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!