Linen Keyhole Dress
Posted on Sunday the 27th August 2017 by Tip Top Sewing
When most of us say vintage-inspired clothes we usually imagine something modest, elegant and requiring meters of fabric. Even though it makes perfect sense, 50s clothes can be completely different - revealing, seductive and the one you can use just over a meter of fabric for. Today's project is all about that!
I wanted to sew a keyhole dress for quite a long time. It's not exactly my go-with-everything casual type of style, but there is something alluring for me in the fact that this little detail is revealing, but it doesn't show off what should be covered. Brilliant idea, isn't it? As soon as I saw this Butterick Sewing Pattern
, I knew I had to sew. Ironically I found out the story about it only after my plans for this dress were already established, which made it an even more exciting project! According to Gertie, who designed this pattern, her source of inspiration was Marilyn Monroe's red dress from the Niagara film (I should add here that it's literally the only film I haven't seen with her). What can excite me even more about sewing this dress than the fact that it's made to look like one of the 50s style fashion icons? Only the fact that I intuitively picked red Dressmaking Fabric
My fabric of choice is linen. It's a stiff and solid material which worked quite well for this project. I'd highly recommend to pre-wash it since linen is naturally very shrinkable. To give you an idea - my 1.5 m fabric ended up being a 1.34 m one after two machine cycles on 40 degrees. But that's something to be prepared for with linen, so always get a bit more than you need for your project.
This dress requires Lining Fabric
so I picked lavender acetate one. The linen texture is a bit see-through, so the lining is not only a must but also something that a dictates the general undertone of the color. My lavender one gave it a darker shade, while, for example, a red one will make your dress a bit brighter.
I really liked this pattern. Just like all of the Butterick patterns, it fits me surprisingly well in the back, bodice and hips area. The only real concern I had was with the bust details. Even though this pattern is painfully obviously designed for modest busts, I felt my bust line lays a bit lower than where it should be. I fixed that by extending the midriff details for about 2 cm (both back and front ones). I also decided to alter the sleeve details so they don't fall off the shoulders and bring the bodice up a bit. Even though it all sounds a bit complicated, it didn't take me much time to alter the pattern after I tried on my muslin.
I'd say that the only downside of this pattern is the instructions. I usually ignore them anyway, but it was especially essential this time. Unfortunately, mistakes and confusing information start as early as on the stage of cutting the pattern pieces. For example, the pattern says you need to cut 2 pieces of midriff front detail from both main fabric and lining, even though you only need one of each.
Another change I made was with the skirt. I shortened it, as always, and made it a bit more close-fitting. And, of course, I opted for the classic back vent instead of a regular slit. Sounds like a lot of changes, but most of them are my personal preferences, not the fact that you can't sew this dress without them.
I'm really happy I've decided to be a bit braver than usual and sew this dress. I was worried that it's going to be vulgar or just "too much" in general, but I think it looks quite acceptable. In my opinion, this pattern can be used for cocktail and evening dresses by brave retro girls that aren't scared to use commercial patterns and love to appear seductive without looking vulgar.
To achieve this look you've got all the essential supplies on Minerva Crafts!