I totally went back in time to 1942 and posed for some Du Barry pattern envelope illustrations!
Vintage lovers, I have the most exciting news for you! I HAVE BENT THE FABRIC OF THE SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM… all in the name of sewing, of course.
The idea came to me when I showed my husband the below two vintage pattern envelopes and asked him which dress would be more sexy and adorable for our upcoming Valentine’s Day date.
“Sorry babe,” he said, “It’s really hard to tell—those illustration models are way too bony!” (Apologies to the more slender among you–this is his husbandly way of saying “honey, you look great the way you are”, and I won’t pretend I don’t love it.)
So I tinkered around with some presser feet, rick rack and stretch lace for a bit, cobbled together a workable time-travel device, and paid a visit to the Du Barry pattern studios. I was like “Guys, all your super-stylized illustrations make it hard for the not-totally-waspwaisted among us way-in-the-future seamsters/seamstresses to picture how a dress will look on our actual bodies” and they were like “Wow, that’s an excellent point.”
Sadly I lost the device on my journey home, but c’est la vie! Anyway, the dress pros and cons:
Du Barry 5525 (early 1940s?):
- Pros: Sweetheart neckline, reverse sweetheart fitted hip yoke, beautiful drapey skirt.
- Cons:Will require grading up a size, something I’ve never attempted. And the sweetheart isn’t as low-cut as I’d like. Also, I’m totally nervous about attempting 40s shoulder pads for the first time–I have really narrow shoulders!
Du Barry 5505 (1942):
- Pros: Love the princess seams, love the skirt gores, LOVE THE PEPLUM. Also, no grading–just a little tweaking of fit and my usual major FBA.
- Cons: Neckline super high, not very sexy. I tried to mitigate this in my croquis sketch by colorblocking and making the sleeves into cap sleeves, but not sure if it worked.
I did play with some other color options, but red clearly won the day:
For fabric, I went a-swatching at my favorite Garment District store, Paron’s:
They were having a store-wide 30-60% off sale, so I didn’t limit myself to the half-off annex this time. My options were (clockwise starting with the purple):
- Purple rayon crepe. (Not red, but it was the only rayon crepe in the annex).
- Christian Dior red rayon/silk blend. Really nice but a bit orange-y in real life (and this is the rare case where I didn’t want orange.
- Deep red silk crepe with a hint of stretch.
- Lovely soft thin 100% wool crepe.
- Lovely soft thick wool/nylon/stretch blend crepe.
The wool/nylon/stretch was my initial favorite—I just love working with wool, whether sewing or knitting—and would have been perfect for the bodice… but it was too thick and didn’t have enough drape for the skirt. I went back the next day to get the red silk crepe stretch mainly because it looked so awesome when I stood in front of a mirror trying to pretend the bolt was a real dress.
And there you have it. So: who wins the showdown? Which dress would YOU make? I’ve already chosen, but I’m not telling—yet.
P.S. This is a case where a croquis really comes in handy, as I demonstrated recently in my little “How to Dress Your Digital Dress Form” demo/tutorial video (see related blog post for references, tips and details):