Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The 1959 Vogue That Almost Killed Me

I jumped on this pattern as soon as I saw it. The diagonal yoke with the somewhat western feel, the inverted pleat in the front, the 3/4 sleeves. This was my kind of dress. I could live in this dress, I had that feeling. I was already planning on making it in almost every fabric I had in my stash. I was going to wear this dress every. single. day. It was such a Laurie dress.
And the bodice went well, the pleats and darts were smart and it was going to fit me well, I just knew it. And then I met the tiniest pieces of the pattern called the "neck facing."
Despite the written AND VISUAL directions, I didn't get it, and it simply did not make sense to me where and how this thing fit into my dress puzzle. I tried this way and that, I took my reading glasses to the illustration to see if I wasn't grasping the concept. It was still a mystery.
Finally, I just took my pins and placed them where it the pattern said the pieces should have gone and sewed them up. It was clear I had it wrong. I ripped the seams out and did it again. And again. And again. And again. I couldn't get anything to work, and I was trying everything. If I didn't get the piece in, the collar was unfunctioning and floppy.
It was clearly mocking me.
So I challenged my dress-in-progress to a slap fight (which I won; I have fought inanimate objects before, but this one was down in three seconds, probably because a) the arms weren’t finished yet or b) the level of my monkey rage), and I finally got the facings sort of kind of in the right way within seconds of almost enlisting help from a glue gun.
I kicked the ass of the skirt, just in case you were wondering. And, in the end, I won. Here's the dress, made from a Ralph Lauren stretch charcoal wool I got from fabric.com for an uhmazing price (my dress dummy needs a slip, the covering on it is like astroturf. It's very hard to get things to lay correctly, but it does not pull to the side when it's on as it does in the photo). I added the braided trim along the seam line, and the buttons are post-WWII vintage black glass with rhinestone centers that came in an old glassine envelope marked "West Germany". See that collar? It made me CRY.:
But I was right. I do live in this dress. I absolutely love it. It's hard to see the inverted pleat unless you're walking, but it gives the dress a very "Victoria Barkley" feel to it. It makes me want to commandeer a horse and buggy, shout "YA! YA!" and smack a bullwhip into the air as I race along because Nick has caused a whole bunch of trouble again with a group of men carrying torches. I should only wear this dress with tall black riding boots. That Miss Barbara! Mmmmm! Sassy.


  1. Sassy indeed! It looks wonderful. And monkey rage is what gets pieces together. :D

  2. That is really beautiful! I am just learning how to sew myself... I love the story about your Nana - I want to go dig up pictures of my Nana now... Thanks!

  3. Love it, turned out beautiful and the most perfect black dress ever.