Linen for Fall

Although Fall is undoubtedly my favorite season, I find it the most difficult one for which to dress. Bright Summer colors look out of place, it’s not chilly enough for wool yet, and the days can be very variable. And although linen is usually thought of as a Summer fabric, I believe there are some linens which lend themselves beautifully to this time of year. These are, of course, not lightweight, or handkerchief linens. These are linens with some heft to them, which can be cool to the skin if needed and add some warmth as the sun goes down (sweaters help, too!).

I was fortunate to find a length of Moygashel linen on eBay several years ago, which seemed to fit this bill, especially in its color combination. What could be more Fall-ish than burnt orange, chestnut brown and deep navy, all set on an ecru background?

Moygashel dress linen was produced in a few different weights. The pink dress I made in early Summer was fairly lightweight; this linen is heavier, but still dress-weight.   It was 35” wide, which tells me it was produced not any later than about 1962 or 1963. (About that time, Moygashel seems to have switched to wider looms, thereafter producing 45” wide yard goods.) That “daisy” design also is a clue to its age of production, although it certainly does not scream 1960s. I had 2¼ yards so I had to find a pattern that would accommodate narrow fabric width and limited yardage. That pretty much eliminated the idea of sleeves! However, knowing how warm some of these Fall days can be, I was fine with a sleeveless dress. And I am an avid cardigan sweater-wearer, so I knew this fabric would lend itself to a pairing with a deep navy sweater.

With that in mind, I went searching through my pattern collection for a sheath dress with something more to it – and here is the winner:

This pattern is also from the early 1960s.

I really liked the half-belt, and the seaming detail of the bodice.

So I was off and running after making quite a few adjustments to the pattern for fit. I prefer to work with a 32” bust/34” hip pattern, but this was what I had. (I think if I make this pattern again, I will take it in just a bit more, especially in the bust.)

I considered adding some self-piping to the front seaming detail and around the perimeter of the belt, but I decided against it as I felt that would add too much bulk. So instead, I decided to top-stitch those areas.

Here is the front center seam detail. I used a light brown thread for the top-stitching.

I had this one lovely pearl button which seemed perfect for the belt with its concentric circle design.  I did a bound buttonhole, just what the pattern instructions called for!

The belt follow the lines of the front bodice.

I did a lapped, hand-picked zipper, and I also lowered the neckline just a bit in the front.

And note those neat shoulder darts. Why don’t new patterns have such necessary details?

I lined the dress with a very lightweight linen/cotton blend. I eliminated the facings and brought the lining up to the neck and armscye edges, as in customary couture sewing. Although I did not underline this dress (I have found that linen usually does not benefit from underlining in silk organza. Also, machine washing is easier without an underlining), it is still possible to tack the lining around those areas to insure the edges stay put!

I know I am always going on and on about Moygashel linen (which is no longer being produced), but it really is such a delight to sew – and to wear!

Nice with a sweater…

So there you have it – my first dress made specifically for Fall! However the story does not end here. With any luck this dress will have a starring role in a more complete outfit, which is going to have to wait until next Fall before I can get to it. Do you have any idea what I might be planning?



Filed under bound buttonholes, Buttons - choosing the right ones, couture construction, hand-sewn zippers, Linen, Linings, Mid-Century style, Moygashel linen, Uncategorized, vintage buttons, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

47 responses to “Linen for Fall

  1. Great looking dress! The fabric is very nice, I think wearable throughout fall!

  2. Not a fan of printed dresses normally, but this is lovely on you!

  3. Mery

    Yea! What a winner it is!

  4. Great dress! Could next fall’s project be a coordinating French jacket?

  5. Christine

    The cardigan and gold accessories are just right. As always beautiful sewing.

  6. Very flattering dress. I’m also guessing a French jacket. Will it be black or do you have a boucle that picks up the colors in the print? I also see some wonderful possibilities for trim.

    • Yes, a French jacket is correct. I actually have some boucle in the same colors, and it has beautiful selvedges which I intend to incorporate into the trim. I may have to forego a printed lining for the jacket, but I can live with that.

  7. Beautiful! I so agree on the shoulder darts (as well as elbow darts). Why do modern pattern designers think we can do without? Will you be making a matching coat next year?

    • Thanks, Marianne! I have no idea why modern pattern designers eliminate such necessary things like darts! Maybe they think we can’t be bothered with such things?? It’s a mystery.
      I will, hopefully, be making a French jacket next Fall, using boucle with all the same colors as are in the dress.

  8. Absolutely beautiful linen, Karen, and so perfect as a transitional dress. Please write a post about how to find such gorgeous fabrics on eBay!

    • Thanks, Sarah! I have had a lot of luck finding beautiful fabrics on eBay and in some Etsy stores. It really helps to know what you are looking for. Most fabric pre-1970 was sold by brand name, so that’s always a good place to start. Maybe I will do a post on buying vintage fabric!

  9. Elizabeth

    You are an absolute inspiration, what a fabulous dress.

  10. Debbie Hixenbaugh

    Beautiful dress. You are an inspiration.

  11. This is just beautiful. I have never handled, much less sewn, Moygashel linen. I love the print of this. It is perfect for transitioning into colder weather.

  12. Perfect colours for autumn and a really neat dress.

  13. Lyrique

    Such a nice print and so satisfying for autumn. There is so much inspiration in your lovely choices of fabrics and patterns, Karen. Thank you for sharing your projects with us. As always, I look forward to your next post. Happy sewing!

  14. I LOVE that pattern, and the print is just perfect for fall. I am a big cardi fan, and sleeveless underneath is the perfect way to keep things versatile in this unpredictable season. 😍

  15. Well I’ve just saved Moygashel as a search on my eBay. I was looking at your first photo thinking I didn’t quite like the print – but the moment I laid eyes on the finished dress on you – well, you wear it so very well! It looks fabulous, and I do like it so with the blue cardigan.
    Like you I love a sheath dress with interesting bodice seaming – this vintage one is just fabulous! What lovely curves. Looking forward to seeing this coordinating French Jacket! You can never have too many French Jackets.

    • I so hope you find some lovely Moygashel, Mel! I have more than I want to admit, but then it is difficult to pass up such beautiful fabric! And, I so agree, one can never have too many French jackets…

  16. Oh I agree wholeheartedly about linen working for Fall. I’m in the UK on holidays and brought a medium to heavy weight linen skirt with me (lovely Italian menswear fabric purchased in Brighton on an peevious visit). It’s been excellent for the warmer days in London with bare legs and a cotton top and perfect with tights and a sweater in Yorkshire.

    As always, your dress is delightful.

  17. Linen that resists wrinkles?! Ooh, I must seek some out. This dress is so lovely. I was going to guess a matching coat, but the French jacket will be absolutely perfect. It will be a long wait till February to see it!.

    • Yes, Moygashel linen was known for its ability to resist wrinkling! It’s really quite remarkable! I always just give my Moygashel linen dresses a quick steam press out of the dryer.
      Hope you are doing some sewing, Jen!

      • I’m getting closer, thanks. Making some sense out of my makeshift sewing area and organizing all the bits. Should be finished and ready to at least finish my pants this weekend. Fingers crossed.

  18. The dress is so pretty! Love the fabric! Wish it was more fabric like this in my country!

  19. Mery

    Wherever you are, whether traveling or home, I hope you’ve been able to wear this dress often, and I hope the world has provided bouquets of chrysanthemums to set it off. I hope you are enjoying a beautiful fall with no repeats of last years hand injury.

    • Hi Mery! We are finally home from all our travels for a while, and the Fall crazies have taken over my life! I finally got back in my sewing room this past week for a few hours, and it felt so good! We’ve had an unusually warm Fall so I have been wearing my linen dress a lot. I get compliments every time I wear it, but so far no one has handed me a bouquet of mums! Hm-m-m-m-m. You are so good to remember my hand injury from last year. I can’t quite believe how well I healed; it took a while, but now I am almost as good as new and have no difficulty with it or with sewing (which is the real test, isn’t it?) Hopefully I’ll have a new post up soon, so stay tuned!

  20. Beautiful work! I love linen fabric as well and have a few dresses planned…
    You look lovely in your linen dress.

  21. Dear Karen: What a lovely post on Moygashel linen. I love it dearly as well. What a tragedy they are no longer making their fabrics. I need to disagree with you, though, about the 35-36″ width fabric and its availability.

    I had a small hand-stenciled silk business in the early-mid 1980’s in Denver and at that time experimented with linen, purchasing direct from Moygashel a bolt of solid white handerchief (linen) and a bolt of black in the same weight. Both were 35-36″. I still have a few yards on the white bolt, which I ‘hoard’ like a dragon guarding its gold!!!

    All the Best,
    Patrice S.

    • I was really happy to read your comment, as any additional information on Moygashel linen is always welcome. Someone really should do a book on this company. Anyway, that is very interesting about the very lightweight linen in the narrow width. All of the Moygashel linen which I have found and worked with is of dress weight. The width of the plain color, embroidered, and Sandhurst prints of which I am aware, certainly seem to have evolved from 35/36″ to 45″ at some point in the late 1950s or early ’60s, but this is just my observation and not gospel! I so appreciate your feedback – which is one more piece in the puzzle of this amazing fabric.

  22. care

    I’m just discovering your blog and loving reading through your posts! You mentioned you find linen doesn’t usually benefit from underlining with organza- in what situations do you think it does benefit? I’m setting out to make a sheath dress in a fairly light weight royal blue linen and I’m really stuck on what to underline it with to give it a little structure and wrinkle resistance , I’ve been poking around the internet to try nd see what others re doing!

    • I’m so happy to hear you are enjoying my blog. Regarding linen…. If you are making a Spring/Summer coat out of linen, silk organza would be a good option for underlining. For a sheath dress, I would use a cotton batiste (pre-washed) for underlining, or if the linen is somewhat substantial, no underlining at all. It just depends on your linen, really. The vintage Moygashel linen truly is wrinkle resistant, but modern linen is not. I use spray starch to help with wrinkles in that case. By the way, if you just want to line a linen sheath, I find a rayon-based lining fabric works beautifully. Bemberg is a brand I recommend.

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