Wedding dress trial run – Ladies’ 1780 Portrait Dress

25 May

After umming and ahing and a few last-minute panics about it all, I’ve decided to do a trial run of the wedding dress. Why?

Well I am a bit uncertain about the neckline for the Ladies’ portrait dress. I want to wear a single pearl pendant. I think it will need a lower neckline than the pictures of the dress look to be.

  • Can I simply cut the neckline a bit lower? Will it work that way? Or will it just look silly? or not work?
  • Should I consider making a modified version of the style designed to go over the period underpinnings, so that the neckline isn’t gathered, and I can cut it in a low V?
  • Should I simply take the idea of the dress and create a hybrid with my original wedding dress pattern bodice and the skirt of the ladies’ portrait dress?

See what I mean? Panic!

Solution: A trial run so I have a great excuse to go buy some of the gorgeous voile available at Spotlight at the moment to sort it out. Yes. Of course!

I settled on this fabric. (It is not only beautiful, but was on special. The normal price for this range is very high. Meep. The shadows on the background are the pattern showing through from the fabric under – it was folded when I took this picture)

Tracing off the pattern went without a hitch. I traced off a size 16, making the sleeves an inch wider than the pattern because my upper arms tend to be bigger than patterns allow for. It’s a fairly loose sleeve anyway but comfort is a Good Thing!

The skirt is simply two widths of fabric, cut to the required length, and sewn together. Easy.

The top is the same as the version requiring period underpinnings, but the gathered front has been expanded out another 8 or so inches, then gathered at the top and bottom. Easy. I mean really easy. I am a bit concerned though, that there is too much fabric in the expanded section in the top. Good thing I am making a trial!

The funniest bit came when I went to sew the underarm seam on the sleeve. The sleeves are an odd shape, to fit the unusual “racer back” style of the back.

The polonaise option, showing clearly the unusual back and sleeve detailing common to all garments in this pattern.

The sleeve pattern piece is kinda squarish. I managed to sew one just fine. The second one I somehow sewed the wrong sides together. I didn’t notice till, pressing the seam, I spent 5 minutes trying to work out why I had an elbow dart in one sleeve and a shoulder dart in the other. Oops!

I ❤ my unpicker! (See, wasn’t this a great excuse to get that voile? it a great idea to do this trial run?)

The bodice is almost done now, just the neck to go. I have been tossing up whether to do a ruffle around the neck and sleeves like in the picture below (one of the portraits this pattern was based on). I think I would like the ruffle on the wedding dress, so perhaps I should give that bit a trial run too.

However… I am running out of extra fabric to play with.

Should I…

  • Ditch the ruffle idea because it really is tacky but I just hadn’t noticed?
  • Go buy some more of the same fabric for the ruffle
  • Go buy some fabric for the sash (which I haven’t got yet) and make the ruffles out of that too?

Please, what do you all think?

11 Responses to “Wedding dress trial run – Ladies’ 1780 Portrait Dress”

  1. Luigi May 25, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    Im not a huge fan of the ruffles around the neck idea, I think it takes away from the beautiful simplicity of the dress.


    • Tropical Threads May 26, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

      Hey hello! That was quick! I only just posted this

      Hmmm… ok. Good point. And it IS the simplicity that has the appeal for the wedding dress. I think!
      Ok, thanks! Input like this is exactly what I need. Don’t hesitate if you have any more thoughts 🙂


  2. j-t May 26, 2011 at 3:24 am #

    The gathered neck reminds me of the altar server and crucifer robes I used to wear (Christian). I kind of like the idea of trim in the sash colour, but maybe a much narrower kind of trim? That might distract from the pendant though. I’m not sure.


    • Tropical Threads May 26, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

      Hey, interesting. I am not christian so never much exposure to that kind of thing. You know, I just hadn’t thought of the effect of the pendant and the ruffles together. I think they probably would distract.
      I am not sure what colour the sash will be yet, for either the trial run dress or the wedding dress. But a trim is a good idea. thanks!


  3. Myrhiann May 26, 2011 at 5:47 am #

    I go with Luigi on this. The simplicity of the dress would be spoilt by ruffles. Instead of a V neck could you make a deeper scoop neckline, to accommodate the pendant?


    • Tropical Threads May 26, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

      It does have a beautiful simplicity, doesn’t it? And after everyone’s responses I really that was what drew me to it in the first place.
      I was a bit concerned about whether just simply scooping out the neckline would work. But on the trial dress, there were two cutting lines for the neckline. I cut the lower one, and it is sitting nicely just across the top of my bust. So I would guess the neckline in the pattern photos are the higher neckline.
      Ok, thanks! I appreciate your comments 🙂


  4. Jackie May 26, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Those ruffles dont’ impress me as beiny any of you. Our mind has you as long neck, beautiful sash in your hair and waist. This would make your beautiful long neck look short and frumpy.


    • Tropical Threads May 26, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

      ok! I am so used to not having to think about how my neck looks in something as it IS so long, it rarely looks short and frumpy. (Did I ever tell you my violin teacher called me “giraffe neck”? :-P)

      Thanks, I really appreciate the input. Everyone else seems to be saying the same as you too!


  5. Carolyn June 1, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    Thank you so much for your sweet comments!
    I agree with the previous commenters, I think the simplicity of the scoop neckline without ruffles is just right. The gown already has texture and interest with the gathered bodice and skirt.



  1. Wedding dress trial – Ladies’ 1780 Portrait Dress bodice « Tropical Threads - June 8, 2011

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