The very first vintage patterns I added to my collection are all various party dresses from the 1950s and 1960s. Practical? Not for my life, unfortunately. Still, the gorgeous envelope art and the attention to detail incorporated into designs from these eras strongly attracts me.
Most of my vintage treasures have sat, under-loved, in my pattern cabinet since the time I bought them. I swear I want to make each and every one, but I never seem to have a reason. Then, my good friend Molly got engaged and invited me to be a member of the bridal party.
Unlike all of the weddings I'd been in previously, Molly challenged each of us to find a dress for ourselves. She chose the color, equipped us with swatches and set us free with the instructions that she wanted to incorporate pattern texture and varying shades into the line.
At first, I wasn't sure I wanted to make my dress. A friend's wedding is a pretty important occasion. I had serious fears about being immortalized in her wedding photos as a giant craft project- especially after the first pattern and muslin I made were a complete disaster.
Then, while I was folding fabric and organizing my stash, I found the perfect piece of fabric. Who am I to ignore fate? The fabric is a double layer- lace adhered to a more stable and opaque fabric. It's likely from the 80's, if I had to guess, and it was certainly intended for a yardage heavy formal garment(s), as I started with close to 7 yards of it.
I sat down and flipped through my pattern binders before landing on Butterick 9561. I chose view 1, and omitted the modesty panel, as I have limited risk of indecency with low cut tops. I did make a fit muslin and made some adjustments prior to cutting into my fabric.
First, there are no bust darts in this design. All of the shaping through the bust is created by the pleating at the center of the bodice. I had more ease than I needed in my muslin bodice, so i removed width from the side seam and re-contoured the armscye. Next, I had no intentions of wearing any form of corset or girdle, so I straightened the angle of the midriff section to zero-ease for easy wearing. For my skirt, I used two panels instead of four panels and shortened the hem by nearly "18 in order to achieve an above the knee dress length. Also, I pleated my skirt instead of gathering it into the waistband. Finally, I omitted the facings on the bodice. Instead, I self-faced it with a light Georgette. I attached the bodice and skirt seams with French seams. And, I replaced the lapped zipper with an invisible zip.
For as nervous as I was to sew this dress, I am really happy with the way it turned out!
I felt confident and comfortable throughout the entirety of the day. And, most importantly, I give it high marks in the swirl factor department. Have you made your own formal attire? Share your experiences in the comments!
7/14/2014 03:35:39 am
Your dress is gorgeous!
I'm a totally different woman with hair and make-up done. :-D The variety of dresses was perfect and looked really fantastic. Here's a link to a pic on the photographer's facebook:
7/14/2014 06:06:25 am
7/14/2014 06:24:45 am
You look stunning. Couldn't you wear the dress as a skirt with a fitted cardigan for everyday life? It really suits you. Your friend is not scared of letting you off finding your own dresses...
I think we were all more nervous to pick out our dresses than Molly. She is very trusting! I will definitely find a way to wear this again. I'm very happy with the whole thing. Maybe I'll just have to have Michael take me out for dinner and dancing more frequently!
Meg The Grand
7/14/2014 06:44:20 am
I LOVE IT SO MUCH! It turned out perfectly. The shape of it is so flattering, and the color is marvelous. Well done on making such a beautiful dress - it looks like you had a wonderful time!!
7/14/2014 07:58:02 am
Wow :) what a wonderful bridesmaid! It fits perfectly :)
Wow! Truly breathtaking Michelle and thanks so much for taking part in #vintagepledge - I've added you to the Pinterest board http://www.pinterest.com/stitchodyssey/vintage-sewing-pattern-pledge/
Thank you! Making a muslin really helped me with the decision to pleat the skirt. I gathered it in my first go, and it was only, OK. As far as the length. I'm just short. LOL. Whenever I sew vintage, I always assume I need a yard less than the pattern suggests, because I take a minimum of 15inches from the hemline to keep them off the floor. :-D
That dress color with your skintone and pearls? Perfection. Which makes me sound oddly like Cruella DeVil, but all right.
Now the Cruella theme song is going to be in my head all morning! :-D
7/16/2014 05:35:10 am
Sometimes I really wish we lived closer. I'd throw girly parties and teas just so you could wear vintage dresses. : )
Such pretty lines! I love the style on you! You definitely do not look like a "craft" project in your dress. The best custom clothing is the kind you feel comfortable in and it shows in your photos. =)
WOW. Simply. WOW. I sweat the process of making this dress, so I can't imagine undertaking the task of making dresses for the entire wedding party at both your and your sister's weddings! I wish hat I had known how to sew when I got married. It would have been really cool to make a wedding dress!!!!
Leave a Reply.