Tuesday, 10 May 2011
New School Vintage: 50s Day Dress
Some time back I made a bunch of noise about some idea I had which I introduced under the title of 'New School Vintage'. My intention was to make a series of garments by using vintage patterns and out of vintage fabric from the appropriate era to create items that could pass as vintage pieces, rather than home-made retro interpretation. These would, of course, sit in my wardrobe next to my home-made retro interpretations.
Since vintage fabric in sufficient quantities sadly doesn't grow on trees (can you imagine!), you were never going to see these New School Vintage garments come thick and fast. However, I am delighted to present to you my second creation to which fulfills the criteria. I'm calling it my 50s day dress, even though the pattern (pictured above) is from 1963.
This pattern appealed to me for a number of reasons, the most of which being that I wasn't sure it'd look any good on me. I haven't really worn anything this blousey or voluminous for yonks, and surely there is a reason for that?! I had to find out.
Result?: I do think this dress, with it's puffy bodice and funny tie neck, looks like something my gran would have worn. But isn't that the basic aim of 'New School Vintage'?! The pattern was actually a little big for me as well, but seeing as this was meant to be quite blousey, I didn't think there was much point in grading out one whole inch from the bust measurement. But I really like this dress. This pattern is from slap bang in the middle of my favourite fashion era, but if you asked me to describe to you the style elements of that era that I enjoyed the most, NONE of them would be found in this dress! Yet it's a pleasure to wear. Hmmm... curious.
Well, a reason could be found in the fact that it feels nice on. Oh, and have you seen the fabric? Take a closer look. Cute, eh?! All I know about fabric is through my own observations, so I can't be sure that this really is from the same era as the sewing pattern, but I'm confident. Check out how close the fabric print is to the print of the illustrated dress on the pattern envelope. Plus the fabric was very narrow, another tell that it's probably pretty old. I had just enough to squeeze out this dress (oh, an a couple of extra collar pieces because I didn't pay enough attention). Aside from having an insanely cute print, it's fine and light which feels lovely to wear on a hot day.
The construction was pretty easy, however, I paid a touch more attention to the instructions than I normally would, as there were a couple of elements that were different from previous projects I've tackled. Making a waist stay from grosgrain was something new to me, but turned out to be a piece of pi$$ and something I may incorporate into projects in the future even if the pattern didn't call for it, especially if the fabric was light weight like this. The second new technique was trying a new finishing method for these grown on/kimono sleeves. I've queried other peoples' finishing methods for these before and recently been doing some investigative work inside real vintage dresses, and my jury's still out on my preferred method, so I thought I'd give the method in these instructions a whirl:
The inside looks like this:
The outside looks like this:
This seems like a good, if fiddly, method. I found a vintage dress in Snooper's Paradise the other day which also had this finishing method for the under arms, which made me feel pretty good that I'd used an authentic method (even though era-authentic sewing methods are not necessarily part of my NSV criteria). The third new(ish) construction element was inserting a side zip, which I've only done with a concealed zip when I made my Macaron. To be honest, I botched this zip a bit. It's ok but I was in a rush to finish and kind of thought I might go back and re-do it at some point. Having already worn this dress a couple of times, I am pretty sure that will not happen. I could have done some proper research of different methods of inserting a side zip, and taken my time, but mastering side zips will be something for the future. You may have noticed, I am not a perfectionist!
Before I wrap this up, may I clarify, I am aware my mass-manufactured belt (a birthday gift from a belt manufacturer (yeah, I used to know a belt manufacturer, wierd I agree) FYI) and flip flops are not vintagey in any way! But that's not trick I'm trying to pull off here. I'm trying to look as though I'm rocking a vintage dress in a modern day outfit, not trying to look like I stepped out of the original pattern illustration.
Final nugget: I wore this dress in Bologna, Italy, this weekend. It did not go down well with the locals. I'm actually quite pleased because I saw less than two people the whole weekend rocking any even vaguely vintage look, so my interpretation is that they thought I was wearing my granny's dress!