The “Princess Elizabeth at the Dog Park” Dress

The Facts

Fabric: Reproduction quilting cotton, $16
Pattern: Simplicity 4662, $2
Year: c. 1945
Notions: Two buttons, belt buckle
Time to complete: 5 hours
First worn: June 2012
Wear again? Yes!

Total Cost: ~$18

 

I just have to say: what a difference a week makes. I’m certainly not in Las Vegas anymore. When I talked to my mother on the phone she lovingly teased me and asked “what’s the deal with that ‘come hither’ look?” I tried to explain that “my art” called for that look but she wasn’t having any of that. So this week, here’s my very proper homage to the Queen.

Wow. I looked at a lot of photographs of Princess/Queen Elizabeth this week. With so many years and styles to choose from, I had the most difficult time narrowing down the look I wanted to replicate. Because I’ve been wanting yet another casual 1940s shirtwaist dress, I eventually chose late 1940s Princess Elizabeth, particularly this light blue dress she wears with the most amazing hat.

I happen to think the black and white photo below is probably one of her most stunning “on-duty” shots. And yes, again, oh wow, that hat!

While my variation of the dress is far more “house” and less “examing the troops” dress, I tried to capture the essence of the Princess from this period.

My hat, while not as spectacular, came from an antique store in St. Paul, MN.

I am actually quite pleased with how the dress came together. When I first began sewing my dresses at the end of 2009, I flocked to these practical dresses from the mid 1940s. It’s a testament to the time I’ve spent sewing (I’ve been doing this for at least 10,000 hours by now, right? Right? Maybe not.) that I no longer need to read the pattern instructions to pull together one of these guys.

It helps that Simplicity 4662 was incredibly easy to work with. As usual, I decided to take some shortcuts. Namely, not making true button/buttonholes, but instead stitching the bodice closed and attaching the buttons as faux fasteners. And, of course, I left out the zipper. While I think the dress looks a tad bit bulky in the photographs, I actually quite love how it fits and find it to be flattering. With the gloves, purse, pearls and hat, I’m definitely erring on the matronly side of things. But come on, this is a Queen Elizabeth homage. That woman has been accessorizing like crazy for her entire life.

And finally, a bit about my location. I headed to my local dog park in desperate hopes of spying a corgi or two. A couple days ago I saw someone in my neighborhood walking their own corgi and had the impulse to ask them if I could borrow their dog for my photo shoot. I didn’t, and instead decided to try my luck at a wild corgi sighting. Unfortunately there was no corgii in the vicinity so I had to settle for a photo with my uncooperative dog, Maddy.

Because I wanted to take photos with her, she decided (for the first time in her life) that she was actually going to play with the other dogs and subsequently ignored me. Go figure that I suddenly have a quite functional dog.

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.

29 Comments

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  1. What a lovely bright dress – you look fresh, as if all of the cobwebs have been blown away. I envy your ability to pull together a dress so quickly yet effectively.(my 40′s dress is still sitting partly on my dummy and partly on my table.

    • Thanks, Jen! There’s nothing like a trip to the dog park dressed like this to put a smile on your face. Don’t sweat not finishing things. My pile of UFOs mocks me too.

  2. Love the dress. You look refreshed. Sorry your mom wasn’t all about your “come hither” look. You could have borrowed my Corgi/Lab. He doesn’t look much like one but he is half. He looks more like a stunted black Lab.

    • Thanks, Bethany! Oh my mom was just having some fun with me. She loves all my photos and is my biggest fan. Thanks for the corgi loan offer!

  3. I love it! and your right, that B&W snap is quite stunning. Are your photos taken at Fort Funston? That’s were I went walking with my Grandpa and his dog on my last trip to San Fran! adorable dog galore! :)

  4. You are a star, you went to your dog park dressed as The Queen – hilarious! You are quite the mimic and you have her mannerisms down perfectly (as you did with Wallis Simpson). Looks like you had fun – sorry about your mum, she knows you have a child right?!

  5. I love it! You’ve evoked Elizabeth, but the slightly shorter length and brighter colours updates it (and makes it look very American in a way I can’t quite explain). It makes me want to be brave about making allover floral 40s dresses – something which always scares me.

    I’ve never seen that image of QE before, (though I suppose she was Princess Elizabeth at the time), and she is indeed very glamorous. Thank you for posting it!

  6. This is great! That dress is awesome. Very Elizabethesque. I love the shape, and it looks so easy to wear. You’ve also managed to make that quilting cotton look very flowy. I was cracking up at your hopes of a wild corgi sighting. Too funny!

  7. Oh Mena, I love the last photo, you can see the joy of sewing on your face. What a great smile and it looks stunning on. I like the idea of sewing the front close, I usually shy away from dresses like this and this would solve my shyness.

  8. You look quite lovely, ma’am.

  9. I love this dress! That color blue is just great with your skin. What I’m wondering though, is if you sew the bodice closed and have no zip, how do you pull it over your head? Doesn’t the waist get stuck on your shoulders or your hips? I would love to omit a closure with my 40s dresses.

  10. I was kinda blushing at your look last week myself. haha! you do really have “come hither” down if you ever need it.
    This dress is a great interpretation and I enjoyed reading about your dog park shoot. The last picture is my favorite. Maybe I”ll be able to do the “my best friend just told an inside joke” smile to my camera in another year.

  11. Back to your old self! This is lovely. I’m really late with the challenge this week because I’ve been glued to the tv watching all the celebrations. Haven’t seen anything so spectacular in a long time – really didn’t think the Jubilee celebrations would be so well done. Have just seen a tribute from President Obama full of warmth. I’ll remember it all for a long time.

  12. I really love your interpretation of this look! I love all of your accessories, especially the gloves and pin.

    And I love that your mom is still so…mom-like, lol. I thought you looked hot last week, and that it was the point of the photo shoot.

  13. Absolutely delightful!!! Love the color on you, and you look like a queen!

  14. That is so so gorgeous and I love the fabric!!

  15. Too cute! I also hopped to run into a corgi on our photoshoot outing. Alas, none were to be found. If the jubilee had been in October I might have had my own! We’re hopefully adopting a dog after we move to a pet-friendly apartment in the fall, and corgis are one of the few breeds husband and I can agree on.
    Anyway, I’m constantly impressed with your ability to find prints that match your inspiration so well. You must live in Fabric Mecca. Beautiful job!

  16. I love this dress. Great colors – even the colors of the Union Jack.

  17. I love this dress. Looks beautiful on you.. And the fabric is perfect.. Happy sewing.

  18. You look so happy in this outfit. It’s a charming dress, elegant and sophisticated with the lovely hat, gloves, and purse. Great interpretation of the princess.You really captured her look and spirit.

  19. Queen Mena, fabulosity rating? charming!

  20. Mena, you amaze me….you are a fashion chameleon. Your ability to morph into different styles, looks, decades each week….I am in awe. This is such a fresh, happy dress. I’m also mega impressed at your dispensing with real buttons and zip and still make it look like it fits so well (even if you know it’s a bit bulky matronly, it doesn’t show).

  21. You are one of the most photogenic people I know – I love the last photo of you laughing! You are totally rocking the accessories for this challenge, and I definitely love the fabric print – it works perfectly with this dress :)

  22. This is positively charming! A perfect pairing of fabric and pattern and a delightful take on the Queen’s style.

  23. Awesome as always. I think the fabric is my favorite part though.

  24. I just wanted to say that this theme made my day. I’m working at summer camp and was away from last thursday till yesterday. Some workers are internationals from different parts of Britain, Australia, Tazmania, and New Zealand, and told us about Queen’s Day and how it would’ve earned them a 4 day weekend back home. On Tuesday we painted British flag designs on our faces and the internationals broke out their patriotic attire and we all had “proper” British tea and went around shouting GOD SAVE THE QUEEN! and I LOVE LIZZIE; SHE’S THE BEST! And then I come home to find this theme. I smiled sooo huge when I saw it :)