Sunday, October 9, 2011

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Remember when Titanic was released? I was sixteen and I'd been waiting with baited breath for its release. Not because I thought Leo DiCaprio was some kind of dream boat because honestly, he's never done a thing for me (except for those five minutes in The Departed when he macked on Vera Farmiga anyway.) No, I've always known about the Titanic and its sad voyage to the bottom of the sea. One of my first memories was of the news reports on the day they found the wreck in 1985.

What I didn't know was how amazing and wonderful the fashions of the day were. It's enough to take your breath away, at least it was when I was all of sixteen and managed to get my mother to take me to see it three times in the theater. At the time, I wasn't really much of a sewist. I couldn't tell if I'd sewn anything just yet. If I had, it was only a handful of horrid dresses. Certainly I could never fathom recreating anything resembling Rose Dewitt Bukater's remarkable wardrobe. Upon subsequent viewings and as I progressed in my sewing knowledge, lingerie dresses and sequinned evening gowns became quite obtainable. However, I then had the problem of how exactly one would wear an afternoon tea dress with layers of floaty chiffon falling about one's ankles. After all, I don't have a boiler room to run through.

It doesn't help that all of the line drawings and magazine articles from the day don't give one much clue how they would look on a modern figure. Actually, it's a bit difficult to picture them on any figure. We aren't the first generation to give ourself an unattainable figure to copy. The S-curve corset could only do so much to thrust the female form into such an odd configuration.

Because this is realistic, right?

All of that awe and inspiration, however, came together in a way I could finally translate into my own wardrobe thanks to a working weekend for my husband and 48 hours with netflix in his absence.

Squee, right?
Cotton gauze, striped silk, sparse floral prints, oh the day gowns are enough to make you wish you could pay a visit. No, you probably can't wear such a gown any where but a costumed event but can you imagine those bodices tucked into a pencil skirt? That's exactly what I'm picturing and thanks to Past Patterns, I plan to make that happen next year sometime. 

But for something nearer, I was inspired by the ladies' evening gowns, just as I was by Rose's red and blue gowns back in 1997.

What could be prettier than lace and chiffon? And here I was, knitting away, contemplating what a dreadfully dull dress I'd be forced to wear for Christmas that would accomodate my pregnant belly when these beautiful gowns sauntered across the screen. With bodices like this, it wouldn't matter much what happened below, would it? I think I like Lady Sybill's gown on the right the best. The elbow length sheer sleeves, the bit of lace edging falling off center down the front of the skirt.

I've decided on navy for the under layers with a black lace trimmed chiffon for the overlay. And since we're dealing with a maternity dress I'll only wear again should I go through the effort to recut the skirt, I'm going to save up my Joann's coupons and shop from their Casa Collection. Past Patterns again will come to my rescue though I think I'll have to do up a few muslins to come up with the right look and fit.

Yes, without that batwing drapey part, I promise.

As it happens, my extensive stash will provide exactly the prefect fabric and pattern for pinky's dress. I picked up a few yards of a navy polyester taffeta for less than $5 a yard when I first discovered FabricMart fabrics about 18 months ago. I sewed up a quickie dress for pinkers that turned out so well that I bought five more yards when I saw it in their clearance bin a few months later. $1.99 a yard actually. I can't seem to find a picture right now so you'll have to wait until closer to Christmas.

I was thinking of a Simplicity pattern I've been holding onto for years. It's sized 3-6 so now is the perfect time to use it. It's not nearly a similar look or era but it will be cute nonetheless, especially for a little girl who is fond of big skirted dressed, puffed sleeves, and the slightest touch of lace. Go here for a better look. I'm thinking the white one but without the bottom scallops.


  1. I hav e been drooling over that red dress since I saw Titanic in the theaters (four times). I would rock that dress. I love this new project... can't wait to see more.

  2. Thank you!!! I think I have a chance of feeling pretty this Christmas, in addition to swollen, heavy, and 4 weeks away from giving birth.



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