Hot! The ‘Red Lips Kiss My Blues Away’ remake

Your soundtrack:  Red Lips Kiss My Blues Away (obviously!) and PorcelainToy’s Monsters, because (super exciting!) I did the costuming!  You can’t get more music-y than that!  More pictures and the story here if you are interested.

Anyway, back to this week, my inspiration:

Red Lips Kiss My Blues Away sheet music cover art. 1927. Via the Illinois University Library Collection

This dress is not at all what I’d meant to make for the Music challenge.  I had been planning to re-make it ever since February when the first version didn’t exactly set my world on fire, but I’d thought I’d re-do it for the Gatsby Challenge.

But my original plans for the music challenge, involving metres and metres of blue crepe, went sadly awry and made me very blue indeed.  So I needed something to chase those blues away, and what better than one of my favourite songs, a Little Bit of Red, and some Besamé Red lipstick?

It’s not a perfect match to the Red Lips Kiss My Blues Away cover art, but I thought with a bit of tweaking the Little Bit of Red dress could effectively capture the mood of the poster, and rescue my sewing week (plus get something off my UFO pile).

So I completely pulled apart my Little Bit of Red Dress, re-shaped the bodice, re-set the bodice ruffles, took in the skirt, cut hip ruffles, hemmed said hip ruffles, put the whole thing back together and tacked everything down on the inside with little-tiny hand stitches..  It took just as long as just making a whole new dress, but I don’t mind, because at least this means that I actually love this dress now.

And I do.  It’s mad.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s preposterous.  It has hip ruffles.  It’s completely frumpy and dowdy and yet inexplicably charming, in the way only a late ’20s/early ’30s frock with hip ruffles can be.

For the photoshoot Mr D and I celebrated the return of my camera (Yay Canon!) and took advantage of an exceptionally warm day in winter to risk photographing me in a little silk dress.  For the background we drove round the bays to a particularly picturesque portion of the waterfront for photos.

I paired the dress with a red ribbon and my newest addition to my vintage shoe collection: blue suede heels with bows.  Swoon.  They may be slightly OOP, but they go perfectly with the dress.  Risking the suede at the edge of the water and in wet gravel was probably a bit naughty of me, but they survived just fine.

What you can’t see in the photos is that I am also wearing a silk slip, a silk camisole, silk tap pants, thick stockings (with seams up the back) and am still turning blue.

What you can see behind me is Miramar Peninsula, home to my favourite restaurant, the movie theatre from the Little Bit of Magic photoshoot, and Weta Workshops.  Also lots of boats, the occasional kayaker or seagull, and just off to the left in the widest angle shots, Wellington International Airport, which you will be flying in to when you come to visit me.  Right?

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: 3 metre of 1930s inspired silk chiffon. $30

Pattern: Excella E3137

Year: 1932

Notions: thread

And the insides?  Erm.  Not my best effort.  A combination of french seams, pinked seams, and plain-old-mess where the skirt meets the bodice.  That’s OK, it will only ever be hand-washed.

Hours: Another 4.5 hours (for a total of 9 on this dress)

First worn?: Saturday 10 August, just for the photoshoot (cold.  winter.  cold.  brr.)

Wear again?: Yes, when summer comes

Make again?: Nope.  At least not until I’ve tried all my other ’30s patterns.

Total cost: $30



Leimomi Oakes - The Dreamstress

Leimomi Oakes learned to sew as a child in Hawaii, and hasn't spent a day without doing it in the-more-years-than-she-would-like-to-admit-to since. When she was 18 she was nicknamed 'The Dreamstress' and bought the domain name, and now she's stuck with it. After getting degrees in Art History, Costume Design and International Relations she worked in a number of fabulous museums before going freelance as a textile and fashion historian and historical seamstress. She lives in Wellington New Zealand with a lovely husband and a world-famous cat.


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  1. Leimomi! That looks amazing! love all of it the dress the print, and the scenery, I bet you needed a hot chocolate after that photo shoot, and a blanket.

    Are you around in January and can you pick us up from the Airport? Only kidding!

    Top effort!

    • Thank you! I’m so pleased to have this dress to a point where I am happy with it. There was definitely a cup of tea and a huddle in front of the heater after.

      I’m not sure where I’ll be in Jan – probably in front of the sewing machine making Art Deco weekend dresses. A jaunt to the airport to help out a fellow Sew-weekly-er might be just the break I need ;-)

  2. So cute! And I love the way you styled your hair. And the umbrella!

  3. No matter what it looks like inside, your dress looks AMAZING on the outside! The hip ruffles are actually cute! The print on the silk chiffon is just perfect. Love it!

  4. You really think you won’t wear that beautiful dress again? You look so amazing in it. I love it-

    You know I tried to order some blue sued shoes last week only to find that (after too much deliberating on my part) they sold out. I ordered taupe instead. I’m going to Graceland for my birthday so I will definitely need a pair before then.

    Great pictures and styling too.

    • Oh, I’ll definitely be wearing it again – just not until the weather warms up! It’s the pattern I doubt I’ll make again – it’s pretty distinctive.

      Boo that you couldn’t get blue suede shoes. The taupe ones you got instead are pretty awesome, but you can’t beat blue suede shoes!

  5. Great photos, they really set a mood for the dress.

  6. Love what you did to the dress.. It’s really precious. It has so many interesting fluttery features. It seems like it ‘s a lot of fun to wear. Your photos are really charming. Love the shoes and the umbrella.

  7. A ’30s silk chiffon dress for $30? Amazing. I love that transition period between ’20-’30s, and I LOVE all of your Excella patterns. It must have been expensive (but fun) collecting them.

    • There is a fabulous story to that silk – I saw it made as a (very boring) blouse by a NZ designer, and I WANTED the fabric so much. I dreamed of that silk for months, and then one day it showed up on TradeMe (like Ebay) for $10 a metre. I couldn’t believe it, and snapped it up immediately! Very happy times!

      And my patterns were given to me, almost before I knew how very, very lucky I was to get them!

  8. I loved that dress first go round and I love it more now! I wish we lived closer so I could borrow the pattern. You did an amazing job…sigh…and I’m always on the hunt for the “perfect” red lipstick, yours is stunning.

    • Thank you! Maybe we could do a pattern trade – I’ll do a copy of this one for you, and you can do a copy of something in your collection for me :-)

      The lipstick is Besamé ‘Red’. It’s a California based company that does repro vintage colours, so you should be able to source it. It’s my favourite red (and finding a good red is so hard).

  9. Gorgeous! you must have frozen though if the weather in Nelson is anything to go by! Love the ruffles and your hair too!

  10. WOW Lemomi you really are The Dreamstress. You are such a talent. Your dress the photos, styling… perfection.

  11. You look MARVELOUS! Love this floaty dream of a dress on you, and you are just so fetching in red lipstick! And yay for blue shoes – they work perfectly with the dress, I think

  12. Yay, you did the hip ruffles after all! :) (I was going to write this already 2 weeks ago but just never found the time) It looks great on you and I am very impressed at how brave you are posing in such a thin summer dress in the cold. The photos turned out very pretty.