Analyzing Claudia's Blue Ballgown

January 14, 2016

This dress has always been a favourite of mine. I was a big Anne Rice fan as a teenager, and when the movie came out I think I watched it on repeat a hundred times over. The costume designer outdid herself - stunning 18th Century clothes, beautiful Regency era gowns (check out Claudia's awesome embroidered pelisse sometime), and of course, outstanding bustle gowns.

I have a bolt of blue taffeta in my sewing room and an itch to make the blue gown, so let's take a look at some of the details. I pulled some screencaps and altered them to highlight the details.


First the skirts. There are ruched panels on the back of the overskirt, and an apron front. The apron front is edged with a black ruffle, and the back of the overskirt has a blue ruffle at the hemline. The underskirt actually appears more complex than I first realized - it looks like there's a fluted ruffle near the hem, with a scalloped ruffle over it, another fluted ruffled, and another scalloped layer. It's a shame that detail gets lost on screen!


Here's a detail I didn't expect - there's a bit of ruffly stuff on the seamlines between the ruched panels on the overskirt. It looks like it's the same wavy ruffle that's on the sleeve. You can see the ruffle at the overskirt hemline much better here, too. It's very tightly pleated, maybe even fluted.  The hem on the apron front is more visible here, too. The black ruffle has very narrow pleats, and is edged with a beaded back trim that's the same as on the sleeve.

The front of the bodice has black appliques at the neckline.



Here you can see the ruched panels really well. It's also one of the few views of the back of the bodice. It closes up the center back with a line of fabric-covered buttons. There's some sort of ball-shaped trim at the peplum hem edge that ends at the waist. I can see it sparkling in the scene, so it's a beaded trim. There are black lace appliques at the back neckline, likely the same as the ones on the front.


The bodice has shore puff sleeves and a pointed front waistline.

The sleeves have a wavy ruffle at the edge, which is decorated with some black beaded trip that has loops of black beads. The edge of the sleeve ruffle has a decorative overlock stitch.


So there we are! An incredibly lovely gown with a lot of yummy, hidden details that get lost on screen. I'm looking forward to diving into this one, it's going to be quite the project.

And, just as a bonus, here are some shots of one of my other favourite gowns from the film. It's on screen for less than 30 seconds, but it's so pretty! Just look at all those ruffles on the underskirt!


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