Thursday, April 10, 2014

Picking up some old projects, and researching the Jump Dress

I recently went on a giant cleaning spree to get the sewing room in some sort of workable order (fabric was taking over, I could barely move in there!), and on that particular cleaning journey, I happened to unearth some pieces to an unfinished project I have always wanted to finish - Rose's "Jump" dress from Titanic. I had made the dress some years ago for my sister to wear at Christmas, but after she'd outgrown in, the dress had been tucked away and forgotten. At some point, I took it apart and salvaged the point d'esprit fabric and the red underskirt, but the rest had been discarded. When I came across it again during cleaning, I decided it was time to finish the dress.

I had no idea what I was getting into. There is sooooo much to do on this dress! I have to purchase some fine black net for the overlayer of the underskirt, 8 million tons of black beads, some cotton tulle, and various and sundry other items, and set to work on this monster of a project.

But, truthfully, I'm really excited about this. I was looking through some of my old "in-progress" pics from years past, and started feeling like I've fallen woefully behind on my goals. There were some years I was turning out four or five elaborate court gowns for Faire season, so yeah, I'm feeling a little underwhelmed by my progress this year. And making a bunch of undies may be essential to a wardrobe, but it's just not very exciting.

So, I've been picking up old projects. I dug out all the pieces for the black Queen Esther court gown and started back up on that. I'm technically only one sleeve away from completing the gown, but it's one doozy of a sleeve.

Yeah, that's not even all the pieces. I found two more pieces in the project bin for that sleeve. o.o There's quite a bit to do, and the sleeve already ate another 18 yards of trim last night before I ran out. Yeesh. All the gold stripes on the fabric are actually lines of trim and have to be sewn on individually. You can see the difference between the finished side of one part of the sleeve, and the other one that doesn't have the stripes on it yet. It's time consuming, but the end product is worth it. I just need to go buy another bolt of trim before I can keep going. At my last calculation, I'm at 300+ yards of gold trim on this gown already. Yikes.

I also tried to get another court gown into workable shape, but after a few hours of futzing with it, I realized I had gone about the sleeves all wrong, so now I'm making shoulder rolls instead of sewing the puffs onto the undersleeve. I'm also not entirely happy with the embroidered trim on the future shoulder rolls, so I'm going to find something to substitute that with, as well, especially since my embroidery machine is broken, I can't afford to fix it right now, and I can't make more of that embroidered trim without it. I dunno, I haven't decided quite what to do with it yet.

Anyway, back to the Jump Dress. Here are a couple of pictures of the original gown, from when they were on display in Branson. They're high-res with lots of detail, so there's lots of info to be gleaned.

All I have is the underskirt fabric and the train fabric, so there's quite a bit to do. I've spent most of the day doing research on the dress, trying to organize my thoughts.

First, I need to buy some fine net for the overlayer on the underskirt. Unlike the train layer, the underskirt's net is not point d'espirit, just plain net. There are two sections to the overlayer - the top layer is from the waist to about mid-calf. There are eight beaded circles at the bottom of the tier, and the hem has beaded trim finishing it off. The second tier is actually sewn onto the red layer, and is from mid-calf to the floor. There are eight more beaded circles, and more trim at the hem.

The join of this layer to the red fabric layer is reinforced with twill tape, and there are two layers of chiffon ruffles on the inside of the skirt to support the silk, one that reaches to the skirt's hem, and one that is about half the length. You can just see the longer layer peeking out at the hem in the Branson photos.

The circles are faceted black beads. There is a clear rhinestone or white faceted bead in the center of the circle, with six matching beads in a circle around it.

The trim at the hem is veeeery slightly different from the one on the bodice of the train layer. On the skirt layers, there is some diagonal beading on the ribbon part of the trim, whereas on the bodice the trim has black faceted beads on it.  I've sketeched out the differences so you can see them more clearly.

Skirt trim:

One bugle bead, three faceted beads, in diagonal rows.

Bodice trim:

Two parallel horizontal rows of faceted beads. There is also a white/clear rhinestone every 3 inches or so on the bodice trim, but not on the skirt trim.

The underbodice of the dress has a nude underlayer, with a black lace overlayer. You can see the underbodice really well in these screenshots from a featurette about making the Titanic barbie dolls. (They examine the original costumes, these are not the doll's dress.) The bodice of the train layer has slipped down, so you can see the underdress's bodice pretty well.

It's also easily visible in this still from a cut scene.

The lace pattern is not very large. It looks like small circles in a regular pattern, which you can see really well in the one pic from Branson.

The lace bodice provides modesty underneath the beaded bodice, covering up the bust where the beaded bodice opens up in the front. It has little cap sleeves of lace only (you can see the maid's hand through the sleeve), so the nude lining is on the bodice parts alone. The nude layer appears to be somewhat sheer, as well, since you can still see the curves of Ms. Winslet's bust underneath the bodice, as well see the curve of the back neckline through the front of the bodice in the above Branson photo.

There appear to be some small black snaps on the underbodice that help to wrangle the beaded bodice, and keep it from slipping down. You can see them rather well on this photo from Fox Studios, as well as in the screencaps from the doll featurette.

I'll take a look at the beaded bodice and train layer in another post, since this post is already long enough and there's a lot to go over, and I haven't done any sketches for the elements of the bodice yet. There's also a ton of details and such to go over, and I want to start drafting tomorrow so I can share my pattern with everyone. :) So anxious to get started!

In case you missed it, here are the other research sections:

Part II - The Beaded Bodice
Part III- The Train


  1. Hello ! I found your blog by doing many and lengthy research on Rose’s "jump" dress... and I find it extraordinary !
    I will go to Belfast next September to visit the Titanic museum, and I will also spend 2 nights in the Titanic hotel... in short, you will understand that I am very fan of the history of this liner.
    I can’t imagine visiting the museum and having tea in the Titanic hotel in jeans and sneakers... so I decided to make the dress that I liked the most in the film, that of the "jump". I started it, based on a dress pattern I already had and collecting as many photos as possible found on the Internet.
    However, I have some concerns about the top of the dress. I’m afraid it’s too tight compared to the original model. Would you have a pattern (I saw you put the quick sketch on your blog) to communicate to me, with the dimensions and including the sleeves too.
    The big advantage is that there is a certain freedom of creation with this dress, at the level of the beading of the bodice in particular.
    I really thank you for the help you can give me in making my dress...
    Here is my email address :
    Thank you again...

    1. Hello! Your trip sounds like it's going to be super fun! I don't have a pattern for the jump dress, sorry. Your best bet is to find or make a bodice pattern that fits you correctly and then use that as a base for the dress bodice. There's an old Simplicity pattern (#8399) that would work well as a starting point. :)
      Best of luck with your project!