Fire And Ice: Part I – Brainstorming

Yesterday evening I was handed an invitation to a birthday party with a theme: Fire and Ice. There’s not much that’s gold or white in my red-desert wardrobe, and I’m up to my ears sewing presents for new babies of good friends, so after a bit of brainstorming, I reckoned that I’d go to spotlight, pick up some shimmery white bits of fabric and a white wig and tart up a pair of jeans and a shirt to look like I was covered in frost.

But THEN – I remembered the BALLGOWN.

About a year ago, I ducked into the local thrift store looking for brass buttons and had an unexpected WOW moment – a very tall and very plump person had made herself an A-line ballgown skirt and scoop-necked blouse out of scarlet silk duponi – and donated it to the thrift store, who had priced it $5. I would be Fire, and let the other guests worry about the Ice.

I love this shop. I have an unexpected WOW moment there at least once a month.

So I pulled it out of the stash and cut it up and started draping it on Sally and – I think that this is it.

Red and gold fabric is draped over a mannequin. front view.

It’s very Schiaparelli, isn’t it? With the bustle and the pouter-pigeon front?

Three women wearing schiaparelli dresses look at the camera

The flowery bits are the leftover scraps of silk roughly ruffled into flowers – I’ll interleave them with gold scraps – all shreddy on the edges. 

There’s only one little hitch – the party is on SATURDAY.

But I think I can pull it off.

Side view of Red and gold fabric draped over a mannequin.

It took half an hour to cut up the skirt and an hour to drape the dress. And it’s DOABLE, If I don’t care too much about the inside finishes, which I don’t.


Tuesday – finish the damn elephants and sew up the red apron front.

Wednesday –  have Mr Tabubil help me pin up the bodice – and then sew it.

Thursday – Sew the bustle skirt back, and sew the apron front and the bustle back to the waistband of the original skirt.

Friday – Make the underskirt – which involves all of  one french seam to turn the gold into a cylinder, a rough hem (I wonder if I can leave a train at the back – or will I just rip it to shreds?) and three or four layers of stiff cream-colored net (a la Spotlight!) attached to an elastic waist band.

And maybe a bustle pad – we’ll see. I rather like it the way it is, all flat and Schiaparelli 1939.

side view of a wrinkled red silk bodice mounted on a mannequin

Then, lastly – use all the silk scraps to make ruffle-roses (predominantly red, with only touches of fraying gold poking out) to hide where I’ve had to shorten the waistband, and to tart up the rather dull neckline./

Currently the bodice is pinned so that the excess fabric flares out as panels on the outside. Should I seam them out or should I leave them like they are – to add a bit of fun?

a red silk bodice is mounted on a mannequin. it is very wrinkled.

Happily, the red silk over-skirt is exactly the same as the one I’d planned for my very-on-hold steampunk outfit, so on THAT, I’m getting back in the game. I started making the steampunk outfit 13 months ago, but tried to fake the 1880s with an A-line Vogue skirt pattern – and screwed up the corded petticoat and blue pinstripe underskirt so thoroughly that Mr Tabubil had a major giggle fit and sent me out to buy an actual pattern, which i did, but I’d sort of used up all my motivation, and the fabric migrated to the bottom of the stash, where it could live forever, I thought.

I may be wrong!


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