The Challenge: #3 Pink
Fabric: Poly Shantung.
Pattern: Past Patterns 4678, originally Butterick Design 4678.
Notions: Just thread.
How historically accurate is it? It is sewn by machine, which is period, and it is made from a period pattern. The only non-period thing about it is the fabric. Based on that, I'm going to say about 80% historically accurate.
Hours to complete: Not a clue.
First worn: Sunday, February 9th, 2014, to a Downton Abbey inspired tea.
Total cost: About $15. I bought the fabric with a 50% off coupon, otherwise it would have twice that.
In early January (I think), someone I know told me about an upcoming Downton Abbey inspired tea at a new tea room in town. Eager to expand my historical wardrobe, I jumped at the chance of making something out of my comfort zone and bought tickets. I knew right away that whatever I made had to be pink that way I could also use it for this challenge. Initially, I bought a bright pink fabric, and after cutting a portion of the dress, I just couldn't see myself wearing it. So I went back to the fabric store and ended up buying this dusty rose poly shantung and planned to use the dull side. I really, really wanted to make this in period correct fabric so I looked at the fabric recommendations on the pattern. The recommendations were moire, taffeta, radium (yes, RADIUM), gros de londres, silk crepe, and chiffon velvet. I looked into all those fabrics and some were no longer available, like radium, and others were prohibitively expensive. As much as I wanted this to be historically accurate, I wasn't about to shell out a small fortune for fabric. I also considered rayon, which would have been much more accurate than polyester, but I couldn't' find any suitable fabric that was a pink i liked and rayon. I was actually pretty surprised to see radium as a suggested fabric and I thought it had to be something other than I what I thought it was. I did some research and I still can't figure out whether radium is just a weave of whether there was fabric actually made from radium or containing radium. Can you imagine walking around dressed in radioactive material? Me neither.
The pattern itself was a bit of a surprise, mostly because I failed to read the description before I bought it. I thought it was a dress, and it turned out to be a skirt/blouse combination. The skirt is attached to a slip-over underbody, basically making a sleeveless dress with a blouse over it. It was fine, just unexpected. It shouldn't have been a surprise though, considering it was right there on the pattern description on the website. The description printed on the pattern reads "Dress for misses or small women, in Bustle Effect, with Draped Basque Closed at Left Underarm, and Draped Straight Skirt Attached to a Slip-Over Long Underbody Marked for Camisole Top."
The pattern is sized for a 37 inch bust and 39 inch hip. Although my bust measurement is larger than that, and my hip measurement is smaller, I decided not to make any adjustments after making the muslin. I didn't wear the dress with a my usual style of bra but rather with an unwired, soft bra which gives a silhouette much more like that of the period than I would have gotten otherwise. I thought about making a 1920s corset or corselette but I didn't have time nor the inclination, really. After all is said and done, I do wish that the hips fit a little better as the skirt is too loose, I think, but I'm happy with the ensemble otherwise.
Now, the bow, the bow was a royal pain in the patoootie to tie and I am still not happy with how it turned out. Thankfully, I made the decision to attach it to the skirt with a safety pin before I made a more permanent decision. The pattern actually calls for attaching the bow to the blouse and that's what I did initially, but I found that the weight of the bow pulled on the blouse too much. I pinned it on to the skirt and it was much better. I hope to be able to make a prettier bow in the future.
I wore the outfit to the Downton Abbey tea, and what do you know, I won best "costume!" I wore the dress with black tights and a pair of shoes that I bought at DSW a couple of years ago but have a definite 1920s vibe. At the tea, I heard someone say "look at that, even her shoes are accurate!" It wasn't true, but it made me smile.
Unless I lose massive amounts of weight, I think I'm going to take this outfit to Costume College (I REGISTERED!!!!) as one of my day outfits for classes and the like.