Every mom can fully appreciate the amazing benefits of having her own special ‘space’ and quality ‘down time’ to refresh. This is why my Mother’s Day post will be an elegant, flowing, treat-of-a-1930s dress in a lovely Indian mandala print. Mandalas are a concentric symbol for balance, harmony, and focus in the Indian religions…and goodness knows, every mother needs as much of all that in her busy, hectic, and multi-tasking life! I know I do! Just the action of sewing is enough to put me in my “happy zone”. Combining that with a fabric allusive of serenity sewn into a feminine vintage dress which is as comfy as my best nightgown and bingo – my Mother’s day cannot be any better than this.
I never have enough reasons or places to wear my fancy 1930’s gowns, and so this dress is my first (and happily successful) attempt at ‘normalizing’ that era’s evening wear. Just by using rayon challis – a nice yet not-so-upscale yet equally flowing fabric as the satin or crepe the pattern called for – I took a special occasion dress into something which can fit more easily in my daily life. I am in love with the everyday glamor, slimming silhouette, ease of construction, and interesting neckline of this vintage remake. I definitely do not want to stop at only one of this design. However, this version is such a keeper!
FABRIC: 2 ½ yards of a very soft and drapey printed viscose blend rayon with the bodice partially lined in a poly crepe
PATTERN: Butterick #6410, a 1999 re-issue (now out-of-print) of a year 1935 pattern
NOTIONS: nothing but some blue thread was needed…
TIME TO COMPLETE: This dress was whipped up in about 5 hours and finished on April 18, 2019
TOTAL COST: As the bodice lining was scraps from on hand, the rayon was the only expense and it was only $15. I bought it off of Etsy during a half-price sale at the shop “Fibers To Fabric”.
I cannot say enough good words about the work principles, the ideals put into practice, and the materials offered at Fibers to Fabric. This is not sponsored – just my honest opinion as a happy customer and a seamstress trying to buy ethically. They carry authentic, artisan, fair trade fabrics made with honesty and transparency in India. Their true woven (not printed) Ikat fabric is to die for (I have one slated for an upcoming project)! This printed rayon is so much silkier and sturdy than any carried by any big box store. The viscose blended in makes this the perfect substitute for silk charmeuse, in my opinion. Besides, ordering fabric directly from India is the right way to start off when making a garment with their cultural meaning or influence, no matter how slight, as I did here.
The pattern carries most of its complexity in the bodice along the neckline, but even still, those details were not enough to keep this dress from being a one evening project! However, to be honest, I did greatly simplify the dress by leaving out the side zipper. It is very tricky to keep a zipper from visibly restricting a flowing dress anyway, and even still, one that calls for delicate fabrics. I went up one full size to make sure this would be able to slip over my head. It is a bit roomy fitting this way, but it just makes this dress feel like some super fancy nightwear I can wear in public – is that wrong to want to stay that comfortable?!
Now what is important to realize with this dress is the skirt pieces are not cut on the bias so this pattern can be made on less yardage than the normal 30’s evening gown. Here’s yet another reason I love this dress! The skirt panel’s length is cut along the grainline and only the front bodice pieces are on the bias grain. In order to make my dress on only 2 ½ yards of fabric, I opened up the fabric from the way it gets folded on the bolt and folded it a different way to still find the same grainline. It was still a Tetris game, nonetheless, but I squeezed everything in after all (only by shortening the hem, which still ended up really long for my 5’3″ frame)!
The neckline is first rate. It reminds me of a scarf or shawl that is tucked into a wide neckline. Sadly the amazing seaming is rather lost in the print. The bodice is kimono sleeved, but only on the sides because the neckline portion begins halfway out from the neck. The the center back panels miter down into to a V. The center front panels seam princess-style through the bust and plunge down to the empire waist. Fill that wide neckline in with these long panels that reach from the front waistline to the back point between the shoulder blades, and there is one beautiful design to be had. I love the way it frames the back of the neck and is more than just your usual V-neck or wrap bodice.
The pattern calls for the whole of the bodice to be fully lined, however my casual aesthetic kept only what was needed, which was just the facings to the draped neckline. They were much skinnier than the neckline pieces of the fashion fabric, therefore only way to make the neckline fall into folds vertically, besides finishing the edges nicely. I did not interface the neckline lining because you don’t need to add body there, just keep the gathers in. Lacking the full lining which would’ve also filled in the side bodice panels, simple bright red ¼ inch bias binding finished off the armholes of my version instead.
Any time I have wearing this 30’s dress is instantly glamorous in a very unassuming, easy manner…the best of the 30’s for today! Even though this dress’ pattern is out of print, there seem to be a good number still for sale out on internet sites so I heartily recommend picking up one for yourself. This design would be great for scrap busting because a one yard cut could go towards a contrast bodice with a slightly bigger cut (no more than 2 yards, though) going towards the skirt portion. I’m sorry my post did not even take into account how fabulous the little Mandarin collar crop jacket is in the pattern, as well. I seriously need to come back and make the short jacket to match this dress in the future.
Whatever your state or position in life this Mother’s Day, we can all appreciate some relaxation and a calming moment. I hope my mandalas for the day, and my quick-to-make but elegant to wear sewing creation, remind you that taking time for yourself is time well spent!