Green Gown

Chemise-camicia-undershirt thingy, McCall’s 4091…at first

Well…I started with M4091 and ended with a sleeved motorcycle cover. This thing is huge. I sized up a combination of the views, wanting the most length in the body and the most width in the sleeves. That was a mistake that I intend to correct one day soon. The shoulders are too wide, but the neckline is too small. I omitted the drawstrings in the neckline and sleeves, sewing down a strip of “blackworked” fabric and closing the seam, respectively. I kept the drawstring in the cuffs, but the sleeves are so long that I can’t tie them by myself [easily] anyway. The pattern is easy to follow, even with the strange way that the body is cut. Before I wear this again, I’m going to tuck under some width in the shoulders and hack up the bottom fourth of the sleeves. I plan to make the sleeve fitted at the forearm, eliminating the need for the drawstring there, while keeping enough poof above the elbow to pull through fancy sleeves…when I make them. I added machine embroidery stitches to resemble blackwork in a few places.

The gown, various sources

For simplification, we’ll call this one a “Margo of Toledo”. I used the Margo bodice and underskirt patterns with modifications. The side fastening bodice is green brocade, interlined with yellow linen and flat-lined with sturdy green cotton. It has minimal cable tie boning. I adjusted the width and angle of the straps, and I made the bodice into a V rather than a U. I stitched over small metal eyelets with green embroidery floss. It is fastened with green satin ribbon. While I love spiral lacing, a slipknot doesn’t work well with satin ribbon, so I knotted the top of the ribbon to a large jump ring to stop it from slipping through. On the bottom, I tacked a second piece of satin ribbon to the inside of the skirt. Once the lacing was pulled tight, I could tie it in a bow rather than worrying about a knot coming undone.

The underskirt front and back pieces were expanded to full fabric width, and the front is pointed to match the bodice V. It is, essentially, two (or three?)  panels with gores. I decided to lay down pleats rather than gather, and I panicked when I saw the amount of skirt that would have to collapse to the width of the bodice back. I ended up stacking box pleats in a few spots, but it went together smoothly. The pointed front of the skirt is flat, with the exception of two symmetrical poufs where I didn’t angle and pleat properly. As one costumer suggested, pleat and place before you cut. It worked out in the end. I had originally planned to stiffen the hem with canvas, but time did not allow me to get that fancy. Instead, I serged the edge (after marking the hem with my new chalk hem marker), turned it up, and blind hemmed it in place. It’s ugly, but we were ready to walk out the door. Strangely enough, the bad hem makes the skirt stand out on its own.

Sleeve cuffs, McCall’s 4696…kind of

Here again, I knew what I wanted, and had a good idea of how to get there. I needed something to keep my shirt sleeves under control so that I’d be able to get through the day. I used the sleeve cuff template, but I can’t tell you where I deviated from the instructions, since I never really started them. In this pattern, the cuffs are attached to the shirts/bodices, but mine just lace on like an arm corset. They are done in green brocade remnants, lined with black cotton, and edged at the bottom with white lace. Due to time constraints, I used metal eyelets and left one serged edge exposed, which I wear to the inside bottom to hide. They are currently laced up with organza ribbon.


Since the husband was green, black, and silver, I went with black pearls and silver for my hair and jewelry. I split my hair down the center, made two braids, and circled my head with them. I added a serious number of bobby pins, and added silver ribbon in place of my netted caul, which didn’t make the debut. My earrings are very simple dangling black glass pearls, and I pulled out my silver filigree ring with the black center. I wore my Lady Corvina short necklace of silver and black. My girdle is a work in progress. It is made of two chains, the big one in white silver threaded with a skinny one in dark silver. The center alternates faceted glass pieces with black pearl clusters of a sort. I put a silver pendant on the end, but it’s small and out of proportion with the rest of the piece. That’s going to get redone. Unfortunately, the cut of the gown isn’t conducive to the girdle, so I’m going to add either hooks or loops to the gown to attach the girdle for the next time. I wore green and white knee high socks and black leather MJ Naturalizers with creme top-stitching–so comfy. I wore a green ribbon around the waist from which I hung my round pouch, but next time, I’ll tie it under the gown and pull the pouch through the opening. I wore my red saccoccia under the gown on the other opening.

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