Tag Archives: Diane von Furstenberg

“P” is for Pearl — and — Perseverance

Among timeless fashion statements, pearls and wrap dresses both make my top-ten list.  The opportunity to combine the two was just too good to pass by, especially after being inspired by a silk charmeuse perfectly suited for just such a pairing.

Pearls and ribbons and clusters!

Pearls and ribbons and clusters, fabric purchased from Mendel Goldberg Fabrics in NYC.

As luck would have it, shortly after I purchased the silk for this dress, an entire article in the Style & Fashion section of The Weekend Wall Street Journal of August 24 – 25 (2013) was devoted to “the old-fashioned allure of pearls…”  It seems that pearls are “showing up on everything from shoes to wallpaper to chairs”  – and to fabric, as evidenced by my Italian silk charmeuse.  I am just “old-fashioned” enough to think that pearls are never not in style, but I must admit that even I was smitten with the unusual and modern approach of this fabric design.

Pearls required - WSJ article

Pearls are showing up everywhere, it seems.

So – how would this modern fabric look, made up in a mid-1970s’ wrap dress pattern?   I thought it would work quite well. But getting there turned out to be challenge.  Although I was lacking the classic Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress pattern that I envisioned for this dress (blogged about here), I thought I could piece together a 1976 Simplicity version and a new Vogue wrap dress pattern to achieve my goal.

This is the dress I wanted to recreate...

This is the dress I wanted to recreate…

The Simplicity "version" of the Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress.

The Simplicity “version” of the Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress.

Vogue 8784 diagrams

Vogue 8784 diagrams

Here’s what I did:

1) I decided to use the princess-seamed bodice back from the new Vogue pattern.

2) I re-cut the collar and the cuffs from the Simplicity pattern so that the points on them would not so extreme.

3) Because the ties on the Simplicity pattern were not attached to the dress (the tie was just like a very long separate sash) I used the ties from this DvF pattern, and attached them to the side seams.

Pearls required - DvF pattern

4) The missing sleeve pattern piece in the Simplicity pattern meant that I had to use the sleeve from the new Vogue pattern and basically redraft it, with an elbow dart, and with cuffs.  I also used Simon Henry’s book The Little Black Dress: How to make the perfect one for you as a reference.

Pearls required - LBD book

This is the wrap LBD dress featured in the book.

5) I ended up making two complete muslins and re-stitching one of those muslins, before I had a workable pattern.  All of this seemed to take forever!

When I finally cut out the black silk organza underlining, I was ready for a celebration, but of course, that would have been premature.  Although the design in the fashion fabric really could not be “matched”, I still had to respect the placement of the “clusters” as they would relate to the bodice.  (I did not want “clusters” at the apex of the bust darts, for example.)   And I felt like the “clusters” should be placed at equal distances from each other over the expanse of the dress, if possible.  After determining all this and  cutting out the fashion fabric, I finally got to sewing, which included lots of basting, catch-stitching all the seams to the underlining, understitching the collar by hand (which worked beautifully, for which I was very grateful!), setting in the sleeves, making the lining, etc., etc.

Here is the final placement of the fabric design on the front of the bodice . . .

Here is the final placement of the fabric design on the front of the bodice . . .

P is for pearl

. . . and here is the bodice back.

Understitching the collar created a slight under-curve which helps the collar lay flat.

Understitching the collar created a slight under-curve which helps the collar lay flat.

This boring view just shows the lining that was so tedious to attach!

This boring view just shows the lining that was so tedious to attach!

I made the mistake of making the cuffs before a final fitting of the sleeves. (I thought I was being smart and getting “prep” work done, but I just made more work for myself).  I ended up shortening the sleeves and enlargening the openings so that I would be able to push them up on my arms if I wanted to.  The cuffs I had made were not long enough to accommodate these adjustments, so back I went to cut and make new cuffs.  Fortunately I had just enough fabric to squeeze these out!

For buttons for the cuffs, I went to my button box and came up with this card:

The original price of these buttons was 10 cents.  I picked them up for 50 cents at some point.  It almost seemed a shame to cut them off of the card!

The original price of these buttons was 10 cents. I picked them up for 50 cents at some point. It almost seemed a shame to cut them off of the card!

Because I had reduced the points on the cuffs, I needed “not-too-big” buttons and these proved to be perfect, I thought, and in keeping with the “pearl” theme.

Here is one of the cuffs with buttons attached.

Here is one of the cuffs with buttons attached.

Working on the black fashion and lining fabrics was tedious.  And it seemed the more I worked on this dress, the more there was to do on it!  Kind of like eating a big bowl of pasta – the work seemed to multiply before my eyes.  Fast, easy, and jiffy this was not!  It’s times like this that being of a stubborn nature serves me well.  I persevered and got it done!  And even better, I am really happy with the results.

I will replace this photo with one of me in the dress as soon as I can!

Here is the dress on my new dress form . . .

. . . and here it is on ME!

. . . and here it is on ME!

DSC_1022

DSC_1028

P is for pearl

Now – two more “P” words.  I have “P”romised myself that my next “P”roject will be simple.  Maybe a blouse – or even a blanket?

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Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, couture construction, Little Black Dress, sewing in silk, Uncategorized, vintage buttons, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, Wrap dresses

Wrapping My Mind Around a New Dress for Fall

I am not sure why, but I have been obsessed with wrap dresses lately.  I think it began in May when I wore the dress I made last summer from a mid-‘70s Vogue Diane von Furstenberg pattern.   It seemed to make a hit whenever I had it on – and there is nothing like a compliment to make one try for a repeat!  I just needed to find the perfect fabric – and another perfect pattern.

I made the sleeveless version of this dress in a red and white print.

I made the sleeveless version of this dress in a red and white print.

The perfect fabric turned out to be the easy part of the equation.  One of my classmates in Susan Khalje’s Classic French Jacket Class chose this silk charmeuse for her jacket lining:

Wrap dress - 9 - fabric I loved the design so much that I asked for a swatch of it while I was at Mendel Goldberg Fabrics in NYC with my classmates.  Well, you can guess the end of this part of the story.  A few weeks after arriving home, I called up Alice at Mendel Goldberg and ordered some yardage.  I could picture this fabric as a wrap dress with ¾ or bracelet-length sleeves.  However, it is a woven fabric (of course), and even though it does have a slight stretch to it, those vintage Diane von Furstenberg patterns require “stretchable knits”, even including a stretch gauge on the pattern envelopes to ensure success.

Wrap dress - 8 - stretch gauge Out of curiosity I went through my collection of vintage patterns to see what other “wrap” dresses I could find, and although none of these three were quite the look I wanted, I was struck by the variety of wrap dress patterns available, obviously some long before Diane von Furstenberg made them so popular.

This pattern is copyright 1960.  "slightly gathered skirt back of the sleeveless, easy-does-it dress wraps around plain front to fasten at waist-line with tied belt."

This pattern is copyright 1960. “slightly gathered skirt back of the sleeveless, easy-does-it dress wraps around plain front to fasten at waist-line with tied belt.”

A thumbnail diagram on the back of the pattern envelope.  "Dress opens flat for ironing."

A thumbnail diagram on the back of the pattern envelope. “Dress opens flat for ironing.”

Here is a slightly more elegant wrap dress, also from the early ’60s:

Actually, just the skirt is a wrap on this dress, which has so many different looks, all of them quite stunning.

Actually, just the skirt is a wrap on this dress, which has so many different looks, all of them quite stunning.

Finally this Pucci design, which is another elegant wrap dress:

"Slim, high fitted dress in evening r street length has wrapped back closing, soft side back folds."

“Slim, high fitted dress in evening or street length has wrapped back closing, soft side back folds.”

It was about this time that the September issue of Threads magazine arrived in my mailbox.  Now my obsession was in full force, as the main feature article was on Wrap Dresses: Easy to Fit and Sew.

Wrap dress I liked the dress featured on the cover – which happens to be a new Vogue pattern (V8784).  I also liked the fact that it does not require a knit fabric, and that it is to be lined (I could make it using couture techniques).  I did not like the sleeves, however – too baggy and shapeless.

I could not get around the idea that the look I thought I wanted was this D v F dress, featured on the front cover of Vogue Patterns for September/October 1976:

Wrap dress - 6 DvF cover

This presented two major problems, however,  First, I do not own this vintage pattern (yet), which commands high prices when it comes on the market.  And second, even if I did own it, my woven silk fabric would not be appropriate to use for it.

Well, this second part of the equation was beginning to be a problem.  Then, quite by luck, I stumbled on a Simplicity pattern from 1976 in an Etsy store.  The pattern  is obviously a knock-off of the classic Diane von Furstenberg dress I like so much.  However, it is for woven fabrics!  It was in my size, which I took as a “sign” that I was supposed to buy it – which I did.  I thought my search was over.  With a few minor adjustments to the “extreme” points on the collar and the cuffs, I felt sure this pattern would work.

I really don't think there is anything "JIffy" about this pattern . . .

I really don’t think there is anything “JIffy” about this pattern . . .

A few weeks passed as life took me in other directions and with other projects. Then, finally, I eagerly started on the muslin for this dress.   I was eager, that is, until I realized that the pattern piece for the sleeve is missing –  and the pattern is going to require many more alterations than I usually have.

This is not fun.

There – I feel better now that I have said that!  So my quest for the perfect pattern has been a challenge, but it’s not Fall yet.  By hook or by crook, I’ll be wearing a new silk wrap dress before the trees gently release their leaves into the cool, crisp autumn air.

 

 

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Filed under Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, Vogue patterns

It’s a wrap!

What could be easier than this: a garment with no buttons and no buttonholes, secured by sashes which can be forgiving to your waistline and still be flattering?  Diane Von Furstenberg immortalized the “wrap dress” in the early 1970s; its many variations became available to home dressmakers through the Vogue Patterns Designer series, and those original patterns now command significant prices on eBay and Etsy.

This is the label which was provided to purchasers of Diane Von Furstenberg patterns.

But – what came before Von Furstenberg’s classic dress?  Many of us remember our “wraparound” skirts from the ‘60s and ‘70s – some were “reversible”, some were made of a lightweight sailcloth type of fabric and were kind of stiff, some were gathered, and some were A-line.  Towards the late ‘60s, according to The Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion (3rd Edition, Fairchild Publications, Inc., New York, 2010), the term “wraparound” was shortened to just “wrap” – and that is the term we know and use today.  The illustration in this book surely is based on DVF’s classic wrap dress.

Who wouldn’t recognize this as a DVF dress?

One of Diane Von Furstenberg’s famous statements is “I design for the woman who loves being a woman.”  (Think dresses!)  In The Saint James Fashion Encyclopedia (Richard Martin, author; Visible Ink Press, Detroit, MI, 1997), she is quoted:  “…I believe in marrying fashion and function – chic style and easy comfort, maximum impact and minimum fuss.”  It’s easy to see that she practiced what she preached (and still does…) when you look at this Vogue pattern:

A classic style by Diane Von Furstenberg.

About the time I purchased this pattern on Etsy, I saw this fabric on Mood Fabric’s website:

This is a cotton twill, but it’s stretchable!

The bright, happy design reminded me of some of the original DVF-designed fabric, although this fabric is actually by Oscar De La Renta.  No, it wasn’t a stretchable knit which the pattern stipulated, but it was a stretch fabric, so I took a gamble and ordered it with my DVF pattern in mind.

I actually liked the heavier weight of this fabric (I’ve never been a fan of sewing jersey knits), but I had to be extra diligent to minimize bulky seams on the interior of the dress.  Instead of self pockets, I made the pockets out of some leftover white silk lining fabric from my raincoat.

One of the pockets.

Instead of turning under edges on the facings, I double-stitched and pinked the edges, and used stretchable hem tape for the hem.  It all seemed to work and here is the finished dress:

This cheery fabric could brighten any day!

A bit of a back view.

I was thrilled to get that original label with my pattern – and here is the finishing touch for my DVF wrap dress:

My final stitches on this dress were to attach the label.

Feminine, timeless, versatile:  her dresses are more than fashion – they are enduring style.

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Filed under Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, Vogue patterns