Ballroom Dance > Sprucing up my Standard gown - sewing questions!

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by musicbrain, Sep 18, 2012.

  1. jiwinco

    jiwinco Active Member

    There are a couple of ballroom dress patterns that might clarify the construction. They may not be what you want to make, but if you can look at them in the store they will give you instructions to attach the skirt. McCalls and Burda make a real pattern for ballroom dresses. There is also check out Etsy, Dance Sport Sewing. If you search for ballroom dress patterns. (it is a little expensive)
    Retrocat1942 likes this.
  2. flying_backwards

    flying_backwards Active Member

    @Retrocat1942 I totally can relate! I also got the gown fever early on and was too shy to ask the ladies to peek at their underskirts! (Written like that to sound funny but you know I mean on a hanger, as a seamstress.) I also thought they would say gowns were a long way off. I felt unworthy of a real gown. So I paid a gown rental company for a try-on. It cost about $40 to have a rental gown shipped to me, less than it would have cost to attend a competition, tho I later learned the vendors are in the lobby, no admission required. I only had it for 24 hours, at home, with nobody judging me for wanting to see it. I learned a lot having it in my hands. I tried it on and had my husband video while I twirled to see how the skirt moved. I saw not just how it was originally sewn, but how it was repaired and modified. The underskirt had a cylinder of lycra fairly straight. Then the layered very-full part of the underskirt had been re-attached at 3 different lengths along that cylinder, at different times, I guess for either shorter ladies or changing style of length. I later purchased the sewing pattern from etsy with the star kind of skirt. And I have sewn a gown since then myself. Now I am not shy about asking to peek! When I went to a nearby comp last fall, I turned lots of gowns inside out on the rack. There's a lot you can learn in person that you cannot see in pictures. Same goes for selecting fabric. You need to do that in person the first time. Hold the power mesh in your hands, feel which ways and how much it stretches. Wave the bolt of chiffon to see how it catches the air. Hold crinoline up to see whether it stands stiff or flops over or has that perfect curve. But the far-away or camera view is also useful. That is how I learned there can be lots of sewing goofs that do not show at all. Also how a gown is put on matters. Being in the dressing room during a showcase with hectic gown changes you see how important it is to sew a gown that can be tugged on with nervous hands w/o breaking hooks and catching zippers. And until you actually compete or perform in a gown you will not appreciate just how important it is for everything to stay-put without tugging frantically at shoulders or waistline between heats! No moving parts means no worries. I'm still intrigued by gown construction, but it is less a mystery now.
  3. Retrocat1942

    Retrocat1942 New Member

  4. Retrocat1942

    Retrocat1942 New Member

    Thank you @flying_backwards! I'm so happy to discover that I'm not the only one to have had petticoat peeping jitters! I'm just wondering how the cylinder was attached to the body suit? At the waist or hips? And sewn on wrong side of cylinder to right side of body suit, or right side to right side? Great idea to get a hire gown... I'm just not sure if there are any that service where I live!
    Thank You!
  5. flying_backwards

    flying_backwards Active Member

    The cylinder of lycra is actually continuous fabric pieces of the outer layer of the bodysuit, not separately attached. That is, the body suit has 2 layers: the inner layer has the panty bottom and the outer layer hangs down into the skirt in a cylinder. The 4 layers of organza underskirt are joined together and then sewn to the outside of the cylinder.

    I'm pretty sure the place I used ships anywhere in the US. Other countries may have similar rental options. I used VandA, based in southern California. They were easy to work with. And I did tell them up front that it was only a try-on out of curiosity, that I was not entered in a comp. They were fine with that. Ballroom is a small world so best to be completely frank. Maybe not all rental places want to ship a gown just so we can peek under the skirt! :)
  6. Retrocat1942

    Retrocat1942 New Member

    Amazing! Thank you!!
    Last question I promise!! Was it composed of two "full" bodysuits? I.e one layer with both a neckline and the crotch bit and one layer with the neckline and underskirts? That has been what I was thinking but I had thought it might make the seam finish around the neckline a bit bulky? Or is it a "knicker" section attached to a bodysuit piece that also includes the neckline and underskirt so ends up as only one layer at neckline not including the "top dress"?

    Thank you so so much! You don't know how much I've wanted this information!!!!
  7. SwingingAlong

    SwingingAlong Well-Known Member

    It can be either way - the top layer and bottom layer cut the same at the neckline and armholes and joined together (elastic is added as well to the seams so it hugs in), or the body suit part can be of nude mesh, with the over layer cut to mimic whatever style is in fashion, as per the white and blue dress previously posted. I've not seen one with 3 layers (Bodice with outer skirt, inner part with underskirts, body suit) the ones I've got are an outer layer of Lycra with all layers of the skirt attached to the vees, and the inner layer as the body suit.

    I like questions, so don't make it your last one. I'm sure everyone will back me on that:). I've only made 3 dresses so far, so I'm at the beginning of the exploration as well. Love seeing the results from everyone too!!
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  8. flying_backwards

    flying_backwards Active Member

    This is very rare I actually have seen something about a gown that @SwingingAlong has not already seen! Yes my pink gown has a bodysuit with 3 layers: 1 firm lycra (innermost) that has crotch snaps, 1 thinner lycra that extends down to attach the underskirts, 1 very thin chiffon. The Chiffon is all scrunch-stitched (ruching) over the body-fitting part so that it stretches. This makes the body part too warm. But a benefit is that texture masks the extra curves and folds of my lower back. Actually that chiffon layer is double itself and forms the outer skirt with two layers. I cannot see the seam, but I suspect that skirt is a separate pattern piece from the part over the bodice. The ruching hides any seam. All layers of the bodysuit parts are joined in a single seam at the neckline. The arm opening is more complicated. There, the lycra layers are a single seam, with elastic. But the chiffon layers have a separate seam, attaching to power mesh sleeves. All layers of the bodysuit are in a single seam at the zipper. Yes that seam is very thick. From a distance it might look delicate but up close it resembles couch upholstery.

    For how to attach bodysuits see the seamssensational website video tutorial.
    SwingingAlong likes this.
  9. SwingingAlong

    SwingingAlong Well-Known Member

    Cool:)that sounds fascinating and super useful ..... wish I had x-ray/intercontinental vision so I could see it:dancingbanana:

    It's not really surprising that I haven't seen one like this, as most views online are only of the outside..... so frustrating, but at the same time fun, as you get to invent your own take on how it might be.

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