Turning Over A New (Silk) Leaf

This 17th c. gown is one I’d like to re-make, in silk satin, so I’m going to sell this version on

Every once in awhile there comes a time when just about everything in my costume closet no longer suffices.

This non-sufficiency happens for several reasons:

  • The costumes no longer represent one’s skill
  • They didn’t originally fit great, and magical closet transformations never took place, thus they still don’t fit well
  • One increases or decreases in size, and the costumes don’t
  • The materials from which the costumes are made are no longer as bitchin’ as once thought
  • I’m just not that into it anymore.

After constructing my wedding gown, which was made from silk taffeta, I felt it was time to up my game.  The silk was so lovely, so nice to work with, and so pretty and shimmery and sheeny that I don’t want to go back to synthetic taffeta ever again.

I didn’t mind this year’s Titanic costume, and it fit alright, but I never really cared for it that much, so to a more loving home it shall go…

I also don’t want to wear uncomfortable, ill-fitting garments anymore. This presents a conundrum where the wedding gown is concerned, because it was too small.  Way.  WAY too small.  I get the “pleasure” of deconstructing the bodice and attempting to let it out through its various seams, but because it’s my wedding gown, and made from such lovely materials, I want to neither sell it nor remodel it into something else. I pad-stitched the dickens out of that collar, and it deserves to be preserved!

Sometimes I’m just not that into a costume, even though it turned out alright. This Victorian will be great for somebody else…

I think these kinds of overhauls are good for one’s self.  It’s a shedding the old to make room for the new, and I feel excited by the challenge of making better clothing from now on. It won’t always come out perfectly (the wedding gown being an example of that), but this is a life-long skill, and there’s as much fun in the journey as in the final result. 🙂

Anyway, I have a bunch of stuff to photograph and list on Etsy in the next week or so. I’ll post here on the blog, and on Facebook, when it’s all up and ready.


  • Stephanie Lynn

    October 24, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    As far as your wedding gown goes, even if you decide not to let it out, just remember that most people's wedding gowns just sit in a box for the rest of their lives so there's no saying that yours has to be multi-wear either!

  • DLM

    October 24, 2013 at 11:43 PM

    Oh I'm a bit sick for you that the wedding gown isn't flawless *right now*!

    And probably a little glad I'm vastly too large to fit in any of your beautiful pieces (oh that FIRST one – love!) so won't have to worry about spending money like that on myself before the holidays. Le sigh!

    Do link the sales when they're ready. I intend to cruelly tempt my slender friends.

    • Lauren Stowell

      October 25, 2013 at 12:35 AM

      If I'm totally honest, I am bummed about the wedding gown not fitting, but I'm hoping it isn't too obvious, and it's not what I remember in the future. I don't even know if I can fix it. :-

  • AuntieNan

    October 25, 2013 at 1:24 AM

    Ok, quick fix questions–if its 18th C can't you shove a wider stomacher in there to make up the diff? Next question — can you slip in an added panel in the back, to be covered by hanging hair or your veil? Is it an underarm tightness that a gusset would fix? Feel free to email me with your specific gripes.

    • Lauren Stowell

      October 25, 2013 at 3:47 AM

      Hi Auntie – My first go-to is to let out the side, side back, and center back seams. I *think* this will do it. What I did for the wedding is leave the top hooks undone so there was more of a V in the front, which looked fine. If that's the way it's going to be permanently, I'll remove the hooks and eyes that are no longer being used, and I might attempt to fold the collar deeper, though the roll line taping on the interior may prevent it.

    • Lauren Stowell

      October 25, 2013 at 3:53 AM

      Now that you mention it, too, a second side back panel may just do the trick if the other bits don't give out enough (entirely possible). The whole gown was made from a movie costume and was never intended to be historically accurate, so I may be able to piece in some back panels and have it look quite alright.

    • AuntieNan

      October 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      Sounds like a great plan, the side back panel. By the bye, I HOWLED when I read the magic closet transformations!!! I can't tell you how many costume items, regular clothing items, and half-made items Ihave been waiting for my closet to do something with!!

  • Sanna K

    October 25, 2013 at 5:45 AM

    I'm going through the same feelings about my old costumes right now, too. But it just means you're getting more advanced and that's a good thing. Even if it's kind of upsetting to look at your costuming closet and realize that you don't like pretty much anything in there. I feel like I need a fresh start on costume making and have been thinking about selling some (or most) of my dresses but I just never get around to do it…

    • Lauren Stowell

      October 25, 2013 at 5:53 PM

      Go for it! I think a fresh start is great. Plus by selling the old costumes, you can "legitimately" fund the purchase of the swish new silks, wools, linens, etc. 🙂 or in my case, a whole lot of shoes.

  • Caroline

    October 25, 2013 at 8:17 AM

    Oh gosh I go through this every time I learn something new. I then hate everything on my costume rack and decide I have nothing to wear. I have a whole rack of outfits that will probably never be worn again… But I kind of look at them like a 3D album of how far I've come in sewing. Cheers to you for having the guts to pass them along. I'm such a pack rat. And I really don't think wedding dresses ever fit right. It took three people to zip mine up 🙂 I'm sure you look gorgeous in it 🙂

    • Lauren Stowell

      October 25, 2013 at 5:53 PM

      Thanks! I haven't seen any photos from the wedding yet, so I hope the dress didn't end up looking like a sausage casing. There were bodice wrinkles…it drove me a bit mad all day, but I'm trying to remember that most everyone else at the wedding didn't see them, and I'm not an epic sewing failure :-

  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    October 25, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    Go you! Can I ask though, have you gotten to the bottom of why it is too small? You made such a beautiful job on it. Knowing where the fit issues come from is an important lesson in not doing that again. I am curious too because we all learn from that stuff! xoxo

    • MrsC (Maryanne)

      October 26, 2013 at 6:10 AM

      Oh how annoying! Still, sometimes it doesn't take much to make a bodice fit – especially if you could wear it so it can't be THAT much too small (I detect a bit of over-thinking) and even letting out a couple seams can do it. It is SOOO gorgeous and we can't wait to see the photos! And hear about the big day! xoxo

Leave a Reply

Discover more from American Duchess Blog

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading