The Saturday Morning Dress

Butterick 6510

For Saturday morning, the Saturday morning dress. Because when you're off to the market, what you really want to do is pop a dress over your head, button four buttons at the small of your back (how does that work again?), and go!

Or maybe not.

Click on the image to see it larger, in a new window, the better to check out the diagram in the lower right-hand corner and confirm that it is, in fact, flat.

[Pattern image courtesy of Lydia Ash, list mistress (listress?) of the Yahoo sewretro group. ]

WIP No. 1

McCalls 8858

I had an hour of unexpected free time last night so I headed down to the sewing room to make the most of it. The current work-in-progress (the pink-and-green camo print chiffon with the sweetheart neckline that will NOT, repeat NOT consent to having a zipper inserted may move from WIP to UFO status soon) is a version of this dress. (Click on the image to see the whole, very tattered, pattern envelope. Warning: very large image.)

I'm making it up in featherweight black eyelet, and, instead of the narrower skirt shown here, I substituted a circle skirt, in the hopes that a fuller skirt will hang better in such a lightweight fabric (although I may still end up weighting the hem). A circle skirt is also easier to attach–I find it difficult to get those center front skirt seams to line up at the optical center of the bodice. I finished the neckline with black piping, to fight the fold-over tendency that the neck points on this particular design have. 90% of the bodice, including finishing the neck, is done, which means there's only another hour or two of work before the dress is ready-to-wear.

I'll add the same piping to the waist, for extra stability in such a light fabric, in addition to reinforcing it on the inside with twill tape. I also (as always) added a side-seam pocket.

Cutting eyelet is interesting — it has a very bubble-wrap feel. The scissors will be gliding along through the fabric and then hit a spot of embroidered resistance: pop! pop! It's been so long since I've made anything eyelet that I'd forgotten. At first it feels unnervingly and sickeningly like cutting through a pin, only with less potential for eye injury, but after you've reassured yourself that you're not launching tiny bits of sharp metal through the air and ruining your scissors, it's strangely pleasant. Pop!

Sometimes, it's all about the accessories

Manchester Galleries

Sometimes the dress is accessorized, and sometimes the accessories are dressed.

Click on the image to go to the really interesting Manchester Gallery of Costume, which I did not know existed before I started idly googling to find fodder for Dress A Day. (Don't say that blogging never teaches you anything, kids!) It seems that "For the serious student of dress, the Gallery of Costume offers research facilities unrivalled in the north of England. Access to costumes and textiles in the reserve collection can be arranged by appointment, as can use of the library and archive, which holds some 18,000 books and much other material." I may now have to go to Manchester. The Gallery's website also helpfully notes that "Neighbouring Rusholme is the curry capital of the North West." So: TWO reasons to go to Manchester and environs.

For advanced students only

ebay item 8305987417
It's okay to have a mod fantasy. It's okay to have several mod fantasies. It's okay if they involve scooters, even, and high white boots, and the soundtrack to Absolute Beginners.

However, think long and hard before you turn your mod fantasy into reality. It just might be one of those things, like pie-eating contests or dating somebody who's really hot but really stupid, that are better when they stay in the idea stage. Mod dresses look so cute. They do. Especially on the model. In real life, however, they ride up, they have no pockets, and they make scooter-riding drafty. (Yes, even with tights.)

If you're determined to make mod happen, though, you couldn't do much better than this dress from Dadadie Brücke. Click on the image to go to her website.

Another dress you could buy

ebay item 8305987417
But you'll have to hop to it because the auction ends on the 21st. I wouldn't be surprised if this one tops $100 — it seems to be in perfect shape, and it's an excellent size (B38). Better use a sniping program if you really want it. (Click on the image to go to the Ebay auction.)

I've stopped buying vintage dresses on Ebay for myself (I'd rather sew dresses from vintage patterns and keep Ebay for feeding my Jack Purcell habit) but don't let me stop you.

The only hesitation I feel in recommending this truly lovely dress is this–where would you wear it? It's a day-dress shape, but it's taffeta and chiffon. We don't seem to have that fancy cocktail party dress-up space anymore, or, if we do, everyone is wearing that perfectly serviceable (but just a leeeetle bit boring now, no?) combo of sparkly bare top, low-rise jeans, and heels. Late afternoon summer wedding is the only place I can think of where this would be absolutely the thing. I'm happy to hear other suggestions.

An actual modern dress you could buy

La Redoute catalog page
If you've been reading this and thinking, "well, that's all very nice, but I don't especially want to look like Doris Day every single day of my life," this post is for you.

I've already written and discarded eight paragraphs of argument intended to convince you that you SHOULD want to look like Doris Day every single day of your life, and have instead decided to work from your premise.

If you can wear a size 12 or smaller (bust 39"/hips 41"), check out this dress from the French catalog La Redoute. Why should you click on the image, through to the catalog page? Because it's wool-silk (no tatty polyester here), and it's only $39.99! Heck, by now I've almost talked myself into this one. What are you waiting for?

Vogue Pattern Magazine, April-May 1953, again

Bigger Image Vogue 969

Here's another one from that same issue of Vogue Pattern Magazine.

Look at that charming square neckline and the little boxy jacket to throw over it … just perfect. And whoever had this magazine before me thought so, too, as there's a check mark next to this illustration.

I would make this one in a polished brown cotton with pale yellow piping, button, and belt, and a pale yellow linen jacket banded in brown. Just in case you were wondering. (And, while I'm deep in clothes fantasyland here, pale yellow round-toe pumps.)

(Click on the image to see it full-size in a new window.)

Vogue Pattern Magazine, April-May 1953

Bigger Image Vogue 969

This issue of Vogue Pattern Magazine is crammed full of amazing dresses, so I'm sure you'll see more of it, and sooner rather than later. Let me just say that 1953? An excellent year for interesting necklines.

But for now, turn your attention to the dress on the left in this scan. It illustrates perfectly one of the problems of buying old pattern magazines: you are then tormented by being unable to find the actual old patterns. (Pattern magazines, for the most part, are just catalogs of the patterns. They do not contain them.) This is one of the many patterns in this issue that I've been looking for for years. The drape at the neckline, the full skirt, the soft gathering under the bust: if I had this pattern I would have made it several times over (pale-blue handkerchief linen, anyone?). But I don't, and I'm too lazy to draft my own pattern for it, so this dress stays on the page instead of hanging in my closet.

(Click on the image to see it full-size in a new window.)

The Feel of It

Bigger Image Vogue 969

Sometimes it's not so much the look of the dress (although this one looks, in my opinion, marvelous) but the feel of it. Look at that gathering at the bottom of the back yoke. Made in a heavy enough fabric, this would pull your shoulders back, make you stand straighter. The gathering at the center back of the skirt, so much more than at the front, would feel like a train. How do you feel, if you are standing with your shoulders well back, and if when you move you it seems like you are managing a train? You feel like a queen.

(Click on the image to see it full-size in a new window.)

UFO Pile, No. 1

Bigger Image Vogue 969

UFO in this context (for those of you who don't spend all your free time sewing) means "un-finished object." The dress at the left in this picture is a UFO of mine. I made it up in a heavy raw silk, in black, which I think is what led to it descending to the UFO netherworld. The fabric isn't stiff enough (it's heavy but floppy) and, frankly, I find sewing with black fabric boring. (Click on the image to see it full-size in a new window.)

I may yet dig it out and finish it up, though, because the lines are gorgeous. You know the person who designed that went home pleased with herself that day.