Friday, July 9, 2010

Sewing Lessons: A Vintage-Style Dress Project

There were several reasons that I wanted to sew a dress. First, I am writing about dress in my dissertation, about heroines who sew their own clothes and therefore have agency over their identity. Making my own dress, felt a bit like research. Second, it's too hot to crochet or knit. And third, most importantly, I really, really needed something to wear to my wonderful friend's wedding.
I found the pattern on Burda Style, which I had never heard of before. Apparently, Burda is a sewing magazine in Germany, but there is an English website. The site is a bit like Ravelry for knitting and crocheting - there are patterns available for free and for purchase and members can upload photos of their projects. This dress pattern was $4 which is much cheaper than buying a McCalls or Simplicity pattern at Hancock. I couldn't find any material that I liked in the fabric stores so this dress is made out of ...... a bed sheet. I know, why didn't I just use the curtains, Scarlett? But, the fabric feels the way I wanted it to (a nice balance between crisp and drapey) and it is the color that I wanted - a smokey blue that I think is called soldier blue or cadet blue. I altered the pattern a bit to include the pintucking on the front and the lace trim, inspired by another member's alterations (and material of choice). I am thinking about pearl buttons on the front, maybe.

I really liked the overall pattern, which had a nice vintage-feel (late 30's early 40's?) with its pleats and gathers. I especially like the inverted pleat in the back. It definitely fits too, which is unusual for a dress for me - I normally have to get dresses with ties in the back to gather up the excess material. This is darted like crazy for a close fit and a side seam zipper. Oh, and it's lined too. Of course, since I made it, I am painfully aware of all the flaws in the dress. But we won't talk about those, will we?
Anyway, I will wear it with light silvery-gray strappy heels and my hair in a Gibson tuck. I hope it won't look too costumey, but I am sure that N will let me know. Right?


natalie said...

Not costume-y at all! I think it is wonderful and will look perfect! :)

I can't wait to see you wearing it in person :)

Beautiful job!

Stephanie said...

Thanks, Natalie! I can't wait to see you!

A New Gentleman said...

So I actually laughed out loud when you mentioned the curtains. But I think it's brilliant to make clothing out of sheets. It looks fantastic, and I bet it feels wonderful too.

Stephanie said...

Thanks! I was thinking the other day that I need to write a paper on dresses that are made from domestic materials - the Von Trapps wear their curtains too!