Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hello , I have decided to start an online chronicle of my sewing projects as I attempt to recreate vintage styles with fabric and my herd of new & old sewing machines . You will see the what pattern I use , as well as what I do right and wrong along the way , and also how absolutely horrid I am at following any type of instruction . Sew here we go !

I will start with the above photo , a dress I made for a silent film screening fundraiser at the Mission Inn , Riverside CA. .

The dress was inspired by my favorite film star Marrie Dressler  , who made all her own fashions , both onscreen & off . She was an amazing woman that embraced her size , age & personality , to become the biggest boxoffice earner of her day . Her crazy expressions , way of working her not-so-tiny self around the screen & genuine warmth & humor made her a bigger draw than any of the glamorous starlettes that shared the screen .

She was also an advocate for the rights & wages of all performers , leading to her being blacklisted & nearly ruined , but she never backed down & held her ground speaking up for the rights of other less known actors & dancers .


Anyways , about the dress ...
I used this pattern that I have had forever and never even cut out . It reminded me of Marrie & her style : )       I cut it in view B , it is a reversable dress with no proper front or back , and has a more fitted slipdress worn under it .
I cut the underdress from a great vintage old stock fabric , a cotton/rayon shantung/antique satin with the most wonderful hand , almost liquid . What I did differently ( here comes that directions issue of mine ) was - use a dotted net overlay on the upper part of the slip , ruched at the neckline for a more vintage feel , and self lined instead of bias bound at neck & armhole edges . I did this since it is meant to show and it seemed like a good idea rather than following pattern construction methods ( get used to this from me )
and of course it is always more fun to sew vintage style clothes on a vintage sewing machine !

Great ! It fits well , and hangs beautifully , BUT that color ! No good on my skintone , so into a quick dye bath of dark green . This resulted in a nice cross woven color effect of rosey beige with pearl green .

Now for the overdress , I did some more creative cutting here , I pieced the skirt front to use the border print to best advantage . I also cut the criss cross bodice front on the printed border to get the most out of the fabric design . Then I added a flange to the sleeve edge of the dotted net for a little vintage flair .

You can see the no longer rosey pink underdress showing  , and a vintage style fabric flower with some knotted silk ribbon loops finish it all off perfectly ... well almost .
oh NO -  the overdress is cut loose , I mean WOW , really loose . It would fit Marrie herself !
Sew ... I flipped it inside out & took a good amount off each side seam , from cuff to hem .
and there we have it ! a $5 cloche I found on clearance at Target , trimmed with a vintage taupe millinery spray & some wide silk ribbon i had on hand .
some vintage Peter Fox Edwardian style shoes & off we went !


  1. I love reading how other people come up with their ideas of what to make, and how to make it. And if its not right, making it right (like dying the fabric).

    1. Hey thanks for the feedback & letting me know someone is looking at this ! I don't think any sewing project just goes as planned , at least not here ;)