Posted in Projects on Friday the 1st December 2017 by Vicki Ormerod
Hi again, I'm back today with my 3rd project for the Minerva Craft blog, and let me tell you: It's a good one!
This dress is the ultimate combination between my love of cute vintage dresses and my love of Christmas. I LOOOOVE Christmas and always have. I love the food, the treats, the music and of course spending time with friends and family. Christmas for me is the essence of what we in Denmark call "hygge".
Every year at Christmastime, I attend a number of smaller lunches and parties. This year I will host a small gathering or 2 as well, so I was in need of a new, cute dress to wear.
For my fabric, I choose 3 meters of this fun and Festive Polycotton Fabric
with red and silver baubles on a navy blue background. I find polycotton to be a good choice for full-skirted 50's dresses, as the stiffness of the fabric gives a good volume, it comes in a ton of fun novelty prints and it is cheap enough to easily justify spending 3+ meters of fabric for 1 dress.
The drawback of using polycotton for 50's dresses, however, is the need to underline it, as the polycotton can be slightly too sheer or thin to use for a close-fitting bodice on its own. On my dress, I underlined the bodice and midriff pieces with this lovely, soft brushed Cotton Lawn Fabric
. The bodice is finished with a facing and is not lined, but the brushed cotton underlining feels very luxurious next to the skin.
Below, I have included a short how-to for underlining the bodice pieces. This technique is also very handy for underlining other thin or holey fabrics like chiffon, lace or broderie anglaise.
1. Cut each pattern piece in both fashion and underlining fabric. Mark darts ect. on the wrong side of the underlining only.
2. Lay the fashion and underlining layers together, wrong side of the fashion layer to the right side of the underlining layer.
3. Pin together, making sure to pin from the middle out. This creates a bit of tension.
4. Thread a needle with a contrasting color of thread, knot the end and start sewing large basting stitches about 0,2 cm inside the seam allowance.
5. When you reach a corner, continue as far as possible, and turn the corner by starting from the new edge, without breaking the thread.
6. When you have finished the outline, baste through the middle of darts, pleat marks, ect., starting from the edge and working your way in.
7. The underlining is complete. Treat the piece as one layer during construction.
For the dress pattern, I turned to Gerties Ultimate Dress Book for the boatneck bodice. I have made and fit the surplice bodice before, so it was easy to re-use the back and midriff pieces, as well as transfer some alterations from the surplice front to the boatneck front before cutting out. I made a size 6, my usual Gertie-book size.
The skirt is a simple gathered skirt, to which I added a short ruffle at the bottom. To make this, I cut 2 and a half panels across the entire width. I did the same with the ruffle, cutting a total of 6 panels. 2 of those panels were pieced from 4 half panels.
To add some interest and to highlight the style lines, I also added some red Piping
on both sides of the midriff and between the skirt and the ruffle. I used about 5 meters of piping. The piping at the hem adds some structure and volume, much like a horsehair braid would. Before applying the piping, I steamed it heavily with my iron to pre-shrink it.
The dress closes in the back with an Invisible Zipper
, but the combination of a gathered skirt AND the piping makes it very hard to do up around the waist. In the future, I will use a lapped zipper or skip one of the bulky elements.
Looking at these pictures, I think the dress turned out a smidge too short, about 2-3 cm. I calculated the skirt panels so that the finished length would match my petticoat, but the gathers and piping requires a bit of extra length that I forgot to add back.
Besides the short-ish length, I love EVERYTHING about this dress. I feel very cute and festive while wearing it, and I'm sure it will get some wear this season. And who knows, I might wear it for dancing around the Christmas tree on the 24th?
Again, a massive thanks goes to the team at Minerva Crafts for supplying me with the materials for this make. Please do visit my Instagram
to see more of my makes.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and peace to the world.