I'm very excited about today's post!! :) I never thought I would be making, much less posting about a vintage-style evening gown so soon, but it worked out for me to make one just a month or so ago. There's something fabulous about vintage ('30s-50s) evening gowns; they are more often than not the absolute opposite of today's idea of an evening gown (ie: plunging neckline, strapless, short, tight, slits everywhere, etc. Not good!). Instead, they were elegant, gorgeous, and (typically) modest dresses that are nothing short of beautiful. And who doesn't love wearing a long, pretty dress?!
It all started with this gorgeous rayon fabric my dear friend Sarah gave me; I needed to make a dress to wear to a friend's wedding, and this fabric seemed to be just the ticket. I couldn't decide what style of dress to make for the longest time, but finally decided on a more formal-style evening gown, as opposed to a day dress. I was still agonizing over the design, but then I saw this dress, the design of which really appealed to me. Rather simple, and with almost a shirtdress-type bodice, but still very elegant and unmistakably formal.
The only problem with that design was that I didn't have enough fabric! The skirt I made ended up taking an awful lot of fabric, so there just wasn't enough left for the bodice. I ended up going to the fabric shop and finding an 18-somethings repro print that matched really well! It's definitely not a combination you would expect to go together, but I think the two patterns and colors compliment each other nicely.
I used Simplicity 8050 for the bodice, making the neckline just like the pattern, and adding a (very much needed!!) modesty panel. I didn't want to try to alter the neckline, as doing so would have completely changed the look of it, as much as it would have needed to be raised.
I looked at '40s evening gown patterns that I could find online to see what the width around the hem was, in order to have an idea of how full to make the skirt. They were surprisingly full, on average, so I ended up using a vintage '50s pattern for the skirt, just lengthening it, you know.........a lot. ;) I really love the way it hangs, and it's full enough to drape really well in the rayon fabric.
I made a cummerbund, using the Simplicity 1459 piece as a guide (although I may have made it wider than the pattern piece, I don't recall). I did NOT cut it on the bias, however, and it's a very good thing I didn't, as the rayon fabric keeps stretching out each time I wear it! I already took it in a bit, and it stretched out beyond that once again. The side "seams" of the cummerbund are "boned" with collar stays, as is the back opening. We won't talk about the night-before-the-event cheat of using hook-and-eye tape for the back closure. ;)
Just reading the directions, the collar seems really crazy to put together, but once you are actually making it, it's quite easy! It was rather difficult in this case, dealing with one layer of persnickety rayon and one layer of un-persnickety cotton, but it still came out perfectly. I half expected the dress to come out of the wash with a very shriveled collar, but it came out looking perfect, thank goodness! ;) I would love to make this dress up in a pretty cotton floral!
A side note on the fit of 8050; I'm not quite sure what they were thinking when they came up with the measurements for that pattern, but I ended up cutting the bodice out almost a whole size bigger, while having to cut the waist smaller. If I recall correctly, they allow something like 1" of ease in the bust, while allowing around 4" at the waist. And they don't want you to wear a belt. Hmmm.....
Sarah, who is an amazing seamstress, has a gorgeous 1940s-style dress made out of this exact rayon fabric for sale in her shop here, if you are interested! It is an extremely comfortable-to-wear fabric, very good quality, and has a lot more body to it than any other rayons I've dealt with. Do check out the listing! :)
The sleeves of my dress are from a vintage 1930s pattern. I had read in several different places that the armhole area and sleeves of Simplicity 8050 were not comfortable as-is, so I went ahead and just used a different armhole and sleeve, since I wanted a sleeve with detail anyway.
The true test to see if a dress is really a good one or not, is seeing if it twirls well.
This dress passes the test. ;)
We had fun finding some new locations to take pictures! This house is one that was built around 1902-05 (hurrah for one of the very few historical houses/anythings in our area!!), and is quite gorgeous from all angles! Unfortunately it is a private residence, so we couldn't go and putz around inside, but at least we got to take some fun pictures on the grounds! ;)
Thanks so much for stopping by!