Applique

A soon-to-be-married old friend contacted me a few months back and asked if I would be into in restyling her mother’s wedding gown from the 70′s for her to wear for her upcoming wedding this summer! I was initially a bit wary of cutting into something so special but decided to go for it and I am so glad I did! The original dress was made by a dressmaker in Baguio City, Philippines, and is made of pineapple fibre organdy and beautiful cotton lace with beads and sequins. I was a little nervous with the mention of pineapple fibre as it was totally foreign to me, but it was very easy to work with. The dress was beautiful but a bit dated in a not-totally-flattering way, so we discussed changing it up a little to suit her better. Before:

She gave me a few ideas of styles she liked (boat/bateau neckline, illusion lace) and let me play around to figure out the right way to restyle the dress. I suggested a low cut lace back and she was all over it. The main body of the dress fit fairly well and didn’t need to be taken in much, but I slimmed it down a bit overall.
The main change was of course the neckline and bodice. After much consideration, I carefully cut out the lace (taken from the sleeves and veil) and pieced it in place. I pinned it atop the original neckline and traced the area to be cut away. From there I added a small seam allowance to be turned in and hand-stitched the edges of the new neck and back lines.
Then the fun part! Putting the new neckline and the strategically shaped lace together as one! Much hand stitching later (to create a seamless transition between the appliqued lace and the dress fabric I used very tiny stitches) we had an illusion neckline! The bateau neck is slightly higher at the back to kind of ‘hug’ the back of her neck. The bride is quite petite (more so than my dress form, and the low back will hit in a tasteful but lovely spot.
After:

I am so happy with how this turned out and very inspired to push my limits further!

After the lace was cut for the wedding dress, we realized we had some left over and decided to make a second dress, for her to wear to the reception, which would incorporate the extra lace. I happened to have some lovely cream silk shantung in my collection, so from that I cut a very simple retro 60′s sheath, with bateau neck and V-back. The leftover lace was shaped into an obi belt which fastens with hooks and eyes at centre back.

Overall a very rewarding and great project! Bride and mother-of-the-bride are very pleased with the result! Feels great to be trusted with such a beautiful heirloom item. I preserved large seam allowances in the “new” wedding dress for future alteration possibilty, just in case she wants to hand it down again one day…

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Let me preface this by saying that this is my first post to date! I’ve been sewing for a couple of years and this was actually the first dress I ever sewed.
When I got engaged, I jokingly considered “just making my own dress” as a way to ease the financial burden that a wedding can cause. However, the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I was by the idea. When I finally decided, it seemed like the world was against me. But, that really only fueled the fire. I had sewn shirts and skirts so I knew a dress couldn’t be any more difficult…and it really wasn’t. Except for the fact that I bought real silk which meant I couldn’t get even a drop of water on it.
I was mostly inspired by Madeleine Vionnet and her 1930′s bias cut gowns. I loved the soft and feminine look of the gowns and the non-corset bodice. The flouncy bottom of her dresses also drew me to that style. I flirted with the idea of learning to bias sew but quickly laughed that off.
The more and more I sewed my dress the more I wanted lace on it. At the same time, my mom was offering for me to wear her dress from 1980 (not to mention she’s a half foot shorter than me and about 3 dress sizes smaller). So instead I decided to use the lace from her gown and incorporate it in my own.
I also decided to make a detachable train which I am so glad that I did. It felt so nice dancing around without a train dragging me down.

Here are some more photos of the dress. I used the delicate lace to draft sleeves and finished it with a small scalloped edge. The front and back bodice incorporated both the delicate lace and the wider lace. I trimmed the bottom of my dress in the wider lace and the front opening and bottom of my train.

Here is when the train came off:

Also I used vogue v2931 and took in the panels on the train, took off the bow and straps, and took in the top of the sloth as well. I also separated the train to make it detachable.

PennyandMary and DIYbride posted about it if you’re interested.

Thanks and I hope you enjoy!

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Hello, here I am again. I’ve been neglecting my blog and online presence for too long now, but I have been sewing quite a bit, in my defense – and also put myself on a very healthy ban on frantic last-minute sewing of overly ambitious party outfits. My stress levels are down (slightly) and my nerves are thanking me.

I’ve been making a lot of things lately, several everyday garments that I need quite badly, but this is the one I’m the most pleased with; a wool/poly gabardine jacket inspired by Steirer jackets and German and Austrian traditional costumes in general, with leather oak leaf appliqués, abstract bakelite acorn buttons and a pleated, skirted back, the cut nicked from a late 1940′s jacket that I have loved almost to pieces.

The original sketch made three years ago or so, when I got the fabric.

It’s been in the pipeline for several years, in other words, but I’m glad I waited.

Front and back panels sewn together, interfaced with horsehair canvas, wool and a heavy linen canvas at the front shoulder, with pockets nearly done.

It has bound pockets with the leather oak leaves applied after the pocket was practically finished, but before I closed up the pocket bag. The whole process of figuring out the best order in which to do the pocket and appliqué steps to create fully functional pockets with the appliqué took a bit of frustrating trial and error. I added top-stitched leaf veining after some consideration – it felt like an idea that might go spectacularly wrong, even with a teflon foot, but it actually turned out quite well.

Fitting process. The back came together beautifully at once, the front took a lot of fine-tuning.

I added a lot (a LOT) of extra hair canvas and wool fabric pieces to the body of the interfacing here and there around the bust and front of the shoulder to get the pocket to lie reasonably smoothly, for instance, and get a nice, smooth shape. It was worth it, and I highly recommend spending some time fiddling around with stiffening, shaping and filling out the silhouette like that if you have the time. I certainly will. Also added horsehair braid along the hemline, from the side pleats in the back, around the curve in front and up to the waist. Also worth it.

SO worth it.

The finished jacket, with a peaked cap in the same fabric and a new skirt with scalloped button edge.

The back is my favourite part of the garment.

Right, and I did leather-bound buttonholes on the sleeves, with leather that is not what you’d call thin or supple. That may have been one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. They look pretty awful up close, but not half as awful as making them was. I wanted to do that on the rest of the jacket as well, but no. Just no.

I’ve been wearing it constantly for several weeks now. Very happy with this one.

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Huzzah!

by Jenni on May 20, 2013 · 17 comments

in 1950s,Applique,Skirts

Hello, We Sew Retro-ers!  I just finished a project and I am so happy with how it turned out that I decided to share it here!

Higgins Armory knights skirt

I made this skirt for a special event held at the Higgins Armory museum in Worcester, MA. I used McCall’s #1851, which has been in my collection for a while but honestly, I never had any intention of making it up. . . Until I found occasion to visit a museum that contains nothing but armour and swords!

McCall's 1851

Higgins Armory knights skirt

More pictures and info can be seen on my blog.

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