I couldn’t resist the opportunity to make this vintage inspired couture cocktail dress…
Most of our work is commissioned by vintage lovers looking for that style in their perfect size, but in this case we made it, just because we felt like it.
It all started with the fabric
We love to travel and often pick up beautiful pieces of fabric along the way. This fabric was found on one of those trips. A gorgeous deep red duchess satin and a Lapis blue floral corded lace. There was just something about the combination of the two that was striking. The blue over the red altered the appearance and gave it a wine coloured hue. I just couldn’t resist.
Like most of us that sew, we buy fabric with no idea of what we’re going to do with it. As was the case with this fabric. The dress originally started out as an unfinished circle skirt. It got packed away for several months before I finally decided that I wanted it to have a fitted bodice. Knowing me I was probably trawling through photos of vintage dresses when the idea came upon me.
If this were authentic vintage it would be late forties, early fifties ‘new look’ Dior!
All of our work is done employing vintage sewing techniques and there’s no exception here. Lots of pinked seams and hand stitching.
Starting with the bodice;
The rouleau straps (or spaghetti straps) are made from the dress satin as is the piping and are looped over the shoulder. Something I’ve seen repeatedly in fifties garments. It has a drop waist with princess seams, the piping surrounds the bodice top and bottom with the exception of the décolletage where I have very carefully cut out and handstiched the lace flowers, again this is very late forties in style. There are six channels of boning, two in the front, two in the back and one either side. In true vintage fashion, I’ve installed a lap zip on the left hand side and have also used a ‘new old stock’ vintage zipper. Inside the bodice there is an underlining as well as a lining to give the bodice structure. The lining has also been hand stitched. I’ve hand stitched a hook and eye at the top of the zipper and also at the waist line. This was common in vintage dresses as it stops the zip from gaping at that point.
On to the skirt;
Whilst this is not a full circle skirt it’s a generous circle skirt and looks fabulous with two petticoats under it. It’s a more formal fifties tea length and I’ve deliberately kept the satin under the lace slightly shorter to show off the beautiful scalloped hem. The scalloped edge was added by machine and later finished by hand and you have to look really hard to know that they’re actually joined.
Inside the dress;
I’ve used a wine coloured lining and chosen a rich red coloured thread to show off the stitching of the boning channels. If you look very closely you might be able to pick out where I’ve hand stitched the lining to the zipper. Both hems are machine stitched. The lining has a rolled hem and the satin has a bias hem. Both of these techniques are commonly found in vintage dresses.
Not an overlocked seam in sight!
Now that the dress is actually finished we’ll either keep it as a sample piece for our showroom (which will be happening early next year) or it will be snapped up by some lucky buyer.