Was That 1996, or 1997?

by Erin on October 29, 2007

brown voile dress

This is a floral voile dress I'm pretty sure I made in the summer of 1996 or possibly 1997. I made it to wear to the wedding of a friend — he's Orthodox, so the dress originally had long sleeves, and I trimmed a cream straw hat with a pink flower and brown ribbon to wear with it. (Although I cut off the sleeves after the wedding, I left the skirt very long — nearly ankle length.) I suppose I could just email and ASK "Hey, when did you guys get married?" but that would take all the fun out of trying to place the date from memory.

Here's an almost-closeup of the buttons, which are vintage pink glass:

brown voile dress 2

I think I bought this fabric at Vogue Fabrics here in Chicago, and the buttons at a much-missed vintage button shop that used to exist on Armitage, near Halsted. The pattern is, I'm fairly sure, either a New Look or a Style pattern, and if you're desperate, I could probably dig up the number without too much trouble.

I know I made this dress at least twice — the other time in a white-and-yellow daisy print quilting cotton with large green-and-white dotted dome-shaped plastic buttons. I still have the daisy dress, too … I found both of these while trying to switch my closet from summer to winter.

If you're ever called upon to date any Erin creations, you should recognize that this is firmly in my middle period: the early period (jr high/high school) was nearly exclusively cotton dresses with kimono-sleeved minimally-darted boatneck bodices attached to full gathered skirts, with inseam pockets and little, if any, waist shaping, often in shades of blue and green, and A-line long skirts with a zipper and attached waistband. I think I occasionally indulged in the heady thrills of the McCalls NYNY patterns, but not often. The middle period (of which this is a prime example) involved trying to find retro-ish current patterns to make with vintage-y details (thus the glass buttons here). Late middle period involved my first forays into vintage patterns (such as the cherry dress).

One of the quirks and/or hallmarks of middle-period Erin sewing is an abundance of collars — and making the collar in this voile was very tricky. It's so thin (and yes I wore it with a full-coverage slip that could have been a dress all by its lonesome) that the seam allowances looked far too bulky on the first go-round. I think I ended up doing three rows of very tiny machine stitches, very close together, and cutting the allowances off at the outermost row. There was probably a better way to do it, but I was also, I'm sure, pressed for time.

Late-period Erin … well, I think you can all identify late-period Erin at this point. I firmly intend for my 'late period' to last about forty more years (if I'm lucky).

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