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).

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

xstpenguin October 29, 2007 at 10:48 am

One word – MORE!Lovely. I even like the buttons and I generally hate buttons. It is always useful to be able to date Erin-creations. I shall keep the information for my doctoral thesis – A Life in Dresses.Of course you can trace my early period dress-sewing by the pile of unfinished pieces lying upstairs. My late-period (the actually wearing a finished dress bit) hasn’t started yet.Cheers,AJ

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Moonwishes October 29, 2007 at 1:25 pm

My early period involved buttons, buttonholes, zippers and collars and in crafts unfortunately not realizing that piecing a quilt required more than a basting stitch!My middle period involved super easy to sew shapeless garments due to both the need for speed and being overweight. I’m hoping that my late period will involve well sewn garments that fit and have some nice details. Unfotunately every time I get to the sewing part I start to rush and just want to finish things and skip the details. Maybe if I had an adequate wardrobe I wouldn’t rush so much.I love that green dress. I wouldn’t mind having it in a quilt which is the highest compliment that I can give fabric. and I love those nifty buttons.I just love this site and save coming here as my reward for getting my work done for the day.

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Gidget Bananas October 29, 2007 at 1:49 pm

Is that a midriff band I see?

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Rebecca October 29, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Our Dress Periods coincide perfectly! I would have to add that my early period included an unfortunate preponderance of skirts (giant rectangles of fabric pleated onto waistbands)and Enormous camp shirts. Yeesh.This dress looks just like the one my mom made for me to wear to college graduation. That was New Look, too. Right, Mom?

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Rachel October 29, 2007 at 5:20 pm

OOOOH! I like this one! And it actually looks like something I might buy/wear (esp in voile, living in NC….well, you can imagine the heat). Love the print, love the buttons…love love love the dress!!Even if it *is* “mid period Erin”LOLRachel

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Sondra October 29, 2007 at 6:36 pm

I love this dress and the buttons! And, yes, Rebecca, your college graduation dress was New Look…and I believe I had to cut the buttonholes open on the way to the ceremony…or was that your wedding dress? A sense of emergency seems to be a part of these special occasions.

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Anonymous October 29, 2007 at 8:45 pm

I don’t specifically remember sewing anything between 1986 and 2000, however this looks like what I remember of 1996-ish apparel. That’s just a guess though.

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Anonymous October 29, 2007 at 8:50 pm

p.s. Gail said “green dress”. Is it green? cuz it looks brown with green leaves and pink and blue and ivory flowers on my monitor. If it’s green that would be a very bad thing, considering that my Mac has been glitching me lately.

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La BellaDonna October 30, 2007 at 6:49 am

Anonymous, my screen reads the dress as brown also, rather than green. I’m thinking if Erin wore a hat with pink and brown ribbons, there’s a good chance that the fabric is indeed brown.I would totally wear this dress; in fact, I think I may have this pattern in my Stash O’Patterns (it’s an Irish stash), so that I was/am hoping to wear it. And, weirdly, I think I had this fabric print – but in a cotton, not a voile! Gidget Bananas, I think it is a slightly high-waisted dress that you see, rather than a midriff band. However, I could be mistaken.I look back at the endless reams of sewing I’ve done, and mostly it seems that I’ve done it for other people, rather than myself – as if, somehow, they were more entitled to my work than I was. And it’s not as if there aren’t things I want, and things I need.

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anaclare October 30, 2007 at 4:43 pm

Oh! I went to college in that neighborhood – I loved that button shop! I used to go there on those horribley cold dreary Chicago days, and look at all the pretty things. I still have a lone button with a camel on it.

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