This dress was the second one I finished but the first actual project I ever started. Before Snow White, before Macaron, (but after sexy duvet skirt) there was Vogue 2903 and I don’t know what posessed me to even start it!
I wanted something really special to wear to my brother-in-law’s wedding and I was inspired by the people I deal with every day at work in similar quests for the perfect outfit. My general attitude to life tends to be something along the lines of “I think I can probably do that and I guess there’s only one way to find out” so I figured I’d have a bash. This was October 2011, the wedding was May 2012. Plenty of time right?
I saw Vogue 2903 and was attracted to the shape. I have something of an hourglass figure so I know I suit a nipped in waist and fuller skirt, I also have broad shoulders and quite a large bust so I suit a lower neckline and am frightened of anything without sleeves!
The lovely Jenny helped me with my toile and I bought a cheap polycotton at £2.99m in a charming mushroom shade.
Measure for Measure
Initially, not having learned the lessons I now have (a bit) with regard to sizing I took my measurements and .looked at the back to see what size I should make, My largest er…part…is my hip measurement and to my dismay this seemed to suggest that I was a size 20. I normally wear a 14/16 (16 more often) so this is quite a big difference. My first thought was that since this was a Vintage Repo pattern the sizing might hvae been vintage in which case the 20 would have made sense (my wedding dress is a vintage 20) but apparently this was not the case so I bought the larger size and cut the toile in a 20.
The pattern was really easy to follow and especially with Jenny’s help I had no trouble until it came to the yoke. Jenny had gone home by then and I think it was mostly a confidence issue rather than one with the pattern.
It’s not a beginner’s pattern after all… she says to make herself feel better!
I didn’t need to finish the toile though to know that this dress was going to be far too big for me so I put it away at the end of last year and commenced the search for the perfect fabric…which took quite some time!
I finally commited to a floral (not freaking ditsy) cotton in a blueish grey with pink. It really is nothing like I normally go for but it seemed right. It’s lighter thanthe pattern recommends (more of a poplin) and I was aware that this would probably result in a less full skirt but I thought it would be ok. I truly could find nothing I liked in a heavier weight.
The toile was so too big for me that my temptation was to cut the final fabric in the 16 but that would have meant buying another pattern and I was too scared that it would then be too small which would be a whole lot harder to fix. I cut the 18.
There’s a lot of fabric in this dress! All went well even if I did scratch my head somewhat over the yoke. It turns out that I hadn’t read the instructions properly the first time!
It was still too big though! Gah!
I knew I needed the 16! With hind-hindsight, the hip measurment is kind of irrelevant in this dress too due to the shape of the skirt.
I took the dress to work and put it on inside out and the wonderful Magie (now named Mrs Miyagi as she’s my sewing guru) pinned it at the sides. We didn’t thought I might get away without having to take it in at each seam. I took it home again and took it in by at least 1.5-2″ on either side so that the waist was nice and snug. It made no real difference to the size and shape of the skirt although if I’m entirely honest I should have taken it in at the bust too.
The next problem
So the dress was now narrow enough but now it was too long in the shoulders. I hate this dress! By the time I got to this stage I had precisely 3 days until we left for the wedding! I was totally stumped and in a panic because I had no money to buy an outfit if this one went tits up! Mrs Miyagi (because she’s my hero) said she’d come round and help me but then some sad news from home meant that it was the night before we left before she was able to come! What a legend is that Magie, she brought her overlocker and sorted me right out.
Things I’d do differently:
- Cut the right size!
- Find a heavier / stiffer fabric in order to achieve a more authentic 50s silhouette. I should mention that I wore a petticoat underneath this dress to give the skirt a bit more flare, I could have worn a bigger one too I think.