It turned put to be a very good thing that I had not completed my gown by the hooding ceremony because it gave me an opportunity to take a close look at the gowns that other people had purchased for the event. It turns out that the actual gowns that were purchased for $800 were slightly different than the one that I took pictures of.
The piping color was actually a light champagne, almost silver bias braid piping. This drove me nuts. My local fabric store had tons of this stuff and it would have saved me hours if I had just been able to buy it. I think I could have made the appliques look very neat and tidy with this option. oh well.
The sleeves for my university's robes were almost identical to the Butterick pattern. They had a long cuff and the sleeve billowed down over it almost to the cuff.
The fabric was much shinier and looked more like the 4-ply silk crepe that I had fallen in love with, but decided not to use.
The front closing was very different. The zipper was hidden by a 1/2" flap and self fabric on each side instead of the velvet trim.
The pleating did not extend down the sleeve as far as I had remembered. I knew that I had over-pleated the back and sleeves, but I did it on purpose because it is much easier to remove a row of stitches that it is to add one later.
Now this doesn't mean that I didn't get lots and lots of compliments. And really, I didn't look very out of place on stage under all those lights. So it was fine, but a word to anyone who really wants to replicate their schools gowns: the sample gown is not always the same as the one you're buying. It woudl be very helpful to borrow a gown from someone who had purchased theirs very recently to get as close a match as possible.
The school's graduation ceremony was held Saturday night, so my mom and I had "plenty of time" to finish up the gown.
I started by removing rows of stitching in the pleats. I removed one from each side. and trimmed back to padding. In the end I decided to take two rows out from each side, but I definitely did is in increments.
I decided that I liked the length of the pleats in the back even though they were about an inch longer that the "store bought" gowns. I trimmed the shoulder pleats because they extended too far beyond my shoulder point and they made the gown feel unstable on my shoulders. I didn't shorten the back pleats because, well, they didn't look ridiculous and they were hard to do, so I didn't want to waste my efforts.
Once I had trimmed down the padding, we covered the padding sections with the lining silk. The padding material was made out of cotton and it was started to shed and shred. The covering should reduce the wear and tear and make this a garment that can be pulled out of the closet once or twice a year for a good long time.
Getting the padding covered took longer then we expected, so in the end, I went to my graduation with my hem still taped, but the sleeves were properly sewn.