Friday, June 15, 2012

Have I Mentioned that “I Love Lucy!”?, Part 1

This project has had quite the journey.  It started years ago, in fact, although the actual pattern was purchased earlier this year.

Many years ago, I found the rayon/linen blend at JoAnn Fabrics.  It is 54” wide, but has almost 9” of a butterfly border design.  Now, I love butterflies, but this particular embroidery is not well executed at all.  However, I just could not resist the embroidered polka dots.

Over the years I kept meaning to find a pattern worthy of this fabulous fabric.  There was a tin of buttons that was lost in a move, and in it were some fabulous vintage red buttons that were at least 1.5” in diameter.  I had grand plans for this fabric and those buttons, but it just was not meant to be.  Who knows, now that I have used the fabric, perhaps the tin of buttons will magically reappear.

And then I found Simplicity 3849 on ebay.  I really should avoid the site at all costs.  I have more patterns than I know what to do with, and yet, when I browse the vintage patterns, I always manage to find something I cannot do without.  Why is that?

It turns out that the buttons were a huge issue with this project.

I found some cherry candy colored buttons that were perfect (yes, I was stuck on the color red for this project), but there were only 8 available at my local JoAnns.  Three weeks later, the stock was not replenished, partly because their system says that three cards are currently in stock.  LIAR!

I suppose I could have re-spaced the buttonholes, but because they are such an important part of the design, I really wanted to leave it alone.

Well, I was tired of waiting, and after wandering up and down the button aisle for way too long last week, I picked up a couple of other options. 

I toyed with the idea of using two different colors as the buttonhole lips.  In the end, the cotton I had on hand did not look quite right, and I could not tell if I was going to love or hate the look.  And after waiting years to use this fabric, I could not bear the thought of ending up with something I did not like.

The construction of this dress was a lot of fun.  The diagonal opening is unlike anything I have ever come across.  I am not sure what I was expecting, but the front bodice pieces are identical.  The extra fabric is hooked on the opposite side of the waistband.  Two skirt pieces are seamed at the center back and wrap around to the front where an extra piece is added to the right side that gets faced and buttons are used as a closure.

So many vintage dresses are difficult to get in and out of.  Those side zippers create lovely lines, but wiggling in and out of them is not always fun.  This dress can be opened completely – a shirt-dress gone wild, if you will . . .

I used some plain black cotton as armhole and skirt facings because it did not have any embroidered bumps to contend with and created a cleaner line.

Buckles are becoming scarce around here.  However, I did have a hideous gold plastic thing hanging around.  A bias strip of fabric took care of that, and a simple interfaced rectangle completed the belt.  (I will admit that I used a fusible because I seem to have more luck with the stuff when making belts.)

I pulled out my favorite shoulder pad pattern pieces from Vintage Vogue 2494.  

For so many years, I cringed at the thought of wearing shoulder pads.  But adding them to a vintage dress really finishes the silhouette.  And they are the perfect project to complete while watching a Downton Abbey marathon, as is any kind of hand sewing!

And for a bit of fun, I used my bright tomato red seam binding.  Doesn’t it look cheery?


  1. Should be lovely when It's finished. I'm looking forward to seeing it

  2. Love the red bias binding! And really, is there ever an occasion when a Downton Abbey marathon is a bad idea? ;)

  3. You do such an impeccable job of finishing your garments, just lovely. I'm so lazy, I figure nobody else will see it, why bother? But you inspire me to do better!

  4. What fun! I love seeing the inside of well finished garments!

  5. I can't wait to see this finished! " A shirt dress gone wild.." I laughed out loud at that. I really like that pattern you're using. :]

  6. This looks like it will be amazing, looking forward to seeing the end result :)

    Penny Dreadful Vintage

  7. I love the idea of buttons on the diagonal, I have only ever seen this before on knitted dresses from the 30's.

  8. Wow, a shirt-waister with a difference - super pattern and perfect fabric. What will you do with the butterflies?

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