After graduation was done and my parents went home, I finished up the gown so that I can wear it again next year.
1) I finished covering the shoulder and back padding and sewed in the lining. This helped stabilize things a lot.
I marked the hem with my mom, so it was easy to do. I cut the hem so that I had a 2.5" excess. I sewed seam binding to the raw edge of the hem and turned up the hem. I then sewed then carefully picked the hem to the wrong side of the garment with an invisible stitch.
3) back cord (part 1)
The cord that extends down the back of the yoke and ends in a button is usually attached through the collar seam, but I wasn't thinking faqr enough ahead for this. I attached my cord on the inside of the garment to the back padding:
I decided to use a different, less slippery cord, but the rattail was good for testing out the design.
4) fixing the collar roll
I tried a few different ways of pinning out the excess from the undercollar to get the velvet collar to lay more smoothly, but in the end I found that the best solution was just to tack it into place. I collar will almost always be under the hood and even if it's not, there's no big design need for it to be visible free-moving.
Look, Ma! No more rolls!
Once I was happy with the pinned location, I used the weft threads that had shed off the gold silk to pick-stitch the collar into place along the stitching line of the piping.
5) back cord (part 2)
Once the collar was firmly tacked down, I was able to sew down the back cord with some back silk top stitch thread and finish it off with a beautiful ceramic shank button from my grandmother's stash.
6) swing tacks
I put swing tacks in at the hem line to keep the front collar pieces from moving around too much. They really help the movement of the hemline.
7)hook and eye
I added a hook and eye (coat weight) just above the zipper stop. This helps stabilize the neckline.
8) shoulder hooks and hood pins
I'm still trying to work out the perfect system for balancing the weight of the gown. for now I will rely on the "bra trick". In order for the bra trick to work, the hood must also carry the weight of the gown. to reduce overall wear and tear, I sewed coat weight eyes onto the front shoulder and pinned a large pin through the eye and hood lining and front. I'm not really sure that the eyes are necessary, but they seemed like a good idea.
I think I'm going to put this project away, but I still have a few things I might work on later:
* perfecting the weighting issue. I have tried constructing some weights for the front of the gown using steel BB bullets, but this has not really worked out. Lead fishing weights do not seem to come in convenient shapes.
* adding pockets. I think I will wait to see what I will need to carry in a graduation ceremony before doing this, because that will determing the size of pockets that I insert.