The ‘Aviator’ Dress

February 7, 2013

Hi everyone! I am SUPER excited about my new dress and I know all of you We Sew Retro peeps will really love the vintage styling!  I was very inspired by the movie ‘The Aviator’.  Set in the 1940’s it features a stellar cast and some fabulous costumes (though I wasn’t entirely a huge fan of the script…)  There’s a dress worn by Kate Beckinsale’s character (which is supposed to be Ava Gardner) that I just fell in love with:

The dress only shows up for a couple of scenes in the movie but I just love the entire ensemble from the great color blocking combo (yellow and navy) to the keyhole neckline to the FAB-U-LOUS hat!!  I even had the perfect pattern in my stash:

This Advance pattern (No. 4143) is from 1946.  I bought some navy viscose for the main fabric and a delicious mustard yellow wool jersey fabric for the sleeves.  The pattern is magnificent. The keyhole neckline and neckline facing went together quite easily.  The dress has two bodice and back waist darts for shaping and a great four gored skirt.  The hardest part was the sleeves–not so much sewing them but getting them lined up and perfectly matched (they were attached using lapped seams).  Once I was finally happy with the placement of the sleeves the sewing went really smoothly (the wool jersey is a dream to sew with–no slippage there!)

When I originally posted my inspiration photos, everyone was saying how much they loved the hat! I loved the hat too, but where would I find the perfect matching hat?  That’s when Ellen from BMillinery left a comment on my blog that she’d love to try and make the hat to match the outfit if I was interested.  OH YES!!!!  So, I sent her all the fabric I had left over and she made the most amazing hat to match my dress:

Just look at it!!  I absolutely adore it.  The front is an exact replica of the Aviator hat.  We didn’t have any photos of the back of the hat so Ellen used her creativity and just look what she came up with–the back of the hat is stunning!  It’s held on with lots of bobby pins and a hat pin.  There are six small elastic loops on the underside of the hat through which the bobby pins are placed.  Isn’t it just amazing?  Ellen has an Etsy shop and does custom orders as well and I definitely look forward to utilizing her creativity and talent for making such beautiful hats!

To celebrate such a wonderful, thoughtful and creative gift, I knew that I wanted to take some fun Aviator type photos.  There is a fantastic spitfire memorial (603 Squadron) in Edinburgh that I knew would be the perfect backdrop.  I had to get special permission to take the photos at the monument since it’s so close to the Edinburgh airport, but I’m so glad I did!!  These little planes were powerhouses during WWII and were decisive in ensuring a British victory during the final months of the Battle of Britain.

Not only was I able to take pictures in two of the coolest locations in Edinburgh (the Spitfire Memorial and on top of Calton Hill) but I had the opportunity to work with Phil from PSD Photography for the photos.  Phil was nominated as the Scottish Fashion Photographer of the year through the Scottish Fashion Awards.  How freakin’ awesome is that?  His work is absolutely amazing and I feel so incredibly grateful to have been able to be a part of the creative talents of Phil and Ellen for this project! This just fits in perfectly with Sew Grateful Week that I’m hosting over at my blog (because I am really grateful for the amazing talent of both Ellen and Phil)!

This is definitely one of my favourite outfits I’ve ever sewn!  Check out more fun photos on my blog!  And YAY to great sewing inspiration!

  1. You did a wonderful job with this and your photoshoot location is making me homesick for Britain. Best we can manage here in SW Indiana is a cornfield 😉

    I’d love to see it with (removable?) shoulder pads too for the full forties effect, although I can see how that might make it bit less day-to-day wearable.

  2. Wonderful, wonderful dress & hat & pics! Thanks so much for posting the results of your hard work. I live in Florida now, but grew up in the Midwest, and your outfit makes me pine for wool…

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