Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Make Every Day an Affair to Remember

The majority of the clothing I have made would qualify as “special occasion” attire.  These are the patterns I am drawn to – I simply cannot resist a fabulous dress.  If it was acceptable to flounce around in a hoop skirt all day, I would!  And most days, I am what the average person would consider overdressed.  

Then again, overdressed these days is basically anything other than a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and by that definition, I do not mind if my habiliment is considered a bit extravagant.

I have recently come to the conclusion that saving these special garments for a special occasion is silly.  If wearing a great dress will improve my mood, why not wear one every day?

Case in point - until yesterday, this dress had only been worn twice since I completed it in September of 2007.  It was worn to a wedding, and for the opening night party of Idiots Delight in which I was cast as Mrs. Cherry. 

I simply could not resist this cherry printed cotton that I found at Joann Fabrics – I have never met a cherry print that I did not like, and Mrs. Cherry was not going to leave the store without it.  I could not decide between the red or multi-color, so I purchased both, and used the multi for the jacket and belt to add a bit of contrast to the outfit. 

For the past year, my cherry confection has been decorating a wall in my sewing room, along with my green polka dot frock.

This dress has its own petticoat ruffle attached to the skirt lining.

I love the idea, but after using this technique on these two dresses, my closet was threatening to go on strike. 

Realizing that the netted crinoline construction used in this pattern (fabulous though it may be) was creating serious space issues, I used the skirt pattern to make myself a separate petticoat which I now use under my other full-skirted dresses. 

What makes this skirt so special, you may ask.  Instead of gathering all the way around the waist, the gathers are pushed to the sides, leaving the center front and back flat, which creates a more flattering line.  

The gathered netting gets sewn below the hip to accommodate the zipper making the poof start at the hip-line.

I decided to make the belt wider than suggested because I felt like a skinny one would get lost in the large pattern.  Because I could not find any belting as wide as I wanted, I used two layers of thick interfacing and sewed vertical pieces of plastic boning at the back and side waist of the belt to keep it from rolling.

I had to fuss a bit with the front neckline.  The construction went together beautifully, but the upper bodice would not stay centered or gathered as shown in the illustration.  

To remedy this, I simply tacked the underside of the casing to the straps invisibly where I wanted it to sit.  This is an extremely easy fix and something that makes the dress much easier to wear because it eliminates the need to keep adjusting the neckline.

My only real complaint, if I had to come up with one, is that the matching jacket is unlined, and the finishing technique leave something to be desired.  There are many ways to fix this, and it is labeled "easy," so I suppose Butterick did not want to add difficulty to the pattern.  However, because the dress is fully lined and finished off beautifully, the jacket construction just seems like too much of an afterthought.

I decided to forego the buttonholes because I knew I wanted to wear the jacket open and I wanted to use over-sized buttons.  I thought that large buttonholes would detract from the overall look.

Ribbon hangers were added to the dress so the weight of the skirt does not stretch the straps – not only does she take up quite a bit of space, those nine yards of fabric are quite heavy! 

This dress is quite easy to put together, but the pattern lines create a very memorable dress with a great neckline.  Do be aware that a special bra may be required because of that lovely neckline and the low back - a regular strapless may not work in this case.

So, no more excuses, go pull one of your neglected frocks out of the closet and take her for a jaunt – you will not believe how it will improve your mood, not to mention all the compliments you will get!

Dress & Jacket:  Butterick 4792
Earrings:  Vintage
Shoes:  Nine West “Vishnu” in Red

Polka Dot Dress:  Vogue 1094
Necklace:  Banana Republic
Shoes:  Seychelles "Babydoll"


  1. You look lovely, and if looking lovely means you're overdressed then so be it!

    While I try to stand out less these days than I did when I was younger, being "overdressed" is just something I haven't been able to shake. People dress like slobs, and those who do not are generally showing a lot more skin than I feel comfortable with since I got out of my "I'm a grown woman and I can be sexy" mid-late teens phase. :) So, I say, be perpetually overdressed... I am! I just try to be consistent about it and simply maintain a somewhat conservative/retro dress code. So, no ball gowns to a luncheon for me, but sure, I'll wear a sporty skirt suit to buy vegetables at the market.

  2. @EmmaAbsolutely! Although, if I have a ball gown that needs a night out on the town, I will find a suitable event to attend if it’s the last thing I do!

  3. Your dress is fantastic and you look so good in it you should definitely wear it whenever you feel like it :) Oh and the polka dot dress is gorgeous!

  4. Both dresses are fabulous and need to be worn everyday, you never know when a special occasion will arise. Is that poochie real? Cute either way, I love an animal accessory.

  5. I wore a refashioned 60s glittery gold polyester dress to get an x-ray today because I felt like it. Yes, I was "overdressed". But the x-ray lady said: "I love your dress". Perfect!

  6. I love your blog, you´re so talented! These two dresses, I just can´t decide, which one I like more, becaus both are perfect.

  7. i think they are both full of fun and style and you should wear them whenever they might make you happy, otherwise, what's the point? i'm in your camp--every day can be a dress-up day! :-)

  8. a perfect dress! i love the neckline!

    i wouldn't even consider this overdressed... just a cheerful sundress (although definitely on the "nice" side of sundresses). it would look totally appropriate at both the grocery store & a wedding, depending on the shoes & accessories.

    that being said, as much as i love to slouch around in grotty cut-off shorts & a tank top, i've also been known to wear some pretty fancy digs to places like the farmer's market, so maybe my opinion is a little biased :)

  9. great dress, glad to see you have a blog, so I can see more background on your fantastic vintage looks.

  10. WOW! that's a beautiful dress, the green polka dots too.
    I would like to see how you did the belt.

  11. Gosh I love the dresses you make. They are so glamorous and elegant.

    MAJOR love for the green polkda dots as well :-D

    I dont think this is overdressed either - but then I am one of those overdressers ;-P I figure one person being overdressed counts for 10 people wearing leggings as pants, or showing too much flesh like most "fashion" is these days. I'm no prude but people really don't bother all that much these days. So the more ladies (and men) we have out there that are willing to put in the extra ten minutes or so in getting dressed then the more we can turn the tide :-D

    It does draw attention to oneself but it's always good attention. Or at least it has been for me. :-)

  12. Thank you for posting about this topic. I also am drawn to patterns of fabulous dresses. I make them and then wait for an occasion to wear them. You've inspired me to wear my fab frocks more often.
    I'm a student at a local university and the clothing ensembles that pass as "outfits" perplex me.
    I often feel like a prude in my knee-length skirts, shorts and dresses. I may be in the minority, but I find the look of a full skirted dress much more feminine than skirts so short that you risk public exposure.
    I love the cherry print and the pattern of both dresses. I need to track down a copy of Butterick 4792. I love the idea of a built in petticoat! Beautiful :)

  13. @khriste B He sure is real! His name is Valentino, and he is a perfect little gentleman.

  14. @Lizzy Lizzy, the belt is a Ralph Lauren woven belt from Macys that had gold d-rings used as a fastening. I used bias strips of my polka dot fabric to cover the metal rings. The original pattern does not call for a belt at all - I just thought that it might add something!

  15. @Clarissa Clarissa - I was that same girl at college; the only one wearing full length dresses and skirts! Cheers to you for staying true to your personal style!

  16. Your beautiful dress really inspired me! I just bought the pattern on ebay :-) quick question: What kind of cotton did you use? Was it heavy or lightweight? Do you think I could make the dress with a winter fabric? thanks.

  17. @Sohaila I am so happy to hear you have been inspired - we can be dress twins!

    My dress was made with a mid-weight quilting cotton. I think a winter fabric would work just fine provided it has a bit of drape (and keep in mind that the finished version is going to be rather heavy!). The neckline is the only part of the dress that might give you a problem. Another option would be to dart some of the excess at the neckline instead of pushing the upper bodice toward the center straps and tacking in place if the fabric does not behave.

    Please let me know how the dress comes out or if you have any more questions!

  18. That frock is absolutely divine! It definitely inspires me to get out my cherry fabric, a vintage pattern and just sew like crazy.

  19. Beutiful work!Your hair and makeup are beautiful too. You should stop by and post on my new linky party.

  20. I've admired many of your dresses, and after your latest creation, asked myself, where you go in these clothes? Now that I've read your blog, it all makes sense. I applaud your panache and cachet to be special every day, we should all follow your lead. Best of luck with the acting.

  21. Thanks for posting this, especially about being considered "overdressed". I grew up being overdressed because I so hated wearing pants and jeans every day, and, over the years as a SAHM of 3 DD's, have "let myself go". It takes a lot of time and energy to get dressed, something that I don't feel up to most days. Your post gave me food for thought. And your sewing skills are amazing. I'm glad you started a blog!

  22. After the first photo was featured on MPB's blog, I had to see what the fracas was all about.

    WOW! As your on-line heckler of sorts, you just put me out of business.

    "Habiliment": vocabularly power out the wah-zoo!
    Acting: star of stage (yet another talent!).
    Able to find and make 2 fantastic dresses out of fabric from JoAnn's (straw into gold!).
    THAT green frock! What a man trap!!!
    Your dog: not just a gentleman, but a PERFECT little gentleman (abrupt audible nasal exhale).
    Side gathers on the crinoline for maximum fit and flare (great design tip!).
    Belt maker, extraordinaire!
    Ribbon hangers!
    ALL of this, and you're gently guiding others to live in the day, through fashion and personal expression.

    WHEN, Laura Mae, are you making the leap to television?