The “Embellished Sack” Dress
Fabric: Wool weave – ~$1 for 6 yards
Pattern: Butterick 4102
Notions: Braid trim ~ .50
Year: c. mid 1960s
Time to complete: About 10 hours
First worn: December 2010
Wear again? Sure
Total Cost – $1.50
There’s nothing like a grey wool shift dress to make you feel really sexy. Particularly one with a high neckline. That just feels Russian factory worker from the 1960s sexy. (No offense to former Russian factory workers from the 1960s who read this blog).
I had 6 1/2 yards of this grey wool weaved fabric that I wanted to make stretch. My goal was to be able to make a simple 1960s dress, a fuller 1950s dress and a jacket. I actually had three patterns that would all fit on about 6 1/2 yards of 60″ width fabric. Well, this is the first thing I ventured in creating and, because of a bunch of work, came out fairly successful. It required alterations to the dress an a bit of hand sewing. Both incredibly fun things I just love to do at 2am in the morning.
The first version of my dress was pretty true to the original pattern. I’ll spare you the photo of the dress on me because there’s nothing flattering about it. It didn’t fit horribly, but it just was incredibly dull and unflattering.
I did take a photograph of it on my dress form, however. Here it is in all its drab glory:
The sleeves were the first things to go. As much as I love wearing vintage patterns, there are some elements that I always find to be too dating. Bell sleeves are one of those things. Because I didn’t make the longer sleeve version, I thought I’d be safe. I wasn’t. So off they went.
The next thing I did was take in the waistline. My biggest lesson? I really prefer an early 1960s silhouette. At this point I realized that my goal was basically to make it into Simplicity 3836. Even with these modifications, the dress just needed something else. That’s where the braid came in. For it, I basically took a really long braid and tied bows about every 4 inches. I then placed them on the dress on the dress form and then pin/basted them on by hand. After that, I went over the stitches with my machine.
As a proof of concept, I’m happy with how they turned out. The dress may not be my favorite, but it’s still a promising start to my future couturier career.