The Last Dress of Summer

Or is it the first dress of Fall?  It depends on your point of view, apparently.  The Autumnal Equinox, here in the Northern Hemisphere, is September 22nd, officially the first day of (Astronomical) Fall.  Meteorological Fall began on September 1st, marking the point in the year when the temperatures begin to fall (pardon the pun.)  Either way one looks at it, I now have a finished dress which is either late for Summer or just under the wire.  I’m honestly just delighted to have it finished!

Although linen is traditionally thought to be a summertime fabric, I have long thought it is also the perfect fabric for early Fall.  Moygashel linen is especially well suited for this time of year.  Its natural fibers keep it cool for those days which continue to warm up, but its sturdy weave and heft give it a substantial enough look for these days of transition.

I purchased this piece of vintage linen from an Etsy shop years ago.

This particular piece of Moygashel, undoubtably a survivor from the mid-1950s, presented me with a couple of challenges.  First, it was only 35” wide.  And I only had 2½ yards.  Laying out pattern pieces on a single layer of fabric always allows me to maximize their placement, improving my ability to do the impossible – get a dress out of too little fabric.  (Here is another Moygashel linen dress which I was able to squeak out of 1 5/8 yards of 35” fabric.)

This vintage Vogue pattern gave me two sleeve options.  If I had opted for the very short sleeves, I would have had ample yardage.  But, for the seasonal reasons mentioned above, I particularly wanted to make this dress with the below-elbow-length sleeves.  So, I fiddled and figured and made it work by utilizing both the straight of grain and the cross grain for the bodice/sleeve pieces.  I was able to do this because of the allover floral design – ie., no directional limitations.

This pattern is dated 1957.

Interestingly enough, this dress with its cut-on sleeves does not have gussets.  Rather, the underarm seams of the dress sections are curved to add moveability.

This shows where the seams join under the arm close to the top of the side zipper.

I underlined this dress with white cotton batiste (from Farmhouse Fabrics) and I finished the seams with Hug Snug Rayon seam binding.

The buttoned upper back bodice is a real focal point of this pattern.  Being 1957, the pattern calls for “fabric buttonholes” – or bound buttonholes.  So that’s what I did.

When it came to buttons, I wanted to use some sort of faceted black buttons.  After searching online and coming up empty-handed for buttons of the correct size and look, I settled on these carved pearl buttons already in my button collection.

I love these buttons, but I still think black ones would be better …  so I will keep searching and switch them when I’m successful.  That will also allow me to use the “leaf” buttons (I have 6 of them) for something which will show them off to better advantage.

The final construction detail of note is the 10” side zipper.  I used a lapped, hand-picked application which lays inconspicuously below the left sleeve.

It is so inconspicuous, you can barely see it here!

I did not leave an opening on either side at the waist for a belt to slip through.  In fact, I did not have enough fabric to make a self-belt!  However, my intention was always to use a contrasting belt.  I think this fabric will lend itself to using belts of varying colors (red or yellow or pink?) as long as I can coordinate with shoes, handbags and/or jewelry.  That will have to wait until I am home from our Summer location.  Maybe I’ll even find black buttons back home!

I could wear this dress without a belt as well. (But I’m not sure I will…)

One final note about this pattern and dress:  it has to go over the head.  It was much more common for dresses from the 1950s and ‘60s to have side zippers and “over the head access”  only.  This can wreak havoc on hair (and make-up)!  So a little pre-planning is necessary – I will need to finish my primping after I have put on the dress.

And everytime I put this dress on, I shall see the original Moygashel linen label which came with the fabric.

I suspect this dress will go right into the cedar closet for the months to come, as I switch out the wool skirts and dresses and coats and sweaters.  But hopefully, in March, at the Spring Equinox, it will creep out from its dark and quiet spot and maybe even actually be worn!


Filed under bound buttonholes, Buttons - choosing the right ones, Day dresses, Moygashel linen, side-placed zippers, Uncategorized, vintage buttons, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s, Vogue patterns

18 responses to “The Last Dress of Summer

  1. I love this dress worn as a sheath without the belt. Your buttons are perfect. I like the side zipper and wish that location was more prevalent in today’s patterns. Well done indeed and you look marvelous!!!!!

  2. Carolyn Woods

    That’s a lovely dress and suits you well!

  3. I always love seeing your creations. You find the most lovely linens. I think the black belt is actually better than one in self fabric. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Thanks, Mary. I just love Moygashel linen. (I probably have more than I will ever have a chance to use!) And I find it particularly rewarding to pair it with a contemporaneous (vintage) pattern.

  4. Thyrsa

    Lovely fabric and beautifully styled.

  5. Karen Wright

    Karen, I really love the bound button holes. They add such a level of detail that elevates the dress. I also love side zippered dresses and wonder why they ever dropped off the radar? I never learned how to make bound button holes.

    You are very fortunate to have this beautiful linen. My grandfather sold fine fabrics for a living from the 1930s until about 1959 and Moygashel was one of the lines he represented. He thought it the most wonderful linen made. I had a number of beautiful clothes as a child, but none of them were linen. He would give my mother samples and I guess the Moygashel linen was too dear for a child’s dress that would be outgrown in a year or less! Sigh.

    • Thank you, Karen. Bound buttonholes are not really difficult, but they do demand precision. I love seeing them in a garment. I’m sure your grandfather handled some amazing designs in Moygashel linen. I remember the first piece of Moygashel I ever bought – in my early 20s. It was such a thrill to finally have a piece of this storied linen. It had long been in my conscience, but had been too dear for me to buy. I can understand why your mother did not want to use it for a child’s dress!

  6. Karen, It’s a lovely dress, and I love it with the black belt. While it may go into the cedar chest shortly, I predict it will be worn often once it makes its return to your wardrobe. 😉

  7. This is just beautiful. The fabric is so pretty. I agree with you about linen for a fall or early spring fabric, especially when the weather cannot make up it’s mind from one hour to the next. I love the fit of the sleeves. Just gorgeous!

  8. This turned out just lovely! The black belt works perfectly, and I can see the other colors working too

  9. I just love this! The dress is a delight. I enjoyed how you shared a little history (of style and construction) and your tips & insights! I agree with your idea for black buttons, which will “pop.” In the meantime, I love the buttons you chose! They remind me of the delightful buttons Momma used on the clothes she sewed for my sister and me in the 50s.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.