Saturday, May 6, 2017

Sewing for Death on the Nile

I hadn't planned on starting any ambitious new sewing projects this year....until I saw the theme of this year's Art Deco Preservation Ball: "Death on the Nile," a homage to Agatha Christie and Egyptian Revival style.

This was an amazing event - see photos here.

Ok, clearly I was not meant to get back to work on all the UFOs (Unfinished Objects).

Egyptomania is a fairly new interest, but my love for Agatha Christie dates back to high school. There aren't that many events with an Egyptian Revival theme, let alone one from such a stylish era, in our city. It was a can't-miss affair!

The event presented a great opportunity to use some of the vintage Egyptian fabric I'd sourced. As a bonus incentive, I had a partner-maker to sew with – dear friend, artist and costumer Lucreze, who was easily persuaded to make it a double date with our respective husband units. (They never need much convincing to put on vintage evening attire, bless them). She also was instrumental in conceptualizing my dress and wrap (and designed her own take on an Erté gown - it was splendid!)

I should have spent more time documenting process for making an outfit for the event – suffice to say our tiny SF apartment was covered in sewing paraphernalia for weeks. There are a few things I would tweak, but the final product was super fun to wear to a fabulous event.  

Frock: Black and gold silk charmeuse. The gold is a vintage remnant sourced from Etsy; the black was a $5/yd steal from a local discount fabric shop. The pattern is basically a simple black tube with four gold gores inserted (two front and two back) and shoulder straps.  I traced the beading outline from a stencil and was beading until the bitter end – I literally applied the gold triangle with the papyrus flower beading to the top of the dress in the car on the way the event. 

Cape/Wrap: This is a simple three-piece construction seamed at the shoulder and along the curved edge below the wrist openings. It's lined in this thin black silk taffeta (Fabrix, $4/yd). The fabric is vintage black silk brocade sourced from Etsy; probably 1960s or later. You can see the little gold Egyptian figures in the close up shot below. I had just enough left to piece the sash.
A parade of pharaohs!
Headpiece: This was the really fun part – I've been collecting pictures of the original, vintage version of this for some time on Pinterest and was able to collect enough brass bits and bobs to have Vince at Tigges Jewelers solder them together to make a fair replica. He gave me the faux pearls to dangle below the years - what a patient guy to work on this with me! Additional Materials: brass findings and bracelets for the bits over the years, along with clock brass strips to hold it all together. Amazingly enough, I saw two of the originals at the actual event! They were missing the pearls and were much darker, but in great shape.

Jewelry: With the headpiece and beading I didn't want to go overboard, so just went with some vintage costume earrings. Probably still a bit much but I couldn't resist. I found these on Ebay a while back; they are a match for a necklace I found year before last (!) Both are signed ART - if anyone knows more about that maker/mark, would love a tip. Their Egyptian pieces turn up on Ebay pretty frequently.

Vince from Tigges Jewelers -- so great with this project!

Shoes: These are the Pashas from Chelsea Crew – so perfect for this occasion but I'm selling them – too high for my comfort!

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