The Making of Millie's Royal Gown

The Beginning

We began with the selection of the design, then the colors and fabrics. We chose cream Silk Duchess; cobalt and amber Swiss Cloque; French cobalt double-face Silk Satin; Silk/Rayon Velvet; Silk Charmeuse and French Chantilly Lace. The design required hundreds of types of crystals from Swarovski®, pearls and flat-back sew-on-stones as well as Japanese bugle beads and seed beads. This is the first glimpse of the color range of the fabrics and the beads.

The Under-Dress

In true Elizabethan form, the gown required an under-dress and an over-dress. The under-dress needed texture and interest, so I decided to cut hundreds of strips of silk duchess; construct a loom of stretcher boards, and weave the strips at a 45° angle. The images below show the some of the steps in creating this fabric.

Once the fabric was woven and fused, the body of the skirt was cut and the sculptural shape of the skirt was made with corset boning.

Over a thousand flat back crystals from Swarovski® and pearls were attached to each woven intersection graduating from 5 millimeters at the top of the skirt to 12 millimeters at the hem.

The skirt of the under-dress was attached to a solid Silk Duchess harness top.

Chantilly Lace

The only available color of lace in the pattern we wanted was white. I used 50 tea bags to dye the Chantilly lace to a beautiful ecru color.

The lace was cut and stiffened with starch for the collar and the hem of the under-dress.

The Over-Dress

The over-dress is composed of Swiss Cloque, Silk Velvet and French Double-Faced Satin. We will begin with the Swiss Cloque part of the gown. The tulip shape was cut and embellished with three tones of crystals from Swarovski®. I spent four days placing crystals and seed beads on the fabric and decided it was just too busy. So I ripped all of the beads off and started over. I was very pleased with the overall effect of the final beadwork.

The next part of the Over-Dress is a band of silk double-faced satin. A template for the design was cut and the motifs were formed from bugle beads, crystal over-beading and flat-backed crystals. The effect is very three-dimensional.

The Over-Dress Bodice

The bodice is composed of Silk/Rayon velvet with a monogram "MLR" representing MILLIE LaRUE. The monogram base is 24K gold seed beads and is over-beaded with crystals from Swarovski®. The yoke of the bodice is hand-woven strips of double faced silk satin with crystals at every woven intersection.

Sleeves on the Gown

The challenge was to create sleeves which were three-dimensional and fan-shaped. Each sleeve required 18 half-moon shaped double-faced silk satin pieces which were sewn together and then stuffed with tulle to retain their shape. Along the edges of each sleeve fan, crystals from Swarovski® were attached. Once the sleeves were set into the bodice, a double-faced silk satin band was placed on the bottom of the sleeve and Chantilly lace was attached.

The Final Product

The Under-Dress The Over-Dress

Millie's Royal Gown was truly the most challenging and beautiful piece I have ever created.

The gown I created for Millie LaRue and for Darsey took 8 weeks to complete. It was an honor and I am most proud of the end result.

Along with the Royal Gown, we had the Royal Crown, Leash, Darsey's bracelets, earrings and Tiara. Everything was custom-made and everything matched.