Vintage Sewing

Twist on a farm dress

November 10, 2013

There are times when you can already see a finished dress before you even start; you know the fabric, pattern, and the way it will fit. What details you’ll add, how you will look in it. This dress started out this way–I had this marvelous 30’s inspired cotton and waited until I found the right pattern to join it–the pattern I had envisioned for years. AS soon as I pinned it together, however, I was immediately disappointed. While the dress somewhat resembled the pattern illustration, it lacked the girlishness and the feminine qualities that drew me to it in the first place. Instead, it looked like an average farm dress, and I felt my heart break. One of my friends even went as far as to say that it was something Grandma Walton would wear. So the the challenge for me was how to bring it back from a dress I hated to one that I would probably (hopefully) wear. I really wanted to save it.

So I added the velvet trim around the collar, which shaped I revised into a curved, flirty one instead of the block triangle shape it was, and I liked the definition it gave the collar, and rescued it from getting lost in the fabric pattern. Ditto on the sleeve cuffs and the pockets, which I drafted separately, inspired by some Morrocan tiles I had just seen. The original hem was dreadful, and I took a cue from one of my favorite designers to give it a wide, sweeping scallop. That got trimmed, too. Yep, I may have gone a little trim crazy, but overall, I like the dress much better than the terrible disappointment it once was. Although I still have the original version of the dress I wanted in my head, and will try to find more of this fabric.

  1. Hi Laurien,
    Your dress looks lovely – I like the trim a lot. What was the pattern you used? I’d love to see the cover art, even if the pattern itself didn’t live up to what you had envisioned.
    Sarah 🙂

  2. I’m glad you managed to save the dress! I think it would have looked too plain without the trim.

    And I know what you’re talking about with wanting the garment to suit the image in you head. Quite often, it will not really look like the cover art… I’ve been known to completely re-draft patterns for that reason. If I had made a muslin before cutting into the real fabric, obviously…

  3. I love this so much it’s making me giggle!

    I’m definitely a 1930’s – 1940’s girl, but I could see doing a cut-away hem like that on a 1950’s dress, to break up the endless expanse of fabric.

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