When it came time for the HSF Challenge #23: Gratitude (make something utilises the tutorials, patterns and research that so many of the historical costuming community make available for free) I was in a bit of a quandary. I’ve got a list of tutorials and patterns that I want to use that is a mile long, and kilometres of fabric and lace that have been gifted to me by generous people, but every one of these tutorials and patterns was would be a very involved project. Stupidly I’d scheduled the ‘Generosity’ challenge right at the end of the university semester, and I was up to my neck in marking.
What to do!?!
I had a browse through the HSF photo albums and finished projects for inspiration, and was reminded again of the Hooverette dress that Jen did for the Robes & Robings challenge. It’s simple, it’s sweet, I’m madly in love with it, and I want one! Also, Jen did a bunch of awesome research on Hooverette and wrap dresses from the 20s-40s, making reproducing one easy.
After looking at all the different types of Hooverettes, I was particularly drawn to the early-mid ’30s styles with shawl collars and little puff sleeves, such as this one, and this one. I don’t think I’ve worn little tiny puff sleeves on anything since I was about 5, but every once in a while my inner Anne gets her way!
I had some 1930s inspired quilting fabric in stash, and I actually own a late ’20s wrap dress pattern:
The pattern simply calls it a ‘wrap around frock’ and it’s a bit early for the look I’m going for, but I used it as a pattern base, and drafted my own slim 1930s skirt and a shawl collar, and borrowed puff sleeves from another 1930s pattern.
Things started out easily enough, and then I decided to get complicated and have a contrasting collar, and the white for my collar and cuffs and sash was too white, so I tea-dyed:
The middle fabric is dyed, the outer two are not – I just wanted to cut the brightness of the white the tiniest bit.
As it turns out, that was the beginning of my problems – I forgot to dye the sash pieces, and then couldn’t get them to match, and then cut the sleeve cuffs wrong, and had to re-cut them out of un-dyed fabric. In the end, my sash, cuffs and collar were all different dye jobs!
Then there were sewing headaches with getting the wrap of the shawl collar to sit right,but in the end, I persevered, and I’m extremely pleased with the overall result:
The pattern has cunning little tucks at the waist to give it shape:
I edged the collar, and cuffs in tiny red ric-rac to give them definition.
It’s very subtle, but provides just the right contrast and pop to the dress.
Or at least I think so!
I repeated the ric-rac on the pocket and added white piping to keep it from blending into the dress:
I couldn’t do it on the waist ties though, as they would have been too stiff.
The proof of the pudding, is, of course, in the wearing, and let me tell you, this wears well!
I’ve already worn it to do a last bit of university work, to hang out the laundry, wash dishes, make dinner, and tidy around the house, as well as to teach a sewing class.
It was a fantastically warm day in Wellingon: almost too warm, and brilliantly sunny. In between doing housework and errands I stopped by Madame O’s house for a photoshoot. Like many people in earthquake-wary Wellington, she’s having her chimney removed, so when I arrived she was literally shoveling out dirt from a hole in the floor where the fireplace had been, but she climbed out to have a cup of tea and take photos of me.
We sat in her pocket handkerchief back garden and I posed with the roses and lemons and old-fashioned grapes:
We weren’t the only ones enjoying the sun. Frogelina was loving the weather. I was posing and Madame O was snapping away and then I noticed Miss Frogelina hanging out and watching the show.
I’m in love with the dress as a whole, but I’m particularly in love with the pocket. It’s big enough for my car keys and a coin/card purse and a lip gloss.
Fabric: 2m reproduction 1930s print quilting cotton ($4 per metre on sale), 1/3 metre white lawn for the collar, cuffs & sash ($5 per metre)
Pattern: My own, mushed together from various vintage patterns and with a bit of drafting (hmmm…this sounds really familiar).
Year: ca. 1934
Notions: Cotton thread, vintage ric-rac, vintage bias hem tape, all inherited.
How historically accurate is it? While the print is accurate, quilting/craft cotton is not an accurate weight or hand for the 1930s (which is why all those reproduction prints are so annoying – perfect pattern, not at all period fabric!), so the dress doesn’t wear or hang as a period original would. My construction is all period perfect though. So 70%.
Hours to complete: 5 or 6. I spent way too much time fussing with the collar.
First worn: All day Wednesday to be a teacher and seamstress and housewife and friend.
Total cost: $9.50
And special thanks goes to: Jen, for the inspiration and research, and Madame O, for taking time out of her busy day to do a photoshoot for me.