Rate the dress: girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes

This week’s Rate the Dress is going to be slightly truncated, because I’m away on a long overdue holiday, and (as per usual) I had a million things to do in the run-up to leaving, and didn’t get everything sorted.  And I have very limited internet while away.

So no add-up of last week’s Rate the Dress for now.

This week, I’m showing you a dress that takes a romantic classic: white dresses with blue sashes, and gives it a twist in white & ecru, with a bright ocean blue sash, and fringed neck ornamentation that reminds me of a flower lei.  The sea and sand colours and garland of flowers seems quite appropriate given my holiday (can’t tell you where yet, but there are going to be lots of exciting photos to show you!)!

Evening dress, ca. 1910, via Kerry Taylor Auctions

Evening dress, ca. 1910, via Kerry Taylor Auctions

Evening dress, ca. 1910, via Kerry Taylor Auctions

Evening dress, ca. 1910, via Kerry Taylor Auctions

Evening dress, ca. 1910, via Kerry Taylor Auctions

Evening dress, ca. 1910, via Kerry Taylor Auctions

The beaded fringe amuses me, because it’s such a (mostly misplaced) cliché of ’20s fashion, but here we see it a decade earlier.  What do you think?  Would it sway and sparkle and add a bit of difference to gown?  Or is it just a bit ridiculous?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

Rate the Dress: Youthful chic in 1935

Last week I showed you an 18th century inspired 1880s dress, and you liked it, except for the shirring and sleeve trims, but thought it a trifle insipid, so it rated a rather meh 6.9 out of 10.

This week, let’s brighten things up a bit with a 1930s fashion plate, featuring a skirt and trim in deep orange.

This outfit is described as:

Jaquette mi-ajustée en flanelle rayée perpendiculairement, garnie de soie écossaise. Jupe en lainage chiné blanc sur fond orange. Boutons orange. Chemisier en flamisol blanc.

Or in English, roughly (since my ability to speak/read French is confined to knowing all the textile words!)

Girl’s street ensemble: A semi-fitted jacket in vertically striped flannel, trimmed with plaid silk.  Skirt of orange wool, flecked with white.  Orange buttons.  Blouse of white flamisol (a midweight plain weave silk popular in the ’30s, with a twisted crepe weft, and a rough silk warp, giving it an aesthetic that modern fashion writers would describe as ‘luxe casual’).

What do you think?  Elegant and suitably youthful, with the double whammy of ’30s & French chic?  Or is it too matchy-matchy, with every accessory in orange or white?  Do you prefer the orange hat, or the white one?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.

Doing a Jantzen: 1920s bathers

I was (and still am) working on an elaborate project for the Historical Sew Fortnightly The Great Outdoors challenge, but (as so often happens), I’m busy dealing with stuff, and won’t be able to get it done in time, so it’s been pushed back to a later challenge.

Luckily, I quite unexpectedly ended up with the inspiration for a simpler alternative item.  I’ve been working my way through all the various T-shirt patterns that are available at the moment.

I was trying the Tessuti Alexa T (not linking to it, because really, don’t buy it – SO overpriced for what it is) in a gorgeous fuchsia merino blend knit.  Unfortunately, I was so disappointed in the cut of the T-shirt that it was unfixable (enormous armholes.  You can fix almost anything but enormous armscythes in a T-shirt), and I almost threw it away.

Then I remembered the gorgeous fuchsia swimsuit that Knotrune did for the HSF Art challenge.  She was inspired by Picasso’s Bathers, and my fuchsia wool was the same shade, and looking at Bathers, it wouldn’t be too hard for me to cut my T-shirt neckline’s down to match Picasso’s

Les baigneuses (The Bathers), Pablo Picasso, 1918

Les baigneuses (The Bathers), Pablo Picasso, 1918

Of course, I had a T-shirt, and The Bathers are wearing one pieces.  Off to do some research, which yielded, this:

Ta da! Early 1920s Jantzen girl wonderfulness – in two pieces!

So I adjusted the neckline of my T-shirt, bound it and the armscythes, and used the last of my merino to whip up a pair of knee-length shorts (using Cake’s Espresso leggings pattern, which I DO recommend, as my base).

And the result:

1920s inspired bathing suit thedreamstress.com

Ta da!  Early 1920s (ish) swimwear wonderfulness!  On me!

Because it’s the middle of winter, and far too cold to be outside in a swimsuit (even a wool one), I posed inside, in the bathroom.  It seemed vaguely suitable, especially when I pretended to dive into the bath!

1920s inspired bathing suit thedreamstress.com

I’m really happy with my swimsuit, but I am just thinking of it as a working toile – it’s certainly not period perfect, but it does the job, and will help me to make another one that is perfect later on.

1920s inspired bathing suit thedreamstress.com

For now, it’s fun to wear, and it might even get a trial dip in the sea once the weather is warmer.

1920s inspired bathing suit thedreamstress.com

I might have to work on my diving form though…

1920s inspired bathing suit thedreamstress.com
Here are some flat shots, if you are interested in the construction:

Felicity the cat thedreamstress.com

Felicity the cat thedreamstress.com

I was short on fabric so had to do a bit of piecing:

1920s inspired bathing suit thedreamstress.com

1920s inspired bathing suit thedreamstress.com

The Challenge: #15 The Great Outdoors

Fabric: 1ishm of merino/something synthetic (probably nylon) blend knit.

Pattern: Extremely altered versions of Tessuti’s Alexa T (I don’t think there was a single line left that matched their pattern by the time I was done), and slightly altered Cake Espresso leggings.

Year: 1918-1924

Notions: polyester thread, elastic

How historically accurate is it?: Not much at all, since it didn’t start out as a period item.  The construction itself is plausible, though I should have done my bindings slightly differently to match the period examples I have studied.  The knit is much finer than a period knit.  The overlocking is actually accurate, as overlockers have been around since the 1880s, and in the ‘teens and 20s were commonly used on knitwear and swimsuits.

Hours to complete: 3 or thereabouts, depending on whether you count my fussing with the Alexa pattern as part of the construction.

First worn: For the photoshoot

Total cost: I paid $15 for a 3x metres length of the merino at a clearance sale, and also made a long-sleeved T (that actually works!) out of it, and a cardigan, so lets say $5 +$1 in notions = $6 for the swimsuit.

And (of course), most importantly:
Does Felicity approve?  Well, she certainly enjoyed hanging out with me as I sewed it!
Felicity the cat thedreamstress.com


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Meet the Dreamstress

Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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