1912 evening dress closures and construction details

When I debuted my 1912 evening dress way back when, I had forgotten to snap photos of the back.  At the recent Dress U conference outside of Philly, I had a chance to wear this costume again, and made sure to get a few more photos.  But instead of just sharing what the back looks like, I thought I would show you the construction of the dress, as it’s easily the most complicated garment I have ever made!
The first closure is the waist tape, which helps keep the satin bodice up.  The bodice is essentially a strapless tube (the chiffon shoulders don’t do any heavy lifting) with boning along the seam lines.  You can see the herringbone stitches on the inside of the bodice where I attached the skirt.
The bodice closes at center back with hooks and bars, as does the skirt, along with a large snap for reinforcement.
Here is the fun part.  The chiffon overlayer crosses over in the back, which means it can’t be permanently stitched down because I need access to CB where the hooks and bars are.  So I bound the bottom edges of the blouse portion of the overlayer, stitched it down along the front, and engineered a series of snaps and hooks and bars along the back to keep it in place.  First the right side attaches to the satin bodice.  See the small black snaps?
Then the left side attaches to the right side of the chiffon blouse.  It’s nearly impossible to see, but there are a series of small black snaps and bars on the binding of the right side of the chiffon layer, which is how the left side attaches.  Same principle as how the right side attached to the skirt.
I didn’t want a seam line in the chiffon overskirt, so it, too, needed to be adjustable so I could access CB.  I would still like to add more sequin embellishment to the skirt, so having the skirt completely detachable and portable is a benefit in that way, too.  The skirt attaches with snaps all the way around.
On top of all that goes the sash, which attaches in the back with hooks and eyes.

And voila!

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3 Responses to 1912 evening dress closures and construction details

  1. Alyxx says:

    Fascinating, thank you for the series. It certainly doesn’t look that complicated when it’s on, but it wouldn’t all work any other way, would it. Not without extra seams, etc. Really interesting.

  2. dillon patermo says:

    gorgeous gown! im in the process of making one right now. i would like to not put a seam down the center back but instead cut a slit down to where to hook and eye placket goes. is it ok to do this? and with the tunic, is there a seam on both sides or just one? any help would be great.


    • wearwhenwhy says:

      Hi Dillon,

      I used a center back seam on the yellow underskirt because of the shape of the train and how I wanted it to circle out at the bottom. But if you don’t need that on your gown, you can certainly get away with cutting your fabric without that seam and just slashing to make room for a closure placket–just make sure you reinforce the bottom of that slash. My chiffon overskirt did not have a center back seam but it did have a seam at each side.

      Hope that helps. Good luck with your project!

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