The Fine Feathered Friends Dress

Two weeks ago I posted about the 0Degrees of Sewing Separation challenge, and now it’s time to finally show you my make!

(well, one of my makes…I’m doing at least two, and maybe as many as 4….!)

This is definitely make #2, because it’s not the one you’ve already seen a sneak preview of.  It is, in fact, the one that started it all:

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This is  the Decades of Style Dorothy Lara dress  from the vintage feathered rayon that both    Juliet  of Crazy Gypsy Chronicles  and I bought a piece of at Fabric-a-Brac in Palmy.

Does that mean that Juliet made something in it?  Why yes, she did!  And shortly you’ll be able to read her blog post about it too! (and you even get a photo of us together in our garments, thanks to the ‘ask a random stranger to photograph you’ technique)

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Juliet wasn’t able to make the 0Degrees get together, so the two of us decided that we needed to meet to  take photos.  I took a break from pattern drafting and class planning, and she took a break from being an awesome museum person, and we  managed a quick photoshoot  at Parliament.

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It’s really quite amazing and wonderful that you can just wander around the parliament grounds, and that they are full of office workers sitting on the lawns and benches having lunch, and school kids climbing the pohutakawa trees.  It’s a good reminder that it wasn’t that long ago that the Prime Minister of NZ had his personal phone number listed in the phone book for anyone to look up!

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This is iteration #3 of the Decades of Style Dorothy Lara dress, and I feel I’ve finally got the fit just right.  I cut a 36″ skirt and waistband, and a 34″ bodice, and take in the angled raglan sleeves 1cm at the bottom and 1.5cm at the top, to compensate for my narrow upper back and shoulders.

Now that I have the fit right, I really love the dress, though the process of making it is still:

“AAAAGGGHHHhhhh!  I hate this so much!  This is so finicky and tedious and annoying!  It goes on forever!  Why am I doing this!  Oh…wait…I’m almost done.  Well, that last bit was fast!”

And then I try it on, and suddenly I’m in love all over again!

I hope Nina, who is the link before me in the 0Degrees chain, with a Dorothy Lara in white spotted sateen, likes hers as much!

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I did have a tiny last-minute upset with this dress.  I was putting it on to get dressed to take photos, and the invisible side zip broke!  Total panic, frantic unpicking, a mad search through my zip stash, and I managed to find a suitable zip and install it in time!  Whew!

I’m a little gutted though, as I was planning to replace the zip with a proper 1940s lapped fastening when I had time, and I’m not sure I can face unpicking another zip – nor am I sure the fabric can handle it.

I’ve paired the dress with a leather belt, a rust coloured silk and viscose cardigan (my new favourite not-me-made garment, for those days in winter when my skin is throwing hissy fits about having to wear wool, again), and NW3 Hobbs ’30s inspired shoes (mostly because I was in a mad hurry and they were the first brown shoes I located).

I really like the Dorothy Lara with a belt, and it sits very comfortably.

And I really love the whole look, because it does feel very  1940s.

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(a moment of appreciation for what a wiz with the camera Juliet is!  Even the NZ flag is perfect in that photo!)

The 1940s look is quite appropriate, because this isn’t just a qualifier for 0Degrees.  This also fits nicely into the HSF ‘War & Peace’ challenge, as the perfect example of a wartime frock using a fabric that was more widely available  (rayon), in a small, allover, non-directional print, perfect for conserving fabric.  The pattern is also a classic wartime pattern – giving the impression of lush fabric usage, while actually being quite frugal.  I’ve even gone for a teeny-tiny hem, to really conserve fabric.

And because it’s a wartime frock, we got some photos at the Parliament war memorial, with the cenotaph and lions:

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The Challenge:  #4  War & Peace

Fabric:  3m (more or less, I forgot to measure exactly) of vintage feather patterned rayon – from the hand and width, it’s probably original 1940s fabric, picked up at Palmerston North’s Fabric-a-Brac.

Pattern:  Decades of Style #4013 Dorothy Lara dress

Year:  1943

Notions:  thread,  an invisible zip, silk organza to interface.

How historically accurate is it?:  Other than the invisible zip, the pattern, materials, and sewing techniques are all accurate to the early-mid 1940s.

Hours to complete:  7 or so —  I started, and then didn’t do anything for two weeks, and then got back to it

First worn:  Wed April 29, for the photoshoot.

Total cost:   About  $10  — the fabric I picked up for $6, and there is still enough of it left for a blouse, plus two $3 zips, a 50cent spool of vintage thread, and scraps of silk organza from a meter length I found in the Fabric Warehouse $5 bin (I LOVE that bin!)

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  1. This is absolutely gorgeous, Leimomi!! You did an amazing job and the style is just perfect on you. I love the 1940s on you!! 🙂
    The fabric is so pretty, and your shoes(!!!)!!! Where did you get them?
    I definitely will be checking out this pattern. It’s gorgeous! Lovely job!

    • Thanks Esther! I’m really growing to love the 40s!

      The shoes were a stroke of luck. They are Hobbs Nw3 shoes – made in Italy and hideously expensive, but I found them unworn, still in their box, at an op shop!

  2. This dress is lovely Leimomi! I like how you paired it with the rust/brown accents. It makes for such a pleasant outfit.

    • Thanks Brigid! I don’t usually go for brown, but I love how this is all working together – I might have to do more of it!

  3. Gorgeous dresses on a gorgeous day! Where in Wellington do you get your silk organza for interfacing? I can see it really makes a difference in how the skirt bells so beautifully on your dress.

    • Thank you! We were lucky indeed with the weather.

      The only place in Wellington I know of that you can reliably get silk organza at is Made on Marion. There isn’t any organza in the skirt though – just the waistband and neck facing.

  4. Nina says

    I love this version of yours too! The pattern makes up into such a pretty dress, I’ll be making another version next summer.

  5. Such a lovely outfit! It all goes so well together, and the dress looks great on you, so cheerful with the print and the gathers.

  6. The Dorothy Lara is such a cool pattern, and while it looks absolutely perfectly 40’s with the cardigan and accessories, it’s also a very contemporary looking dress when styled in a contemporary way.

    I totally feel your pain re. wool. I like wool. It’s so nice to work with and the drape is so good, but my skin does not like wool at all.

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