I used Simplicity 2881 as a base for my ballgown bodice -- but I made significant changes! I redrafted the armscye to make the dress rest on my shoulders, lengthened the sides (my mock-up was about 4 inches above my actual waist!), and shorted the "V" in the front (among other various changes. For the inside, I lined each bodice piece with black cotton flannel and serged the raw edges once I had constructed it -- not period correct, but very efficient!
I used salvaged material for the bodice -- a taffeta plaid skirt from an outdated dress and a green taffeta skirt from a dress I bought when I was nine. Amazingly, the sleeves are actually the sleeves from that dress, with an inch or two cut from the top edge (they were enormous 90's sleeves)-- I can't believe the armhole still fits! I modified the bretelles from the Simplicity pattern, used salvaged piping around the sleeve edges, and bound the top and bottom edges in green taffeta. Basically, I used the pattern shapes from Simplicity 2881, changed them considerably, and completely ignored the instructions!
The sleeves were delightfully easy!
The skirt I drafted myself (although "draft" is a bit too ambitious a word). I sewed the fabric into a tube and double box pleated it. The waistband is extra-long to make sure nothing shows when I lift my arms.
I used a fabric rose for my hair, using instructions from Denver Fabrics. Many thanks to my sister, Tiffany, for styling my hair! I'm hopeless with hair, so I was thrilled to have her assistance!
I also made a small reticule from Mrs. Chancey's Elegant Lady's Closet Pattern, modified slightly (because I just can't stand not making changes! *grin*).
I even found a package of black tassels on clearance at Wal-Mart. I couldn't resist.
Since I was changing the bretelles (the green "straps") drastically anyway, I decided to add lacing to the front. Combined with the back lacing, I put in a total of 34 metal grommets, each hand-bound with a buttonhole stitch. I couldn't believe how many hours that took!
The back lacing:
In all, this dress cost about $10 or under in new materials. My skirt fabric was $1 per yard fabric from Wal-Mart, the flannel for the lining was $3, and the rest of the fabric was "re-purposed." One day I'd love to make a historically accurate gown, but for now -- well, for now, this will do just fine!