I’m back! Happy New Year to you all, I hope Father Christmas brought you everything you wanted and that you had lots of merriment over the holidays. I had a lovely relaxing time, getting up late and not having much planned each day, so just went with the flow. I did manage to get some sewing done and I did a lot of thinking and researching for my plans for 2016 but I’ll go into all that in my next post.
For now I’d like to show you the velvet dress I made for Christmas, just please excuse the quality of the photos, it was pouring with rain on Christmas Day and it was really hard to get some decent light in my parents’ house. On that note, if anyone has any tips on doing photographs for outfit posts during these dank and rainy days I’d be very grateful as I have loads of sewing projects to show you!
As I mentioned here, every year I have a new dress for the Christmas period for wearing to events like work do’s and of course the big day itself and this year I wanted to make one myself rather than buying it. The pattern I decided to use (above left) was one I used before for my Make Do and Mend Dress (above right). It’s an original late 30s / early 40s pattern that was part of a big stash gifted to me many years ago and it’s a perfect style for adapting to both eras. It’s also such a simple pattern of 4 just pieces that it also lends itself really well to lots of different fabrics.
There were three things I wanted to alter on the pattern to create a more 1930s look than the first dress I made which is definitely 1940s style. Firstly I moved the gathers from down the centre front of the bodice and positioned them underneath the bust, this allowed me to cut the bodice on a fold rather than having a seam down the front. I then changed the zig-zag waist line (you can see a close-up of this here) to a more exaggerated curved one that flowed from the natural waist line at the side right up under the bust in the centre.
I knew I wanted to change the shape of the sleeves, as 1930s dresses featured all different types of shapes, and initially thought of doing a much bigger puff at the top to create a look very reminiscent of the later years of the decade. However, I then read Lauren’s post on American Duchess about the velvet dress she was making for Christmas and I absolutely fell in love with the sleeves she was doing.
I changed the shape of the sleeves on my pattern by reducing the amount of puff where it joined the shoulders, widened them at the bottom to create a more bell-shape and added a narrow cuff. I made several mock-ups as I did this because I was so nervous about how wide to actually take them. As it turns out I wish I’d been less conservative with the end version and I think a much bigger version like the one on the right here would’ve been even better.
The original piece of good quality burgundy velvet I had planned to use for this turned out to be too short when I laid the pattern pieces out on it, so in a blind panic I headed to the fabric shop I used religiously when I was at fashion college. I hadn’t been to it for years as it only tends to sell cheaper mass produced fabric but as I stepped through the door it was suddenly like I was 19 again!
The fabric I ended up using was a cheap lightweight velvet in the same colour, however, it was really easy to sew with and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It hangs well and the gathers were a breeze to do for some reason. It’s also really comfy to wear, and as it’s lightweight it gives just enough warmth for the winter evenings without being too thick to wear indoors.
I made a simple belt in matching velvet with a vintage diamanté buckle that I picked up from Vintage to Victorian who sells loads of lovely haberdashery bits and pieces. I also added the beautiful late 1930s diamanté dress clips I picked up at The Royal International Air Tattoo in the summer. These were the entire reason I wanted to use the original pattern as I knew they’d look lovely tucked into the corners of the neckline shape.
I’m annoyed that I didn’t get any photos of the back because I spent quite some time covering a total of 16 buttons with the velvet and had 14 of them running down the centre back with matching rouleau loops in sets of two for its closure. The last two were added to the sleeve cuffs, also with rouleau loops, to make it easier to get in and out of. It looks lovely and adds a more luxurious feel to the dress rather than a simple zip.
I’m definitely going to use this version of the pattern again to make a day dress and I know it’ll look gorgeous in a drapey crepe either in a plain colour with a complementary coloured detailing or a sweet 1930s ditzy floral for the summer. Hmm, ideas, ideas, ideas!