Sewing construction help needed!
March 25, 2010 8:18 PM   Subscribe

I need some help figuring out construction of a vintage dress from pictures.

I'm trying to recreate a vintage pattern without having the pattern in hand. The pattern with a description is here. A page with a link to a larger image of the front of the pattern is here (click on photo).

Here's what I can't figure out: the construction of the skirt/overskirt. Imagine I'm making the black view. I've got a green silk/rayon brocade that will be lined with black silk/cotton. I'd like to have the underskirt be entirely black. It probably needs to be lined as a single layer as the black is too light and sheer alone. So:

Do I make the mock overskirt connecting with the underskirt at the side seams? This appears to be the way to go, but I don't know how to line everything as well without lots of bulk at those side seams. There would be 6 layers altogether with two for (front) underskirt+lining, two for (front) overskirt+lining, two for the back and lining. Normally I would sew the outside brocade together at the side seams, sew the lining side seams, and slip it in attached to the neck and armholes (sleeveless). This whole deal with extra bits has me stumped, though.

Do I line the bodice and skirt separately? If so, how do I cleanly connect bodice to skirt? This also seems like a lot of fabric. Maybe I'm being silly though.

The belt is separate according to the description, so maybe there's a way to make a true overskirt, but I don't know how I would keep the entire thing from becoming askew or slipping down. I would rather have the whole dress be one piece, as it looks in the white view- imagine I wouldn't have a belt at all.

Any ideas? I hope I'm making a little bit of sense here... :/
posted by oneirodynia to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"... I would rather have the whole dress be one piece, as it looks in the white view- imagine I wouldn't have a belt at all. ..."

Well, then, no point to having a full underskirt, especially a lined underskirt, at all. The same effect can be had by making a ginormous, tapered, front inverted box pleat, in the long overskirt version, and being done with it. The bodice joins the "overskirt" (which is, since there is no "underskirt," becomes just the bottom, or skirt, of the dress), and no belt is needed. You might want to pre-fabricate the inverted box pleat as a separate panel, perhaps an inch or so shorter than the skirt, and even of a darker shell fabric, to emphasize it as a design element, and to make it easier to press, especially the sharp, sharp creases that make an inverted box pleat so clean.

Simple, classic design. You'll look fabulous.
posted by paulsc at 9:53 PM on March 25, 2010

You could even, for the very least bulk, forget making a complete, full box pleat, and just blind stitch in a lined panel behind the front skirt gore. This would make, still, a lighter, more flowing construction than the inverted box pleat, but with less "skirt" for kicking, dancing, and movement than the inverted box pleat offers.
posted by paulsc at 10:06 PM on March 25, 2010

well, i'm thinking in the short/long view it might actually be a COMPLETE underskirt rather than just a front, which would simplify the construction but wouldn't answer your bulk question.

True lining fabrics are WAFER-THIN so your fear of bulk could be unfounded. also that underskirt may not need a lining since a lined overskirt would be pretty opaque, and unless you're on the catwalk, back-lighting is what makes a thin fabric see-thru.

Another option: make the dress with facings and wear a separate, full-slip.

A side note: while it seems like it is all made of flat, modern pieces, this pattern probably had little shoulder darts on the back bodice, for a more elegant fit.

Good luck!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 10:18 PM on March 25, 2010

In lots of vintage construction, you'd be wearing a full slip. I have vintage dresses from the 30s, 40s, and 50s that would be scandalous by all by Lady Gaga's lights even these days without proper under garments.

That being said, you might want to look at a modern pattern that does something similar, like this McCall . The white view is definetly doing the overskirt/underskirt business (and yes, it's sheer). My instinct is that it's a full skirt under there, not a short bit connected to a longer bit. Thinking about the way you will want it to move - I don't think that you would want the long bit sewed up to the short front piece for walking and I bet it wouldn't really drape properly.

Long story short - it's probably unlined and I'd do a full skirt under there with a kick pleat.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:50 AM on March 26, 2010

Yeah, I was thinking last night about movement, and that a full skirt under the overskirt made the most sense. I also think I am being silly about bulk- the black silk/cotton is very light. So I think after reading all your responses and mulling them over, I'm going to: line the bodice; constuct a full, unlined underskirt; and then decide whether I want to line the brocade overskirt (more for looks than anything else).

Thanks for the help!
posted by oneirodynia at 9:50 AM on March 26, 2010

« Older Upper West Side?   |   Quick! Can cats crunch cafe? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.