Category Archives: rock the frock

rock the frock- sheer 1870s

era: late 1870s

material: plain cotton and cotton organdy

found: march 2003,

The skirt is walking length so I can just imagine the owner outside and wearing this frock.

Note the bodice front ruched panel is almost certainly a plastron with a button fastening underneath.

While this dress is made as one piece, this shares similarities with removable sheer overdresses.

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rock the frock- 1870s yellow

era: late 1870s

material: silk damask, yellow

found: September 2002

These images are a little washed out, again an artifact of the age of the photos, and constraints we were all under at the time! I made my own files for my own site barely a KB for the same reason!

But this colour pops up a few times in auctions. There is at least one more that was clearly a Statement based on the particular fit and skant trimming.

This gown however feels a little more restrained while still probably being a colour the wearer was invested in wearing. This is likely a dinner dress.

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rock the frock- 1870s

era: late 1870s/early 1880s

material: silk damask and silk brocade

found: March 2000


Well this certainly ticks the most well know features of the era: ruffles? Tick, contrast of colour? Tick. The ruffles are wider than regularly seen but appear to be making best use of the brocade which seems to be woven as a border.

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rock the frock- sheer 1870s

era: mid-late 1870s

material: cotton, cotton tulle

found: Feb 2003

This was the reality of early like of the web- small files!

But what may be possible to tell here is how very light even the solid fabric is is. This is not unusual, the aim was to have all the tension in the corset, so outer garments could be shaped over an already fitted and shaped body.

The bodice is a classic jacket type from the very end of the 1870s. Cuirasse bodices were also popular at this time.

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rock the frock- sheer black and gold 1870s

era: mid-late 1870s

material: fine silk tulle, embroidered with straw, pressed straw motiffes

found: May 2011



This overdress is stunning. It is truly iconic of the era but in a very unique way. High contrast of materials, sheer outerlayer that allows colour shifting of any garment below, and delicate but trailing and repeat decoration.

The straw decoration is very effective from a distance and fascinating to look at in detail.


Back in the early days of access to the net here in New Zealand I found myself mainly looking for images of patterns and extant garments. And pretty much just that! I already had a lot of information from books, but always wanted more.

More fashion plates too.

As time goes by I realise many of the auctions were not saved, were not shared, and many  of them added vital understanding to the vibrancy, the texture, the construction, and even the overall aesthetic of the day.

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by admin, November 18, 2014

I posted much of this to Tumblr as a video of the behind the scenes got blogged. And wow. What a beautiful job they did. They really did 🙂 Both Anna and Elsa were beautifully crafted and the fabrics were stunning, absolutely beautiful in texture and fit and making real what wasn’t 🙂

I admit to falling in love with this gown just a little bit more and it’s keeping me on track with my own. I can’t afford the fabrics used, but it’s pretty much what I thought. My thought process was “what would Mackie do?” But I probably should have thought “what would Eduardo do?”

So, just briefly Bob Mackie is a designer, very well known for creating gowns for divas, Cher being perhaps the most well known. Super super vibrant and sparkly but almost solely in bugle or double cut beads on a silk ground. There were even a range of exclusive Barbies produced!

There were two fabulous behind the scenes videos that were released. With a fabulous huge moniter and high resolution youtube I managed to stang some great screen caps that highlight the gown with an eye for costumer geeky details 🙂

First of all, the gown is in two distinct parts that blend so well. A boned and fully supported bodice over a lined skirt- fitted but with great drape. The fabric of both parts are made with the same fabric as a shell and all of the same pale cool blue:



As mentioned the body of the gown is overlayed with a sheer chiffon over a fully supported bodice and gently flared skirt. The cape and undershirt are made from a silvery knit. Not confirmed as being the dame fabric however stills show the cape is unhemmed at the sides (and some rolling of the side hem) and there is the same speckled silver effect. They may not be the same but they are very similar.

The beaded fabric is silk chiffon with a regular repeat of lines of chain stitch holding clear Ab bugle beads. The AB (Aurora Borealis) effect gives extra dimension to the refracted light and helps blend in the kind of sparkles of the skirt with the bodice- the bodice has many flat rhinestones of a variety of sizes.

The bugle beads are of a regular size and alternate in placement in each row.


The sheer bodice fabric is a slightly warmer tone of blue with a fine silver thread knitted in. It is a mesh but is knitted for a close fit and with very fine and narrow seam allowances.

The sheer bodice has chain rhinestones at the neckline (flat silver backs in a clear-white plastic base) and individual stones scattered over the bodice. The rhinestones on the bodice and cape are a mix of flat silver backed as well as AB coated flat round sew on types.


The shoes are a pearlescent blue leather with a satin finish.

The cape is sublimation dyed, so is likely a silver/white base colour and the blue is printed on. Sublimation dyeing uses a dye rather than paint so this makes the most sense.



The bodice has an underlining to the sheer fabric and is fully shaped and supported. It is slightly bigger at the top of the bodice to allow for movement. It is possible to see the width when the actress raises her arms.

The fabric shell is underlined to support the sheer fabric, this is obvious at  the bust seams where there are no seam allowances visible.


The fabric shell however appears to not be boned, but a separate lining does appear to hold the bodice up. There is no boning visible.There appers to be a waist tape to hold the bodice in place as well as accentuate the hourglass effect of the bodice.

The back of the bodice dips in to a short V while the front is deeper but less sharp. The bodice also sits lower on the hips than the original film version, in part as it is more flattering and in part makes for a much more stable bodice that can be more easily fitted.


The bodice back is considerably lower than the front and the fastening appears to be a zip up the centre back and hidden by the cape.


The cape is a good half circle in basic shape but made from gores that taper from the bodice to the hem. The seams are incredibly fine and narrow and there are three at least. It is very  gently eased to the top of the bodice and draped based on the stretch of the upper curve and the flare of the seams. The hem extend from the sides to the back into a train, it is considerably shorter than the film version



Like the film it has seams that follow the diagonal lines of a raglan sleeve, leaving the shoulder and top side of the arm seamless. it is likely the undershirt is a bodysuit as there s a clear centre back seam but no room for an invisible sip. It also stays very well in place and with no wrinkles under the arm. This suggests it is anchored well, which is most easily achieved in a stretch knit with a bodysuit/leatard type fit.

Just some screen caps, fabric and seam details.

To note especially:

  • The bugle beads are chain stitched, which makes me think cornely machine but I think there are more suited machiens that can do multiple rows at a time.
  • the v points will have a facing of bias fabric most likely
  • the bust has some amazing shaping, note the curve comes back on itself over the bust and there is a dart to the outside of it as well.
  • The cape has at least three seams for flare, and much of the edge is eased not gathered

Also note, the shredding of the hem of the skirt. That is what happens with this stuff, unfortunately. So if you are going to go the couture fabric route remember that $1000 skirt will shred like the blazes as it was not meant to be dragged on the ground.

Yep, standard width silk chiffon with beads, many lots of dollars for the base fabric but sigh.

Sub dye? Yep, you can get that done many places. Not saying to use the design.. just the method… It’s basically printing, like with an inkjet printer:!print-technology/coru

Heat and pressure are used to transfer images from an ink jet printed paper negative, to the fabric. 

And it is best on polyester fabrics… Not that it will get you the silver print, but you can get full width opaque printing done as well.. *edit* I think the silver is part of the fabric and the sub dye is for the darker blue areas, but if you wind up needing a foil print type effect due to where you are what you have available it is an option. Better done as in industrial job than trying to weed sheets of vinyl foil at home…

So kind of the opposite of what people have been doing at home. Sigh, now I want to see if I can get a similar effect on my net.

And my previous notes:

Wait what’s that? Beaded fabric for the skirt? You don’t say… This is how the skirt has the same weight and yet flow as in the movie. The beads pull the fabric smoothly over the hips and then the weight makes the hem swish but also not flick about. I think it’s a standard chain stitch with the double cut bugles spaced evenly, and alternating. I haven’t seen the exact fabric but it is the standard method of doing beaded fabric.

Do not be fooled by the word “novelty”….

I wanted this in AB clear beads on white so I could ombre dye. But… The fabric plus shipping plus customs would be closer to $2000….

Just to give an idea of how how much this would actually be to reproduce….

Oh check it, raglan sleeve for the sheer top (which Elsa does definitely have) and I love how they committed to the smaller surface decoration on the bodice. Just doing it :)

I’m a big fan of how these work on TV. And goes to show how moving vs static images change what you see.

And I have my Elsa wig on the way as well as have set aside exactly what layers I want for the skirt and bodice structure. So, I will get Elsa done! but it will be a summer project :)

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Maleficent has a huge hoop. Bugger.

Maleficent has a huge hoop. Bugger.

I had suspected but a few images put together really do reveal this quite clearly.

If you watch the Awkward Situation clip you can see how the train skims the ground without folding or dragging. If you watch the edge of the train as she goes up the steps it even catches and springs just like a hooped skirt. If you have ever worn hoops or a cage crinoline with flat steels/plastic it wibbles a bit like a jellyfish.



Note how the front edge of the train stops, it doesn’t just pull like fabric under tension it moves like there is a wired edge. And in movement the edge then springs forward once released from that first step.


Here the train is caught on the last step but this is mainly to show the front of the gown is not also stifened. It does have a fairly deep hem which does has some sort of facing but it still flows. It also looks like Angelina is wearing platforms to add to her height- note how the toes push the fabric out above hem line.

You can also see the wired edge also extends in to the seam where the train is sewn to the gown. This makes sense to help support the full train. Having now made mine it is very heavy indeed.

This then explains why that seam appear to be top stitched or otherwise additionally reinforced in other images.

So I had a look at stills again and they do also support the idea of a supported train. In the still below (screengrab) you can see how the train edge is under a lot of tension, but also there is a mystery “bump” near the join between the leather and shell fabric- it does not correspond with the step or any fabric componant of the gown. This is most likely due to a support underneath lifting off the ground- as she is turning this makes sense.

And in this still you can see a ridge that follows the main curve of the leather. And even where the layers are caught to the support hoop in the 2nd to left panel.

So a U shaped hoop on the bottom of the train and two gently flared strips inside the front edge of the train. Imagine a curvy scoop. To make mine I’ll be making a tube of fabric to tack to the underside of my train. And a wrapped facing on the front edge. Then wrap three layers of plumbers coil with sports tape to insert just before putting the entire piece on. I will have to use temporary fastenings to hold the ends in place so as to be able to remove them for convention safety!

I have also just overdyed a huge metal zip (possibly for a sleeping bag) so I will have a super mega firm fastening that will survive the pull and drag of this train. Then I can cover it with a spine.

And now to resize my collars 🙂

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Maleficent, new parks costume, maybe….?

Maleficent, new parks costume, maybe….?

Well it was made for the Social Media Moms’ event so it may or may not be permanent.



The gown in action sheds a lot of light on the train of the original. It fits to the back after all unlike her other robes.

(many more, scroll through to see them all)

And even more, scroll backwards for images from the meet and greet.

So from the recreation:

The gown is less full but is made from a knit mounted over a more stable fabric. The sleeves have extra details to reflect the original gown (deep wedges/notches at the hem of the front of the sleeves.

The headdress appears all in one and has more sculptural lines on the leather parts.

The collar sits wider, possibly not hooked to the choker, which is what I suspect may be needed.

The choker has a centre front seam.

The fabric is not purple but the lighting was used to make it so- another nod to the original.

The hem of the gown and the train is not as large as the original. Makes sense having just tried to wrangle the back alone….

There are skirt gores and they are similar to the ones in the Game of Thrones Westeros gowns. But narrower! There is a sculpted detail like a tail that covers the top of the gores and appears to go through in the recreation, it appears flatter in the original so may just be butted.

The back has a spine of some sort. Probably to cover a zipper- a good quality metal zipper as per the burlesque corset reblogged the other day 🙂  I’ll attempt a sculpted urethane piece.

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Why Maleficent? Why that costume?

Why Maleficent? Why that costume?

Costume is art. The costume can tell a tale all on its own.

So take this gown.

Why? The film hasn’t come out and even based on the leaked script (which I haven’t read) I can’t surely be a fan of either the character or the film yet? Well true, maybe not. But costume is part of the art department and what art does in any form is make you think and feel,

Maleficent’s gown is the biggest Eff You I have seen in film for a very long time. It is on the same level of brilliance as Mina’s red gown in Dracula and Michelle Pfeiffer’s catsuit in Batman Returns. It’s on par with the world building the costumes affect in Game of Thrones- where one costume spoilt me months in advance.

When you design you do not just draw pretty things or interesting lines. You have to think about the character, their mind and spirit and how they are reacting to the world they live in. And how that world responds to them

Catwoman’s catsuit was literally Selina tearing down the life she had built, and had others build around her, and reforming it. She took a practical item (at least in this bizarre world) and made it into a symbol. Her costume says yes you objectify me but I will kick your ass for doing so. You treat me like this? I’ll take that and make you regret it.

Mina’s red gown is another iteration of Eiko Ishioka’s obsession with the raw self. Being literally and figuratively ablated, exposed. It’s hard to think of it as part of the same theme as Dracula’s armour from the same movie, or the foam latex muscle suits from The Cell or the lycra and paint/cord/ink piece from Der Ring des Nibelungen. It’s a concealing dress after all.  But the texture, colour and self pattern in the form of organic leaves and striated pleats puts it firmly in place as a reminder that Mina conceals herself in the trappings of the society she lives in. In this gown she is letting herself see who she is and what she feels.

So Maleficent. What makes this gown over all her others so special?

In the world of the movie humans are very much dressed as we expect. At least what we expect from years of what Hollywood has shown us of the past. Which is mostly based on modern textures and materials, foundations and construction.

At the start Maleficent is a child of nature, her clothing is loose and flowing and not made from a drafted, and thus mass produced/industrialised. Even her other gowns seem to flow and drape with little relation to the methods used to create the costumes of humans. She is apart. And clearly so.

The gown she chooses to wear to the christening however is very complicated in structure. It mixes both draping and drafting techniques. It is fitted to the body but does not follow the lines of clothing worn by the members of the court.

Bias cutting alone makes the gown different. Bias cutting is so intrinsically different to even the most complicated multiple panel garment cut on the straight. It shifts and requires exquisite fit and shaping and multiple fittings. It is insanely personal and bespoke.

Maleficent has taken great care to dress herself splendidly for this court. Her fabric even mimics the watery weave of the king’s own robes. But again it is different. The texture is not woven but created by hand, organic and deliberately unable to be copied. A true one of a kind.

Her horns are covered but barely. The threat of nature is present though sheathed.

Her gown is bigger, more sophisticated than any other garment at the court. She outshines everyone. Yet the cut, fabric, and scale clearly single her out. No  one could mistake her as being expected or meant to be there.

Her gown says everything her speech does. It says you tell me I don’t belong, well, that’s true; I am more than you. 

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