The “Yellow Rose of Texas” Dress
Fabric: Yellow cotton/polyester blend king size sheet from Alemany flea market – $2
Pattern: Simplicity 1926 ~$15 (including S&H) from Etsy
Year: c. 1945
Notions: Lace & Belt buckle — ~$1
Time to complete: 6 hours
First worn: January 2011
Wear again? Yes! Yes! Yes! I think this summer will be the summer of Simplicity 1926!
Total Cost: ~$18
With a runtime of about three and a half hours, George Steven's 1956 film, Giant, is as expansive and epic as Texas itself. The unrequited love in question is that of Jett Rink (James Dean) for Leslie Benedict (Elizabeth Taylor.) She's the wealthy wife of cattle rancher Jordan Benedict (Rock Hudson) and Dean is nothing more than a loner field hand (or something). The love affair is completely one-sided, however, and Dean spends most of his life mumbling through a glass of whiskey and trying to one-up the Benedicts.
I do have to say that while the unrequited love theme in Giant is writ large, I'm a bit more partial to the redemption of Jordan Benedict at the end of the film, as the The Yellow Rose of Texas plays on the jukebox (watch that scene here). It's the subplot of the mistreatment of the Mexican-American and Mexican workers that gets me every time.
Therefore it makes total sense that for my Giant dress, my inspiration comes from the two dresses that have the most Mexican roots: the dress that Leslie wears to her welcome barbacoa and the outfit that her daughter, Luz, wears about twenty-five years later. And, of course, my other inspiration being the Yellow Rose of Texas.
The dress pattern, Simplicity 1926, is from the mid-1940s that I luckily found on Etsy last week. Although I had originally planned on making more of a Western-styled skirt and shirt combination, this pattern was too perfect to pass up. I had purchased the yellow sheet on the same day — a steal at $2.
It was actually quite a pleasure to make up this dress. I started and finished on the day I received the pattern in the mail. It took six hours, but I really took my time to make sure I did everything as perfectly as I could possibly do. The only real pain was the gathering. I kind of hate distributing gathers. But because I had been a good seamstress and made sure to make all my notches, it came together quite well.
My favorite part of the dress is the belt. Even though I've had that buckle forever (it was part of a lot I purchased on Etsy), I've never had the right dress to make it work. I absolutely love how it adds personality to the dress.
And as luck had it, I found the lace while thrifting last week. For about $1, I got a GIGANTIC spool of about 400 yards of ivory lace. I believe that lace will be present in many a creation this year.