In response to Nikki’s comment and to clarify what I didn’t address in my latest post, here is a follow up which will explain the closure system to my Vionnet evening gown and how the buckle works.
Working with vintage parts can be rather tricky because they are slightly different than what we are used to with modern notions and sewing parts, but with some ingenuity they can be made to work in more than one way. This buckle is no exception. The back had a very odd and basic bar to the back of each half, like it was made for the ends of a belt to be looped around. The hook closure is a simple metal piece bent over to loop into an opening of the other side detail work. I have several other 1930’s buckles and they have these same features.
Now, Vionnet original plan for this dress call’s for a square decorative piece (look at the pattern piece), not even a buckle. Her original dress has four eyelet openings so that hooks in the decorative piece can loop in the openings and bring the dress in that way. Since I was working with an actual buckle, I attached the backer bars behind each side to fixed spots on my dress. This was a bit challenging…I had the measure the space between the two bars when the buckle was closed and figure that in when I was estimating where to attach the closures and how tight to bring in the dress.
At first, I merely whip-stitched the backer bars around and around directly to my dress, flat on top with no pleat or anything, at a spot of my choosing. The fabric of the front just folds in and gathers on its own under the buckle when the dress gets clasps. After a night of partying and dancing, however, the threads around the buckle back broke and I had to come up with something which gave the fabric more support. Plan two was to still sew the buckle on in the same spot in the same way but I used a small cut of some green felt, double layered, to back the buckle inside the wrong side. This works great and feels quite stable as well as not ripping out the stitches and/or fabric. The felt inside acts like a cushion for the thread to wrap tightly around (although it looks like surgery stitches), and provides a wide anchor spot to strongly bring the dress in with no appearance of even pulling at the fabric.
I hope this post clarifies any confusion as to how to use those vintage buckles you see or find and also how my emerald Vionnet dress closes. There are plenty of awesome vintage notions out there – go find that ‘perfect’ project to make them have a new life at the hands of your creativity. A little voice in the back of my head wants to “save” stuff like this…but no! Vintage pieces can really help a project shine, elevating it from special to extra-special! They might need some t.l.c., or some extra effort but it’s worth it. Have you worked a really neat vintage notion into a sewing project or had to get creative with it? Did this post help you?