Thursday, November 13, 2014

1933 Dress - Part 1

Recently, a close friend, practically a sister, came to me and asked if I would sew a dress for her as she and her DH had been invited to a 1930s/1940s themed party for his job.  Now, there are very few people outside my immediate family that I would sew for, but this sweet lady is one.  She can work magic in calming down the Diva, Sprite has great fun playing with her daughters and she is just a lovely lady.

So she came one day last week and looked through my 1930s style book.  She wanted a fairly slim silhouette and we found what she was looking for at EvaDress Patterns. She chose pattern D30-7525. I found this same pattern labeled McCalls 7525.

She requested the shirred sleeves on the black dress above and a full length skirt. The party is on December 17 so I have a little over a month to complete the dress.  We ordered the pattern and it arrived this past Monday.

The dress features three different sleeves:  a plain long sleeve, the requested shirred sleeve and the two piece sleeve as well as a surplice bodice and a 6 gore skirt.  I tried not to panic as this appears to be more complicated than anything I had attempted before. The instructions were brief and to the point, but I think also missing at least one step in the process.    Fortunately once I fully opened up the pattern, much of it made sense.  I still have a few things I need to work out, though.

It is actually not that bad.  There are seven pieces for the sleeve variations and I need three.  There are two pieces each for the front and back bodice and 4 for the skirt.

I took the pattern and a roll of tracing paper with me to our church to trace while my son attended Bible study.  No one uses the kitchen on Wednesday nights and the island there is perfect for tracing patterns.  It is a good thing that I did as one sheet took up the entire length of the island:

Tracing was a challenge.  Sizing is odd because the sizes include 14, 16, 18, 20, then skip to 40, 42, 44, 46. I don't know what happened to the rest of the numbers. There are no skips in the actual patterns, just how the sizes are numbered.  Some of the sizes merge together in parts of the patterns, but the notches are not marked which notches are for which sizes.  However, the notches are numbered which will make it easier to match them later.

There were a couple of other confusing issues.  There is a piece labeled "Stay" which is a simle 2" by 4" rectangle.  I decided it was a stay for the shirred sleeve and probably goes under the shirring.   There are no real instructions on what you are supposed to do with the stay.

The next confusing piece was the front bodice.  The pattern piece notes that it should be cut on the fold, but there is no fold line.  The pattern layouts don't show the piece on the fold and the instructions tell you to sew the two pieces down the center front.  My guess is that the instructions on the pattern piece is wrong and I will cut two pieces.

I finished tracing the pattern and started cutting it out today between laundry load and other things.  I am adding to the seam allowance for the side seams so that I will have a 1" seam allowance.  The pattern provides a 3/8" seam allowance, but I want a bit more for fitting purposes.  The hem allowance is 1 3/8".

I see some upcoming challenges.  First, this is a side opening garment.  For some reason, I can not wrap my brain around how this is supposed to work.  The bodice will be fairly close fitting and I imagine that the wearer may need to be a contortionist to get into it.  Maybe I am wrong -- I don't remember ever having a dress that opened on the side. The pattern calls for hook and eye tape as the closure.  I am not sure that my friend really cares if the dress is perfectly authentic, so I may change the closure to an invisible zipper up the center back if she is agreeable.

The front yoke is also a consideration.  The drawings depict very slim models and my friend has curves.  I may need to figure out how to dart the front bodice, but with the yoke, I wonder if I will be able to do that.  Also, no mention is made of those decorative clips on the top right of the yoke and I am wondering what I can use there.

I have adjusted my dress form to match my friends measurements and put the appropriate undergarments on her (Sprite hates when my dress forms are naked).  Tomorrow I will start the muslin and hope to have that done next week.  I will write up my muslin adventures in Part 2.

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