night I slothfully forced myself to put my underskirt mockup on my real body to finish the fitting, then put together a mockup of the overskirt, which I modified to be a cross-over/wrap style. Here are totally unexciting, undecipherable photos of the mockup -- I'm trying to copy the front pleats on the original, and I need to curve the CF hemline. The left side (your right) is the fitted/adjusted side. I think the overskirt needs to be shorter.

Ugh. Now I have to finalize my pattern and then start cutting out. I HATE cutting out. I think I'm going to go play video games (see? I can't even bring myself to do something intellectually productive like read) and sulk.


posted by démodé 12:05 AM

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Nearing the bodice finish line...

Okay, so once we had a fitted bodice pattern it was time to move it to a kimono bodice (with the sleeve cut all in one with the bodice). I was a bit nervous about doing this because it seemed complicated, but it wasn't too bad. It is, however, DEFINITELY something you have to draft, so my borrowed copy of Principles of Flat Pattern Design came in handy.

This is a terrible picture, I know, but I was too lazy to do any better.


After my usual amazement that it worked, I studied image captures of the original dress to figure out what tweaks needed to be made. There was more fullness under the arm than the near right angle that I ended up with, so I wondered for a bit if the original was a batwing sleeve. But given that there wasn't THAT much fullness, I decided to just lower and curve the intersection between the side seam and the sleeve. Also, it was only after I'd made this mockup that I realized that there was no shoulder/top sleeve seam. The muslin I'm working with is too narrow to do this, but once I cut out the real thing the front and back will be one piece.

Finally, it was off to collar drafting land. I've only done a shawl collar once, and I confess I did just futz it -- drew it on and it seemed to work. Being a bit more nitpicky, I again got out the pattern drafting book and went through all the steps. Handy because it meant I actually had to figure out my buttonhole placement ahead of time (something I usually leave until I'm working on the real thing, which never works out too well).


I did mark where the 3/4 sleeve should end, but I'm too tired tonight to actually move that to the pattern and to do the final copy with seam allowances. Tomorrow I'll get to that and make patterns for the collar facing, cuffs, and belt. Then it'll be on to skirt land... then maybe someday I'll actually start sewing!

One thing I realized is that the sari I'm going to use for the underskirt is definitely sheer, so I need to figure out what I'm going to line it with. Oh good, more money to spend!

posted by démodé 10:46 PM

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Draping step one accomplished!

First I had to wrap my brain around the concept of the kimono sleeve, which is basically an all-in-one bodice/sleeve combo. Looking at my pattern drafting book, I could tell I was going to have to take this in steps -- drape the basic bodice, fit the sleeve, then draft the two together and futz.

The bodice lining was easy -- I just grabbed the pattern I used for my 1909 afternoon dress. I'll need to adjust the neckline later.

First up was creating a bodice pattern that did what I wanted everywhere except the armhole/sleeve. I put in a bust dart which will come out when I transition this into the kimono sleeve (I think loosening this dart helps with movement of the sleeve around what was the armhole). Instead, I focused on the waist dart/pleats and bodice fullness -- I'm also leaving the neckline for later.

bodice drapingbodice drapingbodice draping
First, I pinned the selvage to the CF and then smoothed the fabric up to the shoulder seam. Then, I pinned in a bust dart which will be used for the kimono sleeve. Next, I created the three waist dart/pleats, which I pinned all the way closed to make sure of the fit. Finally, I fuzted with the side seam to put in some ease both in width and length.Then I trimmed off all of the extra fabric.The back was similar, except that I spaced out and thought that I wanted to echo the waist darts in back when I really just want fullness. Easy enough to unpin the pleats and gather horizontally along the waistline.
bodice mockupbodice mockupbodice mockup
After marking everything with my trusty blue pen, I basted together all of the seams. I guessed on how high I wanted the waist darts stitched in - can't tell whether it works or not. Everything else looks good.I grabbed some scrap fabric to mock a belt, which is going to shape the waist area and provide a reference point for the dart/pleats. Now I can tell that they're too high, so I mark down 1" to release.Looks much better with the dart/pleats released.
bodice mockup
The back looks perfect (ignoring the dart markings which shouldn't be there) except for the CB length. Need to add 1/2" to bring the CB down to the waistline.

PS I wanted to post this days ago, but have been having server problems. Irritating!

posted by démodé 8:35 PM

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I've just been reading a 1917 dressmaking manual at VintageSewing.info -- so much good information! Wow!

Questions answered: since this is a kimono bodice, does the lining have sleeves? Nope. How does the stay belt work? Voila!.


posted by démodé 8:52 PM

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

I've realized that I can be bad about documenting my design/research phase of costuming. Since I'm thinking this will be my Costume Con masquerade entry, in the interests of making my official documentation easy to compile, I'm going to try to be better about it.

The first time I saw The Wings of the Dove, I fell in love with this dress. I love the Poiret-inspired jewel tones, the changeable taffeta, and the sophisticated style. Also, compared to the other, more drapey gowns in the film, this one has a bit more structure and will be a bit more flattering to my body type.

My first choice would be to make it in the original blue/rust color scheme, and I've even seen some lovely taffeta that would be perfect for $15/yard in a local fabric shop. However, finances being what they are, the fact that I've had this bee-yoo-tiful changeable green/orange silk taffeta languishing in my fabric box for about two years means that I can't justify the expense. I picked this up in Toronto's Little India district -- although I can't remember what I paid for it, it was really reasonable (plus the exchange rate was in my favor at the time).

green/orange taffeta

This fabric is so fabulous that I've been scared to do anything with it. Plus, they only had about 7 yards on the bolt so I knew I would need to pair it with something else. After rewatching this film yet another time, I got the idea to make this dress in a different color scheme. For the coordinating print, I thought a sari would work well (the interest in Orientalism meant that Asian fabrics were very fashionable at the time). Scouring ebay led me to find this puppy, an orange with green print silk/cotton sari. Yay!


So here's my VERY rough Photoshopped color test -- as you can tell, I'm no artist and made lots of use of the rubber stamp tool.

color testcolor test

I'm really glad that I made my 1909 afternoon dress, as the construction is very similar. The two best sources that I've found for this period (1909-1915ish) are Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion and Nancy Bradfield's Costume in Detail.

This article on Sewing Dresses from the Teens Era is a good summary; the most important thing is that these relatively loose, drapey dresses were built on a fitted, boned foundation. I'll be using my trusty cotton muslin for this.

I wondered a bit about closure. At first I assumed the CF buttons were just for show, but the fold over collar proves that the dress must close at the CF. Probably the lining hooks closed, then the bodice inset is laid on top, and then the dress itself is buttoned closed. The skirt would then be hooked along the waistline over to the edge of the wrapover. The waist seam would then be covered with the sash. This 1908 bodice gives a good idea of what I'm talking about.

I'm wondering about the underskirt -- should that also close to the side of CF? Also wondering about whether the skirt needs any lining. Some examples I've seen have none, but one in Bradfield has one that's about 3/4 length. This will also be my first kimono bodice, so I'm sure that'll be a challenge.

Here's the design showing some of the construction details:

construction designconstruction design

More later!

posted by démodé 9:37 PM

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