Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on January 28, 2015
If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you probably remember the hand sewn Regency ballgown that I made to wear to the Grand Regency ball at the Jane Austen Festival in late 2013. (You can read all about how I sewed this garment here.) Well, much to my surprise, this gown has now made it into the top five final contestants in Threads Magazine’s nation-wide sewing competition! The judges selected the five top entries, but I believe the final winner will be the result of which garment receives the most votes online at this page. So would you mind taking a minute to hop over to the Threads Magazine website and voting for my pink Regency gown? (Or whichever one is your favorite.) Thank you!
Thank you all so much! If you want to see a video of this dress while I was dancing in it at the ball in Bath, England, you can visit this link.
Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on December 24, 2014
An Online Christmas Dress Party
I apologize for being a bit tardy in getting this blog post up. I did get the pictures taken in plenty of time, but my life has been rather crazy between then and now – I suppose we all probably have hectic schedules during the holidays!
As I mentioned in this post from last month, I thought it would be grand fun if we all shared our respective Christmas dresses this year in one central location! I know many of you have been sewing your own Christmas outfits, so now’s the time to post pictures! If you have a sewing blog you could link to that is perfect, but if not you can still definitely post links to wherever your pictures are located online (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc., are all perfect places, as long as the settings are “Public” so we can all see your beautiful creations).
Two 1950s Christmas Dresses
Without further ado, here are my Christmas dress pictures from this year! My mom and I have an annual tradition now of heading to one of the most elegant hotels in the area to partake of Holiday High Tea in high style. Last year I wore a black watch plaid 1950s dress while my mom donned a green silk Victorian-esque ensemble I had created for her (pictures here). This year I thought it would be neat if we both wore the same era to tea. And so we did!
Believe me, when two ladies walk into tea all decked out like this, they’re bound to get a lot of questions and weird looks! But mainly people just said, “Oh, I wish I’d dressed up! I didn’t know it was a dress up occasion.” To which I was sorely tempted to say, “Oh Honey, EVERY occasion is a dress up occasion!” ;)
The dress I’m wearing is made from flocked red taffeta, and the flocked polka dots have a velvety finish to them. The neckline is trimmed with a Venice lace I had in my stash, and the red hat is an original 1950s antique that I purchased at Xtabay Vintage here in Portland this month.
Below is the pattern I used for this dress. It is Anne Adams Pattern # 4652, and it’s from the very early 50s. I’m not so sure what I think about the super-wide shoulders. Because I have narrow shoulders to begin with, they look especially “winged out” on me, but oh well.
I changed the design by closing the jacket in front with black velvet ribbons that tie in bows, rather than with buttons and buttonholes. I just thought it needed a little something extra so that the red wasn’t overpowering.
The dress came together in a couple evenings, and was quite easy to sew. The jacket is not lined, just faced at the neckline. I think this is a big part of why it went so quickly. I did add a tiny bit of width to the skirt pieces so that I could wear my crinoline underneath.
The red flower pin was not part of the pattern, obviously, but it matched perfectly so I wore it anyhow.
But enough about my dress – let’s talk about what my mother wore!
This brown taffeta dress is actually an original 1950s dress that I did not sew, believe it or not! It was an Ebay find from several months ago, and when it showed up in my mailbox I could tell right away that it would need a lot of work. It was in fairly good condition but was a size too big and was a little tired looking. So my mother patiently endured several long fittings while I kept adjusting the bodice at the shoulder seams and at the back darts. Once we finally had the bodice fitting properly, I added the brown velvet ribbons at the waistline to match the ribbons at the neckline and on the skirt. Without these two rows of ribbon at the waist the dress just didn’t quite look right. I was so relieved with how it turned out! The dress looks gorgeous on her and I’m so happy to have “converted” another relative to wearing vintage attire!
So now I want to see what YOU sewed this Christmas! If you’ve made yourself a Christmas dress this year, please link up to pictures in the comments below! I am so looking forward to seeing what everyone came up with, as I know quite a few of you have been busily planning and sewing.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
From my sewing room to yours, Merry Christmas! I hope each one of you has the best and most meaningful Christmas ever! Don’t forget the reason for the season in all the busyness of the next couple days. Despite all the hurry (I get it – I still have a sewing project that needs to be under the tree by tomorrow night and I haven’t even started it yet – LOL!), this really IS the most wonderful time of the year. When I think back to that starry night in Bethlehem, all the problems of today seem kind of insignificant. To me, Christmas means this, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:6-11)
This is the reason that Christmas first started 2,000 years ago, and this is the reason why many of us still celebrate it today! As fun as candy canes, stockings, and reindeer are, it all boils down to this – If it wasn’t for Jesus, there would be no Christmas. As Linus said in A Charlie Brown Christmas, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” And in the words that Queen Elizabeth delivered in her 2011 Christmas speech, “It is my prayer, on this Christmas Day, we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.”
I wish you all a very happy, wonderful Christmas!!
Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on December 7, 2014
Donna Reed’s Charleston Dress – It’s a Wonderful Life Costume Reproduction
It is quite possibly the most beloved Christmas film of all times. It’s a Wonderful Life is as much an American holiday tradition as roast turkey or Christmas shopping. Between the timeless storyline, the 1940s costumes, old-fashioned “Bedford Falls”, and the superb acting, it’s no wonder the movie eventually became a quintessential classic.
As always, my favorite part of any movie is the costumes. And my favorite costume from It’s a Wonderful Life is without a doubt the floaty chiffon dress that Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) wore during the high school dancing scene! Mary’s blue dress was simply perfect for the 1928 Charleston dance scene, though it is perhaps a bit inaccurate to the time period (more on that later on).
Last week I showed you the sewing and research process for this costume, but this week I want to show you the actual finished outfit!
The basic elements of the costume are as follows: A strapless sweetheart neck bodice is overlaid with chiffon, and the neckline is finished with a narrow chiffon ruffle that ends in a “v” in front. The “v” neckline is trimmed with three small paper flowers (I attached these to a separate pin for easy removal when the garment needs to be washed.)
The delicate chiffon sleeves are double layered, and narrowly hemmed. The bodice ends in a “v” in both front and back, and at the top of the skirt begins multi-tiered ruffles that end just below the skirt hem.
You can see a comparison of the two bodices above and below:
~ Okay! Classic Christmas movie trivia! Did you know that the kid who plays Mary’s “date” on the right side of this picture is the grown up “Alfalfa” from Little Rascals? And did you further know that he also had a cameo appearance in White Christmas as the brother of the two Haynes sisters? (You remember, when Bing Crosby said, “He always was a good looking kid” after looking at the snapshot that Judy (Vera Ellen) hands him?) So “Alfalfa” ended up being in two of the most classic Christmas movies of all time, even though he did very little acting in either one. ~
Here’s a back shot from the film as well as one of the dress:
As I mentioned earlier, the fit of this costume was not at all authentic to the year in which in was set (1928). Costume designer Edward Stevenson did a superb job designing Donna Reed’s costumes to look lovely on her, but apparently he wasn’t too concerned about making something period-correct. I have a great respect for his work because he also costumed most seasons of “I Love Lucy”! But back in the 1940s and 1950s, it was extremely common for costume designers to choose fashions that would have appealed to the then-modern audience, instead of what would have actually been worn in the time period. For instance, in The Glenn Miller Story, (1954) actress June Allyson was wearing a 1950s striped circle skirt during a scene set in pre-WWII America. LOL! Similarly, Donna Reed appeared in The Benny Goodman Story (1956), wore the most obviously 1950s dresses for scenes that took place in 1942 and before…
So what would Mary’s dancing dress have looked like if it had really been worn in the late 1920s? Well, this pattern (dated from the late 20s) shows many similar elements, but the main difference is the fit. The 1920s/flapper era was infamous for shapeless bodices that bore little resemblance to the hourglass figure of the earlier Edwardian era. Because women were trying to rebel against “traditional” women’s clothing, they sadly wore things which were not flattering, and often downright frumpy. So I’m actually glad that Edward Stevenson did not go with the silhouette from back then!
On the left in pink are the sketches I drew.
For much more research, including information I received from actress Karolyn Grimes who played “Zuzu Bailey” in the original film, be sure to read my post from last week! It also explains why blue might be the most likely color for the film costume, even though we don’t know for sure what the original dress looked like.
And one final comparison shot:
FINALLY, HERE IS THE VIDEO OF MY DRESS “IN ACTION” WHILE DANCING! I’m thankful we got a couple of spontaneous Charleston dance videos at the photo shoot last week, even if I didn’t have any music to dance to at the time.
I wish you all the very merriest of Christmas seasons! And if you sew as well, don’t forget to join our Christmas Dress Blog Party in a couple of weeks! I’d love to see all the different holiday dresses that everyone comes up with.
In the words of the last scene from It’s a Wonderful Life: “Remember, no man’s a failure who has friends.”
Happy, happy holidays!