Last year I passed on #thelittlereddressproject. It was wonderful to see all of the beautiful, festive red dresses popping up on Instagram this week last year, but I DON’T wear red! Like ever. I won’t get into a whine fest about the whole thing, but ultimately, I don’t think it suits me. When I wear it, I don’t feel like I’m in my own skin. Still, when Renata personally invited me to take on this challenge, I had to go for it. She sent me so many pictures of women with similar coloring to mine in red dresses via Messenger to further convince me. In the end, I decided that with a little (or a lot!) of makeup, I was going to make it work.
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Christmas Sewing Giveaway
Speaking of deadlines of the 24th, I’m hosting a little giveaway to wrap up my Handmade Holidays series. The details are in the video below along with a very silly singalong with me and my violin!
Because red is not one of “my” colors, I went with a classic style. I love the feminine curves of the front on Vogue 2787. While I don’t wear or sew many vintage styles, I am drawn to styles of the 40s. There’s so many beautiful details and tailoring! Also, the overall slimmer silhouettes are better on my frame than full skirted numbers from the 50s or looser waists of the 60s and 70s. I figured if I was going to make this in a fabric that I would not normally pick, I was going to wear something I’d feel beautiful and comfortable in!
Check out the asymmetric style of that front inverse S! This girl never passes up asymmetry!
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Tactel Crepe from Michael Levine Fabrics
The pattern suggests stretch crepe, handkerchief linen or wool jersey. Because of all of the gathering, you want something that has a good bit of drape, but it also needs to be fairly lightweight. There’s a LOT of gathers on this, so a heavier weight linen would end up looking really bulky. While something like voile is lightweight enough, it doesn’t have the right drape. What you need is something fluid–something that literally flows over your hand when you pick it up.
I found the right fabric in this tactel/poly blend crepe from Michael Levine fabrics. It’s described as “vermillion”, which I think is really accurate. It’s red, but with that little bit of yellow thrown in the mix that pushes it towards red-orange. Ooh, but this drape.
You know that scene in Funny Face when Audrey Hepburn is running down the stairs, silk flying behind her? That’s how this fabric moves. It’s gorgeous and an absolute steal at $8/yd. A similar quality silk would be many times this price.
A spoonful of yellow makes the medicine go down?
While solid primary red is wrong wrong wrong on me, this little bit of warmth from the additional yellow makes all the difference for me. Pure cool colors, especially when they’re fully saturated as this is absolutely swallow me alive. I look and feel ill in them. Stay away grey!!!! The only exception is navy which I think I can pull off because of my blue eyes.
I didn’t get proper pictures of my muslin because I had to totally tear it up to transfer the changes. The actual muslin will show up in my video for this dress, but here I’ll run down what had to be changed:
- Shorten by 2″: Because of the vertical detail of the S, shortening it to knee length would look off proportionally. Also, keeping it around midi length seems more true to the era. I’ve not ever worn a midi style, but on a slimmer skirt (see #3), it’s not necessarily a bad look.
- Shorten the bodice across the waist by 1.25″: Petite girl problems. The S sat too low down on my hips without a big vertical tuck out. It kind of looked like I was wearing my older, taller sister’s dress.
- Narrow the skirt by 4″: My fitting group unanimously decided that the skirt was too full around the hips for my frame. Jeannie, one of the ladies commented that there was just fullness there that I don’t have. Yeah…After some pinning, we ultimately took out 4 full inches vertically. It cut into the gathered area. I was concerned it would take away from the style, but I think it’s a perfect balance.
- Raise the dart points by 1/2″: There’s a surprise, but they definitely needed to be moved.
- Flatten the bust curve by 3/4″: Post nursing, I’m just not a full busted lady. I had this moment when I cut out the pattern when I said, that is NOT my bust curve. It’s not. I ended up taking out 3/8″ at the fullest part of each side of the curve, tapering back into the seamline.
- Raise and reshape the underarm seam by 3/4″: This kimono sleeve dipped down far too low, so we moved up the seamline up and out a little like an inverted L.
Buttons vs. zippers
There’s an option in the pattern for a CB zipper or buttons. I chose buttons as they seemed more in-step with the time period of the original pattern. Little thread loops close over the white shank buttons. I clearly need help fastening them myself!
There’s supposed to be a side zipper, but I skipped it. I had plenty of ease getting the dress on just with the open back neck.
This dress would go well with a martini, and if I drank much, I just might pair the two. Instead, I grabbed this fur wrap I thrifted and some vintage evening gloves from a little local antique store. The gloves are SO going to my next night at the opera!
Costume vs. Comfort
At the end of the day, I’m glad I pushed myself to go beyond my comfort level. I’d love to make this dress in a fabric that’s more my taste and then have a Vogue 2787 cage fight of sorts. The red feels costumey, but it’s also a very dressy, formal look. I guess we’ll be going to a nice Valentine’s dinner!
Where’s the line between your style and something that’s more costumey for you?
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.