The ‘Rescue Me’ dress

After last week’s sewing unhappiness, I was in despair.  I hated that I’d abandoned my original black and white project, adding something else to my UFO pile, and I had no idea what I wanted to make for the 1960s challenge.  I don’t do a lot of ’60s sewing: the 60’s silhouettes just don’t suit my current shape.  I almost considered skipping the challenge, but I really didn’t want to do that.

Still, no inspiration struck, so I pulled out my original black and white dress, so that at least I could get it done.  Trying it on for a fitting, I realised that the dress is quite early 60’s in shape, with its semi-full skirt and rising hemline.  And the fabulous print that first attracted me to the fabric is reminiscent of later 60s art, with its sinuous line drawings and use of positive and negative space.  Salvation!

The last bits of the dress came together with ridiculous ease considering how much heartache it caused me for the black and white challenge.  All I had to do was attach the skirt to the bodice, insert an invisible back zip (this dress is a Mena nightmare – it has two working zips), hem the dress and sew down the lining.

To add a final dollop of ’60s fun, I made a belt out of some rainbow striped pre-made belting I inherited from Nana.  It coordinates well with the coloured birds, and adds a nice splash to the dress.

It’s a good thing the last bits of finish were so easy – I had a lot on last week: an article due for a magazine, huge amounts of prep for a talk, usual work, and a bit of fun.  Mr D and I got to fly down to the South Island to visit his parents for Thanksgiving.  It’s not a Kiwi holiday, but his parents have hosted it every year since we were married to make me feel at home – I truly have the most wonderful in-laws!

We took all the pictures in their beautiful back garden, with gates opening out on to a little stream, a fish pond with little fish, and bowers of roses that matched the oversized wild roses in the fabric of the dress.

Unfortunately I don’t feel as perky and summery as the pictures look.  My immune system finally gave up the fight, and I’m surrounded by a litter of tissues and am fighting an infection.  Just the right mood for next weeks ‘Winter’ theme ;-)

Just the facts, Ma’am:

Fabric: 1.8m of Alexander Henry ‘Gemini’ cotton ($18 pm), .5m cotton voile for lining

Pattern: Self drafted, based off this dress (the one I’m wearing, not the wedding dress, though I made that too)

Year: early ’60s silhouette meets late ’60s inspired fabric meets 2011

Notions: Thread, one metal zip ($7.50), bias hemming, rainbow belting, metal buckle,

Hours: 11

First worn?: Friday 23 November (Thursday in the US) for Thanksgiving dinner

Wear again?: Yeah.  I don’t love it as much as I wanted to, but it’s a good summer dress-up dress.

Make again?: Nah, I’ve got patterns I like better

Total cost: $34.50

As a final bit of fun, this is me in front of the Hobbit hole themed luggage carousels at Wellington Airport.  The city is getting dolled up in preparation for the Hobbit premier, with banners and bunting around town, sculptures in the movie theatres and huge displays at the airport.


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.


Comments are closed.

  1. Love that fabric! I’m glad you were able to bring your black and white around to the 60’s. There were so many different looks during that decade. I like how you were able to reference both the early and the late years. You look very sweet next to the fish pond, almost like a modern (60’s) princess talking to a magic fish. ;)

    • Isn’t the fabric delicious? You can see why I fell in love with it (back in June) and broke my ‘no buying fabric’ promise.

      And thank you! Though mentions of magic talking fish reminds me how creepy that fairytale was – killing the fish and all!

  2. I think the fabric has kind of a 60’s vibe – at least in the illustration style, and it’s great you were able to finally finish it. UFO’s bother me, and I also have quite a pile.

    Though, the Hobbit themed luggage conveyor belt has me both stumped and chuffed at the same time… I’d never thought to apply the Tolkien themed stuff to such a utilitarian thing, but hey! Why not?

  3. What a great save! That fabric reminds me of prints I saw a lot in the late 60’s/early 70’s, Aubrey Beardsley-like in a hip way : ) I’m a little mystified about the Hobbit themed conveyer belt but I guess it’s a step up from the usual. Interesting to put that kind of thing into an airport but maybe I haven’t been in one lately to see that’s the norm! What will we slap an advert on next?

    • Thank you! The fabric did feel very ’60s Art Nouveau revival to me.

      Funny that you see the Hobbit luggage carousel as an advert. I guess technically it is, but I never thought of it that way. The Hobbit premier was yesterday, and there have been so many tourists from all over the world coming to Wellington specifically for it, and they get SO excited about anything Tolkein-y, so for me it’s like festival banners – it just adds to the whole experience for them. It goes with the Air NZ Middle Earth safety video and the ‘Middle of Middle-Earth’ sign on the airport, and makes people feel like they have ‘arrived’ at the end of their pilgrimage.

      Plus, Wellington’s so small that everyone is involved in the film (really, I sewed last night with the person who supplied the kgs of glitter for the film and the person who dipped all the candles, and didn’t realise it until we discussed missing the premier) so we feel like it’s ‘ours’. Except me ;-) I’ve managed to do nothing towards it!

  4. Sweet dress – it looks lovely for summer. The fabric is delightful.

  5. Lovely dress! I’m scared of how you engineered this one, but it fits you beautifully. Great print. I also loved your apron and its sweet inspiration story– my comments have been randomly bouncing back lately. Feel better now.