FO: Vintage floral sheath dress

Pattern: Vintage vogue 1137

Fabric: Cotton satin print from Elliot Berman textiles, 2 yards,   gray bemberg rayon lining, 2 yards.

Notes: Making this dress was a bit of a risk for me, as I neither buy nor wear sheath dresses on a regular basis.  I don’t like the feeling of tight fabric on my hips, and I’m always afraid I’ll look a little unbalanced from top to bottom.  But I was really attracted to the art on the envelope, and I like the idea of these vintage sheaths.  When I saw this cotton on sale I knew it would be just perfect for a summertime dress!  The fabric was actually a tiny bit thin, but that was easily fixed by lining the entire thing with rayon.  The pattern called for only a half lining, but I cut a skirt lining from the skirt pattern pieces.  I don’t understand a bodice lining only – it just seems pointless, and it involved hand sewing down the lining at the waist – no thanks to that!

I actually did not use the instructions at all – they involved a lot of handsewing, and I while don’t mind handsewing if it has a purpose, it seemed a little much.  I first shortened the dress by about 6 inches, taking half my alteration from the body of the skirt, and half from the side vents.  I then turned the side vents into side slits – there was just no point that I could see to them at this length.  The dress is 2 sizes larger in the waist and hips than in the bust.  I actually made it one size larger in the hips, but after I tried it on I decided I needed another inch of room, so I let the side seams out.

I lined the bodice using the technique here.  I love the seamless look – it gives a very professional finish.   If I make the dress again I will make an alteration for my narrow back – there is a little extra room in that area.  I replaced the regular zipper with an invisible zipper, which is my preference now.  I love the smooth look, as well as how easy they are to insert.

Setting decorum aside for a moment, let’s talk about undergarments with vintage clothes.    The bust darts on this dress are pretty high, as in all 50s era dresses – they may have been lowered a little for the reissue, but it is not like a modern dress.  Now, I’ve already said I’m not wearing a girdle, thus the reason why I had to make so much extra room in the waist, but I do like to wear a bra that is similar to bras of the era.  No, not a bullet bra – I do have limits!  I’m wearing this bra, from Wacoal (I love Wacoal bras!)  It doesn’t have any underwire, and is higher cut than other bras.  It does not lift and separate like most modern bras – I tried this dress with a modern bra, and it looked a bit off to me.    I also have this one, and it is  nice.  If you are more well endowed than I am, I understand the Playtex 18 hour bra is excellent for this purpose (it doesn’t come under a C cup.)

I actually made the self-fabric belt, but in the end I didn’t like how it looked.  I prefer the gentle waist shaping of the dress, rather than cinching in tightly (which does produce the out of proportion look I was afraid of.)  But at least now I know how to make my own belts!  I just have belt issues… I am trying to work through them, but so far I only really like a belt at the empire waist, not the natural one.

I highly recommend this pattern – in spite of some operator error it was really simple to sew, and the silhouette is really a classic!

(I love how my legs are so white that they actually glow… yes, I am a big time avoider of the sun!)

Are you a print or a solid?

Yes, I’ve been buying fabric again. But!  I found the perfect fabric for my 70s jumper, and then of course I had to order more than one fabric (not use paying shipping for just one, right?)  But it did get me to thinking – it’s pretty clear from my choices that I prefer prints to solid colored fabrics by a pretty wide margin.  I’m just not drawn to solids, you know?  And then there’s the issue of scarcity – I know I can probably find more brown gabardine, for instance, but whatever fabulous print I’m looking at will probably never be seen again.  But really I just love prints – I have mostly prints in my RTW wardrobe, except for basics like pants, so it makes sense that I would sew them.

I am super picky about the scale of prints  – as a small-ish person I have to be careful with larger designs, because they can become overwhelming really quickly.  I rarely buy knit prints, for instance, because all the ones I find seem to be really large.  I’m drawn to unusual prints, but I do like symmetry – something too random and splotchy just doesn’t ring my bell.  I also love prints that have a hand drawn or watercolor effect – one thing I don’t like about modern quilting prints is that they often look computer generated to me – he edges are too smooth, and everything is very perfect!

I bought this ITY  knit print from Fashionista Fabrics today – I don’t know if you can tell from the photo, but the red print is made up of tiny exclamation points.  I really like that – it’s a bit whimsical, but since the print is small it isn’t too wacky.  I am not at all sure what I’m going to make out of this.  A dress for sure – I have 2 yards, and I can get a knit dress out of that.  Do you have a favorite knit dress pattern?  I am open to suggestions (it’s the one type of pattern I don’t usually buy!)

When I buy solids I look for good colors, which on me are mostly jewel tones (surprisingly hard to find, which is another reason I don’t buy many.)   Not all patterns work with a print – there’s no point in making something complicated if you can’t see the details!  And then there’s the issue of matching the print (I often don’t bother – I will match at center front, but not generally at the sides, unless it’s a plaid or stripe.)  I thought about being super OCD about matching, but I see an awful lot of expensive print dresses that don’t even match at center front.

So which do you prefer?  Are you a print or a solid?

Oh yes, and the rest of the fabric I ordered.  I decided on a fairly traditional choice for my jumper:

Yes, my polka dot obsession marches on full force!  I didn’t want a real print for the jumper – I thought that with either a solid or small dot I would be able to wear it with a blouse in the fall.  I also love navy and white together.  It seems hard to find navy – I’ve been searching for a navy and white stripe knit (with at least 1/2″ stripes) for ages, and can’t find one anywhere!

Finally, I got 3 yards of  rayon challis.  I love this – it’s unusual to find rayon challis in a modern print!  Challis is currently one of my favorite fabrics – it’s got a lovely drape, but it isn’t sheer!  I’m making my Tara dress out of challis.  I knew immediately what I wanted to make with this fabric.

I like the yellow dress with the ruffled bodice.   This pattern came out this summer, and I haven’t seen anyone make it yet – I may be the first!  This dress is not my usual style, but  it looks comfortable.   I am also in major love with this sort of ruffle.   I might make it with the 3/4 length sleeves, since I doubt I will be able to wear a sweater over it (and I am always cold!)

I hope to be back soon with modeled photos of my latest dress – I just have to pin down my photographer!