The “Viva Las Vegas Elvis” Shirt Dress
Fabric: Quilting cotton given as a birthday present, Red satin sheet & pillowcase set (tons left for future linings!) bought in sales $4.99
Pattern: McCalls 6506 (Plenty by Tracey Reese)
Notions: 10 5/8″ black buttons $3
Time to complete: 23 hours
First worn: 8th April 2012
Wear again? Yes!
Total price: $8 (£5)
The challenge: “A Little Bit of Local Colour: This week, we’re using city and locales as inspiration for our creations…”
“Viva Las Vegas with your neon flashing, and your one arm bandits crashing all those hopes down the drain.
Viva Las Vegas turning day into nighttime, turning night into daytime, if you see it once you’ll never be the same again”.
Lady Luck appearing in the middle of the desert…ok, you got me, it’s me on a desert-ed road just outside Phoenix, Arizona…..but I’m channeling Vegas and Vegas Elvis.
I have a confession, I started this dress for last week’s VIP challenge. I got the fabric as a birthday present and was going to make it for my next trip to the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend (BHoF) in Las Vegas. I went last year and the city blew me away (as did the quality of burlesque performers, from all around the world, from their 20s into their 90s gracing the stage). But unfortunately money’s a bit tight so I’m having to give BHoF a year off…………but next year – you bet I’ll be there and wearing this frock!
I was very surprised that I liked Vegas as much as I did on visiting it last BHoF. I don’t gamble and I have severe social anxiety and can’t stand crowds or new places. But I’m also the biggest kid at heart (you’re all saying “nooooo reallllly?” very sarcastically now, aren’t you?) and amongst the bright lights and tackiness I felt rather at home. Actually I felt like I was just in an gigantic amusement arcade at any of my favourite seaside holidays back in the UK. Despite the amount of money that’s been spent on the decor and glitz of Las Vegas, it still feels like something stuck in the 60s and 70s…..the eras of my childhood. I can’t wait to get back there. Perhaps I’ll hitch….
And Elvis? I remember how upset people were when he died in 1977. He was probably my generation’s “do you remember where you were when….died?” as opposed to JFK or Princess Diana. I was at school. I wasn’t that bothered. Elvis was a guy who’s films they repeatedly showed on telly during the school holidays alongside The Great Escape, Summer Holiday and The Sound of Music. I didn’t really rate him. I liked the Sex Pistols. I didn’t really see what all the fuss was about.
Now I’m 2 years older than Elvis was when he died, luckily I’ve seen the error of my ways. I acknowledge the huge impact he had on music and have found myself channeling his flamboyance and showmanship through my burlesque (oooh it’s all linked) in particular a glam rock act I do (which explains the sunglasses and attached sideburns btw).
But anyway, on to the dress…..
At first I thought of just making this dress in the cards/dice fabric. But as we were doing VIP last week, that didn’t feel special or clever enough. And the beauty is always in the details. So I broke out a red satin bed set I bought in the sales to make a contrasting collar, pocket tops, button placket and belt. I used a long strip from the fitted sheet and some pieces from one of the pillowcases. But there’s still tons of the fitted sheet, a flat sheet and 3 and a half pillowcases left for loads more dress linings or details for future projects.
The problem with making something you’re telling yourself is a VIP fabric though is (well, to me anyway) this then imbues the material with a certain fragility or vulnerability, it’s special……my scissors didn’t dare cut into it…..for days. What if I made a mistake? What if I didn’t have enough material? I was using a brand new pattern too….McCalls 6506…..a shirt dress from their Spring 2012 additions, therefore not many people have made it and blogged about yet – I didn’t have the usual online advice about whether it cut big/small or had any tricky instructions to watch out for.
So the material sat in my sewing room, looking at me, cowering whenever I came near it with pins or scissors. And this is my excuse why I didn’t make it in time to be my VIP challenge dress and I’m sticking to it.
I had also planned to do a London themed or Venice themed dress for this week. I’m currently in love with Frankie Morello’s Spring/Summer 2012 collection and wanted to do a dress or blouse with Big Ben up it instead of his Leaning Tower of Pisa…..or to do a take on his Venetian Gondolier…..Venice truly is my favourite place on the earth. (But don’t worry these plans may well resurface in a week or two….).
But if I wasn’t going to finish the dress for the VIP challenge….it had stuff that related to Vegas on it…..that would fit the City challenge (Lightbulb!)
The pattern was pretty straightforward to make up although I haven’t fully mastered fitting collars to shirts or dresses yet, this being my second only time. The collar was sewn then unpicked more than twice…..complicated by the decision to make the collar larger and larger as befits my bad Elvis impersonation.
I cheated on the darts at the waist too. The pattern dictates that you should “on outside, stitch darts in bodice”. Although I did use red topstitching on most of the seams, I didn’t want to have stitching on the outside of the darts on the bodice so did them in the more traditional way on the inside.
Learning from my experiences in sizing dresses in the past few weeks I also started the dress as a 20 at the neckline/shoulder, 20 at the bust, 24 at my waist, added 1/2″ to the sides of the skirt pieces, 3/4″ to the length of the bodice pieces and 3/4″ to the hemline. And I think it all worked out pretty well.
Without a doubt I’ll be making this pattern again – I have a couple of thrifted sheets in my stash that are crying out Betty Draper at me, though I will be lengthening the skirt/ lowering the hemline for these. I stuck to the shorter, more modern length of skirt as per the pattern with this dress because I knew I wanted the red net tulle petticoat I made a few weeks back to peep out provocatively…..well Vegas is Sin City.
OK, that’s your lot. Uh huh huh, ladies and gentlemen, Tempest has left the building.