Not too many years do we have the chance this year is giving to shop for pumpkins and Thanksgiving items with a balmy feel in the air. Despite the fact we did receive about 5 inches of snow less than a week ago, little more than a week before that I was wearing a sundress just to stay cool. Not only are we having one weird fall season here, but it is also a wonderful extended summer. I love this because I can wear more of my favorite bare shouldered garments…but I am a warm weather girl at heart, after all! Thus, for this second part to my ongoing blog series called the “Indian Summer of the Sundress”, here is a rich harvest-toned vintage 1950 sundress and sheer redingote set. It has all the colors that the falling leaves and cornucopia fruits of the earth both sport for fall so I can feel ready for Thanksgiving no matter what the weather outside us is saying!
Now, just to clarify right off the bat, I only made the sheer redingote (also the hair flower and jewelry) for this ensemble, so this post will mostly be about the portion I crafted. I did not make the sundress. It is handmade by someone else. I know – what an oddity here on my blog! It is a display “inspiration” garment from the “Cloud 9 Fabrics” company, and was made by a certain Catherine Zebrowski using their “Sow & Sew” organic cotton collection from designs of Eloise Renouf. (Follow the link and you can see they made this same dress in a blue, grey, and black colorway, as well!) For this dress, the “Sprouts” print is the contrast along the bodice edge and waistline while the “Herb Garden” is used for the rest of the dress. I love the take they took on this pattern – it’s a complimentary boldness that is cheerful and intriguing, besides being a different, unique take on understanding the pattern. I’m so pleased to have the opportunity to acquire this dress, give it a happy home, and let it shine by completing the vintage pattern set with my redingote!
FABRIC: Redingote – a brown-toned Goldenrod colored poly chiffon from a big-box fabric store chain
NOTIONS: I needed thread, a large hook-n-eye, and some stiff, sheer organza
TIME TO COMPLETE: The redingote came together more quickly than I expected. It was made in about 6 hours and finished on September 19, 2018
THE FINISHINGS: A sheer dress deserves only the prettiest (and the strongest) seams that you could see on a see-through chiffon! French. The bottom hemline was yards and yards long (being so full skirted) so I used an overlocker (serger) to make tiny rolled hem edges.
Cloud 9’s vintage dress gave me a much appreciated boost for making this Simplicity re-print. I have been wanting to make it, but my mental caveat was saying “there is a lot of fabric needed (a couple yards) for each piece”, and I knew each one would take a good amount of time to finish. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against spending whatever time is necessary to make the outfit I set my mind to making! I just didn’t relish the idea of spending the time it would take to sew a completely indulgent and unnecessary item like the sheer redingote after making the sundress, too. The sundress was what I primarily wanted and will wear the most out of the pattern but knowing it has a matching cover-up that goes with it sort of ‘guilted’ me into feeling like the redingote had to be made as well. I am hoping that I might wear the redingote over something else in my closet so I that it, too, sees more wearings than if it only is paired with its matching sundress. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed making something based off an idea I love from another creative maker out there!
There were some minor changes I made to the pattern. My adaptations only made the redingote easier to make! Firstly, the skirt portion is insanely full…a total fabric hog (nice to twirl in though). The tissue pieces are almost out of hand, especially the skirt fronts. They are quarter circles that make the front twice as full as the back. Thinking about the skirt of sundress underneath, I realized that it has all of its gathered fullness in the front while the back is smooth and paneled. This would mean that the redingote for over it would practically be the same way – most all of its fullness in front. I didn’t like the idea of doubling up on poufiness in the front, so the redingote’s skirt was changed to be the opposite of the sundress. I added an extra half-width panel into the skirt back and I folded the patterns skirt fronts in half to cut them out smaller. This way there is partial fullness in front and more in back to even out the poufiness when the set is worn together. My adaptation not only evens out the layers of the skirts but it also makes cutting out the skirt portion a little more manageable.
Secondly, I did not cuff the sleeves but chose a wide hem instead. I ended up rather liking the way the longer sleeve ends looked. I felt they widened my shoulders illusionally, thus complementing the waist. Not cuffing the sleeves really made things easier anyway. No really, I did like to look better…I just wasn’t being lazy.
Finally, there just a few last cosmetic changes to list! I eliminated the center seam to the bodice back and cut it on the fold instead. In lieu of using interfacing in the sheer collar and taking the risk of either having it be obviously in sight or changing the chiffon color, I used transparent organza to shape and stiffen it. The organza is wonderfully invisible sandwiched in between the golden chiffon and it adds enough body to keep its shape but still be flexible. Lastly, I ditched the fussy front ties shown to close up the front bodice – they’re too distracting if you ask me. I merely put one big hook-and-eye at the waistline, tucking it inside the seams. An open bodice to the redingote shows off the neckline to the sundress underneath.
I did make sure that the waistline on this sheer over-dress was nice and strong so that a hook closing wouldn’t rip anything. As I mentioned in “THE FACTS” I did all French seams, even for the waistline. To make the waistline stronger, I turned bodice over the French waistline seam and stitched it down on both sides. It ends up looking rather like a belt, in my opinion, because of the thickness from all the layers of fabric. Besides, anytime there is gathering into a French seam things can feel a bit bulky, so stitching it down made it more comfortable to wear, after all.
My accessories add a rust tone to the browns, ochre, and dusty grey and pink flecks by being a deep, burgundy red. My bracelet matches with my earrings – both I made using Czech glass teardrop beads ordered from Etsy. Since clip-on or screw-back earrings are vintage, I used some old-style blanks that I ordered from a jewelry supply shop in China and tied a handful of the beads so they look like a cluster of berries hanging down. In lieu of a hat, the hair flower is made by me with just two, oversized fake chrysanthemums attached to a hair comb with floral wire and floral tape. Happily, practically the same tone red, described as “sunny terra-cotta”, can be found in my lipstick, “Happy“ from the Besame cosmetics “1937 Anniversary Snow White 7 Dwarfs Collection”. My necklace and gloves are true vintage.
Finding, wearing, and buying someone else’s me-made has helped me appreciate others’ sewing. It has also made me realize just how spoiled I am by doing my own sewing…this handmade dress was the only way I felt comfortable and happy buying something new and ready-to-wear! But really – the fact that it was a vintage design fits perfectly into my style. Vintage styles are the best way for me to express my style and feel at ease in what I am wearing. I want to say I don’t think I could have done better, though. It was luckily sewn in my size! I’m impressed by the details and lovely construction to this pattern – they even sewed in an invisible zipper up the side! Besides, I haven’t yet splurged on organic cotton for myself.
So – on top of all the other benefits I’ve already listed, this dress is a real treat. People don’t know what they are missing. If you can’t make it yourself, the feeling of having something made for you can’t be beat. Make what you wear, handmade or store bought, “yours” in some way, even if that something is as little as a family jewelry piece or a full out sewing project like I did.
Extending heartfelt wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! Don’t forget to be thankful in both word and deed because “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward