Monday, April 13, 2015

The White Lightning Dress

On March 28th I attended the Greater Boston Vintage Society's White Lightning Ball. Like last year, the event was held at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum. What a fun time! I had a few people tell me how much I looked like Lady Edith from Downton Abbey. That was fun to hear because she's my favorite character. Cori looked rather dapper in his vintage suit and boater. And later in the evening he and a small group staged a police raid! The bootleggers bribed the policemen and everyone returned to having a good time.

One big highlight of the event for me was being asked if I would participate as a vendor. This was certainly a learning experience for me. Although I have a few things on Etsy, which for me is essentially an online yard sale at this point, I really do want to expand in the future and offer more. (Including more ready-made items!) Over all I'd say it was successful as I did sell a few things. One of my favorite (thought sadly too small for me) pair of shoes went to a knew home and most exciting this dress was purchased by the singer from Baby Soda! 

My embarrassingly large collection of stuff to sell
I made a new dress using a 1920s pattern I purchased over the winter. I used a lovely ivory silk that I purchased from Deletable Mountain Cloth during their winter sale. Visiting that shop is such a treat! Soooooo many pretties! Fabrics and buttons oh my! You can order from them online but it's best to call if you are looking for something specific, or even better to visit the shop in person. Trust me, you wont be disappointed! I had every intention of picking out a colored fabric for my dress but I kept going back to this particular silk. I really liked the design and feel, it struck me as very Art Deco. I have enough left over for another small project, possible a blouse, so I might try dying it. I'll play around with the scraps first. :)

I really wanted to order these gold 1920s style shoes from Amazon to go with the dress. The reviews are mixed but I really liked they way they looked with Katherine of The Fashionable Past's 1922 Harper's Bazar gala dress. However, shipping for these shoes was going to take up to a month. I didn't want to wait that long and take the chance of them not showing up in time. :( While far from perfect these pink and brown heels have become my go to shoes for any 1920s and 1930s outfits but sadly are not the most comfortable to wear. I really need to invest in a good pair of black reproduction1920s style shoes. The Cicero style Exclusives recently offered by American Duchess would have been perfect but were out of my price range. I do love that Lauren is offering these one of kind shoes.

So on to the construction details! I used a cotton muslin to test the pattern. It looks rather odd because I didn't have enough fabric to cut the full length of the right front panel. Not really an issue though as this was just a mock up. The dress is made from a back panel cut on the fold with little darts at the neck, a left front, a right front, girdle, as well as bodice and skirt cascades. I left the sleeves off . The right front crosses over the left and attaches with a series of snaps on the bodice and hips. The girdle is sewn into one side seam then wraps around the back and attaches at the opposite hip. I added a few extra snaps for good measure. Because my silk was rather delicate I made little cotton patches to go behind the snaps for extra support. 

The dress made up in cotton muslin to test the pattern.

Here is a good look at the bodice and skirt cascades. The pattern gives you the option of either hemming the edges or trimming off the seam allowance and adding a binding. I knew I wanted to add a little color to this dress some how so I opted for the binding. My original plan was to only use a yellow/gold trim because I wanted to pair the dress with gold shoes. But as my search for the perfect shoes hit a road block I decided to use a combination of yellow and pink to better match the shoes I already had. (That I didn't end up wearing after all.)

The dress before the colored binding was added

The binding was sewn first to the right side of the silk then folded over and pressed and hand sewn in place. 

And a few more shots of the finished dress. The lighting was not very good for pictures which is why all of mine look dark or washed out.

Outfit Details
1920s Silk Dress - Made by me using Vogue 9010
Shoes - umm Payless?
Girdle and silk slip - Etsy
Seamed stocking - What Katie Did
Jewelry - Antique store finds

Summary of the Pattern
Fabric: Silk from Delectable Mountain Cloth
Pattern: Vogue 9010
Year: 1920s
Notions: Snaps, thread, pink and yellow China silk ribbon for binding
How historically accurate is it? Very.
Any tricky parts to the pattern? Not really
Did you change anything? Left off the sleeves for more of an evening look. Shortened the hem about 1 1/2". I also added some additional snaps to the waist/hip area and some extra shirring to the girdle. The dress was a little high under the arms so I cut the arm holes a little deeper.
Time to complete: ummm, hard to say. I worked on it off and one for about 2 weeks.
First worn: March 28th, 2015 for the GBVS 2nd White Lightening Ball at the Larz Anderson Car Museum
Wear Again? Yes.
Notes: Due to the cascades and overall feel of this particular style, this pattern does need to be made with fabric that drapes nicely. One should also avoid fabrics with an obvious right and wrong side. My mock up was made using a cotton muslin which didn't really hang right. It worked well for determining the overall fit of the pattern however and allowed me to mark up the fabric as needed. If I make this pattern again, which I would like to for day wear, I might try it with crepe and a contrasting cascade.

Cori's Outfit Details
Vintage 3 piece suit - Purchased from a vendor at the Reading Air Show last summer
Shirt, Tie, Cufflinks - Thrifted
Straw Boater - Etsy
Suspenders - Who Is Sylvia?
Shoes - 1930s reproduction shoes from the

1940s LADP Uniform
This uniform was pieced together from a number of vendors. Some pieces like the buttons and badge were special ordered. Most everything else came from Ebay or Etsy.


  1. Ok...this dress is FAAAAABULOUS!! I LOVE the fabric and ribbon you chose and I LOVE that you made it from a vintage pattern! Yay you!!! Your jewelry and hair are perfection!!! I am grinning from ear to ear over this dress!!

    1. Thank you Gina! Your wonderful comments always make me smile. :)

  2. You really out did yourself. Marvelous! I love this dress and thank you for sharing all your construction details. Congratulations on your first vintage booth!!! So cool that you worked with an original 1920s pattern!!! Did you have any problems understanding the pattern? If you find yourself in the market for another pair of sturdy 20s shoes, I highly recommend the Re-Mix 1920s shoes very comfortable.

  3. I was actually rather surprised by the amount of information provided in the pattern instructions. Very clear step-by-step instructions, which is a little unusual for a pattern of this age. Maybe because it's a Vogue pattern? Not sure. I was a little puzzled at first about binding the bodice cascades but then had an "ah ha!" moment and figured it out. :)
    I've been drooling over Re-Mix shoes for some time know. Just need to save up for a pair.

  4. You do look a lot like Laura Carmichael! Bit spooky.

  5. Fabulous dress! It looks like a really fun event.


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