A couple of weeks ago this next post appeared on A Stitching Odyssey as part of the Vintage Pattern Pledge month Marie and Kerry of Kestrel Makes were hosting. I was incredibly flattered to be asked to pen a post for Marie's blog - and I imagine many, many of you read Marie's blog already - but I also wanted to blog the post here for my own sewing records. I've left the words pretty much the same as they were for Marie's blog (though I've changed the title, which grated on me), but I've moved around and added a few photos here. I'll try to get a new blog post up soon too!
The pattern is this one, Vogue 2065, a Diane von Furstenberg for Vogue American Designer Originals from the late 70s:
The back of the envelope description reads as follows:
Loose-fitting, A-line, pullover, blouson dress, seven inches (18 cm) below mid-knee or ankle length, has scooped neckline, round collar, center front neckline slit with button and thread loop closing, elasticized waistline, pockets in side seams, narrow hem and top stitching and edgestitch trim. Above or below elbow or full-length sleeves are gathered into buttoned, shaped turn back cuffs. Purchased belt.
I had two first choices: a red and cream striped 1940s summer dress, and a cream wool and lace 1940s winter dress, both already well underway. I'm very sorry to say fitting issues with both dresses got the better of me when I tried to finish them up (for now - but I will conquer these dresses!), so I had to step away from the 40s and towards a more recent era.
My next thought was to sew something fun and exaggerated from the 80s. I got so far as to identify a couple of very cool and unusual Vogue Individualist patterns in my 70s/ 80s filing cabinet drawer, but then an annoyingly sensible voice piped up in my head and reminded me I already have a wardrobe full of fun clothes that get very little wear :(. So I made a second pass through the filing cabinet drawer, this time looking for "wearable" and "suitable for the office (or casual weekends)", and came up trumps - THIS DVF pattern; pretty, office-appropriate and very wearable, and even in my size.
I really hope the very bright pink fabric stops it from being a boring choice!
By the way, please excuse all the crumples in the photos - I did iron the dress properly, but I then drove into the city to take these photos wearing the dress, and apparently driving makes silk crepe de chine rumple and crease!
My gorgeous, very drapey silk crepe de chine comes from last summer's sales at The Fabric Store here in Sydney, and it proved to be the perfect choice of fabric for this dress, even if I didn't have quite enough of it (my neckline and cuff facings are cut from a different fabric).
It's hard to show movement in photos without jumping around (and also being a good enough photographer to capture the jump!); the next photos are the best we managed to show the swish and drape of the fabric:
You don't normally see castles in Sydney, but yes, the building behind me in a couple of these photos is very castle-like. The building was apparently based on Inveraray Castle, and was originally built as a "palace for horses" (ie stables!) for the 5th Governor of New South Wales. And it's now the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, which I think is a much more suitable use of a small castle!
The rolling parklands are the Botanic Gardens, very pleasantly located between the sea (downhill from these photos) and the city - in this map you can look for Gate 10 to see where the Conservatorium sits in relation to the sea and the gardens.
If you compare my dress to the detailed description above you might notice a couple of differences... firstly, my dress is knee-length, not 18 cm below mid-knee, and secondly, where's that top stitching?
It's knee-length because I just thought the shorter length looked more balanced with the elbow length sleeves and simple bodice (I did try the longer length and it was a bit nightie-like). I normally add between 7 and 10 centimetres to skirt or trouser lengths in Vogue patterns, so it was a novelty to get rid of some length - a full 16 centimetres, and that's with enough fabric left for a nice deep hem too. I should point out though that a lot of that excess length probably came from my fabric "dropping"; the much smaller collar pieces certainly stretched out significantly even with minimal handling. And as for the top stitching, well it turns out it was only supposed to happen at the hemline, and other than that, the instructions are all about slip stitching and more slip stitching! I ended up continuing with the slip stitching theme for the hemline anyway - when you're on a roll...
I did have to make another surprise adjustment as I was sewing the dress - but it's one that's not as noticeable. When I tried the dress on with the cuffs pinned in place before sewing buttonholes, I noticed that the cuffs were very tight on my arms, so to gain a few millimetres of width I've sewed press studs with buttons on the outside instead of buttonholes. There was actually supposed to be a second button on those cuffs, just in case the cuffs were too loose, but I didn't see any point adding buttons that I will never be able to use so I left them off.
So, what's the overall verdict? Well, pleasantly surprised!
Mid-way through making this dress I was really worried about my pattern choice; it was looking so much like a nightgown that I thought it was going to be a wadder - and what a waste of hours of handstitching that would have been! Thankfully the elasticized waist pulls it back into "dress" territory, as does the shorter hemline - phew! - and I know this dress is going to get a lot of wear.
Thank you very much to my two charming photographers for the day, my mum and my daughter:
And thank you very much for inviting me to write this post Marie!
See you soon
- Gabrielle x