Roses are always lovely, and red and green are so stereotypical of Christmas. Thus, for a yearly fancy holiday festivity (sponsored by hubby’s work), I went and made a dress which made the best of both – a textured rose satin in a blue-green turquoise. This dress throws in some awesome texture to what was a plain pattern, and puts a nicely different spin on wearing one of my very favorite colors! This dress is my creation for Allie J’s monthly Social Sew #9, “Holiday Glamour”. With my sewing skills and some standout fabric, I won’t have to worry about wearing the same dress as someone else at a party!
The inspiration for this dress is due to the chic fashion of the villainess on the Marvel TV show “Agent Carter”, Whitney Frost (played by Wynn Everett) in the Season Two episode “Better Angels”. If it hadn’t been for seeing the Hollywood model gown, I wouldn’t have had the gumption or the idea to even try to sew a dress like this…believe me, I’m loving wearing the result!
The “Agent Carter” designer Gigi Melton’s original dress is different than my own but I hope you can see where I was coming from, especially with the golden background colors and the mirror (which was an important symbolical part of the scene). I believe the original dress has rows of crinkled, shirred, ribbon-like rows of fabric creating the direction and texture on top of a solid dress base. My dress captures a similar symbolical greenish hue, the same complex surface, and the same wide shouldered classic silhouette as the original. I am glad I made my own interpretation because there is something a bit unsettling about how “alive” the original dress is – it is as unnerving and deeply layered as herself and her first use of “zero matter” – a dark force from another dimension.
I see this as a pure fantasy dress, with no real vintage to date it. After all, I did use a modern pattern, albeit with many changes. However, at the same time as I say this, I must be honest and admit there are references to this style to the late 40’s or early 50’s, the consistent era of Whitney Frost’s wardrobe. The longer calf length hem and the wider skirts are very mid-40’s to early 1950s. Also, the shoulder widening, face framing capelet-style collar piece to the dress can be found on many patterns from the same time stretch (I have saved many of them together on this Pinterest page here – look at McCall #7662 and Butterick #8457 especially). It is interesting to me how styles were used in the past…studying such often gives me great ideas of how to use them in the present, and I’ll bet others, including Gigi Melton, do the same.
FABRIC: a polyester satin specialty rose fabric bought from the Etsy shop “Fabric Cult”, based in Los Angeles, California. Sorry, but if you wanted some for yourself, it’s no longer available!
PATTERN: McCall’s 6505, year 2012
NOTIONS: I already had on hand all the thread, bias tape, and zipper that I needed.
TIME TO COMPLETE: Believe it or not, this was practically a one evening dress. It was finished on December 1, 2016, after only 5 hours of effort.
TOTAL COST: only 2 yards of this lovely fabric cost me $14!
In my opinion the pattern runs a bit snug in the fit, but I do like the basic design, which gave me room to improvise as well as not calling for much fabric. By having few seams, the design of the fabric wouldn’t be marred besides saving me from sewing more than I had to on this thick and complicated material! The French bust darts are a nice touch I don’t see as often as I’d like in modern patterns. I just don’t understand the one way mentality for this pattern to be made in lace – I treated it as a regular pattern for woven fabric and it turned out fine. My changes were mostly only to lengthen the hem by 12 inches, widen the skirt, and eliminate the sleeves in lieu of a lapped on, all-in-one collar piece. For both the front and the back, I matched up the sleeve pattern to its corresponding bodice and used leftover tissue to redraft based on tracing from the finished garment shape.
The capelet collar was added on as my smart and sneaky way to finish the neckline. It was sewn on like a visible facing saving me even more time and trouble, besides ending up with a clean finished neckline! If you look, perhaps on the front you’ll notice I didn’t top stitch the collar hem to the dress all the way to the sleeve for a real “cape” appearance, softly covering my arms. With the collar being one solid piece around the neck, I had the back zipper start from its hem end, several inches down from the neck.
Breaking up all the monotony and busyness of the dress is my belt. It was self-drafted from the solid, flat fabric selvedge edge, stabilized with interfacing, and it ties around me with a grosgrain ribbon top-stitched down through the middle. The original inspiration “Agent Carter” dress has a similar non-texture middle where it lacks some rows of crinkled gathers, and a simple ribbon becomes her belt. I do love how my Chelsea Crew brand vintage style “Mandalay” sling back, peep-toe, tie-up shoes compliment the belt…wearing these shoes with my dress was my hubby’s idea – thank you! My vintage brooch is also another bow tie…
Have you ever tried an unusual novelty fabric? What did you make with it? What would you make with such a thing? It’s different and took me some confidence and a number of compliments to realize my experiment with unusual material was a success. But it’s definitely a relatively easy way to achieve a very luxurious and complicated frock. I now know that with a lovely specialty fabric, much of the effort of making your handmade garment look good is done for you! Besides all this, I have never yet gone wrong imitating an outfit from Marvel’s “Agent Carter” (just an F.Y.I)!
Happy New Year everyone! Enjoy whatever you’re doing, wherever you are over the transition of the new and old year! Here’s to 2017!