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Elizabeth Swann
Plum Gown
by ~Verdaera on deviantART

This dress I decided to make for my best friend, Zizzy's, wedding present!

HI-REZ [MEDALLION] - This is the easy part. You can get an official medallion replica from [MASTER REPLICAS] for a pretty fair price. I actually picked up mine and my best friend's at the Trekkie Con that takes place here every year. Here's a hi-rez shot of mine:

[UNDERDRESS] - This dress I did not use a pattern for, but basically it was a pretty easy dress to drape. If you've made early period renaissance dresses, this is very similar. The dress has one panel in the front, one in the back with a gore insert, and sleeves. This dress isn't very curvy, the only real curves are in the sideseams. If you don't have a dummy, you can enlist the help of a friend. By taking two large pieces of muslin, you can sandwich yourself between the two layers and pin up the sides (to the waist only) to get the fit you want. Next, you can pinch out fabric down the front where the lacing will be. This can actually be curved a bit and not cut straight which adds extra fitting. Mark your seams and neckline (keeping in mind to not make the neckline too high). The skirt is pretty straight forward, just take a measuring tape, straight edge, whatever, and make an a-line skirt. This dress has a nice flow to it, but is not overly full, it has to be roomy enough to, say, run around on a beach in. I cut a simple triangular gore, made a slit in the back skirt almost to the waist, and inserted the gore, giving it a good fullness. The slit for the lacing in the front is simply binded in bias tape made from your underdress fabric. The sleeves I ended up taking a shirt with sleeves about the same fitted shape and made a pattern, made it to just over the elbow (since it was for my best friend, I had to take the average length of me and mom's arms for her, and it actually worked). I sewed up the muslin of the sleeve, and then slit it from the shoulder cap down. Then, ad about half inch seam allowance to each side. You will probably want to take that in just a hair so some skin will be seen between the lacing. I don't recommend taking it in near the sleeve cap. The sleeve on my version is fine, except near the sleevecap there's a little more gappage than I would like. Instead of sewing up your seam allowance, fold over 1/4th inch twice and stitch. Sew the sleeve in like normal, and punch eyelets down the sleeve. I'd punch them most of the way down, lace, and then try it on to see where to finish off the bottom of the sleeve. When I punched the eyelets, I made them 1 1/4th inches apart, and I made them alternating instead of directly across from each other on the opposite end of the sleeve. On the movie dress, there is a trim that is like tiny white loops, but they aren't curcular, they're just little white lines. The closest thing I found was a satin trim at HanCocks that has loops on the ends.

[BODICE] - For the fabric I bought 10 yards of Juicy Plum Silk Dupioni from SilkBaron.com. The fabric looks the right color online, but when I got it, it was more of a really red plum, I didn't see any purple in it. So, I bought a 1/2 oz container of Jaquard Silk Dye (acid dye) from Dharma Trading. The instructions tell you to boil the fabric and dye it hot. I've done this before with other silks and this dye works really well, however, I just wanted to tint it purple, I didn't want it too intense. I filled up a plastic storage bin I use for dyeing fabrics with tap water (you only want enough water in there to cover the fabric. The fabric will float, you just want to make sure all of it can get wet and move around in the water) I filled up half of what I needed with water from the hose, and the rest I had a pot going on the stove that I filled up the rest of it. Every time I emptied the pot I filled it up again and put it back on the stove. I added more hot water every 5-10 minutes and the fabric was in there half an hour. The color I came out with I believe is rather close, in yellow and florescant lighting it looks the reddish-purple that the official dress looks when she's with Barbossa (yellow candlelight) and it looks more purple out in natural light. If you want your fabric more on the purple side I'd suggest using a whole ounce of silk dye to 10 yards.

For the bodice of the overdress I used Simplicity Pattern 8881 (It's out of print now however) which is an Elizabethan pattern (how ironic) but the shape is still very similar to the bodice in the movie. I took out the curve between the seams of the two front panel piece for the proper shape and boostage. At the time I didn't have a good shot of the seams and didn't realize the princess line on the bodice didn't go straight up, it's the kind that curves into the armhole. It would be best to shape it that way because of the added seam bulk right where the bodice opening needs to curve open. Also note from the reference pictures that the slubs in the silk need to be running HORIZONTAL. Also when cutting, the BODICE FRONT piece on the INSIDE of the piece is a different fabric. Because it's really hard to find a brocade in the same color and a similar design, I suggest either finding a black-on-white brocade and dying it with the main fabric, or what I did is found a nice black lace at JoAnn's and laid it over a piece of the original fabric. I lined the inside with the same fabric as well. Each piece was interfaced with featherweight-midweight interfacing and a piece of duck cloth was basted to the inside layer. I used metal 1/4th" metal boning from CorsetMakingSupplies.com. The length, of course, will vary based on each individual's patterns. I put the boning channels in 6 locations on the front bodice: Down center front, down the princess seam (angled so that the bottom of the boning pointed bottom center front and the top towards the shoulderstrap), and front side. On the back there were 4 placements, one in each side panel, and one on either side of the center back seam (angled towards the bottom). Also remember, the boning down center front does NOT go up all the way, it only goes about to underneath the bust where the closures start because the rest of the top is going to curve open. I don't see evidence of the button and frog being the actual closure, I think it's just decorative. I think there's a couple hook and eyes for the closure there. I'm going to add them all the way down. Complete the bodice first, you don't need to leave anything open on the bottom of the bodice or the armhole for the skirt or the sleeves, they will be stitched on to the finished seams.

[SLEEVES] - The sleeves are deceptively simple. The shape of them is a simple rectangle. The height I used is 20" with a 1/2" rolled hem on top and bottom. (20" is a good measurement for poofage) I used a whole width of fabric for each sleeve. You don't need to measure the width yet because that's dependant on the pleating and the arm hole. The pleats are called Cartridge Pleating. Cartridge pleating is like gathering, except instead of randomly basting and gathering, there are several rows of stitches, all evenly spaced. The easiest way to get all the stitches even is to baste over a piece of gingham fabric (1/4th" gingham check) You also need a layer under this to give some body to the pleats, so what I did was use a strip of microfleece. I cut an 8 square wide strip of gingham and cut an inch strip of fleece (try to cut the fleece just sliiightly less than an inch so the gingham will fold over. Stitch down the gingham over the fleece, and try not to stitch in the lines between the squares, it'll just confuse you later. When you start pleating, measure from the side seam up the arm hole til around where the pleating will start (will be about parallel to where the neckline is when uncurled). Add 1/2 - 5/8 an inch for seam allowance and measure out this distance on the width of the sleeve. This is where your pleating strip will start. Line up the strip on the inside top of the sleeve right up on the edge of the fabric, which should be roll-hemmed. Starting at the bery top edge of the strip, use a simple running stitch using the intersections between the squares as a guide. I used 4 rows of stitches, and I liked to leave my needles and thread attached until all 4 rows were done. You only need to pleat from where you needed it to start on the front, to where it will need to end on the back, about where the princess seam in the back starts. If you leave all your needles in you can pleat what you have stitched, check how much you have, and stitch more if you need to. I ended up needing about 8 1/2" of pleated material, which ended up being 26 1/2", so about every 3 inches of fabric converts to about 1 inch of pleating to give you a general idea of how much you need to start off with. When you figure out how much pleating you need, mirror the same amount of pleating on the bottom of the sleeve. The cartridge pleating is quite literally placed right along the seam and stitched beside it, with no seam. You can find some [INSTRUCTIONS] here until I can get my pics and tutorial up. For attaching the sleeve, you can either attatch it by the pleating first and then stitch the seam down the sleeve, or do the measurements and sew it up that way. The inside front of the sleeve is gathered up by horizontal cartridge pleating. The pleats are deeper, I did it about every 3 squares, and there are 4 or 5 pleats. The rectangle is about 12 squares wide. You will only pleat 3 threads, down the center 3 rows, and all the excess fleece gives a bit of shape to the pleats. Here's a [PLEATING GUIDE] for a visual of how you need to stitch it. Keep in mind this is the size of your gingham square after you've folded over a seam allowance and sewed it over the fleece square.

On the inside of the sleeve is another sleeve made of a white (probably a lightweight linen or a cotton that is gathered (about same dimensions as the outer sleeve for body) with a lace sewn at the cuff. This sleeve, depending on how much fabric and gather you use, will add some nice body to the sleeve. For the actual movie costume, there is about 1.5-2 inch wide piece of the linen or cotton in the gathered cuff before the lace itself starts. The cuff should be about 4-5 inches. The lace they used is very interesting, and very difficult to find anything like it. What I ended up doing was getting a non-floral lace at JoAnn's and double layering it so it wasn't as transparent. The lace I used had about a half-inch scallop on it, so by layering it shifted so the scallops lay between each other, it made the bottom of the lace more straight like the actual costume. The lace was so wide that I opted not to have the 1.5 inch piece of the innersleeve fabric.

[SKIRT] - The skirt somewhat circular in shape, but the panels need to be only slightly tapered. I made the waist part of the skirt (kept flat for pleating) about 26 inches because I measured about 8 inches along the back half of the bodice, and I made 4 panels. Click on the picture to see the shape I used. First I sewed 2 panels together and did a basting stitch on the waist part of the skirt for a temporary gather. This I pinned to the dummy along the waist and put the bodice on the dummy over it. Since the bottom of the bodice points downward, I didn't want to force a flat line of pleating on there. I gathered it until it met with the sideseams and drew in chalk on the skirt the shape of the bottom of the bodice. Then I ungathered the skirt, connected the marks as best I could and cut, so there is downward slant towards the center seam. Then I sewed on the front panels on either side. Connecting the skirt to the bodice is a bit different than attaching the sleeves. Instead of attaching it side by side, it kind of gets attached at a 90 degree angle. The best way I found to do this is to stitch the bottom part of the pleat to the bottom part of the finished boddice. When done, it will kind of look like it's hanging down. Making sure to keep the edge of the pleating up flat againts the bodice (the 90 degree angle) Whipstitch the entire thing again, taking care when you are putting the needle through the pleating to go all the way to the bottom for the best hold. I would concentrate on attaching the back two panels before you even worry about pleating the front two at all. You will note that this causes the skirt to hang out a bit from the bodice which is what we want. If you want everything to look smoother, take care to go down your line of pleats and tuck the fabric that is sticking up from the pleat down. Personally, I prefer the fabric stricking out from the pleat, it keeps the puffy look and it creates a lot of texture at the top of the skirt. To achieve this more you can hold the pleats and pull the fabric upward.

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