Monday, April 2, 2018

The Stubborn 1940's Silk Easter Dress

Some items just seem to want to be made and come together easily, with no major hassles. Other items don't. My Easter dress this year was in the later category.  This had nothing to do with the pattern or fabric I chose, and everything to do with the fitting I did halfway through making the dress.

I began this project with plenty of enthusiasm. I bought the pattern, Simplicity 8249, a re-print of a 1940's pattern, back before Christmas. I loved the asymmetry of the design and the silhouette was similar to that of my map dress, which I absolutely love. I decided the dress would look best made out of a solid fabric to really showcase the design elements, so I kept my eyes open for something suitable. It didn't take long before I happened upon this lime green silk dupioni on the clearance rack at Joann's. I decided that the fabric and the pattern were the perfect pairing. So I stuck them on a shelf together in my sewing room to wait for spring, when they would become my Easter dress.    

Last week they came down off the shelves and landed on my cutting table, it was Easter dress time! Everything was going well, until I tried on the mostly finished, and fully lined, bodice prior to making the skirt. It looked horrible. The pretty tulip sleeves included in the pattern were much too tight, barely fit over my bicep, and pulled the entire bodice out of whack. It was bad. Really bad. After messing with the sleeves for quite a while, I finally had to conclude there was no saving them. They had to go.

Once the sleeves were gone the bodice fit much better and looked way better when worn, but I wan't sure I liked the design as much without the sleeves. At this point my enthusiasm for the project waned, and it was a real struggle to finish it. Would I even like the finished product?

Despite my lack of motivation, I plunged ahead, just hoping that this green silk would turn into something wearable. I made and attached the skirt. I put in an exposed zipper (just because I happened to have a vintage metal zipper just the right color in my stash). Then I tried on the dress again, prior to hemming.

And I hated it. The pockets didn't lay right and I felt the length was unflattering. I pinned up the hem several inches shorter, but that didn't look good either; it unbalanced the proportions of the entire dress. At this point I just threw the dress on a chair in my sewing room and abandoned it for several days.

After a couple days, I decided I did indeed want a new Easter dress, and since I didn't have time to make a completely different dress, I was going to finish this one and make it work. So, I pulled the dress off the chair and tried it on again, this time with the one pair of high heels in my closet (blue sandals) and a belt. I stood in front of the mirror and analyzed the dress. 

I decided that with heels, the length was perfect, and the belt added some much needed waist definition. I found myself actually liking the dress! So, I took it off, hemmed it with a deep hem facing (made from teal cotton to match the shoes), fixed the pockets until they lay decently well, and made a matching teal and green belt to tie the whole look together. 

The result was a dress I was excited to wear to church on Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of my Savior! After a week of a love-hate relationship with this dress, I was firmly in love with the finished, cheery, springy, look ! The weather, unfortunately, was not as springy as my dress. Oh, no. Easter afternoon, it snowed.

Yes, April 1, Easter Sunday, we got snow. So, after church and before Easter dinner, my high heeled sandals got replaced with tights and boots. I fought with this dress all week and emerged triumphant, there was no way I was going to let a little snow keep me from wearing my Easter dress all day!

Happy Easter!


  1. Nice perseverance! Lol I would have thrown in the towel at the sleeves!
    Looks cute! Man that weather was nuts!! We got sleet and freezing rain. What a weird couple of months!

    1. Thank you! I'm honestly not sure if it's perseverance, or stubbornness, lol. I hope "real spring" comes soon!

  2. Love your dress. And love your perseverance. I would have thrown in the towel and started something new.

    1. Thanks Gram! Somewhere along the way I decided I was going to be more stubborn than the dress was!