How to Design a Ballgown

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Not everyone has the sewing skills to put together a ballgown, but almost anyone can design one. Designing a ballgown is easy if you know what to consider and can visualize how everything will go together. The most traditional ballgown design sits off the shoulder and is fitted to the waist with a full skirt that falls at least to the ankle, but modern white-tie event etiquette allows more leeway into what's appropriate for a ballgown.


1.Visualize a silhouette for your ballgown and imagine it on your body. Consider clothing you have tried on and clothes you own that are flattering. Ballgowns may be close-fitting to just below the bustline, the waist, the hips or the knee. Before you consider individual elements like fabric or neckline and sleeves, write down a general shape that will flatter you. A short description, like "close-fitting top with no sleeves and a layered skirt" will give you a basic overview to begin with.

2.Decide whether your gown will be strapless. If not, choose a sleeve style. Sleeves can be short or long, full or tight, have a bell at the bottom or a peekaboo at the shoulder, or they can be barely there, like spaghetti straps.

3.Choose a neckline. There are many options available, including high neck, strapless corset style, sweetheart, round, square, or v-neck.
Other popular top options include off the shoulder, halter and strapless. Strapless styles may be bandeau for the more structured corset style.

4.  Select a bodice style. Many ballgowns feature a form-fitting bodice and a flowing skirt. Backless ballgowns are also common. Other options include the corset bodice with or without laces in the front or back, the dropped waist, halter-style with a band around the abdomen and a loose, gathered halter top.

5.Add your choice of skirt. Traditionally, a ballgown skirt is full and voluminous at the bottom. The type of skirt depends, to a certain extent, on the choice of bodice, but there are options to most styles. The skirt may be tailored to the body and gored to add volume at the bottom, gathered at the waist for overall fullness, or mermaid style-- tightly fitted to above the knees with a dramatic flair at the bottom.

6.Choose a fabric. Traditional fabric choices for ballgowns are expensive and luxurious. The most popular choices for ballgown fabrics include various silks, voile, chiffon, satin and organza. Solid colors are traditional, but big prints are used by some current designers for couture gowns.

Decide on embellishment for your creation, such as beads, bows, rosettes, rhinestones, sequins, lace, ribbons, ruching, ruffles, overlays or whatever strikes your fancy. It's often the details that make a ballgown spectacular, but too much embellishment can ruin a beautiful silhouette. Choose just a few ideas to make your gown unique and special.

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