inspiration point: lady mary's sheer surplice bodice dinner gown from series 1 with green underdress

our office holiday party was on friday, which obviously required a new dress. not only was it my first time to dress up in a little while, my company was recently acquired and there were 300 new co-workers on whom to make an impression.


i had been wanting for a while to riff on one of the series one downton abbey gowns of lady mary’s, a neat bit of sheer work with applique and a green underdress. however, as i started chewing on this idea, i realized i needed to do more than riff, i needed to adapt.

so i started with vogue 1043, which had a surplice bodice i had already fitted and worked on. i changed the side zipper to a CB because i wanted to hand-pick and bead the zipper. i went for a high-low hem, because even though this trend is EVERYWHERE, i sort of love it. it adds a major element of fun to a garment, and i cannot help myself. so i took the quarter-circle skirt of V1043, adjusted the hems, and added gathering in the back two panels for an almost-bustle and some skirt volume. i almost went super-trendy and did an even sheerer dress over a shorter skirt, for that au currant long-sheer-skirt-over-hot-pants look, but i decided that was taking it a bit too far. and also, all of the really gorgeous sheer fabric was more slippery and harder to work with than this lovely light cotton voile.


full blog post and additional photos can be found at puu’s door of time.


The Facts:

Fabric: cotton eyelet from paron’s, underlined with cotton organdy from Mood
Pattern: Simplicity 1507 (previously made here)
Year: 1940s
Notions: zipper
Time to Complete: longer than it should have
First Worn: august 8, 2012
Wear Again: yes
Total Price: ~$60
Challenge Theme:  “olympics”

earlier this year, as i was gearing up for my favorite live sporting event–wimbledon–patternvault provided us with an amazing post discussing the history of tennis fashions along with several examples of gorgeous vintage tennis dress patterns.

i seethed with envy, because i had not thought of this first.  in fact, it had not occurred to me to make a dress inspired by the sport i most enjoy watching (i suck at playing, but i can watch with the best of them), and the drool threatened to overwhelm and short-circuit my keyboard.  luckily for me, i had a second chance (much like andy murray and his championship on centre court!) to rectify this wrong with the “olympics” challenge on the sew weekly.  full post at puu’s door of time.




i’d been working on this specimen for this week’s “sew weekly” challenge, “reality check.”  what can be more of a wardrobe staple than a black skirt and white top?  but of course i took it in a bit of a weird direction.  otherwise, what was the point?  i had some very specific inspiration on this one.



also causing palpitations of envy was steph c’s april BCT “hack,” where she re-drafted her classic “blank canvas t” based on several classic 40s details, including a keyhole neckline and a bolero.

 for the top, i used my alabama studio sewing + design (with which i have been having a serious affair lately) t-shirt and bolero patterns.  i kept the skirt from S1927.  i ended up with some fascinating construction order on the skirt, let me say.  the original pattern calls for a faux overskirt, made by strategic placement of a ruffle above the hemline of the skirt.  it’s actually a very cool bit of pattern drafting, and i should have realized that in the 40s they wouldn’t be wasting fabric on an overskirt layer.  still, after some consideration, i decided that i wanted an overskirt on mine instead of a giant ruffle, so that’s the way i went.  i trimmed the overskirt with a cool lace, also from daytona, and both fabrics were stiff enough that i got some great volume from the intense fabric gathering called for in that waistline.

full post and a couple of bonus cat photos at puu’s door of time.


The Facts:

Fabric: leftover liberty of london tana lawn “durie” (from modified/self-drafted simplicity 4903)
Pattern: bodice portion of vintage vogue 2926
Year: circa 1950s
Notions: zipper, sew-on snaps
Time to Complete: 4 hours
First Worn: June 22, 2012
Wear Again: yes
Total Price: ~$30
Challenge Theme: “Las Vegas”

this top has been a true “hangover” – i knew i was going to make it since i finished my frankenpatterned version of McCall 7743 last year in august. we went to las vegas to celebrate my grandfather’s 86th birthday and i wore the dress out to dinner one night in celebration.

excuse my bronchitis face. i have a tendency to be what my family calls "sickly."

this pattern was super-easy, but i did try to tweak it for fit with moderately successful results. while it does now more appropriately match by bust-to-neck ration, reducing a great deal of pooling that would have occurred with those super-intense bust gathers, it is rather short-waisted, even for me. my midriff-baring days are (mostly) behind me and this was definitely shorter in that area than i had intended.

i would have finished this one on time (for a change) but i put the zipper in the normal way and realized that i wouldn’t be able to squeeze into it without the skirt (and skirt zipper) opening the CB all the way past my hips. easy fix: i put the zipper back in, upside down, and overcame this issue. i just didn’t have a chance to do that until now, well after the vegas challenge.

it’s been in the 100*F range here for the past two days, so i needed to stay cool. i hope wherever you are, it’s more comfortable than here!

parting shot: the cat wanted to help me cut.

this top was made as part of the sew weekly.
cross-posted from puu’s door of time.