Now, apologies for the photo-heavy post this is likely to turn out to be. I'm just basically in love with my latest sewing creation so I've taken a rather large quantity of paps so you can see it in its entirety. It's a fun retro-y vaguely Rockabilly sun dress along the lines of late 50's/early 60's styles. It seems to make the most of my curves and feels super-sexy to wear!
The fabric is some amazing vintage stuff that's been in my stash for as long as I've had a fabric stash worth speaking about. I can't exactly remember, but I think it was an ebay purchase about six years ago, when 50's/early 60's stuff wasn't really my thing. Something (maybe the colours?) must have attracted me though, and I'm so glad I bought it. I'm equally glad that a younger, less capable seamstress-me didn't get her mitts on it and make a hash-up of a project from it. Indeed, miraculously this fabric evaded all scissor-happy endeavours until I rediscovered it in a box at my folks' house a few weeks ago. The print is so amazing, it features little vignettes of some non-specific Mediterranean holiday destination in that really early 1960's idea of foreign travel and life. It's so evocatively kitsch, I could weep! Wouldn't you just love to order a sangria/ouzo/pastis/grappa at this little al fresco bar?!:
As you can see, it's a wiggle dress consisting of a basic bodice and A-line skirt with the additions of wide shoulder straps and red ruffle detail. I begun by using the strapless bodice pattern pieces from Simplicity 4070 (pictured below), which was also the pattern I used as the starting point for my Frida Kahlo dress. Actually, I think I'm getting better as seeing the potential in an initially unappealing sewing pattern. I made a size 12 toile and fitted it (I found I needed to make additional darts at the front side panels towards the bust to stop some unpleasant side gaping).
I used the skirt pattern pieces from some bland 1990's wiggle dress pattern, adding to the side seams to make sure the top of the skirt's measurements corresponded with those of the bodice. Once the skirt was attached to the bodice, I tried it on and found the skirt section was too bit so I skimmed off some of the side seams to fit nicely over my hips.
I considered making this a halter dress, but I really wanted to feel comfortable wearing this dress so didn't want to have to wear it with a strapless bra and therefore be constantly aware that the bra might be visible at the back. So I opted for nice, secure, wide self-straps instead. I got my boss to help me position them exactly over where my bra straps normally sit so they are completely covered and that whole area is not a concern!
As awesome as this fabric is, I felt it needed something extra to really pop, so before I added the shoulder straps, I decided a contrast red ruffle would give it the constrast pop I was looking for. I found some nasty synthetic blend fabric that was more or less the same red as the red in the fabric's print design in the fabric bins under my bench at work and fashioned myself a ruffle. Initially, I had the ruffles going all along the top of the bodice, but it didn't work around the underarm area as moving my arms around meant the ruffle tended to get flattened down, so I unpicked it and respositioned it to feature just around the front area instead, tapering down to nothing towards the underarms.
Because the fabric is quite floppy, I felt the bodice needed some help to keep its shape. I decided to line it with more of the nasty red synthetic stuff. I chose not to line the skirt, as I tend to wear tights or holdups when wearing dresses and skirts, and I thought tights plus skirt plus skirt lining might end up feeling too bulky and hot.
Having had our little trip to Bologna back in May, I'm not going away again this summer, but with the spirit of holiday so very present in this dress, I feel it's pretty much a constant party whenever I'm wearing it!