I’ve been showing you the artwork and pattern work behind my first sewing pattern- three posts in a row, like clowns emerging from a tiny car! Tonight’s Tiramisu clown will be the design inspiration behind the pattern, or her “pedigree,” if you will.
Last May, I received this darling dress pattern from Emma as a part of a pattern swap arranged by Tina through a Sew Weekly discussion thread. (oh the wonders of the internet!) I loved her from first sight- I’d been drafting my own for a while and hadn’t bought a “new” vintage pattern for longer than I could remember, but this little gem made me drop everything in my sewing queue. Stripes! Pleats! Full Skirt! Midriff Section! Kimono Sleeves! And a handy little bolero. I love those little boleros, they often translate to modern wear so well.
I threw her together from a thrifted cotton duvet cover and even made the bolero from some sweater knit. This quickly became my favorite thing to wear- easy to throw on, forgiving to my figure, and fun.
I wrote about this for the Sew Weekly write-up at the time, but I’ll say it again. 1950’s fashion- that is, the clothes people wore as opposed to the haute couture, really celebrated the female figure. I wasn’t around at the time, but I hear tell this was a period of time called the baby boom years. Soldiers returned home after WW2 and got busy with moving on with life. That means making babies. Lots of them. The legions of fighters became lovers.
That means lots of young mommies with rapidly shifting body shapes, soft curves, little tummies, big tummies, possibly leaking breasts. Fuller skirts gracefully camoflauge changing figures, and relatively simple cuts like this one go together quickly and aren’t fussy to wear. I like this.
I think one of the many shortfalls of modern high-street fashion is that it tries to slot all of us into little categories: “Miss” “Maternity” “Plus Size” and “Woman.” I remember finding it very hard to find clothes for myself that looked young and attractive without looking “available.” I was a Miss who didn’t want what Miss had to offer. So I started sewing seriously. (Do you ever feel slotted into an ill-fitting category of RTW?)
But 50’s dresses? I suspect the reason so many of us younger women love the 50’s is because dressing from this era allows us to be feminine and youthful and a bit covered up. And whether it’s from pregnancy, aging, weight changes or hormonal fluctuations, female bodies are seldom the same from one month, week, or day to the next. We’re shape-shifters! 1950’s house dresses knew that, and I like it.
I like it so much, I translated it into a knit:
Tira is more the grand-daughter to the Simplicity 4110 dress than a copy or reproduction. I took inspiration from the bodice/midriff sections, eliminated the zipper, and used a half-circle skirt in place of the pleated a-line. It’s also a knit, not a woven, and the construction reflects this, though I did keep an element of “vintage” construction by leaving the side seams to the last step for easy width adjustment.
I’ve noticed something through my personal experiments with cut, color, and fabric type in my sewing. This might be a Queensland or a Brisbane thing, I’m not sure. Clothes made from woven fabrics seem to read as “dressy” or “professional” or *dread* “costumey” while knits read as “regular clothes.” I don’t mean to people who sew, but in general. I suppose this is because wovens should be ironed (I don’t usually) which implies greater care is taken with the garment. Even when it isn’t.
But I find this creates a sort of barrier between me and others. People might remark “Oh, you’re so dressed up!” or “I should have put on something fancier!” when I wear my wovens, even if I don’t think I am all that fancied up. No one has ever accused me of being “all dressed up” in knits. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with dressing up, but I like finding the happy medium between wearing designs I like and not creating a sartorial barrier between myself and the people around me. This is what attracts me to sewing and designing with knits- I can play pretty freely with cut, fiber content and/or color but knits still look like “clothes” to most people, so it’s ok!
What do you think? Do wovens look more like “dressy” clothes, while knits are more like “regular” clothes? Why do you think that is? Or is it just me? Which do you sew more? Which do you wear more?
And WOW! We’re at 198 pre-sales for the Tiramisu Pattern! Thank you so much for your support, I really don’t have the words but I *have* been breaking out into the Charleston in my kitchen a lot more lately. I’m keeping the sale open until the 5th, as advertised. The pattern goes to print very shortly, and I should have the pattern ready to ship by early November.
Tomorrow night I’m taking a breather, then I’ll be back with more! This time it’s less clowns climbing out of a tiny car and more individual acts! I mean, guides and stuff. Prizes, Audience Participation, and Overlocker / Coverhem Buying Guides- Do you need one and what to look for! I just had to unpack those “clowns” first. By the way, that Simplicity 4110 pattern has moved on to the next phase of her life at Nettie’s House.
(psst- the “my husband thinks I’m crazy” post comes later, about testing muslins and what that process is like. I enjoy it. Just didn’t work for tonight!)