The character of the woman Gilda, in the famous Rita Hayworth movie by the same name, is that of a bold woman, to say it tactfully. In no uncertain terms, she is shown to the viewer – from that very first moment in the boudoir (watch it here on TCM) – that she is not scrupulous when using her female wiles for whatever emotional game or selfish desire she chooses to play upon. The sheer tulle and off-the-shoulder nightgown says volumes. Her character is so far removed from me, yet I love the relaxed, romantic aura of what she has on. With a pattern already on hand that was quite similar, I hope to have tamed that famous Gilda nightgown into something more respectable. Am I decent in this? I think so.
FABRIC: 100% cotton flannel and a sheer polyester tiny tulle
PATTERN: Hollywood #1479, year 1944 (I’ve already made the tied-front crop top here as part of a playsuit)
TIME TO COMPLETE: It took 5 hours to make and was finished on February 4, 2019
THE INSIDES: French seams for the sleeves (including armscye), self-fabric bias binding for the neckline and bottom hem, raw edges for the long side seams
TOTAL COST: The flannel was something I bought on deep discount when the now defunct Hancock Fabrics was going out of business – the tulle was just bought. As the flannel was bought quite a while back for what must have been dirt cheap, I’m counting it as maybe $5 to $10. Together with the $5 spent on the tulle, this is an under $15 glamorous steal of a nightgown!
This was a quick and ridiculously simple make for how nice it turned out. Yet, at the same time it was a total fabric hog, especially since I chose the ankle length version (for both more warmth and elegance). What is practically two giant rectangles comprise both the front and the back, taking up 3 ½ total yards of flannel! This is partly the reason for the sheer sleeves – I flat out ran out of fabric for them. However, hubby reminded me that sheer sleeves would bring my make closer to my chosen movie inspiration. Two heads are better than one is a legitimately true phrase, but it’s always cool and surprising when that second brain – which isn’t sewing oriented – can be so helpful with my garment projects!
I chose tiny holed, super fine mesh tulle for the sleeves or a chiffon. They have a bit more body in tulle to make for a nice blousing out above the cuffs which matches well with the heavier cotton body to my nightgown. Chiffon can look droopy (as it does on the original Gilda nightgown), but that can also have its place with some styles. Besides, something as slippery as chiffon did not sounds appealing to me on nightwear. As sultry as that fabric can be, I think I understand the properties of chiffon and only imagined the fabric wrapping itself around my arms as I slept. Whether that would happen or not, I didn’t take a chance. The sleeves are two layers of tulle. Two layers hopefully will be not as fragile as one seemed and lent more of a matching grey tone.
I have not been able to find any source which says what hue the original Gilda movie nightgown was, but for some reason (not just because it is in black and white) I picture it in a light color, close to no color. Kind of like the ironic use of a pure and innocent white on Lana Turner in the movie “The Postman Always Rings Twice”, I could see the mischievous Gilda in a similarly demure costume to amplify her tempting, teasing demeanor. Now, I could be totally wrong here, but anyway – these musings gave me a reason to use the material I did. Flannel is my favorite nightwear material for lounging (used it for this nightgown already) and definitely more modest and practical. While not as drafty or alluring as Gilda’s frilly, sheer gown, however, the print is pretty and delicate in the softest hint of a light grey scroll work motif. I low-key complimented the print with the dove grey sleeves, but tried highlight it better by using a dark grey (albeit sheer, as well) ribbon as a belt.
The pattern called for a set waistband, one that either is elasticized or has a ribbon running through a sewn-on casing. I left that out. I like my waist free and unrestricted at night when I sleep, because this is still a nightgown that I am going to wear no matter how pretty it is! Besides, I felt that seeing a ribbon around the waist, and not hiding it in a casing, would set a defined waistline better in this voluminous gown…hey it worked on Gilda! Finally, having no set waistband is much more versatile, in my opinion. I used a whole 3 yard spool for my ribbon tie because I absolutely love the way there are long ends that elegantly, dramatically flutter down, almost to the hem.
I kept the rest of the details as fuss-free as possible. The cuffs around the wrist were instructed to be made like a regular blouse cuffs, but that is too much for nightwear. I made them one piece and they just slip on or off of my wrist over my hand. The neckline has elastic in the casing so I could easily wear this as a regular scoop neck or pull it off the shoulders for a full Gilda effect. As the elastic is pretty thin and the neckline holds the entire weight of more than 3 yards of flannel, I have two strands of it through the casing. In order to make the gathered ruffled neckline turn out (with the sheer material involved), I had to use more of the dress flannel for the casing and make a tiny “track” for maximum ruffling. Thus, a thin, string-like elastic was the only way to go, anyway. Simple, easy, so pretty, and timeless, vintage designs really know how to make nighttime clothes something to look forward to wearing at the end of a day!
This is the final post about the garments that I made for our trip to Denver, Colorado. For these pictures, we were at our Alpine-style bed-and-breakfast the “Vasquez Creek Inn” at Winter Park. The other garments I made for this trip included a refashioned boxy cropped pullover and a 1940s quilted jerkin with corduroy trousers. Making a nightgown made me feel like I had a new, complete set for fun, fancy, or relaxing to bring with me! Hotels are great for taking pictures of nightwear, anyway…they are an uncluttered, nicely decorated, different setting. Not that our bedroom is an atrocious mess or not pleasant to see either, but we’ve already taken pictures there and as I’m not crazy about our old wallpaper, I didn’t want to do that again. It’s always nice to take pictures where you’ve had good times away from home anyway, right?!