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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!