Bittersweet

This time of the year always makes me a bit melancholy.  There’s just something about the beauty of gradually realizing summer is fading into fall, and seeing the season gently usher in the upcoming cold I despise.  I am not one to have Halloween in my blood the minute September rolls around.  Instead, I like to let the fall season come in barely perceptible stages, as it does naturally, and enjoy its every transition.  The sun might be just as bright but there is a different smell in the air.  The cricket chirps are louder without the competition from tree frogs and cicadas.  The night settles in a bit earlier.  Fall’s entrance is indeed bittersweet in emotion, which is why I find it so ironic I love the shades of bittersweet, the plant, because it also is the time of the year I can appropriately wear the most gloriously rich earthen tones of that vine – browns, tawny shades, dusty green, a wine red, and hues of gold.  This little vintage number is early fall embodied in a dress!

THE FACTS:

FABRIC:  a sheer printed polyester crepe for the dress and some colored jute ‘ribbon’ with some leather cording scraps for the belt

PATTERN:  Vintage Vogue #9295, reissued in 2018, labeled as a year 1940 design.  The original pattern was Vogue #8241, an “Easy to Make One-Piece Frock”, featured in Vogue Patterns booklet for March 15, 1939.  What is up with the confusion of the original date on the cover of the reprint?  My me-made belt was made with no pattern…just an idea in my head!

NOTIONS:  I needed nothing but the basics – thread, some skinny ¼ inch bias tape, and a small 14 inch side seam zipper

TIME TO COMPLETE:  Even with all the fine finishing inside, this dress took me only 5 or 6 hours to complete and the belt was made in 30 minutes.  Both were finished in May of 2020.

THE INSIDES:  All French seams

TOTAL COST:  This dress is practically free as all my supplies came from a local sewing rummage sale where everything was $1 per pound of weight…so my frock may be a dollar at the most!  My belt was made from some sort of multi-colored jute ribbon I bought on clearance many years ago when the now defunct Hancock Fabrics was closing.  I bought 2 yards of it for about $5.  The leather cording is leftover from a hat I had on hand (free).  This is a $6 outfit!!!

This is quite an interesting dress, full of contradictions.  First of all, it is a very classic dress design for 1939, with a very basic general construction and silhouette yet very interesting, tricky-to-make little details.  It is a sweet and feminine dress and tries to be complimentary with no real body shaping profile to it at all.  It is certainly not your 50’s take on a ladylike style, nor even a 40’s ‘I’m-ready-for business’ style…this is softer and more delicate without being girlish.  Even though the drawing makes one think this pattern might be scaled for a very tall woman with long legs, the proportions seem to be the opposite.  Sewing my dress as-is straight from the tissue, no fitting adjustments, it turned out perfect for my almost petite height (5’3”) and my short (14 ½”) back-of-neck-to-waist ratio.  The envelope’s yardage chart recommends anywhere between 2 ½ yards to 3 yards depending on the fabric width, yet – believe it or not, but I am the queen of optimal pattern placement – I was able to eke this dress out of 1 ¾ yards, with no compromise on grainline.  What gives here?  Overall, this was a quick treat to whip together and is a new dress that I absolutely love to wear, so I will not complain…not a bit.  I’m just warning every reader not to read this dress by its cover.

The full skirt, puff sleeves, and the bloused-out bodice are the obvious, and well-known visual giveaways for its original date.  Yet, somehow, the way Vogue styled their model and sewed up their sample dress made it seem more like a 1980s garment.  Weird, right?  That is an unfortunate reference which I do believe has turned off a number of sewists from potentially picking up this pattern to try it out because anything blatantly 80’s seems to repulse many.  As I said above, do not judge this by how Vogue has marketed it.

The decade of the 80’s does not give me an immediate adverse reaction and neither do puff sleeves, and so I tried to focus instead on the line drawing and give the design a chance.  I’m so glad I gave it a go!  It does have a bloused-out bodice that is something not all women will have a taste for today, yet it is very authentic, if you look at how garments fit women in old photos from the 40’s.  This dress has good lines, but it just cannot make up its mind what decade it wants to be in, and is not as timeless as other vintage designs.

 I dare to say it has a “cottage core” or “Laura Ashley” aesthetic at heart, with everything I still love about the 30’s, 40’s, and 80’s, so I’m there for it!  It is as comfy as a glamorous nightgown, with no need to feel to have a certain body image, yet it is as pretty as a picture perfect picnic and as breezy as a romanticized run through a field of flowers.

The one major change I did do on this dress was to simplify the neckline.  The pattern calls for a short back neck zipper to be put into a slashed and faced opening, and then self-fabric bias facing to be sewn along the neckline and sleeve edges.  As my fabric was a delicate crepe, and sheer too, I disliked the idea of a bulky back neck zipper.  I tested out the opening space of the finished neckline and guess what – you really don’t need that closure!  The dress can easily pop over my head without it, thankfully, because I think the dress is much better lacking the back neckline zipper.  Then, I used vintage cotton solid brown pre-made bias tape in lieu of self-fabric facings.  I love the simplicity and bit of contrast that this little step added.  Granted, I still made sure to cut the pre-made vintage bias tape out according to the patterns measurements for the given facings, just so I knew I was still keeping to the correct neckline.  I love it when some of my sewing work is already done for me with pre-made supplies, yet by using such quality vintage notions, I’m not just taking it easy – only adding a singular touch and putting my stash to good use.

Such a subject brings me to unashamedly brag about the total splurge of my really good vintage supplies on a finish that no one but me will ever see in real life – old rayon hem tape.  This stuff is so wonderful, and if you’ve never tried it, please find yourself some, use it, and you’ll thank me.  The wide and full skirt of this dress needed a deep hem to hang properly and have the proper weight, yet doing so is normally a slightly tricky technique.  It requires the cut raw edge to be gathered softly in to fit.  A regular folded-under edge is harder to do with this kind of a hem and, even on a soft material like this crepe, can turn out bulky and noticeable.

To get the nicest hem that is also invisible when worn, soft rayon hem tape is an incomparable wonder which does the job perfectly.  One long edge is sewn onto the cut edge of the skirt and then the other edge of the hem tape is sewn down to the body of the skirt.  The fabric merely ‘hangs’ from the hem tape instead of being firmly sewn together to the body of the skirt.  A light steaming sets the hem and controls the gathers.  Being out of the silkiest rayon, it gathers in so nicely and its lovely variety of colors that can be found make for a cheerful little splash of added beauty.  I chose a sky blue pack from on hand, and it contained a 3 yard length which was just enough for the skirt width with an inch or two to spare.  I do get a little concerned every time I use one of these vintage rayon hem tape packs because I know they are a limited resource and are not made anymore.  When they are gone, they will not be coming back.  Yet, what good will such items do me stashed in my notions drawers when they can be used and both bring me joy on my handmade garments as well as teach me a better way to do a sewing technique?  I rest my case.

Keep in mind the tiny, 1/8 inch pintucks are oppositely directional. They fold towards the center for both the front and the sleeves.  This was quite a challenge to accomplish when also sewing the edges into the skinny bias tape along the edges, but a little hand stitching finished off what I could not do using my machine.  Since the neckline and sleeve pintucking is practically the only major detail to this dress, it is well worth the extra time it demands.  There were so many thread ends to tie off though!  I can imagine how wonderful the pintucks would look on this dress if it was made of a solid color fabric.  They do stand out on my version by difference in texture alone, but are a bit lost in the print overall sadly.  Who knew making so many tiny stitched pleats could make such a difference in shaping when you do about a dozen of them!?

I paired my dress with a simple handmade belt, too.  I had two yards on hand of this novelty ‘ribbon’ made out of different colored jute.  I figured it would brighten the dress up a bit to add in more color -the late 1930s frequently combined unexpected tones to great success, anyway.  So I cut the two yards into half (for two one yard portions) and sewed them together lengthwise using a zig-zag stitch to end up with double the width.  I instantly had one wide belt.  Next, bias tape was sewed over the two raw edges for a clean finish, and then the edges were turned under and stitched down to form a loop on either end for the leather lacing to go through.  My belt kind of has the same idea as the one that came with the pattern, but was more fun to construct because it was my own idea.  I somehow like the belt better when the lacing is at my back and not the front.

The rest of my accessories are mostly vintage originals.  My earrings are from my Grandmother, while my straw hat is a 1930s mint condition original and a lucky find, as well as my kidskin leather driving gloves.  My velvet vintage purse is the only item that is from the 1940s and not the decade before.  Since the dress is sheer, under it I wore this deep purple, full-skirted, opaque 1950’s slip that I sewed awhile back now.  The two-tone heels are reproduction Miz Mooz brand.  I highly recommend anything from this vintage inspired shoe company…it’s like walking on air, they’re so comfy, especially their heels, and crafted with high quality (I have several pairs from this brand now, he he).  Altogether jazzed up, I went for a visit to our neighborhood “five and dime” candy shop to sweeten the melancholy I get from early fall.

I realize that readers on the other side of the world from me are just now easing into spring.  That is the other season of transition, kind of like fall, but with much more of a cheerful flourish.  I understand – which is why a dress like this could also be very appropriately a spring dress, too!  A little multi-season sewing is the most bang for my time spent, and hopefully a good inspiration for my readers no matter where you live.  Have I convinced you to pick up this pattern and give that 2 yards of material which is floating in your stash a chance to shine with this pattern?  What are your favorite tones of the fall season?

“Blank Canvas” – a 1939 Hollywood Dress and Re-Fashioned Hat

Allie J's Social Sew badgeEvery blank canvas is a starting point just waiting, pleading for personalization and a touch of color.  My creation happens to have soft, white linen as the canvas, and all the colors added (in controlled moderation) for a culturally-influenced dress and hat.  I even made my own earrings from buttons to match!  This is part of Allie J.’s Social Sew #4, theme “Vintage”.

Mock embroidery, courtesy of some appliques, a wildly striped scarf belt, and my bright coral “Chelsea Crew” T-strap shoes liven up a white dress.  Subtle features and lots of bias cuts take the backstage to complete the dress.  My Tyrolean-style, dome-crowned straw hat was another successful experiment in more modern hat re-fashioning.  Together, I am again finding myself loving the year 1939 fashion – part 30’s and part 40’s combined into one lovely and comfy outfit.

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My dress and hat happen to have a wide variety of Hollywood personas related to its making – the famous Lucille Ball is the “star” of the dress pattern I used, an “Agent Carter” character Ana Jarvis was another inspiration, as well as actress Joan Blondell’s fashion, especially as worn in the 1939 movie “Good Girls Go to Paris”.  My more basic sources were 40’s and late 30’s pattern covers plus an extant 1939 garment from Jonathan Walford’s “Forties Fashion” book.  My first 1939 dress (blogged here) was also directly patterned after a dress from his book.

Simplicity #4203 & #2070, Walford book's 1939 Mexicali dressThe “Forties Fashion” book chapter which shows my inspiration dress (Chapter 1) addresses the subject of culturally inspired fashions of the early 40’s/late 30’s.  Much of the Mexican, South and Central American themed clothes, aprons and embroidery from those times stemmed from President Roosevelt’s ‘Good Neighbor’ policy from the early 1930’s, but as the decade went on, Bavarian and Alpine themed fashion and headwear grew popular universally.  I would also like to think of this dress as further inspired by both the classic ‘Guayaberas’ or Havana shirts and the Phillippines’ version (called ‘Barong Tagalog’) that I’ve seen on the men (and some women) in old movies such as “The Lone Wolf” series.  These shirts are made for warm weather and are often of a type of linen, have lovely details, and have frequent floral embroidery.  Havana and Panama were of course known for their straw hats, too.   Thus, my outfit combined several cultural influences for ‘39.

As far as Hollywood influence, 1939 was the year that Lucille Ball stepped out as something 1939 Hollywood inspiration collageother than a mere radio voice and a B movie actress when she starred in the film “Five Came Back”.  One of the main ladies in that film actually wears an identical hat to the one I made!  I’ve also seen similarities to my dress in the other ’39 movies like “Star Reporter” (same bodice) and “Good Girls Go to Paris” where Joan Blondell has similar puffed arched sleeves, Tyrolean hats, and cropped boleros.  Currently, though, Ana Jarvis from the Marvel television series “Agent Carter” Season Two wears many ethnic inspired fashions, and in “A View in the Dark” (Episode 2) she wears a cream colored blouse with floral vine embroidery.  I know Hollywood is not a good example of what the everyday woman might have worn, but it sure is awesome to bring into one’s wardrobe!

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I have yet to decide on what bolero to sew up to match – one with the large collar in this Hollywood pattern for my dress, but I’m tempted to go with Vintage Vogue #8812 for a simpler look that would go with my later 40’s fashions.  Something else for my already long bucket list of future projects!

THE FACTS:Hollywood 1773, year 1939, front cover-comp

FABRIC:  Thick pure white 100% linen for the dress, polyester chiffon for the scarf belt, and a basic modern hat made out of straw for my re-fashion

PATTERN:  Hollywood #1773, year 1939

NOTIONS:  Floral appliques, thread, bias tapes, and two different zippers – all bought last year when I originally planned on making this dress

THE INSIDES:  All bias bound

TIME TO COMPLETE:  maybe 10 to 15 hours to make – it was finished on July 14, 2016

TOTAL COST:  Everything was bought when a Hancock Fabrics store was closing a year ago, so everything needed was bought on deep discount and amazingly just what I needed for a perfect match.  For several yards of fabric and all my notions I think I spent maybe $20.

DSC_0973a-compHollywood pattern #1773 was an amazing find at an amazing deal which was obviously too good to be true.  It was almost like hell in paper just attempting to sew it into a dress like the one on the cover.  First of all, it was in a very large size for which I had to grade out 4 inches besides taking out 4 inches from the length of the skirt hem.  However, the real problem was the fact the pattern was cut into and changed dramatically.  I really don’t know what someone was trying to do but after studying the line drawing and doing much detailed mathematics,DSC_0972a-comp I had to re-draw in about 3 to four inches added for the center front where someone cut out scalloping.  After all this, the instructions were disintegrated to the point they were in about 5 crumbly, delicate pieces.  All the instructions have now been scanned in and saved as files on my computer for a permanently safe copy.  Still, the instructions added to the multiples of problems, although I am glad that at least the tissue pattern pieces were in good shape.  Gotta be positive especially after a (finally) successful result!

Luckily, after all the trouble leading up to making this dress, sewing it was a breeze.  There are no darts in the skirt portion, as both the front and the back are cut on the bias.  The back bodice has no waist tucks and there are only two small ¼ darts at the neckline.  The front bodice has all the details, with its ten 3/8 inch tucks (five on each side) on the shoulders and two simple waist pleats (one on each side).  The sleeves are also cut on the bias and are tightly gathered at the cap tops.  This dress does have double zippers – a decorative metal one down the front neckline and one on the side at the waist.  For some reason the pattern had the front waistline dipping down low.  I sewed it like that at first, but did not like it and unpicked to level out the waist, instead.  The seam allowance gets cut off along the neck and the sleeve raw edges so as to cover with bias taping.  My prized vintage all-cotton ¼ inch bias tape from my Grandmother was used for the sleeve and neckline edges while modern store bought (yucky) poly cotton blend was used for finishing the insides.

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The appliques are my cheat-shortcut to all the hand sewing necessary to do real embroidery.  Anything more than a little hand stitching bring out my carpel tunnel issues.  The appliques I had are actually meant to be iron-on, but I merely stitched it down by hand.  I don’t want to ruin the fabric nor make it that permanent by ironing it down.  The flowers on the design remind me of Mexican Bird of Paradise (yellow), moss rose (pink), and milkweed (orange/yellow).  The two appliques which are on either side of the neckline are the largest and longest of the set – I have four other smaller half size ones that I am tempted to add on the rest of the dress.  I sort of like the simplicity of the appliques just at the neck.  I’m afraid that with the bright scarf belt, more appliques might make the whole dress look overly busy and tacky.  For now, I’ll leave it as-is.

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It was really the scarf belt that started this whole outfit.  I was so happy and surprised when I happened to find this chiffon in the same color tone and striped pattern as the on inspiration dress in the “Forties Fashion” book!  It was one of those great “Eureka!” moments that told me I needed to make this dress.  The belt is one long bias scarf cut from two opposite corners of 1 ½ yards with the raw ends finished off with a touch of fray check liquid.1936  Purple felt hat, FIT museum

My hat started out as another one of those basic one dollar non-descript pieces that I’ve re-fashioned before (here and here).  I started out by making two tapered darts about two inches apart up the crown where I chose the back to be.  Then I brought those two darts together in a tuck that extended into the brim and topstitched the excess down.  A light steaming from and iron as helped further shaped the hat.  The darts shaped the crown while the tuck brought the size smaller so it would sit higher up on my head and have that cup-like center top to the traditional ‘cone crown’ of a Tyrolean Hat (like the purple one at right from FIT museum).  To keep my hat on my head, I took a ribbon and knotted it together at the sides and used an upholstery needle to wind it down and through the straw so I can tie the hat around my hairstyle.

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This outfit so completely reminds me of some sort of summer resort wear, something meant to keep one looking great and moving comfortably in searing temperatures, and…yes, this dress does fit that bill!    I tested this out, as the day on which I wore it for these pictures was extremely, oppressively hot.  Linen is a super sweat wicking fabric, yet it kept me cool.  The linen kept absorbing the sweat off me, yet it did not feel soaked and it was a cooler temperature than I was when it was wet.  This particular linen has zero scratchiness and is lacking that “hemp-like”, raw feel which I find in many other linens…only softness so there is another high comfort here!  However, my favorite benefits are the no-see-through thickness of this linen as well as the way it does not change color or show however much I might be sweating to death, like many dark fabrics.  This linen dress definitely does not just give the impression of being cool but also helps that along.  To top things off, my hat ‘perches’ lightly on my head, keeping my hairstyle underneath pristine and cool, yet the brim is enough to keep the sun off my eyes.  I was doubtful that this outfit would be that great in steamy weather, but I am a converted believer in effortless summer fashion a la vintage with linen and straw!

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It’s funny, in the fabric stores I go to the bolts are always full and untouched when I buy linen.  The employees that cut my fabric often seem mystified that I want linen and tell me that hardly anyone buys it.  Do you wear linen?  If so, have you found it to be as lovely of a trooper for wearing as I have?  If not, what are your reservations to this natural fiber?  Why is linen overlooked as a fashion fabric?

My 1939 “Frosted Carter” Dress

Whitney and Dr, Wilkes, cropped - getty imageAmong all the inspiration to be found in Marvel’s television show “Agent Carter” Season Two, I cannot help but notice the classy, stylish mode of dressing of the villainess, Whitney Frost.  I kind of feel like a traitor to flaunt the persona and appearance of the opposite of Peggy Carter (I am one of her biggest fans, besides being an American).  However, Ms. Frost is another strong woman with a strong will, powerful ideas, and a drive to do something big and worthwhile, quite similar to Peggy, even if Whitney’s mind went twisted and her intentions corrupted.  So, here I am taking on a style of a new year I have not yet sewn before (1939), with the dark aura of a mysterious film star.

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Under the earth in a wine cellar, light and shadows take play here, like two faces in mine…akin to the forecasted two-faced future of Whitney Frost as “Madame Masque”.

THE FACTS:                                                           Superior pattern 9931, envelope front-comp

FABRIC:  soft and lovely 100% rayon challis for the dress and some 100% cotton muslin for the bodice lining/facing

NOTIONS:  nothing unusual was required here – thread, a zipper, and bias tape – all of which I had on hand

PATTERN:  a Sears and Roebuck Company brand Superior pattern no. 9931, year 1939

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This dress and belt were made in about 12 hours and finished on June 11, 2016.

DSC_0757a-compTHE INSIDES:  So nice! All bias bound. Inside the front bodice is a very nice, full chest-covering facing, perfect for anchoring all the shirring into place and keeping the gathers controlled. 

TOTAL COST:  The rayon fabric and the notions were bought on deep discount at Hancock Fabrics before their closing, and everything else came from on hand, so my total for this dress is probably about $8 or less.

Superior patterns are unprinted and are trademarked by the Sears Roebuck and Company.  I am frustrated at the complete lack of info to be found about this line of sewing patterns but from what I have seen they seem to have been printed in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

For such a lovely “white elephant”, I do have a great certainty of dating my pattern to year 1939.  Not only did it require 2 ½ yards of material with my 60” wide fabric (complete lack of rationing), but the sleeves, shoulders, and especially the skirt portion of the dress have a very specialized shape seen in 1939.  Skirts and dresses up to 1938 were still longer (mid-calf) and slender or extremely full (with lots or gores), while starting in 1940 and 1941 skirts and dresses became more frequently pleated, controlled, more close to the knee.

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As a good friend of mine (who knows about fashion from this year) told me, skirts in 1939 were full and had more swing in them than both your normal 40’s and 30’s bottom, and that is definitely this one.  The pattern pieces for the skirt panels were such wide A-line shapes I had to pare them down a bit, while the center front seam was shaped like a crescent pointing out so the front has an interesting drape to it.  My skirt hem also lands between mid-calf and the knee, although it is so full it ends up looking longer.  My dress’ sleeves are'Forties Fashion' pg. 26, 1939 floral dress,comp also very 30’s (besides being the same as in this ’38 pattern from my stash) and the large 6-row shoulder shirring is something not seen past 1940 (just rarely).  The more I look at patterns, dresses, and catalog images from ’38, ’39, and ’40, I become more convinced I am correct with dating my Superior pattern to 1939.  Besides all the “proof” I just laid out, my final showing on this topic is a dress from the Jonathan Walford book “Forties Fashion”.  It is listed as “Canadian crepe afternoon dress, ca. 1939 – 1940”.  As you can see at right, this extant dress was my true inspiration, almost to a point of copying it fabric-wise, and the style lines are almost exact as my Superior pattern.  Oh well, when I see a dress I really like, and I happen to also find a very similar fabric and pattern, I can’t help but sew a re-make, especially when it can also be similar to something from “Agent Carter”!

Whitney and Manfredi - getty imageWhitney’s dress worn in “Agent Carter” Season Two, episode 8 “The Edge of Mystery”, is very similar to the dress I have made, only hers is satin, has a sash coming from the center-front to tie in the back (much like this Simplicity #1901), slightly different sleeve hems, and in a different color scheme.  This is where my “Frosted Carter” nickname comes in the picture because (the horror of it) my dress is a combo of both ladies’ style.  Peggy Carter usually wears the late 30’s/early 40’s fashion and she always tends towards patriotic reds, whites, and navy blues – all found in my dress.  Yet, my dress itself, together with the proper hairstyle, background, and dark nail polish, are all Whitney Frost.  The 40’s were not usually her style, she seemed to always be ahead of things in more ways than one, often wearing early 50’s dresses.  However, the scene in which she wears my inspiration dress is also when she really becomes deeply unhinged, hearing voices and admitting she might be crazy, so she is ‘going backwards’ from where she thought she was going and losing her hold on things around her…

As to more crazy oddities, here is the first vintage pattern I’ve seen which specifically calls for a “zipper”.  That is a specific brand name and never is such a notion called anything else than a “slide fastener” on all my other old patterns.  Perhaps, because this is a pattern coming from a department store and, as the front envelope points out, you were expected to buy what you needed to make this pattern from Sears as well and that “zipper” brand is what the stores carried.  This is just my supposing, I don’t specifically know for sure, but do any of you know?  Have you seen a “zipper” specifically called for on your old (1950 and earlier) patterns?

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As this is an unusual, rather rare brand, I did a good amount a checking beforehand so I could estimate how this pattern would fit, the amount of ease, and the proportions.  My experience with vintage pattern lines outside of the major brands, such as DuBarry, New York, and 1940 and older Buttericks to name a few, has convinced me that they seem to have a tendency to run short in the shoulder-to-waist, have very long hemlines, generous upper arm room, and wide hips.  Otherwise the proportions are generally right on.  I automatically assumed all of the aforementioned pattern tendencies would hold true for this Superior pattern, and from doing a tissue fit on myself, I was correct.  Besides grading up to my size, I added an extra ½ inch to lengthen the waist and took out 3 inches from the skirt length.

What intrigues me is the fact that the pattern apparently to have been used to make a dress for a very petite lady or possibly a teenager from 1939.  Each piece had been folded in to make it about an inch smaller in proportions and shortened even more than my 3 inch downgrade.  The tissue is in great condition, but it had obviously been like this quite a while, and the old pins had rusted in their places.  It’s a very grown up and classy dress for a tiny young lady to wear.  Maybe it was made for a graduation or dance?!

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My making of this dress was ridiculously easy for every other part besides the front bodice.  With almost everything going on (detail wise) there, stitching the bodice front took just slightly more than half of the time spent for finishing the rest of the dress.  Not that the bodice details were hard, merely challenging, precise work which took a good amount of patience and time – all so very worth it in the end when I first saw the finished dress!  Once the dress was first worn, I was so pleased…this is one of my most comfortable vintage dresses and the most easy to move in.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to point out some of the lovely and subtle details which get lost too easily with the busy floral print.  There is a “slash-and-gather” section below the bust but above the waist to on the bodice sides.  There is also 6 rows of shirring running the width of each shoulder.  The back is pretty simple with two off-center box-pleats at the waist and a trio of fan shaped neckline darts.  Like a mentioned above, the skirt portion is wide and flowing, composed of four large A-line shaped pieces cut so the straight grain runs down the middle and the bias on the sides, with the front center crescent shaping out for flare.  At the front waist there is a slight V dip (hidden by my belt) and my sleeves…oh how I love them!  An arched hem with shirring up the center totally completes this dress.  I definitely want to make this again from a solid color fabric, in a rayon jersey knit perhaps, so that all the lovely details stand out better.

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The belt is not part of the pattern and is something I self-drafted so it could be like the extant original shown in the “Forties Fashion” book.  Besides, I just so happened to have a perfect straw covered ring for the belt, something leftover from this past re-fashion.  I used the tie belt pattern with my dress as my benchmark, ironed in “Stitch Witchery” to stiffen it like belting, then cut it to shape (skinny with tear drop ends) and stitched the edges over with ¼ inch bias tape.  Easy.  I only have the belt ends together with a safety pin for now because I don’t exactly know what to put in to make the belt completely adjustable on both ends.  Perhaps I’ll add in a few positions of hook-and-eyes at some point.

DSC_0732-compAs I am technically wearing an “afternoon dress”, and Whitney Frost (in “Agent Carter”) was wearing her similar dress at her Italian boyfriend’s warehouse full of wine barrels, we took a day trip out to enjoy an afternoon visit to a winery, where we took a tour of its cellars, and enjoyed good food and drinks.  It truly was a lovely day and perfect occasion to wear such an effortlessly elegant ensemble.  My “Chelsea Crew” brand “Mandalay” sling back, peep-toe, tie-up shoes were incredibly comfy, too – highly recommended.  What is not recommended is to touch an old, damp cellar wall…I did by mistake and yuk!  Touching it might not be a bad as Zero Matter, but jelly mold and armadillo bugs is a pretty gross combo.

It’s a happy boon to make a dress that gives rise to a fun outing.  Better yet, I get to bring a little bit more of the “Agent Carter” series into my wardrobe and explore another character.  Best of all, I now have a ‘new’ year (1939) sewn up and understood a bit better.

Look out for more upcoming Whitney Frost dresses in the 50’s style, as well as a few Agent Carter 1940’s ones, here on my blog!

P.S. – for some more 1939 styles and inspiration, see “Emily’s Vintage Vision’s” post (link here) of Du Barry Prevue for January ’39!