“Joe, she’s driving me crazy!”
Fabric: South Sea Imports 100% cotton from Korea
Pattern: Du Barry 5435
Notions: invisible zipper
Time to complete: 7-8 hours- over the weekend.
First worn: February 20, 2012
Wear again? Yes!
Total price: about 6 dollars for contrast fabric, zipper and thrifted belt buckle
My Oscar Winning inspiration this week comes from the movie “Marty”, which won best picture in 1955. I chose to channel “Virginia” played by Karen Steele. She had a small guest appearance in the movie as Marty’s cousin’s wife. I have a personal connection to this character because I played the part of Virginia in a small onstage production of “Marty” many years ago. It was great fun, butterflies and all. My husband and my mother-in-law came to see me opening night. Now my mother-in-law lives with us and has just turned 93. I’m not like Virginia though, and my mother-in-law is nothing like Tommy’s. We reside together rather peacefully.
(wikipedia) Karen Steele was born March 20 1931 and died at age 56. Her first critically acclaimed film was Marty (1955). She played Virginia and got the part because the director, Delbert Mann, confused her with an actress from New York who he and writer Paddy Chayevsky had intended to play it.
Here are a few of Virginia’s pleading lines.
Aunt Theresa, you got this big house here. I mean, you got this big house just for you and Marty. And I thought maybe Tommy’s mother could come here and live with you and Marty.
Because I called up Tommy’s brother Joe, and I said, “Joe, she’s driving me crazy. Why don’t you take her for a couple of years?” And he said, “Oh no!” I know I sound like a terrible woman…
About the dress. This was so much fun to plan and then finally put together. My daughter gave me a bolt of floral cotton, so I purchased a yard of contrasting solid to break up the flowers a bit. I decided to use Du Barry 5435 because it had that shirt dress look with buttons in the front and a belt. This pattern is 70 years old and originally costs 15 cents! I know it’s not quite 50’s like the movie “Marty”, but perhaps Virginia’s mother made it for her from her wartime pattern collection. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
I made the belt by doubling very stiff interfacing together and then I made the casing from the solid fabric and slipped it on. I covered a belt buckle using the existing belt buckle fabric as a pattern. I used a lot of glue and then I hid the back of the buckle by gluing in a piece of seam binding. The pattern pieces did not have any printed markings, only hole punches and small nicks for lining things up. The one page of directions were very understandable, and I managed to cut and sew without too many mishaps. Instead of a side-zipper, it called for snaps. I used a zipper. I wonder why that was suggested? Was the metal for zippers one of those things needed to make guns and ammunition during war time?
I adore this look and I can imagine it in more contemporary fabrics in my wardrobe.
Well, except for the blond hair, the cute little hat, and the fact that she was about 22 when she landed this part, here I am as “Virginia”.