Last week Anna Karolina’s pretty princess dress got lots of love. Someone even described it as “possibly the most perfect dress ever”. Wowzers! Still, there are always a few who are a little less impressed, so that brought it from a perfect 10/10 to a still bloomin’ impressive 9.6 out of 10, the best we’ve seen in a long while.
I’m thinking 1930s this week. Partly it’s because I’ve been showing you my 1930s patterns, partly it’s because my Goldilocks blouse feels 1930s even though the pattern was published in the 40s (do I think it was an earlier pattern that they re-published in the 40s with earlier illustrations? Yes I do!), and partly it’s because I just bought the most delicious fabric for a future 1930s garment.
So, a ’30s Rate the Dress.
This is Myrna Loy in the pre-code 1933 ‘When Ladies Meet’, about a very ‘modern’ writer who isn’t fussed that her crush has a wife – until she meets the wife.
Myrna Loy in When Ladies Meet (1933)
Myrna Loy in 'When Ladies Meet' (1933)
Myrna Loy with Ann Harding and Alice Brady in ' When Ladies Meet.'
Myrna’s trademark outfit for the film was this white number with spotted trim. What do you think? Modern and liberated, just like her character? And just feminine enough to make a good effort at snaring a man who should be devoted to another woman? Or are all those ruffles and spots just a bit silly?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.
Just in case you haven’t noticed, I love capes. However, I do not love Vegas. It’s hot, it’s commercial, it’s all about alcohol and gambling and stuff I don’t do. But this week’s theme on the Sew Weekly was “Viva Las Vegas”. And Vegas is pretty much the promised land of capes. Elvis, Liberace, Evil Knievel, magicians – in Vegas, it’s all about the cape. So I may not be a Vegas girl, but I can totally be a cape girl.
Really though, as awesome as an Elvis or Liberace-style embroidered and bedazzled to the gills cape would be, I don’t think my life and wardrobe can support that much awesome.
So I went for a toned down version in classic black and white – something to evoke the traditional magician’s cape, with just a little hint of Vegas bling in a shiny, plush velvet, and a patterned jacquard satin lining.
I’m super excited about the lining actually. The fabric was my Grandmother’s, so it’s wonderful to finally get to use it, 15+ years after I inherited it. And the pattern reminds me of fountains and stories of glass pools with showgirls swimming in them. Naughty!
Unfortunately the white fabric was damaged, and I had to cut very carefully to get the full lining out of it, which meant cutting along different grains to the outer fabric, which is a HUGE issue with this pattern. The disagreeing grain-lines means that in some places the lining tugs just a little, and in others it wants to bag and hang out from below the outer fabric. I did my best to mitigate the issue, but it isn’t perfect.
I bought the most gorgeous, elaborate, fabulous frog to fasten the front of my cape, and I couldn’t find it anywhere once the cape was finished. So instead I’m wearing it with a vintage pearl bow brooch from Nana. I’m almost glad the frog didn’t show up, as I think the bow perfectly references a magician bow tie (and besides, we all know bow ties are cool), and my brooches don’t get to make an appearance often enough.
To get into the spirit of the challenge I added a little Vegas sparkle with one of my Grandmother’s 1950s hats with a sequin band across the front. I paired the cape with my Little Black Dress Clip Dress (done for the accesorise challenge), some seriously awesome tights, and, for maximum drama, elbow length white gloves. Totally over the top, but that’s Vegas!
Unfortunately, unlike Vegas, Wellington is not the promised land of capes. Wellington is the land of “Oh blast, I’m trying to cross the street and the wind has blown the cape up into my face and completely blinded me” and “This cape looked so cute over my coat, but it really isn’t cute the way it has been slapping me in the ear for the last 5 minutes”. So now this is a still-days and indoors only cape. But it does a great job of keeping me warm.
I first wore the cape for Yum Cha with friends Saturday a week past, but the pictures from that day were terrible, so I re-did a photoshoot at the Roxy Cinema – a 1930s themed cinema with lots of decoration by Weta Workshop. And it’s in my neighborhood, and just down the street from my favourite restaurant, and a bit glitzy and over the top. Perfect!
Just the facts, Ma’am:
Fabric: 1.5m vintage jacquard satin from my Grandmother’s stash, 1m black velvet plush from…I honestly can’t remember.
Pattern: My own, based on a 1930s original (the same pattern as the Capelet of Yay, but without the long stole pieces)
Year: late 1930s meets 2012
Notions: thread, and someday a frog (if I ever find the blasted thing – but I’m liking it so much without I might leave it off)
Hours: 5, thanks to the unfortunate directional issues
First worn?: Saturday 26 May for yum char with friends (and then pretty much constantly since then).
Wear again?: Yes, but only indoors or on still days
Make again?: Not in the near future. Between this and the Capelet of Yay, I think I have enough capes for a little while.
Total cost: $0 (well, $3 for the yet-to-be-located frog).
On May 18 I showed you half of my early 1930s Excella patterns. Here are the rest (and one non-Excella pattern just to mix things up).
I adore this one. That wrapping scarf. So swish! I’m waiting on the right time to make the whole dress, but I have made the skirt part as a business skirt, which I loved and wore to death.
Isn’t this one so adorable? It just sings of sweetness. I’m not sure the top and skirt go together though. Maybe if the ruffle and contrast pieces were in the same fabric?
This dress is possibly the simplest, but may very well be my favourite. Such lovely simplicity of line.
From simple to sophistication. Va-va voom!
And this one may be my least favourite. It feels like Excella needed to make a pattern, and so they just married some bog-standard dress elements to make a new design. Couple of skirt panels, some simple sleeve variants, cowl neck, tie it together with a sash. Eh. Good enough.
Doesn’t this one just say 1930s? I see Joan Crawford in Grand Hotel, Myrna Loy in the Thin Man, Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night. Happiness.
OK. Can’t decide on favourites. Love this one too. Imagine it in deep dusky violet with golden yellow bobbles on the neck and belt. Swoon.
And finally, one you may recognise. It’s my wedding dress! Only with a different bodice.
I don’t know what company my final pattern is by, but I adore it. I like that they showed it in a print. I also love that it has an age with the size. And that you see it with a hat and a pocketbook.