In June Myra sent me a fabulous set of vintage patterns. I immediately fell in love with this shirtdress and decided to make it as soon as I found the right fabric. While I was in Hong Kong, I bought a vintage-y floral cotton print (on the far right in this photo) but then in Tokyo I fell in love with this dragon fabric and decided it was even better. I am very happy with the result!
This was a fun pattern to sew. I love working with vintage things and thinking who might have made them before me (the pattern envelope says faintly in pencil "Mrs. Emie Seriash"). I loved the little pleats at the shoulder echoes in the skirt at the waist and the cape sleeve.
The pattern is a size 14, which in 1947 meant Bust 32, Waist 26.5, Hip 35. 12 was the smallest size this pattern came in (and I can't imagine there were many grown women who were smaller than a 30 inch bust); I wonder where the number conventions came from?
While my bust is a 32, my waist and hips are somewhat larger, so I graded out about 3/4" at each side seam, to add a total of 1.5 inches. However, once I got it made I saw that I shouldn't have done so, and maybe even taken it in a bit at the waist. The tiny-waisted pattern illustration notwithstanding, this is very baggy at the waist and a belt is an absolute necessity. (It looks great with the ribbon belt I made in July!) It's also huge at the bust; I'm not sure if this is the style or if it is expected that a women with a 32 bust will wear a gigantor padded bra.
This wasn't designed with pockets, but I feel that a shirtdress ought to have pockets so I added some below the waist seam. They feel right with the style. I used, as ever, the pocket from BWOF 07-2008-107
A while back Claudine said that she wished she wore slips so she wouldn't have to line every single thing she made. I feel the same way! And yet, I don't wear slips. So I lined this fabric with my trusty Ikea Knoppa sheets ($1.99 for a twin!).
The sleeves are not really sleeves. You finish the armscye as for sleeveless (I used the "sew shoulder seams of fashion and lining, sew fashion and lining together at neck and armscyes, pull fronts through strap tunnel to turn right side out, then sew side seam" method), and then just stitch the cape sleeves--which are just a half circle, nothing complicated there--at the shoulder and on down the bodice. This could easily be transported to a more modern garment for a fun sleeve.
The capes are meant to be finished with a facing. At first I thought I would just turn under the edges in a hem and skip the facing. But then I remembered that one of the things the friend-of-a-friend I'd met up with in Japan told me was that traditional kimonos are rather sober on the outside, but lined in bright colors. Part of the allure in wearing a kimono is to perfect the art of flashing a teeny bit of that bright color in the sleeve lining.
When I had visited the Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum I had noticed that some of the kimonos had bright linings and loved it. When contemplating this bit of information, I loved the way the main dragon fabric went so well with the wave fabric I'd also bought. I knew it would make it a little costume-y because the navy wave fabric is rather stiff and would make the cape sleeves stick out even more, but I just fell in love with the idea and had to do it. To tie it together, I did the bodice neck facing in the wave fabric as well. I turned under the raw edges and hand-stitched them to the lining.
I shortened the dress considerably--it was drafted a 45 inch length from back neck which is pretty much to the floor on me (were they taller back then?). On the pattern illustration it appears drafted to be 2-3 inches below the knee, but it might have been meant to be mid-calf. At any rate, anything more than 1 1/2 inches below the knee is just awful on me, so I went contemporary with the length and hemmed it just above the knee.
I'm glad I got the chance to sew this pattern. The fit and details are definitely vintage, and I went a little costume-y with the big red buttons and stiff contrast lining for the sleeves, but it is wearable in modern times. I love that it goes into fall with tights and clogs!
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.
1 hour ago