Wednesday, August 12, 2015

HSM August: Heirlooms and Heritage

I am finally back on my costuming game! Between the super hot weather and not having any costuming events coming up, I haven't really been much in the mood for costumes. But I decided to just go for it anyways.

The August challenge is Heirlooms and Heritage. You could make something that your ancestors might have worn or make something using heirloom techniques. So I decided to make a 1920s dress in honor of my great-grandma Elizabeth and her aunts.

My great-grandma (the one not facing the camera) and her aunts on a picnic in the 1920s.

I've always been nervous to do anything 1920s because the ideal silhouette is exactly opposite mine. But I thought this would be a great time to try it out. I didn't have a specific event to wear the dress to so if it was a wash, no big deal.

The Challenge: Heirlooms and Heritage 
Fabric: ~3 yds quilting cotton ($7/yd)
Pattern: Festive Attyre's 1 Hour Dress Lawn Party Edition- Since I've made a corset pattern she also posted for free online, I know that I'm a bit smaller than her so instead of adding seam allowance to the pattern, I just used it as if it already had a 1/2" seam allowance. It worked pretty well though I did shape the side seams just a bit for a slightly more flattering shape. I ended up making the narrowest part to my exact bust measurement to make sure I could still get in and out of the dress. I made 6 knife pleats on each side and also added piping at the waist, neckline and sleeves for a bit of pop.

Year: most 1 hour dress pattern's I've seen have been 1924/1925 and that seems to match what I've seen in extant dresses and ads from the period
Notions: piping ($5)
How historically accurate is it? The quilting cotton is not the correct type of fabric to use for this sort of dress. It would really be better with something more light weight and drapey. I also used my serger to finish the seams which would not have been available for home seamstresses at this point. The pattern itself is drafted from period directions so it's good there.

Hours to complete: more than 1! I did run into some issues (having to run to JoAnn's, breaking a needle on my serger and then having to rethread it) but it's definitely a pretty short project. I know I'd be much faster sewing it up the second time around.
First worn: to church and then for photos on the beach
Total cost: ~$26

To style this dress, I added some vintage crochet gloves and a long pearl necklace. I was going to wear my American Duchess 23Skiddos but changed my mind after we decided to do the shoot on the beach. Maybe next time!

My hair didn't really cooperate with the wind on the beach though. I definitely need a cute white hat for this dress. Guess I need to go hat shopping!

It might be a bit overdressed to go to the beach but I couldn't resist a bit of wading. I pretended I was with the staff at Downton Abbey when they all went to the beach!

 I'm still not 100% sure about how I feel about the shape of this dress on me. It definitely doesn't do my actual waist any favors. On the up side, it's ridiculously comfortable. It'd be perfect for a day of classes at Costume College (especially Sunday when you're super tired). I think I'll try again in a more drapey fabric. It should fall closer to the body and be more flattering.

 But I did really adore this print and don't feel bad about caving into quilting cottons. And there is nothing that makes me quite as happy as wearing bright, cheery fabric!


  1. I think you've nailed the silhouette! I made a 1-hour dress for the June challenge, and it is so comfortable, but it really doesn't flatter my shape either. I keep going back and forth about wearing it. I really like the print you picked, and the piping is a great little touch!

  2. Personally, I love sewing with and wearing quilting cottons. They are my fave, and actually softer and of a tighter weave than the forties and fifties cottons I have worked with. Your dress is adorable, and I'm glad you were adventurous and went for something new!

    Speaking of being adventurous, I went through a crush on Egytology, too! If you haven't yet read the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters, I think you will lurv it! Amelia is a fictional delight. The first book is a little light weight, written at the beginning of the author's career. As her writing matured, so did the characters of the indomitable Amelia and her Egyptologist husband, Emerson. I recommend starting with one of the later books to see if you like them, (although I suspect you will,) then backtracking.

    Emerson reminds me of my own husband in that his adventures result in havoc on his wardrobe. My favorite quote from the series is when the ever practical Amelia says, "Not another shirt Emerson!" When he once more shows up in disarray, shirt torn and buttons missing after evading an antiquities thief or other antagonist.

  3. Holy crap! Your great Grandmother looks exactly like you!

  4. It's so cute! I love the print you chose and the white piping is a nice extra detail. You look perfectly period with your short hair and gloves! I had always thought the 1920's wouldn't be a flattering decade on my curvy shape, I love me some waist definition, but I was pleasantly surprised once I made a few "one hour" dresses myself just how much I enjoy wearing them! I eased into the shape by making sheer dresses and more fitted slips to begin with for a bit more flattering look.

  5. Would you live with me for a few months and teach me to sew? I recommend starting after the 100+ degree weather ends.

    You seriously are an inspiration for me wanting to learn to sew. You make such beautiful pieces.

  6. Your dress is wonderful, the drape is perfect for your shape. I too adore the 1920s but having a large posterior makes me shy away. Now I am rethinking this, I am very new to sewing. I've only hand sewn skirts. Sewing sleeves and cutting the patterns out to fit my size is hard for me. I've wasted a lot of perfectly good fabric on projects that I've never finished.

  7. This actually is really flattering on you, and elegant. Love the photo of your great grandmother, you look a lot like her

  8. I think it is very attractive on you - very flattering. I love the color and the piping - it is a very very pretty dress.

  9. Phenomenal dress and photos! I really, really like this classic 20s style on you. It feels fresh and looks stunning!

    ♥ Jessica

  10. This is such a cute look on you Stephanie! It's the first time I've ever seen a twenties outfit and thought that maybe I could actually wear that! I love the color of the fabric you chose, it's such a great breezy, summery outfit. :) ❤

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

  11. Love it! Your great grandma seems to look like you!
    Also, I think they should still have them, but I got a great white sunhat for my vintage beach costumes at target. :) It has a tan trim around the edge, but it still reads pretty vintage to me. :)