Shopping in My (Cedar) Closet – Again!

Some dresses – and patterns – just keep giving and giving. As the date approached for a “black tie/ masquerade” ball which my husband and I planned to attend, I decided I had better start to think about what I was going to wear. I reluctantly admitted that the fancy dress I made this past Summer was really too summery to wear to a mid-October event, so I went into my cedar closet in search of another party dress. Still looking like the day I made it 22 years ago was this dress, made from a Butterick pattern:


And here is the pattern.

Here is the pattern.

The thumbnail drawings shoe the process lines in the bodice. The description explains the construction of the skirt. I made it in the ankle length version.

The thumbnail drawings show the princess lines in the bodice. The description explains the construction of the skirt. I made it in the ankle length version. And yes – it has a side zipper.

Although I have actually made just one dress from this pattern, I have used the bow pattern (or some “sized-up” or “sized-down” variation of it) again and again. My most recent use of it was for the waist bow on my Summer dress:

 I enlarged the pattern a bit to make this bow.

I enlarged the pattern a bit to make this bow.

With a black velvet bodice, the dress from my cedar closet is definitely more suitable for cooler weather, and I didn’t think it looked too dated to wear.

GD Ball 3

I like the dropped front waistline – a detail not often seen in current patterns – at least to my knowledge.

Black and pink fancy dress

The pink fabric is polyester, although it certainly resembles silk. I never forgot the “name” of this fabric – it was called “Eyelash”! It has a crinkled effect to it, but is soft and wrinkle resistant.

This is a view of the back of the dress.

And, as luck would have it, several years ago I made a mask to wear to some other event, the purpose of which now is lost to the ages! Fortunately I had used some left over fabric from my “cedar closet” dress – so it matched perfectly.

Mask Pink

I love a mask on a stick – it doesn’t muss one’s hair! I added that vintage flower to give it extra allure. The stick is just that – a skinny dowel which I covered with ribbon.

Those are sequins around the eyes!

Those are sequins around the eyes!

When I made the dress back in the 1990s, I found this evening bag to use with it, so, of course, I wanted to use it again. How times do change! I tried every which way to fit my smartphone in it, and no amount of “schmushing” or angling allowed me to do so. Fortunately, my husband’s tux has lots of pockets, so he toted my phone for me!

Black and pink fancy dress

The final touch to my outfit was long black velvet gloves. I adore long gloves; they are elegant, fetching and … warm! I did not see another pair of formal gloves the entire evening, which to me is a little sad. Accessories like that add so much to our attire and to our “presentation” and unfortunately are one of those fashion niceties being lost in an increasingly casual world.

GD Ball 1

Click on the photo for a closer look…

GD Ball 2

Some of the people in attendance at the Ball were in costume, but I loved the fact that I could get one more wearing out of a formal dress made so long ago. Back into the cedar closet it has gone – sharing space with other out-of-season or “too sentimental-to-give-away” pieces. It is anybody’s guess whether I will ever have another opportunity to wear it. But those gloves? I am keeping those handy!



Filed under Bows as design feature, Formal or fancy dresses, side-placed zippers, Uncategorized

26 responses to “Shopping in My (Cedar) Closet – Again!

  1. Cissie

    You are stunning! Love the dress, the color, the mask, the bag — everything!

  2. Mary

    You were surely the “Belle of the Ball”! Everything about you was beautiful!

  3. Mery

    Oh, what fun! When an outfit suits you so perfectly it’s timelessly elegant. I especially agree with what you said about the gloves. I’ll bet you’d enjoy reading or re-reading the 1964 book Elegance. The author shares your point of view about many things and concurs about the gloves and indeed your ball dress design and accessories. I wanted to mention kid gloves with one of your day outfits but didn’t know until this post that you appreciate their finishing touch.

    • I actually have that book “Elegance” which I enjoy reading from time to time. I have a lot of gloves, many of them handed down from family members no longer with us. I think the widespread wearing of gloves with those outfits from the ’50s and ’60s is one of the reason why I love that period of fashion so much.

  4. Marianne

    So pretty! I love the dress and your accessories. I do have an equivalent of your cedar closet, but oh, that waistline…Mine certainly isn’t where it was 22 years ago!

  5. How absolutely wonderful that this lovely dress and hanbag got another outing. I love the gloves too. Drama and class! I am gobsmacked ( and a little jealous 🙂 ) that you are the same size as you were 22 years ago.

  6. Mary

    Nothing says sophistication like a beautiful pair of gloves – especially long black velvet ones. I still have a few pairs gloves, including a white pair with a delicate cutout pattern at the wrist, that I wore as a young girl. I wore them to church or when traveling by airplane or ocean liner. I keep them in my lingerie drawer as a gentle reminder of times past.

    As for your ensemble, you looked very sophisticated and lovely.

    • Thank you, Mary. You are so right – gloves are just downright sophisticated! Too bad they aren’t considered necessary for being properly attired anymore. But, of course, we can still wear them and enjoy them!

  7. John


    I’m intrigued by the fineness of your work. I don’t really have an eye for fashion but the interior construction of your projects is endlessly fascinating. I’m a beginner and interested in classic tailoring technique. Can you recommend a good, comprehensive, book that will teach best practices? With cooking, I learned classic French methodology for my foundational skills. Are there similar books for sewing? Thanks for this blog.
    Best regards,


    • Thank you for your kind words, John. The best book I know of for classic tailoring technique is Vintage Couture Tailoring by Thomas von Nordheim. I believe it is available on Amazon. (I refer to my copy of it frequently.) However, I will say that I think there is no substitute for taking classes with a teacher who sews with true couture techniques. There are some Craftsy classes worth looking at, and of course, if you have the opportunity to study and sew with someone like Susan Khalje or Kenneth King, you should definitely do so. Best of luck to you – hope to hear from you again!

  8. Mary Lynn

    So many amazing, lovely and remarkable pieces to come together for your charming outfit! And……. to have a dress from 22 years before fit
    so beautifully! Love the gloves! I had a pair of long white kid ones that
    made me feel so sophisticated.

    • Thank you, Mary Lynn! Long white kid gloves sound luscious! I have a pair that I haven’t worn for ages, but now I am on a roll with gloves. I’ve decided they – and others – are coming out of the moth balls!

  9. So beautiful! And you put it all together so well!

  10. What a fabulous look! The gloves and mask make it. How fortunate you had the dress saved. We sewers tend to keep our clothing and classics never go out of style. I also have several from 20+ years that I still wear.

  11. Imagine wearing a dress made so long ago and it still looks so current and grand with no alterations! Beautiful. And I love those long gloves!

  12. Oh how wonderful to still have a dress you made so long ago! It fits you beautifully and you look gorgeous, of course. I love that.

  13. Marguerite

    Absolutely stunning! The gloves are just the touch too. I remember when wearing gloves was the norm…gorgeous ones like you have here, and the short everyday ones ladies ( and little girls) wore with any and all outfits.

    • Yes, I remember wearing white gloves to “town” (and of course, to church) when I was a little girl. We certainly are missing some of the “fashion niceties of life” now, aren’t we?

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