This project was really spontaneous. Usually i’m a planner and I think about things for days or weeks before starting on them, but this project is an exception. I was feeling overwhelmed by other projects and wanted a break, but I still wanted to be productive. So I decided to make something new, and to try and make it from start to finish in forty eight hours!
I succeeded and in two days I had a fabulous 40’s dress.
The dress is a bit odd. Probably because I made it on a whim and spent about five minutes planning it before I got to drafting. The skirt and fabric choices are the type you would see on a day dress, but it’s an evening style bodice, so it’s kind of all over the place. However I still think it’s really lovely and I adore the end result because it’s so girly and delicate!
The original inspiration was this painting, I really loved the neckline and sleeves with the lace trim. I chose to use the floral home decor fabric I got many months ago in April, along with the matching buttons and a few yards of lace I bought on etsy over two years ago.
I started by pleating a panel of fabric for the collar, then draped everything around that.
When I was happy with that I removed it from the dress form and made a proper paper pattern. I’m really pleased that I managed to draft this without any seams in the front…even though front seams are more historically accurate I like how it looks without them so much more.
The first piece I tackled was the pleated neckline, because I knew it would be the most difficult part.
After cutting it out I marked all the pleat lines with a colored pencil.
I used my iron on the highest setting and a very potent starch/water mixture to make sure these would stay in place.
I sewed across the front edge of the panels to keep the pleats in place when sewing the front seam.
To make sure they would line up I pinned them very carefully, then used a pen and ruler to mark exactly where the seam needed to be.
I hand basted across the line I drew.
And they lined up perfectly, yay!
I repinned the panels together, then sewed the seam with my machine. I pressed the seam “open” from the front and back to make everything really flat.
I set aside the collar and moved on to the main part of the bodice, which is made up of three pieces.
On the back panels I sewed in loops of ribbon, my plan was that the bodice could be laced up, then closed with a false front of buttons and snaps.
Once all the pieces were sewn together the ribbon became encased in the seams.
I set my bodice aside and resumed work on the collar. The next step involved tacking the pleats down. I do this by marking out lines every three inches and pinning the pleats in place.
Then using a matching thread color and tiny whip stitches I secure the pleats together. If done right the stitches should not be visible from the front.
Once the tacking was finished I hemmed both edges.
I also hemmed the lower edge and arm holes on the bodice.
Before attaching my collar I added the lace. This lace was originally a pure, bright, blue toned white that didn’t match at all. I put it in a plastic bag with hot water and two tea bags for ten minutes until it was the ivory tone I wanted.
I draped and pinned it to the neckline until I liked how it looked, then trimmed it and repeated the process on the other side.
Here is how it looks cleaned up, just before it was sewn down.
After the lace was sewn down I attached the pleated neckline.
Lastly I attached buttons and snaps to two strips of floral material. These serve as the closures on the bodice and were stitched on to the center back.
On the finished bodice they look like this!
Thanks for reading!