The dress is done! And just in time, since I have to hand it off tomorrow morning.
This was one of those projects that shouldn't have turned out as well as it did. Despite doing the fabric shopping myself, I still ended up with insufficient yardage - the pattern called for 6 yards of black brocade at the purchased width, but Jomar only had 4.5, and I decided to make it work. Tim Gunn would have been proud.
I'm grateful for non-directional prints, because I cut that floral brocade every which way to get it done, and in the end I only had to narrow the flare at the bottom of the skirt, and I think there's still enough skirt to get the job done. I literally had a handful of scraps left at the end.
The same went for the white brocade for the front panels and the white matte satin for the sleeves - one yard, and scraps left over. The rest of the underskirt is made of white muslin and will work just fine.
I used up almost all 4 yards of the trim as well. The costumer requested a "restrained" trim, something gray or dark. The character wearing this gown is Queen Gertrude (of Hamlet fame), though the play is Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead. Okay, so Gertrude is in mourning, but she went from her husband's deathbed to her husband's brother's very live bed, so I think her mourning goes only so deep. A restrained floral should be just fine.
One of the design changes from the pattern was to eliminate the back lacing, and add some to the front. I was just going to do it for show, but I decided that it might actually help with the fit of the costume, so instead of using eyelets, I made buttonholes and laced the front of the dress up with black twill tape. They can always change colors but I thought that worked well enough.
I have to say that despite the challenge of working with too-little fabric (something I couldn't really gripe about because I did it to myself; we could have gone to another store after all), I enjoyed constructing this gown. The ginormous sleeves are almost too much, but they'll look great on stage.
The one thing I got out of it for myself was a new appreciation for a good square neckline, something that we don't see all that often, and certainly easy enough to do well if it's built into a princess-seamed bodice. Aren't princess seams the best thing ever invented? I know they're not historically accurate, but neither are invisible zippers, and no one's going to complain.
The play opens in a couple of weeks, and I'm looking forward to seeing this one onstage - both the costume and the play.
There's a full patternreview here, if you want more details. I'm off to sew something spring-like for myself now. Enough sewing for others for a bit.