20th Century, Sewing

The Luna Moth takes flight!

Finally, after all these years, the Luna Moth frock is done!

1910 Luna Moth frock

So what still needed to be done on it?  Well, when I posted it mostly done the skirt was only basted on the the bodice, and the skirt components were just pinned together.  Over the last two weeks I re-did the bodice since the green drape on it wasn’t working, sewed the skirt on properly, sewed the layers of skirt together, sewed on the purple velvet skirt drape and the sash, finished the back fastening, and did more beading.

The 1910 Luna Moth frock

So is it done?  Yes and no.  It was ‘done’ for the photoshoot, but I almost always find with the first wearing of a garment that there are lots of little bits that need tweaking to make them work perfectly.

The 1910 Luna Moth frock

With this dress I need to re-do the bottom-most layer of the skirt as when you pick up the train or when the wind blows it open the white support fabric shows, and that’s just not OK.

The 1910 Luna Moth frock

I also want to sew purple velvet rosette tassels (hard to describe, but I know just what they will look like when they are done) to the bottom of the back sashes, so that they look like they have a reason to exist.  And I want to add beads to the sleeve ends, and perhaps bead along the bodice and basically do a lot more beading.

The 1910 Luna Moth frock

The big question, especially after all the whinging I’ve been doing about not loving the dress and finding it really hard to finish something I was ultimately going to be unhappy with, is, do I like it?

The 1910 Luna Moth frock

Yes, and no.  I’m tickled pink that it is finished (or wearable finished), and love the way I look in the photos (many, many thanks to Madame O for the photoshoot!), but I’m not happy with it as a reflection of my sewing abilities.  I’ve grown so much in the last 3 years, and even 3 years ago I knew I was making mistakes and cutting corners because I had this great idea and wanted to complete it, even if I couldn’t find the right fabric.

The 1910 Luna Moth frock

So what’s going to happen to the dress?  Well, I’ll do the last bits to make it as good as it can possibly be within what I have to work with, and then I’ll probably sell it.  If you’re interested now would be the time to put dibs on it.  It’s fits a bust 36, waist 29-30, hips 40, height 5’4″ to 5’7″

The 1910 Luna Moth frock

The Challenge: UFO (Un-Finished Object)

Fabric:  Hand-dyed celadon green silk tissue (I think it was 4m), plum-rose coloured silk and rayon velvet (1m), shot green and gold silk taffeta (1m), with linings and bodice support of white cotton broadcloth, and white linen-cotton.

Pattern:  self-drafted, based on the Lady Maude Warrender Laurel Dress in Janet Arnold

Year:  1909-10

Notions:  Plastic feather-boning, hooks and eyes, hook and eye tape, boning casing, and thousands of glass seed beads.

How historically accurate is it?  Ergh.  Parts of it (the bodice support) are meticulously historic, the idea and aesthetic are directly based on historic examples, the fabric is reasonably accurate, but to be honest, I’d still only give it a 6 out of 10.

Hours to complete:  Double ergh.  Let’s not go there.  Probably around 100.

First worn: Sunday 27 Jan for photos

Total cost: it’s been 3 1/2 years, but I think I paid $40 for the tissue, $20 for the velvet, and $20 for the taffeta, plus at least $10 for the beads, and I re-dyed the tissue, so another $10, so $100?  Yeesh.  Maybe it was less.

And one last photo:  Here is Wellington.  I love my city!

1910 Luna Moth frock



  1. It’s a wondrous photoshoot!
    And interestingly, it would fit me, though it’s too loose in the waist, and generally, I don’t have the money and it would be much better for someone else. 🙂 Still, I took out my trusty little calculator and turned the given measurements into metric, just to see…
    Now it’s finished (more or less), and if someone else gets to wear it and love it, I think you can be fully satisfied with this project in the end.

  2. You always find these lovely places to take photos. Sometimes I recognize repeat locations, but this one seems all new to me. I love that last picture, with Wellington in the background! So cute.


  3. The photos look fantastic, I love the train!

    I can’t buy it, I’m too tall and I couldn’t afford it anyways.

    The scenery is gorgeous, and those colours suit you very well.

  4. It looks marvelous on you. In the abstract, I’m not sure how I’d feel about it, but these pictures absolutely sell me on it!

    Unfortunately, I’m two inches two short for the measurements you describe, so it wouldn’t work on me.

    • Thanks Catherine! I have exactly the same feeling about this dress – I don’t love it looking at it or on me, but the photos sure do look amazing! There wasn’t a single one I discarded because it wasn’t a good angle on the dress.

  5. It looks beautiful and I wish I could buy it, it would fit but I don’t think I could afford it right now.

  6. Cheyene says

    It is very lovely! I am quite excited that you finished it. I would love to have been able to consider buying it, unfortunately I am rather too small for the dress.
    I e-specially love the last photo; I do feel as if a luna moth would pose exactly where you are and at that time of the evening. The entire set of photos are beautiful.

    • Thank you! I’m thrilled that you ‘got’ the last photo! I did a whole series there (and want to post ALL of them), and that’s exactly what I was going for!

  7. I’m still intrigued by how historically they would make a gown inspired by a moth. I think that’s great! I can envision great teaching while wearing this…but it doesn’t fit me.

    • If you think about it, the Victorians and Edwardians were madly into symbolism, and there are numerous examples of garments inspired by historical periods and flowers or birds. Gene Stratton-Porter wrote A Girl of the Limberlost in 1908ish, and she goes into great detail about dresses inspired by moths, down to the gloves and stockings. L.M. Montgomery writing at the same period also mentions frocks inspired by flowers or scenery.

      And thank you 🙂

      • Elise says

        It must have been cool in a way to live in a period where you made your own clothes and trimmed your own hats and really got to personalise how you looked.

        Congrats on the dress!

        • Cool, but a lot of work! And it seems that most women still turned to seamstresses to get stuff done. And there was more societal pressure to dress certain ways. So I don’t regret the era in which I live 😉

          And thank you!

          • Actually, if you turned to a seamstress you still were “personalising how you looked,” because you would be directing the seamstress to choose certain fabrics, types of garment, styles, etc. That would make it more expensive, but not more work (except for the seamstress, but at least that work gave her opportunities to earn more money).

            I agree about the “societal pressure to dress certain ways,” though. As much as I love historic fashion, and regret the modern trend toward dressing ever more casually, I too am better suited for the present era in many ways.

          • Elise says

            I like penecillan and welfare for the poor more than I like fashion, so I’m with you about not regretting the time in which we live!

            And as Catherine Raymond said, even with the aid of a seamstress, you still dictated what you wore. My grandmother had a lot of fun going to her dressmaker.

            Now, with Hana Marmota, we get the biggest point ever: Nowadays we get to wear what we want! Weeee! (Maybe I will wear 40s turquoise in honor of a certain vintage Mexican post! Or not. My choice!)

          • Yeah, I’ll stick with the modern era too. I’d love to have a time machine and visit the past, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

  8. I’m sad you aren’t completely happy with it, but I do think it looks very nice! I really like the contrast with the purple and green, and velvet is my friend any day. Also, I like the little hair-scarf-think–it’s neat!

  9. Well now I’m a little suspicious – those are almost exactly MY measurements! I’m 36″ bust, 28-29″ waist, 39-40″ hips and 5’5 1/2″.

    I must admit interest and intrigue…

    Not to mention the pair of American Duchess Astorias I bought that have no dress to go with them…

  10. Laura says

    Would you mind expounding on what is NOT historically accurate about it? I’m curious!

    I’ve never bought a gown (though I’ve thrown some things together including purhased pieces and worn them to balls), and it would be short and loose in the waist on me (but hey, the era is drapey in the waist anyway, and I tend to wear my gowns short for dancing), but I think I’m still interested when you figure out a price. I just love it.

  11. It must feel good to get it finally done, and even if you don’t exactly love it I bet you learned a lot from the process. Plus, if you hadn’t got in there and done it you’d never have known whether you loved it or not.

    I do love the bodice. I think it’s very beautiful and flattering.

  12. So stunning! These photos are incredible, and your gown is so lovely! I’m so glad to see this finished- I remember when you started talking about it 🙂 Well done!

  13. Wanda/Dawn says

    Gorgeous. I’d buy it execept I’d never be able to squeeze into it.

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