I’m working ahead on my ‘By The Sea’ Historical Sew Fortnightly items. I’d love to make a fantastic Victorian or Edwardian wool bathing suit, but alas, am making myself be a teeny bit practical and sensible and I’m making two items which both come from stash, and have been on my to-do list for ages and ages.
The first is more sea inspired than strictly by-the-sea. I’ve got a wedding to go to this autumn, and haven’t got a suitable dress (really, they are all too formal, or not formal enough, or black or white or scarlet, none of which will do).
One evening, out for my walk, thinking of inspiration dresses and trying to decide what to make, I stopped at my favourite outlook for the view. I love the last hour of light in New Zealand in the autumn: it’s one of things that reconciles me to the oncoming winter. The sea calms and goes the most delicious grey-blue, and the hills glow gold with the reflected light.
The combination is so distinct, and striking, and at the moment when I looked out at this view, the hills reminded me of my Capelet of Yay, wrapping their warmth around the cool blue of the harbour like a velvet stole.
Could I replicate that look? Create a dress the colour of the sea at evening, and pair it with my velvet and be the sea and hills at sunset? At first I wanted the dress to be in silk crepe – a simple, straight, strapless sheath that hung from my bust to the floor without any shaping. Alas (but to the benefit of my vow to sew only from stash) I could not find a single piece of silk crepe in Wellington in the right shade of blue. There was grey, and sky blue, and teal blue, but nothing grey-blue. I’d almost given up when I remembered this lace in my stash:
I’d hoped to make this up as an evening gown for Art Deco Weekend last year, but it hadn’t happened. Sewing it up would mean I was sewing from stash, and getting something off my to-do list. Of course, since it is lace, the simple sheath idea I had had wouldn’t quite do it justice.
I’d originally thought of using my wedding dress pattern:
When I inspected it again, I decided all the seaming was much too fussy for the lace, though the silhouette was perfect. I looked for other inspiration.
I love the simple lines and exposed shoulders of this 1936 beauty:
And the cuttaway back of the floral frock in this pair:
And finally, the way the lace is simply sewn as a fabric, with distinct seamlines instead of lace matching, in ’30s frocks like these ones:
So, I’ll be making a mid 1930s lace evening dress, with a slim trumpet/mermaid silhouette, exposed shoulders and a cutaway back. The pattern? What about a modified, evening version of my Garden Party Frock?
Perfect! Solved! And away I go to sew…