taffeta

Rock Your Orange

by Joni on June 14, 2014 · 9 comments

in 1950s,Dresses

Ever since I learned how to sew I’ve wanted to attend Zoobilation, our local zoo’s black-tie fundraiser. (I’d always look at the photos from the event in the newspaper and notice how many women were wearing indistinguishable black cocktail dresses. As a person who sews vintage, I’ve always thought I could do better than that.) This year my husband finally scored tickets and I immediately began dreaming up my outfit. The theme this year was ‘Rock Your Orange’ in honor of the brand new orangutan exhibit our zoo has just opened. As it happens I look terrible in orange, so I decided to make a blue dress and accessorize it with orange.

I had a dickens of a time finding the right fabric (thank goodness for generous return policies) but I finally found a cobalt blue taffeta at JoAnn’s that I liked. It’s got just enough sheen to be formal but not tacky, and the heavier weight gives it a nice swish. (Ten dollars a yard but I bought it with a coupon, of course!) Surprisingly I didn’t have a pattern I wanted to use already in my stash, but I’ve been eyeing Retro Butterick 6018, circa 1952, ever since it came out. I actually think the pattern illustrations are kind of ‘meh’ but the pattern has really nice lines, especially View ‘A’ with the dramatic wide lapels and pointy sleeve cuffs. Incidentally, the line drawings are kind of misleading -

There is, in fact, a center seam in both the skirt front and skirt back, making the skirt eight pieces instead of six. On the front of the dress the center skirt seam lines up with that seam/faux button opening on the bodice, a touch I really appreciate, I should probably drop Butterick a line and see if they want to fix the misleading illustration.

Anyway, the construction of the dress itself was pretty uneventful until it came time to attach the skirt and the bodice. I found that the skirt side back panels were about 3/4″ too wide, meaning they wouldn’t match up flush with the bodice (and the skirt seams are supposed to match up with the bodice darts, naturally). At first I tried easing it in but that looked horrible. So then I undid the top 6″ or so of those skirt seams and re-did them with an adjusted seam allowance so everything would fit together nicely. Fortunately I had serged the raw edges of the pattern pieces individually before assembling (normally I sew and then serge) or I would have had a ravelly nightmare on my hands. It only took an extra hour or so, I just wish the pattern had worked right on the first try. This was also my first time doing covered buttons – I thought they’d be a fiddly nightmare but I got a kit from Hobby Lobby but they were really easy and – dare I say it – fun.

Enough talking: Pictures! I look a little weird here because I’m looking down at my 9 year old son who was holding the camera (I do have a neck, I promise). At least it’s not my usual bathroom mirror selfie.

With the husband. He got an orange tie and a new dress shirt with French cuffs for the occasion (mmm, I love French cuffs). Like anyone was looking at HIM.

I accessorized with a Malco Modes crinoline in a shade of orange that’s even more obnoxious than it looks here. (Obnoxious being a compliment when it’s coming from me.) Funny how their picture shows a petticoat that’s nearly ankle length and on me it comes just past my knees. I think I must have freakishly long legs or something. Also, my shoes don’t show up in any of the pictures but they are like my favorite shoes ever: Nina Crystah pumps, don’t they just scream 1950s? (Best part is I got them on eBay for just $15!) I couldn’t find any blue or orange shoes that I liked, so I went with an iridescent metallic which picked up the gaudy hues of my ensemble. And the low heel was practical for all the walking we had to do.

My dress was a huge hit among the thousands of well-dressed people at the zoo! I got a ton of compliments. Probably my favorite five words in the English language are “Thank you; I made it.” One lady even said my dress was the best outfit of the night! Here are some candids so you can see it in action. With an actual orangutan (he was sprawled out lazily on the ground but seemed interested in my crazy orange petticoat):

Roller coaster selfie (oh yeah, we rode the zoo coaster in our fancy clothes. It was awesome.) Also, you can see here that I really don’t know how to apply false eyelashes. I probably should have practiced more.

And this is my husband’s favorite shot of the night. We took a break on the playground that is very explicitly intended for kids age 5 and under, but it was an adults-only event. :) Tons of restaurants from around Indianapolis had booths set up with small portions of food and drinks (all of which was included in the cost of admission). Even the famous St. Elmo’s Shrimp Cocktail. I think I was eating a fancy bread pudding here – we looked at the map later and realized we tried something like 30 samples! Yum! Also you can see here that I accessorized my hair with an orange silk flower the size of a grapefruit, because why on earth not?!

All in all, I am VERY pleased with how my dress came out – it’s exactly what I was picturing when I first found out about the orange theme. I’m already plotting to wear it again to other events – maybe I can drag the hubby to the symphony? And I’m glad I’ve only got about another five years before I get to start making prom dresses for my girls.

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Hello there! I’m a new contributor, but a long time reader!
My name is Melody and I blog over on Bourbon and Bras, where I make vintage-inspired clothing to better my sewing skills.
It’s nice to finally take the plunge in contributing, and I hope through this I can get a lot of tips and tricks, as well as new sewing friends!

I thought I’d get right to the chase and start blogging with one of my most recent makes!

Over the Christmas period, my boyfriend had a work’s Christmas party at the Natural History Museum in London.
The dress code was black tie, and never one to shy away from an opportunity to dress up, I made myself a 50′s inspired Cocktail Dress, and a ‘pullover’ sheer mesh top to go over it, to emulate the sheer-yoked nature of this dress by Aiseirigh Vintage, with the wearability of two separate garments.

No Cock Nor Tails Emsemble

The dress is made from a faux silk taffeta, made from a self drafted pattern from a basic block.
It’s unlined due to a short time to finish it, but features a sweetheart neckline, full circle skirt and center-back lapped zipper [a first for me]. The seams are pinked and the hem  was hemmed with bias tape and hand stitched to the dress [this took three hours. three. hours.].

The pullover was “frankenpatterned” from two patterns from Gertie’s Book For Better Sewing, the Wiggle Dress and the Bow Tied Blouse. You can read a little about that on my blog here.
It was made from a dobby spot “lace” mesh, which has four-way stretch and is little else other than a pain to sew.
But it features a 3/4 length sleeves, front and back darts, a tie back and some interesting “these-used-to-be-kimono-sleeves” panelling under the arm.

 Overall, I’m really quite happy with the ensemble. I have finally worked out a good fit for my bodices, and although this dress is plain I think with the lapped zipper and below-knee length it’s a good “vintage-style” circle dress, but the pullover makes it more “vintage modern” which is a style I go for! If you so wish, there is more about this ensemble, including links to the design/inspiration, please check out my post on it, here!

  • Fabric:
    Dress; Faux silk taffeta
    Pullover; Dobby print stretch ‘lace’ [stash]
  • Pattern:
    Dress; Self drafted from basic circle dress block
    Pullover; ‘Frankenpatterned’ from Gertie’s Wiggle Dress and Bow Tied Blouse
  • Notions: Bias binding [hem and facing], metal zipper [stash], grosgrain ribbon waist stay
  • Time to Complete:
    Dress; I’d estimate that, including hand-stitching the hem and the pattern, around 15 hours
    Pullover; Around 8 or so hours, including the ‘frankenpatterning’
  • Make again?: Definitely, the dress is a great fit for once, and a nice length, and the pullover pattern could work in any jersey or mesh and it’s a great little coverup!
  • Total price:
    Dress;
    £17, for the fabric, bias tape and thread.
    Pullover; £0! Unless you count the pattern, which was from Gertie’s book which cost me £15.
    So, £32 in total for an entire ensemble, including a pattern!

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Hi Everyone!  I have been a lurker on here for a while and this is my first post. :)

 

I fell in love with this barbie as soon as she was released and decided to make myself a Christmas dress inspired by her.

Yuletide Yummies 2012 Barbie

I used Butterick 5556, a retro pattern from 1955, and altered the neckline.  My Christmas dress is made of emerald green taffeta with red lace edging and red and green plaid taffeta sash.  I also put a back zipper in instead of the side zipper as the pattern called for.

My 1950s Christmas Dress

Figuring that I would be dry cleaning this dress anyway, I opted to sew a petticoat on to the lining.  I used red netting with a red lace ruffled edging over pongee lining.

I also added red lace on the cuffs like the Barbie inspiration.

I finished this dress last week and wasn’t having very much luck finding some red and green plaid, so my mother-in-law gave me this plaid taffeta that she had.  It wasn’t quite enough fabric to make a bow like I would have liked, so I may change the sash if I can find some fabric that will work for me.  I am wearing this dress for our family Christmas photo and am hoping to find some by then, but just in case I don’t, at least I have this sash.

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Hi Everyone!
I went to a friend’s wedding in Margaret River (Western Australia) at the beginning of December. I had the crazy idea of making my dress to wear. First foray into formal wear was a bit of a hit and a bit of a miss!!

green-taffeta-dress_0016

Check out more pics over at my blog Kitty’s Drawings

And big thanks to everyone who visited my blog from the last post I made on We Sew Retro! :-)

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