This is probably my favourite of all the dresses I made this summer, I just love how it turned out.
This was the happy result of a vintage dress inspiration and the right fabric coming along at the right time.
Here is the original dress that happened along my Pinterest feed and set the ball rolling:
Next up in my Summer Frock Parade is this little number in a cute pistachio and ivory print cotton (probably a quilting cotton). It also continues with the mint/aqua and coral theme I’ve got going on this year – yes, I know, I haven’t posted anything coral yet, I’ll get there!
Some months ago I pinned this vintage dress to my “Sewing Ideas” board:
Happy Canada Day everyone! Or, for those of us who like to “kick it old school”: Happy Dominion Day!
Yes, it’s that time of year again! Or it was, a couple of weeks ago.
This year’s ensemble was nothing like last year’s mammoth undertaking. With a tentative PhD thesis defense date set, there was no way I could devote that much time this year.
However, I may actually love this year’s ensemble as much as last year’s, and I certainly enjoyed wearing it a lot more! lol (this year’s was much more user-friendly!)
To make things easier for myself I used sewing patterns I already had, and just did a bit of frankenpatterning. I combined two 1950s patterns for the dress and used one other for the bolero.
I took the dress bodice from this pattern:
Especially pertinent this year, amiright!?
Anyway, a few years ago I came up with a method to help with the end-of-winter-everything-is-grey/brown-and-gross blahs. As soon as March arrives I start wanting colours, pretty colours! Spring fashions start arriving in the stores at that time, but there’s no way you can wear them without contracting hypothermia because it’s likely still below zero temps and there’s still snow on the ground (and at least one more good winter storm on the way during March, even when it’s not a polar vortex year). The stuff in stores doesn’t matter to me much since I mostly don’t buy clothes anymore – it just makes me laugh to see spring and summer dresses in shop windows when there’s still lots of snow on the ground, lol.
Spring/summer patterns and fabrics start coming out at this time too. It does make sense since it usually takes more time (and often planning) for spring/summer sewing than buying clothes, but I want something spring-y to wear in March/April!
My solution? Sewing clothes for “Canadian” spring. Basically, this means making winter-weight clothes in spring colours! I kind of can’t believe that no clothing line/brand has hit on this idea for Canada and other “climates of extremes”.
I also try to include making pieces that are transitional, such as fully winter colour clothes that are neutral enough to be combined with spring-coloured pieces and clothes that may not be heavy enough for deep winter weather, but work for that period transitioning between cold and mild (ie April – most years, not so much this one).
I don’t have a huge Canadian Spring wardrobe yet as I find the necessary materials tricky to source. I like best to use woollens, and acquiring them in pretty spring colours doesn’t happen too often for me as I exist in a constant state of “I’m not really supposed to buy fabric” and only pick up pieces as I happen across them and feel I can’t live without them.
So, I’m adding to this segment of my wardrobe bit by bit each year and thought I’d show you the types of pieces I’ve got so far.
It really all started with these two skirts:
It’s finished! It’s finished! Okay – so, technically it was finished almost 3 weeks ago. Since I had another Garrison Ball gown to finish afterwards (for a friend), I’m pretty behind on blogging about this. Oh well.
Before I get to the final reveal I’m going to take you through the bodice finishing, I’m really happy with how cleanly it turned out.
Oh, and if this is your first time seeing this project, you can go here for a list of the in-progress posts – if you’re interested.
I had one image of the bodice interior to go by, and tried to get it as close as I could (though I do wish I’d had pink silk satin, how pretty would that have been!)
Draping is not something I have a lot of experience with. So choosing a style to reproduce where one of the main features is a lot of draped tucks to create a very sculptural look was not a decision that was good for my stress levels. This part was far more intimidating than any of the hard-core foundation work that came before. I think a lot of my trepidation came from when I was working on my wedding dress. I spent at least 3 months trying to make a one-shoulder draped and ruched bodice work and just couldn’t. Ultimately I scrapped it and went for a much simpler design – ironically, it was taken from another Charles James gown! Aha…ha….ha.
I was scared to start this, so I put it off as long as possible. As part of procrastinating against the inevitable I decided to do a really nice finish to the upper edge of the bodice that would never been seen once it was finished. Unfortunately, I only remembered to take pictures after the dress was back on Maddy and ready for muslining the bodice covering. Putting the dress on Maddy and taking it off her again had got to the point of being pretty labour-intensive, so exterior photo of this only. Sorry! There was only a 1/4″ seam allowance for the bodic upper edge; what I decided to do was sew a length of narrow double fold bias tape around it, turn it to the inside and hand-stitch it to the bodice foundation interior. This did have the practical advantage of adding more substance to that edge so it would hold-up better when it came time to fold all the pleated fabric of the bodice covering over it. At least it seems logical to me that it would.
NB: the shoulder straps are not sewn to the bodice front here, just pinned. And no, you’re not seeing that wrong, they are not showing identical fabrics…..
You guys, I think this was probably the most fun part of the whole project! Huge, multi-layered tulle and silk flounces? YES PLEASE.
I did not have any pattern pieces or measurements for the flounces so I had to wing it. All I knew was that there was supposed to be a lot of fabric in these, so with “a lot” I went! My math went something like this: guestimating that the circumference of the petticoat flare was in and around 2m (just over 2 yards) I figured 4x fullness should be pretty good. So, each flounce layer is 8m (about 9 yds) in circumference. Whee!
I knew there were supposed to be six layers of tulle flounces from the exhibition catalogue Tim Long gave me, and I also knew I wanted to try and re-create the effect from a couple of original examples:
After the “buttresses” the petticoat flare was the most revelatory aspect for me of Tree’s foundation. With support from the buttresses this piece really creates the base shape for the dress skirt and I found it a really interesting piece of dressmaking.
I didn’t take as many construction photos of this layer as I perhaps should have, but for such an odd-looking piece I think it’s actually pretty straight-forward once you see it made up and on the form.