Hot! The “Support of My Friends” Dress

Blue-floral-mena

The Facts

Fabric: Vintage rayon from Vintage Fashion Expo – ~$20
Pattern: McCall 6816 from Etsy – ~$9
Year: c. 1947
Notions: Vintage zipper — ~$.005
Time to complete: 6 hours
First worn: January 2011
Wear again? Once I find a bra that works.

Total Cost: ~$30

Despite the fact that I'm not a professional model (no, really??), I've tried to channel all that I've learned on America's Top Model. While I'm incapable of smizing, I know how to think funny, happy thoughts. However, that laugh above is 100% natural. To find out what I was laughing at, read to the end of this post.

My weekly creation is actually the second dress I attempted within the theme of blue floral fabric. The first dress suffered from, what I wrote about in the theme introduction, "Mother Harper" syndrome. Or at least, that's how I felt about it. While the fabric was certainly beautiful, I just felt a bit too matronly in it.

image from farm6.static.flickr.com

I really liked how the top half of the dress looked, but I felt that it was just too long. And because I like to go to one extreme to another, I butchered too much off of the bottom and made a dress that was, well, too short by about an inch. 

Blue-floral-before-after

Butterick8509 The pattern for this dress, by the way, was Butterick 8509 and the fabric was new — purchased at Fabric Outlet in San Francisco for about $12.

What drives me crazy about the hem length is not so much the shortness, but the waste of a good gored skirt. I always remember to shorten my skirts the "good way." That is, by reducing the length below the natural waistline. For some reason, I completely blanked and created a dress that I knew was too long almost immediately. But we all live and learn.

Thanks to Krissy for taking the forest photos and encouraging me to post about this dress.

But, hey, there's another dress to talk about!

So what's the way to rebound from a discouraging sewing experience? Oh, I know! How about sewing a untested pattern with prized vintage rayon? 

It turns out my prized vintage rayon wasn't as great as I thought. It seems that when I bought it at the Vintage Fashion Expo, I hadn't noticed that there were little rips and holes throughout the 2 3/4 yards. It's been in my stash for about a year and I never bothered checking the condition of the fabric. It was this fact that made me much more at ease when cutting. For the most part, I was able to cut around the holes.

The pattern is yet another 1940s pattern that I bought recently on Etsy. McCall 6816 had a few instructions that I would change on the next go. For one, they instruct to simply hem the bows, rather than self-facing them closed (or whatever you'd call that method). The front and back of my fabric was similar enough for it not to matter, but I just can't get a hem that looks as polished as enclosed bow. Additionally, the dress called for snaps up the side and I went with a dress placket 10" zipper. 

I actually tried my usual trick of basting it closed and trying to get it on, but that didn't work out so well. There's just so much contortions I can do to get into a dress.

Blue-floral-v3

The next time I make this dress, I'm going to use a heavier weight material. I chose rayon because I felt that this was a very Grecian sort of style that would benefit greatly from a fabric that draped nicely. However, there are two things in my life that don't really appreciate this sort of lightweight freedom. The strapless bra I was wearing doesn't help much, either.

And now the answer to the question "What was I laughing at?"…

I had just looked at the previous photos on the camera and had seen what my husband had called "a Jawa hiding behind the column." That Jawa is our daughter, trying to be discreet. She stayed "hidden" for a while as I snapped the next few shots.

Jawa

Author

Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.

26 Comments

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  1. Although I really like both dresses I do prefer the ‘miss’! I just absolutely LOVE the fabric!!!! Why o why don’t we have fabric like that in my country (The Netherlands)??? I would love the have some…
    Also like the foto’s and your jawa!! So cute…

  2. Mena – that blue floral is fantastic – the dress, the photo, the fabric – nothing dowdy about that combo!! Well done. I’m loving the outdoor photos!

  3. Too good! I LOL-ed as well!
    Such an adventure in fabric and love your ambition with this challenge! Yay for posting the other effort too, it’s my one thing with vintage materials and vintage patterns is to make it look modern on me. I’m short and dumpy all the time, and there’s no way I can rock a Mama look!
    xoxo

  4. your “mistake” dress is stunning. i would not call that a miss at all. the other one is nice too, but you already knew that.

  5. I love both your dresses! And you look fantastic in both of them, I definitely agree with everyone else, that dress is certainly not a ‘miss’.

  6. OMG she totally looks like a Jawa poking out. How funny!
    I absolutely adore this dress! Even if it’s too light to help support the girls, it looks great on you. :)

  7. I agree with everyone else, I love them both. The second one I like just a little bit more. The peeking Jawa is the icing on the cake!

  8. I like the one-shoulder dress, but I LOVE the “dowdy” one. That style is gorgeous and the fabric is perfect for it. Too bad it didn’t work out.

  9. Oh my, this is stunning!

  10. Both dresses are beautiful. I think the first dress still can be saved. You could purchase some flat 1/2″ or 3/4″ in lace sew it on the bottom then add whatever length you feel would be comfortable. It would add a nice touch & new dimension to the dress. I can’t find a picture on the internet – yet – I’ll keep looking.

  11. They’re both beauties! But the 2nd one is really fabulous, I think. What a great pattern, and the material and print seem to fit it. That’s a blue floral that’s not dowdy at all! In fact, it’s rather sprightly!

  12. You are so cute. I love the Grecian style dress a lot it looks great and as always you sewed it perfect.
    I like the other dress to but it did look a bit “Mama” before you shortened it. I noticed you also tied the bow up higher on the shorter dress and that too made it look cuter. Really I thought 40′s shop girl with the shorter dress.
    With the bow hanging down and the longer length the dress looked like dresses so many women wore in the late 50′s early 60′s when I was a wee girl.
    And Little Miss is way too cute hiding behind the pillar.

  13. Girl – you look like an old-timey movie star in these dresses!

  14. I just love your poses and photos! I can’t wait until it gets warm here in Virginia so I can go outdoors to take photos of my finished garments.
    The first dress doesn’t seem too short to me, but maybe I’m seeing it differently because of your pose. And I love the shoulder tie on the second dress! There are some one-shoulder dresses I’m not crazy about, but this one is adorable! And I think the fabric is very pretty, but I’m a sucker for blue and flowers.

  15. I think both dresses are super cute!

  16. Wow, both of those dresses are absolutely gorgeous. Do you take orders, by any chance?

  17. It’s posts like this that make me feel like I am truly missing out by not pulling out my sewing machine and really learning how to sew- both of these dresses are so beautiful and so unique, and the fabric is so lovely- fantastic job, and I don’t think that hemline on the second dress is too short at all- you are rocking it! Those forest photos are great BTW- and, even though you are wearing sunglasses, I think you got the SMIZING thing down pat. :)

  18. I love the length of the skirt on the dress you don’t prefer. I think it’s quite spring-y and makes the dress less matronly. :)

  19. I really love your Butterick 8509 dress! I think the shorter length is great on you – shows off your lovely gams! :) If you wanted to lengthen it still, I’d add a band of solid red to the hem.

  20. Love It. All of them! The long one is not very Mother Harper looking, Its modest.
    Im definitely doing this challenge.

  21. You look stunning in both dresses especially this recent one! STUNNING!

  22. I know you’re not wild about trousers, but I’m thinking that the first dress would be super cute lopped off and turned into a top. That fabric is too beautiful to not wear.
    I always see people wearing light blue and think they look splendid; then I try it on and feel like an old lady. You’re definitely onto something with Mama!

  23. I’m not keen on one shoulder dresses but the colour looks sooo good on you and the shape of the skirt is gorgeous.

  24. I’m in love with the first dress, I like the knot in the neck especially, do not think it is too short, however, it is true that the second dress looks more youthful. I can´t choose one …

  25. I love the second dress, love the fabric, love the style.