I bought this 1930’s inspired dress in a charity shop in Bristol about 3 years ago. It was about £5. Having no knowledge of luxury fabrics I presumed that it was a foreign label, especially due to the size; labelled as ‘1’.
Turns out, Suzannah is quite an expensive designer/dress boutique, the fabric is Italian silk and the size 1 is because she only made size 1 and size 2; about a 10 and a 12. I have to admit I looked at the dress totally differently then- it turned from a surprisingly nice one to a cherished treasure. I bought it before I knew any of this though!
I only wore it twice; I was very much on the edge of fitting into it even then. Now the zip won’t do up. Don’t worry I’m not just letting it rot in my wardrobe- it’s a good incentive for me to lose some weight which I’m currently enjoying doing (nothing fancy, just moving more, eating less/healthier and drinking a lot less!). To tide me over until then I decided to copy it into a new, although much less summery dress.
Actually I needed something to wear to my dear Grandad’s funeral in September. Since I bought the original when I was staying with him, one of the two times I wore it included his 85th birthday and he absolutely loved it, saying how lovely I looked (it’s just the right level of conservative for him and fitted and vintage for me), it seemed fitting to make something similar. Plus I needed to sew as it was a hard time and that’s all I could really manage.
It’s a really soft sort of crepe from Rolls and Rems in Lewisham. I think it’s navy but when I bought it I think I thought it was black. To be honest the lighting in that place isn’t always the best. I had planned to make something a bit more casual with it- a long, a line t-shirt or something. However when the need arose I was glad to have something in my stash to use. Once I’d constructed it I realised it was a little too funerally and actually wanted to add some colour- hence the green buttons which I think work really nicely and make it more wearable in general.
I barely remember making it because of all this. I do remember that it went surprisingly smoothly. I don’t think I had to do any unpicking to get it to this stage. I used techniques similar to those explained in Rosie Martin’s DIY Couture (a book I owe alot of my sewing handmade wardrobe to- I bought it very soon after making my first garment and it enabled me to make clothes without patterns and take that on to work out how to make almost anything. Plus it has a lot of basic techniques, explained well). I traced around half of the bodice onto pattern paper to get the basic shape and went from there- adding in my measurements as well and of course extending the right front piece. I then did the same with the skirt. I haven’t ever put a zip in the side of a dress so I decided to stick to what I know and do a concealed zip in the back. I added about two inches for the little pleats (which I love!).
The only issue with the dress is that the shoulders are in the wrong place. I think the neckline is a little wide and/or the shoulders are too wide. I will unpick it and reset the sleeves but this is how I wore it to my Grandad’s funeral and honestly it doesn’t bother me too much. It’s one of those things that I may not ever get round to.
I adore the general fit and think it suits my figure quite well. A lot of the issues would be fixed with improving the sleeve placement.
Looking at it now I wish I had fixed the sleeves before doing this post! I will keep you updated as I improve the sleeve situation and be sure to post another picture when I do!
But I will also be using my self-drafted pattern again for another dress.