Hello, hello! Well, here I am decked out in my finest to cap off our week of 1940s formals 🙂 Like it was said in Jessica & Brigid’s posts, we girls had a little challenge this past Summer of creating 1940s formals for the Remembering WWII event. Jessica has already shared her fantastic, verdant gown, and Brigid was decked out in a frock not unlike Fairy Floss yesterday. Now here I am to share my deliciously purple, slippy, floral gown! Ready to dive into the details?
The most challenging part was definitely figuring out what pattern to use, and silhouette to employ, in my design. I juggled many ideas, but finally settled on the bodice pattern from my 1940s Lady Marlowe pattern (Simplicity 4321) (which, by the way, you can definitely plan on seeing made up in a summer dress or playsuit next season… that pattern get’s me giddy each time I look at it! It’s so, SO cute!), and then traced the skirt pattern off of Brigid’s formal dress.
I began with a mock-up of the bodice to ensure that I achieved the perfect fit. After a few adjustments, I came up with a satisfactory version and commenced to create the real dress. It was a challenge to figure out how I wanted to provide a nice dose of texture and interest to the solid material I had chosen. Though taffeta does have an inherent texture and light-catching effect about it, I still wanted some detailing that would help in the “fabulous” department. It’s one thing to have a nice silhouette, it’s another to combine that attribute with fine detailing that just exudes style. 🙂
So how did I go about this? I’m not one for embroidery, so that was out of the question. Tulle was too poofy and fussy… I love the look of silk flower appliqués, though I didn’t want things to get too tacky… hm… Then my mind wandered back to the method of burning the edges of synthetic fabrics to create a lovely curl and finish, perfect for floral creations. The pattern I chose for the bodice included options for a contrasting material or handwork to be done on the neckline and midriff, so I settled on the burnt-flower method to bedeck my neckline. Immediately I set to work cutting out test flowers to come up with the perfect method, and commenced cutting out different sizes of circles that I would then cut deep slits into, trim the corners, and burn to finish. The final touch was the delightful little beads that I found in our stash, perfect for creating the little flower centers. As a whole, the flowers give a delightful fluttery, spring-time feel that I simply adore! It turned out quite nicely, if I do say so myself, though the flowers are very delicate, so a careful hand-wash will have to do when this dress needs laundering.
One thing that I am very proud of in this dress is the handwork done on the inside. I finished all of the seams, hand-picked the zipper, and blind-hemmed the skirt by hand. This type of detailing is becoming a very important part of sewing for me. I want my garments to last like those vintage pieces that inspired their creation, so taking the extra minute or two to sew years of life into my project takes a priority in my sewing techniques and methods. Brigid talked about seam finishes in this post, so if you want a little more on this topic, do check it out!
In all of this seam-finishing and detailing, my dress does have an issue with the bodice darts (I really can’t figure out what happened there… hm…), and I think that the shoulders could fit a little better. Also, I really can’t move excessively because 1) taffeta has right around 0% stretch, which makes for a very restricting garment, and 2) the wonderful flex-sleeve adjustment that we girls are employing so much now in our sewing projects didn’t come into use until after I had cut out my bodice pieces, so that definitely was out of the running. So I guess you could say that this is a dress meant for an evening of sitting, standing, and talking… oh, and singing, as we girls did perform a little show at the RWWII evening gala 😉
I crowned my locks with some larger versions of the flowers on my dress, which made for a cohesive look from head to heel. For the evening for which I wore this gown I accessorized with some costume jewelry and wore my (rather falling-apart from the inside-out… and uncomfortable) glittery, silver B.A.I.T heels (that still steal my heart each time I lay my eyes on them… oh WHY can’t you be made of nicer materials and have some more cushion? WHY?), that I somehow managed to stay in for the whole evening. Yes, I do a lot for fashion sometimes 😉
Fabric: Acetate Taffeta in Roman / Pattern: Simplicity 4321 c/o Lady Marlowe
In spite of the flaws, when all is said and done I am supremely happy with how my 1940s formal turned out! It has that delicious swishy, slim skirt so classic to the WWII era, and that broad-shouldered, poofy-sleeved look up-top of the later 30s that I simply adore. Hooray for success in my first formal dress! 😀
What do you think of my gown?
-Charlotte, the youngest sister & singer
P.S- I know that many of you are wondering what on earth I meant by the “Roman Holiday” in my post title. The fabric color was called “Roman”, so per Jessica’s suggestion, I entitled my post along the lines of the fabric name 🙂