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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Evangeline's Summer Dress

If you remember the taster chapters of Margaret's School that I posted here a while back, you might recall that there was a certain main character called Evangeline Bassett, who may or may not be crucial to the plot!
I wanted to design and make a OP dress that she wore in a couple of the chapters - reluctantly, of course, if you take into account the tomboy she is - as making the clothes my characters wear sounded like a fun challenge. I would have started with Aika, naturally, but her clothes are way too complex to even think about with my mediocre skills. So, Evangeline's summer dress it was!

When I saw this Jane Marple otome-kei/casual Lolita dress I wanted it so much, as it was literally what I could imagine Evangeline's old-fashioned, slightly dowdy mother sewing and forcing her to wear, as she's constantly chastising her to be ladylike.

The style I was going for was a mix between 50s and nautical, with a splash of Lolita for good measure. So I bought the Vintage Vogue V9000 pattern from John Lewis and made it in... about the space of a month. The fabric is a very lovely blue and white striped cotton, with a thick white linen collar.
Quite a bit of hand-sewing was also involved, as I sewed on the flower-shaped buttons by hand, as well as the tiny white bows with pearl centres. I also used rickrack around the sleeves and at the back of the collar (mainly to disguise my untidy lines when I clumsily attached the collar to the bodice). It also includes a hidden zipper down the right side.

Fabric:  Blue and white striped 100% cotton and plain white linen.
Pattern: Vintage Vogue V9000
Year: The pattern is circa 1951, but I wanted a slightly more updated feel.
Notions: Cotton, thread, rickrack, flower buttons, white bows with pearls.
How historically accurate is it? A little, I suppose, but I shortened the skirt to knee-length and added novelty items such as shaped buttons.
Hours to complete: I'd say, more than 14 as it took me just over an hour every evening for two weeks.
First worn: I first wore it to a Mufti day at school to show my Textiles teacher and Wendy.
Total cost: 14 pounds for fabric, 2 pounds for buttons, and everything else was salvaged from my sewing box.

By the way, it looks strange on my mannequin because my body is larger than it, and I made it for me to wear rather than a mannequin... A word of warning about Vogue patterns though; they run very small - certainly not the standard sizes - and although I am a UK size 12, only a VV size 16 fit me correctly. Make it at least two dress sizes too big for a good fit, or generally if you enjoy breathing.

It was a very fun experience and not too hard to make, especially considering Vogue patterns aren't exactly straightforward and I had to make up some things as I went along... I also learned a lot of key dressmaking skills; sewing in a zip, making a buttonhole with the machine, doing darts, and attaching a collar to the neck of the bodice. It was really worthwhile and I can't wait to do more sewing in the near future!

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