A few years ago, I was lucky to have the chance to attend an Yves Saint Laurent exhibition at the De Young Museum where there were many exquisite examples of couture garments on display. My favorite of the day, surprisingly, was was an unassuming wool trapeze dress.
It was far from flashy, but I was in love with the simplicity of the silhouette and the perfect tailoring. If I could have managed to take it home with me, I would have. And ever since, I have been wanting my own version.
I initially thought that I would alter Simplicity 1197 into an approximation of the original YSL dress. However, that particular design was much more fitted than I had expected. So I decided to set my sights on some of the other project ideas floating around in my head.
Imagine my surprise when I came across this vintage Advance pattern on Etsy. Clearly, it is a direct knock-off of the very trapeze dress I have been lusting after for years.
This copy of the pattern has a bit of sun damage. I am always amazed just how sturdy vintage pattern tissue is, but it seems that sunburn is a problem for old sewing patterns as well as pasty skinned people.
This is a "Sew-Easy!" design, and while there are not very many pattern pieces to deal with, the drafting is pretty darn fabulous. Even on a basic pattern, they have properly drafted a collar and under collar. Hooray for vintage patterns! The pockets are purely decorative (and I am sure that the original couture piece had useable welt pockets), but that is really the only sign that this design took an easy way out.
I would love to make this up in a nubby wool at some point, but this linen cotton blend kept nagging me to give it a chance.
Once I started putting everything together I had a bit of a worry that it was going to look like a muumuu, thanks in large part to the print that I had fallen in love with. That, or it would have too much of a maternity vibe.
To reign in some of the extra fabric, I stitched two pieces of grosgrain ribbon in each side seam that snap together at the center back. My idea was to use a sort of modified bustle effect. At certain angles, it looks like a bit of a robe à la française (I think there is a more proper term for the sack back gown where the fabric is a part of the bodice itself, but I cannot think what it is at the moment). This trims the silhouette down a bit, but there is still a lot of volume depending on the angle.
So, I had my doubts about this project while it was in process, but I really do like how it all came together. And I may just have to try it out in a solid colored wool, perhaps a bit shorter than the drafted version, and let all that volume run wild!