After reviewing some of the different dress designs that I had pinned on my Pinterest board I selected a general style that I thought a) would flatter me, b) would be easy enough to make c) would be reasonably “1950s” feeling, and d) would allow me some ways of inputting the “under the sea” theme into the costume as well. I sort of shifted my idea from an octopus wearing a prom dress, to something a bit more elegant and slightly less costume-y, while still being much more costume-y than I’m sure a lot of other guests will strive for.
I used an existing pattern as a jumping off place (my Viking –age Apron Dress pattern actually, which I drafted) and then added design lines, straps, and all of the other modifications. I think the only part that’s the same as the apron-dress is the neckline – and even that only partially!
The main bodice is cut from a very sturdy royal blue knit. It doesn’t have a lot of stretch – but just enough so it’s somewhat comfortable to wear. Ok, comfort isn’t a top priority when I look at a lot of the styles from the 1950s, but since I’ll need to MOVE in this dress… as well as sit in it for possibly long periods at a time, I figured it was a good compromise over having a fully-structured and boned bodice. In the end, it’s a bit loose, but making it more fitted isn’t flattering the way a very structured bodice would be, so I’m calling it “ok”. The bodice is lined in ‘flesh-colour’ swimwear lining.
The ‘straps’ (not sure what to call them) are cut in a fine pale blue netting embellished with those glue-on sequins. This is how the fabric came – I had gone to the fabric store with the idea of something more steel-blue or teal in mind, but this was the closest I could find in a sheer fabric with a decent drape. (Tulle and regular netting would be far too stiff, and all the laces they had were terrible and cheap-looking… ) The straps are also partially lined (depending on where you’re looking… ) with “nude” colour swimwear lining. I hoped to give the illusion that the dress was held up with the netting straps- while also covering up my bra. If I’m not having a boned bodice, I’m not wearing a strapless bra either! Once the dress was done I wish I’d made the sheer parts a bit more full, but I wasn’t going to undo all the work to alter that element!
The skirt caused me some headaches only because I didn’t have enough fabric. There wasn’t enough on the bolt when I originally bought it, so I hemmed and hawed and finally went to another store in the same fabric store chain and bought more material. I asked for 3 meters, and she gave me 3.6 meters by mistake… but it was good, because I needed about 3.4m!
The skirt is a full circle skirt, in the same royal blue knit, with the same sheer net as a circle over top. The knit fabric is hemmed with 2″ wide horsehair braid, hand-sewed to hem (that’s 6 meters of hem, btw….) I originally hoped to do a waist-stay, but ended up not doing it, and not minding the dress without it either. Perhaps something to come after the party if I want to wear the dress again. Without the crinoline the skirt hangs a bit low (heavy) in the back, and that would probably be solved with a waist-stay… but since I wore it with a crinoline, I didn’t worry about that.
Speaking of that crinoline to go under the skirt – I blogged about that in my skull print circle skirt post.
Historical Sew Fortnightly
The Challenge: #24: All that Glitters – due Thur 1 January. Celebrate your completion of HSF ’14, and the New Year, with a glittery, glitzy, sparkly, shiny, something.
“For the purpose of the Historical Sew Fortnightly, ‘historical’ is WWII era and earlier, so no later than 1945.”
I didn’t even look at this until after I had made the dress – and didn’t have any plans for anything else – so although this dress doesn’t fall within the “Historical” sew fortnightly perimeters… I’m counting it anyways!
Fabric: Polyester knit, nylon/poly netting with glued-on sequin/stickers, cotton/polyester lining. (Crinoline blogged about separately) I figure those sparkly sequin-things count as the “glittery, glitzy, sparkly, (or) shiny something” for this challenge (even if the design doesn’t!).
Pattern: Self-drafted, inspired by vintage 1950s fashion
Notions: thread, twill tape, horsehair braid
How historically accurate is it? The fabric is totally wrong, the skirt is a circle-skirt which is drafted along the same lines as period circle skirts were drafted – the bodice is pretty much just my interpretation from the photo.
Hours to complete: No idea. I think I spent more than a week alone just doing the bodice… (in bits and pieces), and hand-sewing the hem alone probably took an hour in total… so I don’t even want to think of how much time the whole dress took – or the whole costume for that matter!
First worn:Holiday party, December 6th with an “Enchantment Under the Sea: 1950s Prom” theme.
Total cost:5 meters of blue knit at $12.00/meter I think… 6 meters of net at $6.00/meter… plus swimwear lining which was probably 1 meter at $7.00/meter when I bought it… The horsehair braid was 7 meters (with a meter left over) at $4.50-20% /meter. The twill tape was in my stash, but probably less than a dollar’s worth.