Wednesday, December 13, 2017

1920s White Velvet and Gold Lace

Finally, a finished sewing project to share with you! I haven't done much sewing the fall, it's been hard to find the motivation but I am slowing getting back into things. The GBVS's Winter Formal at the Lyman Estate earlier in December was just the thing I needed and a great excuse to make a new 1920s dress.

I think I've mentioned before my love/hate relationship with the 1920s. Some of the styles are so gorgeous, particularly the evening dresses. I mean, what's not to love about those colors, bead work and beautiful fabrics? But, the fit of 1920s dresses can be so boxy looking and down right frumpy that I tend to lean more to other decades. Then I found THIS!

"Vionnet model in white velvet gown entirely untrimmed except for fine gold stitching at hips. At the back if falls in wing-like drapery. Drawing by Benito." The Art of Vogue. Covers 1909 - 1940 by William Packer
And THIS!! Both sketches are by Eduardo Garcia Benito, a fashion illustrator and painter who was well-known for his beautiful cover designs for Vogue Magazine during the 1920s and 1930s.

Fashion Illustrated A Review of Women's Dress 1920 1950 by Deborah Torrens
Ahhhh, a version of those sketches has been on my 1920s sewing wish list for such a long time. And I happened to have just the right fabric waiting in the stash. So yeah, sometimes things are meant to be.

However, I knew from the beginning that the back of the dress was going to be the most difficult part to create. I was having a hard time visualizing what shape the pieces for the back drape needed to be. Add this to the fact that my velvet fabric was left over from another project. I had just enough to cut the panels for the skirt and bodice front. The back pieces were constructed using some odd shapes of fabric. Not ideal, but the finished dress has the look and feel of the original Benito sketches so I'm pretty happy with it.

Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

I don't really have construction photos but here is the run down. The lining for the top was made using McCall 5632 (see the full version of that dress here) with the neckline altered slightly and the sleeves left off. The skirt is three panels of velvet (two for the back, cause left over fabric) and has 9 rows of gathering stitches, known as shirring, to pull the fabric in at the hips. The skirt lining was two smaller panels of silk slightly larger than my hip measurement.

The gold lace, which I believe is from the 1920s or early 1930s, is tacked to the silk lining. Creating the back drapes, though super fiddly, were actually quite fun to create. I got to apply some historical draping and fitting techniques that I don't normally get to do unless I'm making an 18th century gown. The bodice front was constructed first with the velvet mounted on top of the silk lining. I then pinned the shoulders and side seams to the bodice back lining.

With the bodice on my dress form, I basted the velvet fabric for the back drapes at the side seams of the lining and around the arms. Next I played around with the velvet trying different ways of pleating at the shoulders and waist, pinning and re-pinning, until I was happy with the look. As much as I loved the low open back of the Benito sketch, I knew that I would be more comfortable with a slight higher back. Plus I really wanted to work my vintage lace into this project. It was such a small piece but I really enjoy being able to incorporate vintage and antique notions into my sewing projects. (You may remember my 1940s evening dress trimmed with Victorian jet beading.)

And of course, not project is complete without kitty "help."

Cori wore his vintage tux. The jacket is actually dated December 1909! Doesn't he look dapper? His shirt, collar and matching peaked waistcoat and bow tie are all vintage as well.

About the Outfit
Dress: Made by me
Accessories: Pearls belonged to my grandmother, Art Deco pin and comb antique store finds
Stockings: WKD

Summary of the Project
Fabrics: Off white silk velvet from Delectable Mountain cloth, vintage silk for the lining and vintage gold lace
Pattern: The top portion of the dress is roughly based on McCall 5632 with the back draped. The skirt was just a large rectangle that was shirred at the sides to hip my hip measurement.
Year: 1920s
Notions: Thread and vintage gold lace.
How historically accurate it it? Pretty accurate. Material sare accurate for the time, pretty sure the lace is 1920s or early 1930s.
Any tricky parts to the pattern? Well.... Draping the back would have been waaaaay easier if I had more fabric to work with as mentioned above. Also, silk velvet is fussy to work with.
Did you change anything? I modified the neckline of the original pattern slightly for the bodice.
Time to complete? I don't know how many hours but I worked on this off and on for about a week and a half.
First worn: December 3rd, 2017 at the Greater Boston Vintage Society Winter Formal.
Total cost: The silk lining and lace trim are from the stash. The velvet was left over from another project. I think it was around $20 or $30 a yard and was 54" wide but it's been sitting in the stash for a could years and I can't really remember. I would guess around $60 to $75.
Notes: The fit is a bit wonky which isn't helped but the weight of the velvet. I think if I were to make this again I would take the shoulders up a bit more and maybe add a sash or side drape.

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