Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on December 29, 2013
Merry Late Christmas! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. This week I am very excited that my mother is joining me on this blog to show not one but two Christmas dresses! I made both of our frocks which we wore to Holiday High Tea at a grand hotel here in the Pacific Northwest, and it was truly a sumptuous occasion. There’s just nothing like getting all dressed up in rich holiday colors and fine fabrics, donning fur capes and gloves, and heading out in the cold to a palatial hotel for high tea. It was an occasion that we will have to make an annual tradition!
A Victorian Style Suit ~ Simplicity 8947 Pattern Review
I love sewing for my mom (though I don’t have time to do so as often as I would like), and since we’re the exact same size it’s quite easy to fit her outfits. This Victorian style suit, which is made of a resplendent forest green silk slipper satin, comes from a vintage “Gunne Sax” pattern that has been in my collection for some years. (This pattern design abounds on Etsy and Ebay, so those who wish to find the pattern online should have no problem doing so.) It is Simplicity 8947 by Jessica McClintock, a designer who created so many feminine styles back in the ’80s and ’90s. I sincerely wish that her designs today would be as romantic and frilly as they used to be!
The lavish jacket features a long, flared, back which is almost reminiscent of a peplum or bustle. I chose to omit the center slit down the back of the jacket for a much more Victorian look. Puffed sleeves give this garment the air of an 1890s jacket, though the pattern was actually released in the late 1980s, I believe. If I remember correctly I may have added more width to the sleeve cap to create fuller gathers, but I omitted the shoulder pads as they just weren’t necessary for a proper fit.
My favorite part of this ensemble was the opulent Venice lace trim which exactly matches that gorgeous shade of forest green. I applied the lace entirely by hand around the sleeve hem and at the neckline. I was very careful to match the ends of the Venice lace at the neck back when finishing it.
Finally, here’s a back shot and an image of the pattern I used.
The Black Watch Plaid 1950s Dress
Some of you may recognize this pattern from the ivory eyelet version I sewed earlier this spring. This plaid Christmas dress was fashioned from traditional black watch plaid fabric using the vintage pattern Butterick 6835. (I’ve had lots of requests on where to find this pattern, and unfortunately it is quite rare so I can’t offer any advice on where to find it.)
The bodice contains lots of pleats which are almost invisible in the pictures because the well-matched plaid hides the tucks. I swapped out the pattern’s circular skirt for a gored, gathered skirt, and used a textured taffeta for the waist panel.
What makes this plaid fabric so perfect for this 1950s dress is that it is actually a voile, not a cotton broadcloth or taffeta like most plaid materials. So the thinness of the fabric helps the kimono style sleeves drape nicely, rather than bunching up under the arms. Since the material was so featherweight, I lined the garment with the same blue taffeta that was used for the waist panel. The Peter Pan collar was created from this material, as well.
My favorite part of this dress is the choice of “buttons” down the front! In all actuality I cut off individual clusters of Swarovski crystals from a by-the-yard trim in my stash and stitched them on by hand. The front closes not with buttons, but with hidden snap closures. The best thing about these “buttons” is that they look almost exactly like Princess Diana’s (and subsequently Kate Middleton’s) engagement ring! It is a mock sapphire in the middle surround by tiny Swarovski crystals.
And as for the holiday high tea itself, it was positively sumptuous! Our table overlooked the Columbia River, and the dainty china and impressive spread of pastries made for an absolutely lovely afternoon. And though it’s just a few days till all the holiday decorations come down, I take comfort in knowing that in another 11 months I can pull out my Christmas outfits once again!
Hope you all have a blessed New Year,