Designin’ December 2020 edition

I’ve participated in Designin’ December for the last few years (see 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) and I seem to have always chosen a vintage design, so I thought I should keep that tradition going.

Designin’ December is a challenge organised by Linda from Nice dress, thanks I made it, with the tagline of

“Why buy when you can make it yourself – better and for less money?”

The idea is that we find an inspirational outfit, usually expensive, and copy it or use it as inspiration. I like to copy the design as faithfully as I can, including styling, hence the funny pose you’ll see with my feet splayed out, plié style.

I set about looking for inspiration. I didn’t want to buy fabric or notions, so I had that in mind as I trawled the web, my own photos and books. I kept coming back to this dress, which I have saved every time I found it online. It’s a really simple design, completely wearable, and from the 1960s, which is one of my favourite eras. However, I have no idea who the designer is, although I’ve had a good look through the designs of all the usual suspects. [update: thanks to aanemones, I now know it is Mary Quant for Courrèges. thank you so much for this information!]

I felt that I had masses of red fabric and white fabric in my stash, so this was going to be easy. Yes, well… I checked every piece of fabric I had and decided that it needed to be plain (no self striping, for example) and of a particular weight. I couldn’t find a single piece of either red or white which I was happy with. In the end I dived into my linen stash and found three pillow cases that I thought would be just the ticket. There’s a lot of material in a pillow case and these were made from high quality fabric – I had made them in the 1990s.

I trawled through my pattern stash and decided that my old faithful Lotta Jansdotter Esme dress was pretty much the right shape. I cut out the pattern pieces, modifying them to suit the target dress, and dyed the top half red together with the circles for the skirt.

I had to eyeball the size of the circles based on what I could see from the photo. I think I did ok, although mine may be slightly bigger. I just appliquéd them on to the fabric, doing my best to get them in a straight line. I only had to unpick and redo one of them.

Although I took apart three pillowcases I only needed two, however, my subconscious must have known something as, during my first try on I decided that the skirt needed more heft. I fiddled about with slips, but finally came to the conclusion that it needed lining.

I simply cut out another skirt section and used this to line the skirt using the burrito method. The hem and hip seams are enclosed and I sewed the side seams together in one pass.

I have a feeling that the original dress is in crimplene or something similar. It has a slightly knit look to it, but no way was I going down that route, authenticity be damned! I had very similar shoes in my wardrobe and made the earring from a piece of white leather and stuck it to my ear with blue tack.

I couldn’t determine if there is anything special about the back from the photo, but decided that there probably wasn’t. The back is therefore plain.

This is a dress which I’ll wear quite a bit in the summer I think. It’s really easy to put on, and the cotton is delightfully cool. Mine is a bit wider than the original, and I took it in a bit, but didn’t think it would work if it was as close fitting on me as it is on the model. I suspect that the original dress probably has a zip inserted somewhere and I didn’t want to do that.

After dyeing the top, I washed it several times until the water ran clean, I didn’t want the white parts turning pink! I’m still not 100% certain I removed all the overdye, but I’m ready to risk it.

So this is my entry in Designin’ December 2020. Check out Linda’s blog post for a really impressive line up of prize sponsors.


24 thoughts on “Designin’ December 2020 edition

  1. Fabulous dress and you certainly obtained the essence of this dress and it will be a delight to wear.

  2. Looks like this was a lot of fun to make. Turned out so cute. I’ve been gone for most of the year so will go back and read all your posts and get caught up. Hope all is well with you and your family. I’m praying for the WORLD to improve!

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