Monday, August 8, 2011

The Precocious Kid's Art Project Dress

Husband and I got married last summer, a little before the school year began. As soon as they found out I was a newlywed, all my freshmen girls wanted to know if I was going to have kids right way. Apparently they love babies, and were super eager for me to have one for them to ooh and aah over. I, on the other hand, was like "Oh, no, we're not planning on having any babies. We'll just have five cats." They thought I was serious, gullible things that they are; there was a great outcry, and they immediately began trying to convince me why babies are awesome. You know, they make these adorable wailing noises, create beautiful brown poop, have crusty bits coming out of their noses when they're sick, and need help to do everything. Ummm, no thanks. As I said to my AP Biology kids, they're just like little parasites feeding off of the poor host, i.e. mom.

Don't I look thrilled about the idea of a baby?
No, but really, all joking aside, we're just not ready for babies yet. Financially or emotionally. I've never been one of those girls who gushes over babies and their cuteness (usually, the best I can come up with is that they have incredibly large cheeks), and currently Walnut is the only baby we need. So the closest I'm getting to those tiniest humans, at least for now, is this dress. The fabric is, for once, not a thrifted bedsheet OR a remnant; I bought it new and had it cut at IKEA because I loved how cheerful it is. It looks like a kid took a bunch of crayons and started drawing all sorts of flowers, albeit a really artistically-advanced kid because everything looks really pretty and perfect, and I'm pretty sure most of the kids I know couldn't have produced it. Anyway, the fabric is 100% cotton, so it was pleasant to sew with and easy to press. Unfortunately, I only bought 2 yards of it a year ago, and it appears to be sold out, so things got a little tricky during the dress-making.

I decided to finally break into one of the vintage patterns that I picked up at the thrift store a month ago, a size 10 Vogue Patterns Misses' "fitted and flared, wrap sleeveless dress." It's marked as 9458, but I can't find any references on the pattern or online to the date of the pattern. Given that it's only one size, and patterns began to be dated in the 1980s, I'm guessing it's from somewhere in the 1970s? I was super excited to be sewing my first vintage pattern, especially when I opened up the envelope and saw how different patterns looked back then! I'm sure this is no surprise to seamstresses who are used to such things, but I was floored by the fact that the pattern ONLY COMES IN ONE SIZE.
Click to see larger pic of the measurements.
For someone who's only ever seen 4-12 or 6-10 or 14-20, it's just weird to think that I had better choose the right size right away, because there's no other option in the envelope! I was hesitant when I bought it, since I wasn't sure about being a size 10 -- the body measurements given on the back of the envelope are definitely smaller than mine -- but I figured I usually cut patterns meant for those measurements and they turn out fine because of the ease that pattern-makers think I want, but I don't actually.

The pattern envelope is pretty beat up, but the pieces inside are all intact and already cut out. There was one missing piece, the front bodice, but based on the layout drawings it looks pretty similar to the back piece, so I was able to recreate it fairly well. The pattern pieces all have these cute machine foot icons indicating where to stitch, as well as lines marked for topstitching. The instruction sheets were pretty clear, and I actually followed them this time since I've never made a dress like this before! I was also pleasantly surprised to find an insert that you can use to subscribe to Vogue Patterns Magazine! I love seeing these snippets of vintage life (and pricing!).
Click to read 1970s ad copy.
Amazing! This form itself is worth FOUR Jack in the Box tacos!

Cutting out the pattern pieces was a little tricky, since, as I said, I only had 2 yards of fabric and the pattern calls for 2.5 yards. I ended up cutting the lining from a white sheet instead of the fashion fabric, as well as making the back skirt piece about four inches narrower and cutting the super long front waistband in some navy leftover from the Ondine's Curse Dress. I think the darker fabric ends up working really well, actually. The dress went together really easily and quickly, and I was the most careful I've ever been while topstitching. I must say, I really love how simple and yet ingenuous this dress is! Also, I'm enamored with the idea of a well-fitting dress with no zipper. Even though I think I'm pretty decent with zippers now (a far cry from a year ago, when putting in an actually invisible invisible zipper was number one on my list of things to master), I still don't like them.
A look at how this dress works. I love how the snaps look!
Giant Carrot Guy models the dress to show how the back piece wraps around.

Putting on the dress is a little weird, since there are no zippers. The whole thing looks like two aprons attached at the neck-ties. The back "apron" buttons in the front (I used metallic snaps, because I've been dying to use some since finding Make It-Love It's tutorial), then the front "apron" comes down over it and ties at the back. The side pieces are low, so I can't wear a normal bra with this dress, unfortunately -- sticky chicken breasts it is! The tie is oddly short, not nearly long enough for a bow, which I guess is okay.
This is how it looks with the front piece down and wrapped and tied.

This is the kind of dress where I am definitely wearing a slip, just in case the wrap decides to unwrap.

All in all, this dress was a fascinating piece of history to construct, and definitely the most unique dress I've made so far! I love the shape of the skirt and the cheeriness of the fabric. At about $12 for the fabric, it's a little more expensive than my usual me-made dresses, but still better than buying ready-made.
Here I am, copying the poses from the envelope. Walnut is significantly heavier and squirmier than a basket of flowers, so I had to use my other arm. Also, that scarf really does not match.

1 comment:

  1. I love this dress, Cindy! So unique! I want one;) Glad I could have a sneak preview!


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