Tag Archives: sheath dress

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?

 

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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

“Do What You Can…”

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Teddy Roosevelt

I had never seen nor read this quote before three weeks ago, seeing it for first time carved into the slats of this rustic bench:

DSC_0652

There is a lot of wisdom in those few words, especially meaningful to many people in many different walks of life, I am sure, but especially pertinent to those of us who sew. Why so, do you ask?

Do you, as I do, plan sewing projects which are transportable when you travel? Can you quite imagine being without needle and thread – or at the least, a book or magazine on sewing or fashion? What do you do when you can’t (gasp!) bring along your sewing machine when traveling far from home? Well, you do what you can, with what you have, where you are….

What I knew I could do before we left our home in Pennsylvania three weeks ago for a month in Wyoming – was plan to do hand-sewing on two or three projects. What I had for a “first-project-to-finish” before I departed home (sans sewing machine) – was the unfinished pink-flowered linen dress, started what seems like a lifetime ago.

Big, bright daisies with lavender centers.

Big, bright daisies with lavender centers.

And where I was going to be – had possibility and promise and “best plans” written all over it. The possibility and promise have come in bucketfuls, with days and weeks of family fun: hiking; wildlife-sightings; story times with little granddaughters; diaper changing and laundry; shopping a la Western style; cocktail hour every evening; magnificent mountain peaks, valleys, lakes and rivers; grocery shopping and more grocery shopping; and the list goes on and on. I realized a week into our stay that all my planning for some strategic hand-sewing tucked into these busy days was, well, quite simply, not going to happen – at least not while grown children and little grandchildren took loving precedence!

And then suddenly, all too soon, the house was much too quiet, the toys were put away, and while hiking and wildlife sightings are happily still commonplace, my sewing – and my pink linen “not-quite-a-dress-yet” dress – came out to give me a different type of focus.

I was scrambling before I left home to get it to the point where I had only the hand-sewn finishing to complete. The first challenge I had was with the layout of the sheath dress pattern on that large floral print. The linen is a piece of vintage Moygashel, dating to the late 1960s. By this date, Moygashel was being produced in 45” width, rather than 35”. I have found that it is not uncommon to find center crease lines in the linen from this era, where decades of storage have caused the fabric dye to rub off enough to leave a faint pale line.

The fold line - and subsequent faint white line showing dye loss is visible in this photograph.

The fold line – and subsequent faint white line showing dye loss is visible in this photograph.

This left me with only one option: I had to place the dress front and the two side backs on either side of the center line of fabric, to avoid that pale line. But I also had to think about the placement of those large daisies. I wanted to try to match the fabric design as much as possible along the center back seam. To accomplish both these goals, I had to line up the front of the dress and one of the side backs, one above the other. (I forgot to take a photo.)  It turned out I was a couple of inches short of the length I needed to do this. So – I knew I would need to face the hem.

I was fairly successful in matching the flower design along the back seam . . .

I was fairly successful in matching the flower design along the back seam . . .

Then on to the machine sewing of darts, seams, seam finishings. With those completed, I turned my attention to the lavender piping I wanted to put around the neck edge. I used the same cotton kitchen string I had used on my “ghost dress” to use as the filler for the piping. The heavier weight of the linen made the piping more substantial, which is exactly what I wanted.

I added piping only to the neck edge.

I added piping only to the neck edge.

With the piping sewn in place, I could proceed to the zipper. Even though I would be hand-picking the zipper, I wanted to complete it, to double-check the fit before I left on our journey. Then I realized that I had purchased the wrong length zipper! I had picked up a 20” zipper, forgetting that I was adding a V to the back neck. I needed a 16” zipper and had no time to make the trip to JoAnn’s to get a new one. In desperation I searched through my notions drawers and found every color and length of zipper under the sun except a 16” white one. (I’m exaggerating, of course.) Then I looked through a bag of zippers I had gotten from my mother, and lo and behold, there was a 16” white metal zipper, still in its original wrapper. Well, why not? A vintage metal zipper would be perfect for vintage linen. Crisis averted.

As it turns out, I found this ad for metal versus nylon coil zippers in a 1964 Vogue Pattern Book Magazine. If you read the copy, they recommend using metal zippers for fabrics like cotton and linen which require a hot iron. The quality of nylon coil zippers is now such that they can be used for these fabrics without a worry.

As it turns out, I found this ad for metal versus nylon coil zippers in a 1964 Vogue Pattern Book Magazine. If you read the copy (click on the photo for easier reading), they recommend using metal zippers for fabrics like cotton and linen which require a hot iron. The quality of nylon coil zippers is now such that they can be used for these fabrics without a worry.

Before I turned my attention to making the lining for the dress, I wanted to address that faced hem. With no time to think about making a facing from the lining fabric, I went back to my notions drawer. Once again, sewing hand-me-downs from my mother came to the rescue! I found this package of white cotton hem facing, which would be perfect for my needs.

Look at the price on this! Also, now I am quite sure the hem facing would be a cotton blend rather than 100% cotton.

Look at the price on this! Also, now I am quite sure purchased hem facing would be a cotton blend rather than 100% cotton.

The faced hem, plus a view of the seams which I finished with Hug Snug seam binding.

The faced hem, plus a view of the seams which I finished with Hug Snug seam binding.

Once the lining was sewn, I gathered all the tools and notions I would need to finish the dress by hand. Off it all flew to Wyoming, where finally I finished this flower-powered dress under the expansive Western skies.

The front of the dress. No time to get photos of me in it yet, unfortunately!

The front of the dress. No time to get photos of me in it yet, unfortunately!

This full photo of the back of the dress shows some more of the pattern matching.

This full photo of the back of the dress shows some more of the pattern matching.

I did what I could, with what I had, where I was.

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Filed under Linen, Moygashel linen, piping, Uncategorized, Vintage fabric

The Domino Effect

Being totally smitten with this bold floral linen, purchased within the past year, I have had my heart set on making it into a day dress this Summer.

Big, bright daisies with lavender centers.

Big, bright daisies with lavender centers.

Not long after I purchased it, this small article on “Signs of Spring 2015 On New York Runways” appeared in the September 10, 2014 Wall Street Journal.

"Memorable moments included bold floral daytime dresses from Carolina Herrara..."

“Memorable moments included bold floral daytime dresses from Carolina Herrera…”

And then in November of 2014, more of Carolina Herrera’s Spring/Resort collection for 2015 was featured in Town & Country magazine.

Perennial daises on two lovely Carolina Herrera dresses.

Perennial daises on two lovely Carolina Herrera dresses.

It seems this vintage Moygashel linen from the late 1960s, with its bold daisy design is very much in vogue currently, both for its size and its floral motif. (The bodice of my recent fancy dress also featured a “daisy” motif in the silk embroidered organza):

The Allure of silk, pt 1

Although I am of the mind that daisies are always in vogue, nevertheless, this seems like the perfect year to fashion a dress from this linen. Such a demonstrative print begs for a simply-styled dress, such as – you guessed it – a sheath dress.   The fabric will make this dress, not the pattern. How could I, I wondered, do something a little different and still keep it simple? The answer to that question began to take shape when I found a length of pale lavender Moygashel linen this past Spring. Suddenly I envisioned a V-back to a sheath dress with a rounded neck, detailed with piping made from this lavender linen.

Then it began to get complicated. With just a few inches over 3 yards of the 35” wide lavender fabric, I knew I would have to calculate carefully when I cut bias strips for the piping, if I wanted to fashion another garment out of the lavender. And of course, I do! Actually, when I looked at the lavender fabric, and paired it with any number of my other fabrics and/or dresses, it seemed the only thing to use it for was a “Spring” coat. But would I have enough fabric for both a coat and bias strips for piping?

Obviously, I would have to find a coat pattern and lay it out leaving enough space for bias strips, to see if I could manage this minor miracle. Of all my coat patterns, this Madame Gres design is the one I decided had the best chance of working, both for my limited yardage and for the pattern’s simple, uncluttered lines:

The short version of the coat is on the left.

The short version of the coat is on the left.

The fact that it is featured with below elbow length sleeves and in a shorter version – perfect for pairing with coordinating dresses – worked in my favor. The entire coat has only 5 pattern pieces: front, back, collar, undercollar, and front facing. First I positioned the tissue pattern pieces on my fabric, strewn out on the floor selvedge to selvedge. I was heartened enough by this exercise to go ahead and make a muslin, so I could have a “real” pattern to work from. All this time, the pink flowered daisy linen lay folded, awaiting her turn.

One of the most unusual features of the coat design is the front dart, which serves both as a bust dart and as a side-shaping dart. As is so often the case with these vintage patterns, the dart sewn as indicated on the pattern was too high for me. In addition, it pulled and stretched the kimono shoulder in all the wrong ways. I lowered the apex of the dart and re-sewed it, trying to preserve its curve, and suddenly it fit like a charm.

The newly drawn dart is in orange, while its original position is in red.

The newly drawn dart is in orange, while its original position is in red.

Now that I had a workable pattern, I knew I could just eke out the coat if I “pieced” the left front facing. I could live with that! And, just as important, I would have enough of the fabric to cut bias strips for piping for my daisy sheath. Whew!

This see-through ruler helped me find a corner from which to cut the bias strips for the piping.

This see-through ruler helped me find a corner from which to cut the bias strips for the piping.

So now, the pieces for the coat, with their silk organza underlinings pinned in place, are taking their turn waiting for further attention. One project started another and now both are lined up like a circle of dominoes, ready to go down in an orderly fashion, albeit in slo-o-o-w motion.

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Filed under kimono sleeves, Linen, Moygashel linen, piping, Uncategorized, Vintage fabric, vintage Vogue Designer patterns

My Suit Dress Fully Evolved – Finally! – Part 5

Can it really be that May will arrive in a few days? If that is true, then I am only about 2 months behind in my sewing schedule. But who’s keeping track? I’m happy that I have plowed through to finish my wool suit dress, even though it will immediately go into my cedar closet for safe storage until next Fall.

When I fell off the edge of the world after Part 4 (only figuratively, thank goodness!), I was starting on the sheath dress. I had decided to add a collar to it, so that I could use that fourth vintage button (I had already used three on the jacket itself). Matching the windowpane plaid on the collar section took some special attention, as this photo shows:

Collared sheath I underlined the collar with the lining fabric, and I made a working bound buttonhole instead of just sewing the button in place. Anything to make it more involved, right?

Detail of the button on the collar.

Detail of the button on the collar.

Lining the collar with silk charmeuse reduced bulk and helps it lay flat.

Lining the collar with silk charmeuse reduced bulk and helps it lay flat.

From that point on, it was a straightforward sheath dress. I love a sheath dress. I think it is such a flattering silhouette, and very feminine. As far as I am concerned, one can never have too many sheath dresses (just as one can never have too many shoes). Speaking of shoes, I decided this outfit needed complementary shoes! What do you think?

collared sheath

I wear a lot of red and blue, so I expect these shoes to serve me well!

I wear a lot of red and blue, so I expect these shoes to serve me well!

It turns out that even a simple sheath can take a lot of time to make when one is using couture techniques: underlining of silk organza; interior seams catch-stitched; hand-picked zipper; instead of facings, neck and armholes finished with lining-abutted edges, then pick-stitched for stability. The silk charmeuse lining in the dress matches the jacket lining and is an extravagance, I will admit. But it feels heavenly, and adds a fluidity to the dress which is a good match for the butter-soft cashmere wool fashion fabric.

Suit dress

Shown with the jacket unbuttoned.

Shown with the jacket unbuttoned.

Suit dress

A close-up look...

A close-up look…

... and another one.

… and another one.

And a partial back view.

And a partial back view.

I am happy I added the collar to the dress, as that extra detail seems to help the dress stand on its own if/when I take the jacket off. Framing the face is always a good fashion decision, and I think the collar helps in that regard.

Just the dress!

Just the dress!

Suit dress

So happy this is finished!

So happy this is finished!

I consider finishing this outfit a major accomplishment!  So what’s next? Something easy or something more complex? Those questions to be answered soon, with this caveat: it will most definitely be something for Spring/Summer!

 

Details:

Navy blue Cashmere fashion fabric:  Britex Fabrics, San Francisco, CA

Silk charmeuse lining fabric:  Britex Fabrics

Buttons:  vintage Ultra Kraft, ca. 1950s

Shoes: Ferragamo

Patterns:  Jacket: vintage Jo Mattli Vogue Designer pattern; Dress: vintage Vogue blouse pattern combined with new Butterick dress pattern

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Filed under Buttons - choosing the right ones, couture construction, Dressmaker suits, Shoes to make an outfit complete, Suit dresses, vintage buttons, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, woolens

The Evolution of a Suit Dress, Part 4: An Appreciation of Jo Mattli, and Dress-making Days Commence

The New Vogue Sewing Book published in 1963 contained a “Couturier Supplement”. According to the Foreword in this magazine-styled book, “Only Vogue Patterns can bring you original designs from the Paris and International Couture houses, because of an exclusive arrangement with world famous designers.” One of the 17 designers featured in the supplement was Jo Mattli.

Designers in Vogue

Designers in Vogue-1

Jo Mattli is second from the left on the top row. Click on the photo to see the image up close.

A quick look at the two-page spread on these designers shows a veritable who’s who of fashion design, with names very much still known today. Except for perhaps Jo Mattli.   (Mattli was born Giuseppe Gustavo Mattli in 1907 in Locarno, Swirtzerland; he died in 1982 in England). He is absent from The St. James Fashion Encyclopedia, even though he was considered one of the “big ten” London couturiers in 1953, when London Society was busy readying for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Perhaps it was his move into ready-to-wear in 1955 that relegated him to lesser status among the world’s great couturiers. This did not keep Vogue Patterns from recognizing his wide appeal to stylish women who appreciated his attention to fine detailing, and his expertise in creating practical, wearable and charming dresses and suits.   As one of Vogue’s featured designers in their Vogue Couturier Design-labeled series, Jo Mattli made his mark. Indeed, even he recognized the value of being part of Vogue Patterns, saying “the royalties from these patterns had helped support his couture business” (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

The jacket I just completed (part one of a two-part jacket and dress ensemble) is the third Jo Mattli Vogue design I have sewn. Two years ago I made a suit from this pattern:

From Vogue's Designer series, ca 1970.

I would like to make this pattern again. The first time I made it, the fabric I chose was too heavy, but the fit and the styling were excellent.

Late last summer I made a cocktail dress from this pattern:

I still have plans to make the coat, to coordinate with the cocktail dress.

I still have plans to make the coat, to coordinate with the cocktail dress.

And now with three “makes” under my belt, my appreciation for Mattli’s design and construction sense is growing. Not only that, I realized after going through my pattern collection, that I have two more Mattli patterns, each of which also displays his characteristic and interesting seam detailing.

This is actually a one-piece dress, although it looks like it is a two-piece outfit.

This is actually a one-piece dress, although it looks like it is a two-piece outfit.

Dress Suit - red Mattli suit

Another beautiful suit!

While the Mattli-designed jacket in my suit dress ensemble is certainly the star of the outfit, I am hoping the dress will have its own charms. After being out of town and away from my sewing all last week, I have now been able to turn my attention to the dress part of the outfit. I believe I have successfully combined two patterns (sheath dress and collared blouse) to create – what else? – a collared sheath!

Dress for Mattli jacket

I was still adjusting the fit when I took this photo. Hopefully it will not look like a bag when I actually wear it!

After I had the muslin fitted and completed, I got the idea to make the end of the tab on the collar rounded, to mimic the curves on the jacket’s sleeves and on the jacket’s lower front edges.   I also had to take significant width out of the collar. I am hoping it will work and look good…

This shows the curved detail on the edge of the sleeve.

This shows the curved detail on the edge of the sleeve.

This shows not only the added curve to the collar end, but also how much width I had to remove from the collar pattern

This shows not only the added curve to the left collar end, but also how much width I had to remove from the collar pattern.

And here is the right collar section.

And here is the right collar section.

I  hope that Jo Mattli would approve of a dress being paired with his jacket. He would probably refer to it as a “slimline afternoon dress” were he alive. I have no doubt he created many such beautiful dresses in his lifetime.

[NOTE: Jo Mattli is the subject of a thesis by Dr. Caroline Ness entitled Famous, Forgotten, Found: rediscovering the career of London couture fashion designer Giuseppe (Jo) Mattli, 1934-1980.]

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Filed under Cocktail dresses, Dressmaker suits, Jo Mattli, Suit dresses, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

The Evolution of a Suit Dress, Part 2: Details, Details

How can something which is taking so much time to make still be so much fun? It must be because of all the delightful details to consider, to execute, to alter, and to research. One of the most important details for the jacket of a project like this is the choice of buttons.

Dress Suit - front of pattern envelope

One of the advantages of having my blue windowpane-checked cashmere for a couple of years before sewing with it has been the opportunity to find just the right buttons. When I came across these buttons in an Etsy shop, I knew they would be perfect.

These buttons are 7/8" square.

These buttons are 7/8″ square.

The size is right, as is the shape – which picks up the “square” in the fabric. How I was so lucky to find them in navy blue, I’m not sure. Additionally, and this is very subtle, but the depth of the buttons allows a curvature to each edge, which mimics the curved front edge of the jacket and also the curved cuffs. Of course, when making bound buttonholes, one must have the buttons in hand before beginning the project, since the buttonholes are one of the first details to execute.

ne can never have too many markings basted in place for bound buttonholes!

One can never have too many markings basted in place for bound buttonholes!

Because I need only three buttons for the jacket, the fourth button has been rattling around in my brain. I think  I might possibly be able to use it as a coordinating detail on the sheath dress I have planned for this ensemble. Back to my vintage pattern collection I have gone to look for some suitable inspiration. What I have found is this pattern:

Dress Suit 2 - blouse pattern-2 Although I have yet to work out the logistics, I am thinking that I can turn the collared blouse with the one-button detail (lower right) into a sleeveless sheath dress. The button may not really show (I think) unless I take the jacket off, but I kind of like the subtlety of it all. Once I make a muslin (toile), I will have a better idea of how it will look, so stay tuned! One thing I do know, is that such a collar on the dress will need to lay very flat, with no bulkiness. One way to achieve that will be to back it with the silk charmeuse I will be using for the jacket and dress lining instead of backing it with another layer of wool.

So what am I using for the lining? When I bought the lining for my color-blocked coat last winter, I purchased extra yardage of the silk charmeuse (from Britex). Now I can’t remember what my reasoning was, but once I got it home from San Francisco and I saw how complimentary it was with the navy blue cashmere, I knew I should save it for this project. Fortunately, I have enough of it to line both the jacket and the dress. Not that anyone is ever going to see the lining in the dress, but I’ll know it’s beautiful – and oh, so wonderful to wear!

Dress Suit 2 - lining fabric There are always lots of details in the construction of a rolled collar. At the risk of boring some of you, I’ll quickly go over a few tricks I learned from Susan Khalje last year when I made my color-blocked coat. First, here is a picture (by request from some of you) of the lightly pad-stitched and interfaced jacket front.

Here is an inside look at the interfaced right side of the jacket showing the underside of the buttonholes.

Here, too, is an inside look at the underside of the three bound buttonholes.

The undercollar is also interfaced with black silk organza. It is basted onto the body of the jacket in order to establish the roll line. Once I marked the roll line with pins, I removed it and basted along the roll line in preparation for heavy pad-stitching of that section.

Establishing the roll line of the undercollar.

Establishing the roll line of the undercollar.

Suit dress under collar

The roll line is marked with pins; then I basted along that pin line.

Once I finished the pad-stitching (impossible to see here on the black organza), I then placed it on the dress form, pinned it in place and steamed it. This process reinforces the “memory” of the roll.

A dress form is indispensable for steaming the undercollar.  You can see the basted roll lie in this photo.

A dress form is indispensable for steaming the undercollar. You can see the basted roll line in this photo.

The back of the undercollar after steaming.

The back of the undercollar after steaming.

As I make progress on this jacket, I am reconsidering the amount of top-stitching I want to do on it. The pattern calls for double rows of top-stitching along seam lines, front edges and sleeve edges. I plan on modifying this somewhat.

Dress Suit 2 - topstitching detail-1

This diagram clearly shows the extent of proposed top-stitching. I will definitely not be doing this much!

Top-stitching always makes me nervous. It may be my least favorite part of sewing. I’d rather sew on buttons than top-stitch! Let’s see how well I do with it – in my next post – before I can get back to more fun-stitching.

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Filed under bound buttonholes, Buttons - choosing the right ones, couture construction, Suit dresses, Uncategorized, vintage buttons, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, woolens

January Jumper

My blanket dress has morphed into a jumper. Not that that means it is going to look any different. Probably the biggest question I had when deciding to make my Irish blanket into a dress instead of a skirt was “how practical is this”? A sleeveless “everyday” dress for Winter? It was a given fact that I would be wearing a cardigan sweater with it, but I wasn’t sure I could find a suitably hued sweater to go with the bold plaid of the blanket. I had visions of taking up knitting (which I still should do…) in order to get the correct sweater match for this dress.

And then, last week in the Style section of The Wall Street Journal the lead article was entitled “How Dresses Lost Their Sleeves.” The sub-caption was “Women Want to Cover Their Arms Comfortably, but Designers Say That is Asking too Much.” It seems that many designers consider sleeves to be “frumpy”. Apparently, it is “so tricky to make a flattering sleeve that is roomy enough to offer a full range of motion.” (I can’t help but insert here a MEMO to current designers: take a hint from styles in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Sleeves were often designed in two pieces to create extra give without bulk, many sleeves had two or even three elbow darts to add ease of movement, and of course, kimono and dolman sleeves were stylish and their roominess added to the overall look of a dress or coat.) But – back to the sleeveless dress dilemma. The three solutions offered in the article are, of course, first, pairing that sleeveless dress with a cardigan sweater; second, wear a coordinating blazer or jacket with the dress; and third, “layer a thin T-shirt, turtleneck, or blouse under the dress – taking care to choose a neckline that looks graceful with the dress.” Of course! This solution makes the dress into a jumper! The term “jumper” conjures up visions of school uniforms, little girls’ attire, and bib aprons for many people, but for me, it reminds me of a look I have always loved and enjoyed wearing.

This entry from The Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion, Third Editiion, Fairchild Publications, Inc., New York, New York, 2003, defines various types of jumpers, including the A-line jumper.

This entry from The Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion, Third Editiion, Fairchild Publications, Inc., New York, New York, 2003, defines various types of jumpers, including the A-line jumper.

About the time I was reading this article, I had already cut the lining for my blanket dress. I had (very proudly, I might add) found some yellow crepe de chine in my fabric collection which I knew would be perfect for the lining. Not only did this mean I would not have to buy another piece of silk, but this particular color of yellow also had a slight brownish-greenish tinge to it, making it a pretty and pretty perfect complement to the plaid of the blanket.

Not sure the real color of this silk comes through here, but it's close!

Not sure the real color of this silk comes through here, but it’s close!

Now a woman with a mission, I checked on the remaining yardage of the yellow silk. I pulled out a vintage blouse pattern which I thought would compliment the lines of the dress and the neckline. I laid the pattern pieces out to determine if I had enough fabric to make a long-sleeved blouse. Yes, I am sure I do if I am “creative” when laying it out.. (When do I ever not have to be creative in my pattern lay-outs?)

And that’s how my dress turned into a jumper. Talk about frumpy! But seriously, how frumpy can a fringed-hem jumper be? I don’t think it will be, but I guess we’ll see for certain after the “ensemble” is complete. In the meantime, I’ll share the details of the finished jumper/dress .

January Jumper

January Jumper

1) I used brown thread to sew the fashion fabric, and it blended in beautifully.

2) The dress is underlined in white silk organza.

Here are the silk organza pattern pieces arranged on the fashion fabric.

Here are the silk organza pattern pieces arranged on the fashion fabric.

I cut the silk organza the full needed length of the dress in order to know exactly where the fringe should be placed for the hemline.   Then I trimmed off the excess later in the process.

I cut the silk organza the full needed length of the dress in order to know exactly where the fringe should be placed for the hemline.

I trimmed the organza about an inch from the beginning of the fringe and catch-stitched the edge of it very carefully to the fashion fabric. The tight weave of the blanket allowed me to do this without stitching or pulling showing on the right side of the dress.

January Jumper

3) I cut the armholes a little deeper than I would for a sleeveless dress, in order to accommodate the sleeves of the still-to-be-made blouse.

January Jumper

4) After trying it on to check the fit, it felt funny not have more weight at the hem other than the single layer of fringe. So I got the brainy idea to double up the fringe if I had enough left in my scraps. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do this, but I thought I could somehow figure it out. Sure enough, with piecing and matching, I had enough fringe to add another layer directly underneath the existing layer. When I found a long piece of brown rayon hem tape (vintage, no less, complete with rusted pin holding it all together!), I knew I had a plan. I stitched the pieced sections of fringe onto the rayon tape, and then hand-applied it to the dress. First I attached the upper edge to the lower raw edge of the silk organza , and then carefully slip-stitched along the “hem” edge to make the two layers of fringe act as one.

January Jumper

 

Another look at this!

Another look at this!

5) Of course you already know the dress is lined in yellow crepe de chine!

January Jumper

January Jumper 6) I saved the label from the blanket and sewed it into the back neck edge, so I’ll always be reminded of our lovely trip to Ireland when I put this on!

January Jumper

I guess on really cold days, even a blouse may not be enough to keep arms warm. I just may have to be really frumpy and wear a long-sleeved silk under-shirt underneath it all. Or maybe I really should take up knitting?

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Filed under couture construction, Jumpers, Uncategorized, underlinings, woolens