There is so much going on in this one dress, it's almost overwhelming! The beaded bodice is the most daunting part of tackling this gown, so let's start there.
The bodice beading is done in black faceted beads, silver-lined red seed beads, and rhinestones. The black faceted beads are used to make the floral patterns in the design. As you can see from the two pictures above, the floral pattern seems to vary from one version of the dress to another, and there were many copies of this gown produced for the film, no two being exactly alike. On the one hand, this makes things a bit easier for those of us wanting to reproduce the gown, as it gives us some creative wiggle room. On the other side, it makes things a little difficult if one wants to reproduce things in exacting detailing, as, well, that's pretty much impossible.
Anyway, if one wants to go the route of reproducing the beading exactly to the gown, pick your favourite version that you've seen and stick with a single reference (or set of references, if you happen to have pictures of the dress on exhibit or something like that). I am not that worried about copying the beading exactly, so I'm just going to draw inspiration from the different beading patterns and have at it.
The one thing to remember, whichever route you take, is that the beading pattern is mirrored, so the right side will be the same as the left side, but flipped. So sketches are a must if you want to recreate the two sides correctly.
The beading is done onto a black sheer fabric. You can see this best in one of the Branson photos, where you can see the hand of the maid holding the gown through the fabric.
If you look at the floral pattern on the shoulder strap, you can see her fingers through the black fabric. This not only tells us what sort of fabric the bodice is made of, but that the floral patterns are not solid beading, but are really voids in the red beading, which have been outlined and accented with black beads and sequins.
The beading on the original gowns was done with tambour. This means the beading could be done quickly, but it also meant that a single snag could unravel large parts of the bodice. The dresses were damaged frequently during filming, and had to be repaired often. You can see one such repair happening below. The tool in the tailor's hand is a tambour hook.
The bodice itself is made in just two pieces, with a single seam up the center back. I originally thought that there were side-back panels, but the more references I look at, the more I think that's not the case. Take a look at these pictures.
It's great to have that screencap from the cut scene, because you can clearly see that there's no side or side-back seam when she lifts her arm. The only clear seam is the one at the center back and the ones attaching the shoulder straps. Otherwise, the bodice is in one piece.
The bodice itself is almost just a rectangle, except that there is an armscye included, and the center front is triangular instead of a straight edge, in order to account for the lack of shaping from a side seam. In the above picture, where Ms. Winslet is raising her arm, you can see where the back of the beaded bodice is lifting up, and how little shaping there is in it. Here's a very rough sketch of the bodice shape, based off the shape of Maggie's bodice.
The shoulder straps are created at an angle, forming a "v" neckline in the back, and attaching to the bodice front along the downward angle next to the armscye. At the top of the shoulder, instead of being sewn together all the way across, the two strap pieces are only tacked together at the outer edges, and accented with a rhinestone button. You can see this detail really well in the cut scene.
The outer edges of each bodice piece is outlined with black faceted beads. This means that at the seams, there's a double line of black faceted beads. You can see this well in the Branson photo, where there's a double row of beads where the shoulder strap meets the bodice, but the neckline and strap edges just have a single row.
As mentioned in the last post, the trim at the bottom of the bodice is slightly different from the one on the skirt. Instead of diagonal lines of bugle beads, there is a double row of faceted black beads, mimicking the look of the beading at the seams.
The bodice closes at center front, and there are two rhinestone buttons, which you can see in the Branson photo. They are black and silver, with a rhinestone in the center, and a ring of rhinestones around that.
Whew! That's a lot of info for just one bodice. I'll post about the train in a different entry, since this one is already pretty lengthy. I'll also be working on a pattern for the bodice, as well as drafting instructions, which I'll include once I have them drawn up and scanned. Stay tuned for Part III!
In case you missed it, here are the other research sections:
Part I - The Underskirt
Part III- The Train