Monday, March 16, 2015

• 1950s Redo Dress •


Last March, when I made my very first dress, I was absolutely thrilled with it. I thought that it was pretty much the most beautiful, best-fitting garment anyone had ever made.
Hmmm.
Before long, I started to see its many faults, and decided to take it in a little, hoping that that would fix the problems. It helped with the fit, but the overall design was still the epitome of impracticality. The underneath panel was always shorter than the outer wrap skirt, the dress stuck to itself whenever I would stand up from sitting, and it was pretty uncomfortable in general!

Within the last couple of months, I decided that I would remake it someday.
Someday happened much sooner than I thought! Several weeks back I was between projects and decided that it was time to start remaking the dress.


 I had quite a bit of fabric leftover to work with, besides the parts of the dress itself that I would not use. I started out with the plan of making a simple square-necked bodice. I always loved Stephanie's remake of her wrap dress, so I thought a square neck would be perfect. I used the "fall dress bodice," as I did with my pleated 1950s dress, but cut the neck to be square. I sewed it all together, basted in the sleeves and tried it on. Oh, the horror! The neckline gaped like crazy! I was SO frustrated. I looked up fixes for gaping necklines, and all I could find was either remaking the bodice, putting in little darts, or boning. Well, thank you, but I don't want boning in my dress' neckline!

I was pretty disgusted at that point! Determined not to let this dress get the better of me, I started cutting out yet another front bodice. This time I used the same bodice pattern, but used the neckline of Simplicity 2154. I made the collar slightly bigger to acommodate the way I had already sewn the keyhole, and made the bow and "knot" slightly narrower.
To my great happiness and delight, the end result of the bodice was great. It fit perfectly, and seemed to be the perfect style for the fabric!


Although the skirt of the walk-away dress is a full circle, the waistline of it is cut a little bit wonky to fit the back-to-front-wrapping design. I was a little afraid of how it was going to hang because of that fact, but it worked out perfectly! It is actually slightly fuller in some places than others because of the strange cut, but it isn't noticeable, thankfully. 


I am thrilled to be able to finally use my reddish belt buckle! I bought it ages ago at an antique store, and it never seemed to match anything. It's a darker red, so it always looked dull and boring with my brighter red fabrics. To my immense satisfaction, however, it matches this fabric just right!

Wind.....
One thing that is perhaps slightly irregular is the way I had to hem the dress. That has to be one of the more narrow hems I've ever done! I never make very deep hems, mostly because I already have to lengthen everything I make, so there's not usually enough fabric left for huge hems. The length of this skirt ended up being just long enough to cover the petticoat, so a very narrow hem was in order. 


I hesitate to point it out, but I did make one rather annoying foible on this dress. See the flowers on the skirt aiming upward? Then look at the bodice front - they're all aiming downward! For some ridiculous reason, I never even thought to check if the fabric was a one-way design or not, but by the time I discovered that it was, I had already cut out the pieces. Fortunately, it's a busy enough print that it's not really noticeable. It was a bit of a lesson in paying attention though!



I am absolutely thrilled with my "new" dress! It is very comfortable, thrilling to twirl in, and surprisingly practical (except on windy days...). I'm so thankful for the way it turned out!

Oh, and it matches my shoes(!).

• Photography by my mom •

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29 comments:

  1. Beautiful! I love the bow and the pops of red.

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  2. This is my favourite dress you have made so far; all of them are gorgeous, but the neck details and bow in this dress are just too cute!

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    1. Thank you, Milky Usagi!! You're too sweet! :)

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  3. Your dress turned out lovely Esther! I can't believe you were able to fit all of that dress onto the fabric from your previous dress! Wow! It definitely looks twirl-worthy. :)

    Blessings,
    Brigid
    the Middle Sister and Singer

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    1. Thank you, Brigid! I think I had bought 7 yards in the beginning, so I think I had around a yard left, aside from the part of the dress I didn't need.
      It is twirl-worthy. Heehee. ;)

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  4. This is probably my favorite dress you've made so far. I love the fabric and the classic styling. The neckline detail is so pretty! :) I'll have to look up the patterns you used.

    Would you be able to explain how you do your keyhole openings? That is one area I've struggled with and nothing I try seems to lay perfectly flat and nice like yours. :) I'm always happy to learn a new trick or tip! Thank you!

    SARAH

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    1. Thank you, Sarah A.!! :)
      I am planning on doing a little series on keyholes, belts, and other such things within the next couple of weeks, so if you can wait that long, all will be revealed! :)
      Thank you for your comment below as well. You're so sweet!!

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  5. Oh, by the way...you did a fantastic job on the refashion! I love remaking things and it is wonderful when they come out as pretty as yours did. (I sympathize with you on the direction of the print....yeah, something I forget to check when it *seems* irrelevant. ;) ) Great job, Esther!

    SARAH

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  6. It's funny how a little bit of experience changes your perspective, isn't it?! When I first started knitting actual garments (instead of just scarves) I made my oldest nephew a baby sweater. I thought it was the most amazing knit ever. (He's 9 now.) My sister showed it to me not too long ago & I was shocked at how horrible it looked! The stitches were terribly uneven. Practice makes perfect right? (Or progress is the new way of saying it I guess...)

    Anyhoo, great job on your remake! I think it looks fabulous on you!

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    1. Thank you, Miss Michelle!
      I know - it is crazy how our perspectives change! I'm sure your sweater was not that bad though. It would probably look quite professional compared to my best knitting!! But as you say....practice. Hehe.
      ;)

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  7. Another beautiful dress Esther! Love the fabric and bows. Iam a fan of flare shirtdresses die to my pear figure. How quickly you get done with your dresses. Do you make a muslin each time?
    Love the belts too, wish you can do a tutorial on it. I always wear those thin plastic belts with my dresses but I like yours soo much better! ��).
    Irene

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    1. Thank you so much, Irene!! I love shirtdresses as well!
      I do not always make a muslin, but probably the majority of the time I do make one. If I don't, I do quite a bit of measuring (shoulder width and such, aside from the ordinary measurements) before hand to make sure that it will work. And even so, it is a bit of a gamble! :)
      I am planning to post about my belt-making method in a couple of weeks; thank you for the suggestion! :)

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  8. Great job on the remake! Your skills really have come so far in just one year- congratulations! :-D

    And that walkaway pattern! Ugh!! Everyone I know who has made it (me included) has ended up remaking it. Yet it keeps being held up as a great beginner pattern! Glad to see you've been able to give it a new, more usable life. :-)

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    1. Thank you so much, Lily!! You're much too kind! :)
      It is amazing how many people make that pattern! For me, it was a good experience because it helped draw me into (vintage) sewing, but I have a feeling it would be enough to repulse a lot of people!
      Thanks so much for your sweet comment, Lily! :)

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  9. Beautiful job Esther! You have certainly come a long way in a year. You have been so diligent and it shows.

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    1. Thank you so much, Sarah!! :) You're so sweet!

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  10. What a fantastic job, Esther, it's almost hard to believe the changes that this frock underwent. Both are lovely for sure, but I especially like this new silhouette. It looks smashing on you, as does this whole stylish, beautiful ensemble.

    You know, I actually really like that the fabric is going in two different directions and meeting at the waist. You could have easily said "I did that intentionally and it's totally a thing" and I would have rolled with it, no questions asked (and then told you how cool I thought that idea was :)).

    ♥ Jessica

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    1. Oh, thank you, Jessica!!
      That is so funny - I'll have to remember not to let the cat out of the bag next time. ;)
      Thank you!!

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  11. The fabric is so pretty! Nice that you were able to refashion the dress is such a successful way :-)

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  12. Thank you, Draped in Cloudlets!! :)

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  13. Oh My Giddy Aunt! I so love this dress! The fabric is fabulous and now I have to go buy that pattern you used for the bodice part!! Thanks...thanks a lot! hahahahaha!
    Blessings!
    g

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    1. Eeeek! :) Thanks, Gina! I love the fabric too! The crazy part is, it's a historical reproduction print. I'm not sure from what era, but it makes me want more! I could have made an 1850s dress with the amount I originally bought (8 yards!) All thanks to that man-eating walkaway dress pattern....Whew!
      And you're SO welcome for making you want to buy another pattern. ;)

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  14. This dress is so much more flattering than the Walk Away dress! I never was a huge fan of that oh so famous pattern, as it usually looks like a badly fitted apron dress on most women. I read funny and less funny things about the impracticality of the dress, shifting panels, gaping armpits... Your new dress looks amazing, the neckline and the bow are so cute and suit you perfectly! You did a very good job!
    Just a hint if you ever end up again with a very narrow hem. Add some wide bias binding to the hem (can easily be cut by yourself from a matching or a contrasting fabric- This also adds some extra weight and may help against Marilyn moments on windy days.
    Kind regards from a fellow vintage sewer from Switzerland!

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    1. Thank you so much, Doris!! You're so kind!
      Thank you for the tips on the hem; I hadn't thought of it at the time, but it's a very good idea! Marilyn moments are not good! :) It is a pretty dangerous dress on windy days, I must admit. I'll definitely be doing that on any future circle skirts (or skirts needing narrow hems!)
      Thanks again so much! :)

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  15. You did a great job, the fabric, the pattern the remake, it looks fabulous on you. Now I'm wishing I hadn't donated my version of the walkaway but had done something this retro cool!

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  16. I absolutely love the remake and it looks fabulous on you! I have not tried the dress yet. Maybe someday. Thank you for posting! Best wishes, Kathy

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