The 50s Inspired Red Dress

2 Sep

So last week I hinted at a dress I had made for my friend’s wedding out of a beautiful pinky red silk cotton mix that I bought in London. The fabric had a lovely handle with little dots all over it and I knew it would work perfectly with gathers or pleats.

The initial idea was to have pleats at the neckline which carried onto the back ending in a bow. Unfortunately it conspired that I only had a day to make the dress so all extra details went out of the window! Thankfully I had made and fitted the toile a few days earlier so all I had to do was cut and sew!

Pinned, chalked and ready to cut!

Because the fabric was slightly sheer I decided that I would need to use interlining and to keep the colour as saturated as possible I used the fashion fabric itself as an interlining. This meant I cut two of each pattern piece the same size and then hand basted each piece inside the seam allowance. Once stitched I treated the two layers as one piece of fabric.

At this point in construction  I had assumed I had some colour appropriate lining on hand, surely there must be something in my endless fabric stash?!! Unfortunately for me the best match was a white cotton which I later discovered was the downfall of this dress (more on this later).

Now usually I finish dresses for clients by basting armholes and necklines wrong sides together before attaching bias binding and hand stitching to the lining. However when you have 2 hours left of daylight and sore shoulders bagging out my bodice section and understitching seemed the best (and quickest) option for a dress that only I was going to see the inside of.

Snipping to the stitch line at the centre front ensures a sharp V shape when the bodice is turned.

The next step was to gather the skirt and attach to the bodice at the waist before sewing up the centre back and inserting an invisible zip.

I put the zip in slightly differently than I usually do which resulted in a large gap at the top, if I’d had time I would have liked to put loops and buttons to close the dress but instead I stuck to good old hooks and eyes. At this point I tried on the dress (which was very tight!) and decided to let it out a little and add plastic boning to the back and side seams to give a smoother finish.

I also decided to make a soft petticoat to go underneath the dress to enhance the skirt and make it more vintage looking. The top section is a swiss-dot cotton gauze and I used a soft tulle with a pink ribbon trim (to match my amazing Vivienne Westwood shoes!)

So here it is! Apologies for the creases, when I looked back at the wedding photos I realised there was no full length pictures of me in the dress so this picture is of the dress post-wedding-in-a-field!

I loved wearing the dress and I’m still head over heels for the fabric but the neckline was a nightmare! At every opportunity the bright white lining kept riding up at the front ruining my lovely neckline!

See?! I was constantly readjusting myself which is not a good look! Now I think this is a combination of things: The fabric and lining are different weights, the lining might have been slightly bigger for some reason, the neckline might have stretched or maybe because the dress was only lined to the waist? What do you think readers? Have you had this problem before? I’d love to hear you’re feedback on this!

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4 Responses to “The 50s Inspired Red Dress”

  1. Carolyn September 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    I love your dress. The fabric is drool-worthy, and the gold belt is a nice touch. Maybe some under-stitching at the neckline would help hold the lining down. Failing that, you could top-stitch the neckline.

  2. Kerri September 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Fabulous RED! You look wonderful in it.

    I probably would have used a red lining to avoid/obscure any lining peeking out. You should also understitch the lining (if you didn’t) right near the seam line taking care to catch the interior seam edges. This will cause the lining to roll under and remain out of view after being pressed down. Great slip with the red ribbon edging.

  3. Fickle Sense September 2, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    I had the same problem with a dress that I made for a wedding.. but the lining ended up adding to the dress. It made me realise how the colour of the lining can add to the design of the dress. So it actually turned out for me.
    Your dress looks great!

  4. rosebetweenthorns September 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    That you for your comments! The strange thing about it is I did understitch the whole neckline and I used fusible interfacing on the neckline of the lining to keep it from stretching out of shape, so technically it shouldn’t have rolled up? I think with fitted dresses like this I should always use my tried and tested bias binding method, it’s time consuming but worth it!

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