The newest contribution to my Polka Dot Project - adding polka dots to my wardrobe - is also one of my new favorite sewing achievements.
I had made another version of this dress, and loved the fit - the tailored front, horizontal tucks, and back fullness - even though it was one of my earlier projects and had sloppy seams, a terrible zipper, and unfinished seams. So when I got 4 yards of this lovely delicate white fabric with tiny navy polka dots and open-weave stripes on Ebay, I knew it was time for a second try at this pattern now that I have more skill. (Or patience.)
It all went smoothly, once I accepted the fact that the stripes had to run horizontally instead of vertically because of the way the skirt pieces had to be cut. I don't know the fabric content - mainly cotton, I think - but it has such a sweet smell after laundering, and feels delicate without being sheer. Such a nice summer fabric. It was a pleasure to sew with.
As usual, I took a pinch out of the torso pieces, and since this one was missing the sleeve piece I substituted a similar sleeve and turned up cuff from a pattern of the same era. The skirt pleats were actually fun to make and quite easy. I folded them and pressed them, then opened it and stitched along the press line. Super easy and makes a nice straight seam, something I always have trouble with.
And another milestone on this project - my first hand-picked zipper!
Zippers are always troublesome for me, both the overlapped and invisible kind. So I decided to use this tutorial to try hand-stitching it, especially after reading other people's reviews and how much easier it was to line up horizontal lines while doing it by hand.
It actually wasn't that tedious, though it took longer than sewing a zipper by machine. If I'm not in a hurry, I'll certainly use that technique again. The control was great. The only bummer happened when I took a few stitches too close to the zipper coils and the zipper tab got caught in them. But it sure did work for lining up the stripes! If I had put an invisible zipper in those stripes would have been all over the place. :-)
Here's the inside view.
Because this fabric is so sheer, I also wanted to make a new slip to wear with it that wouldn't embarrass me if it was seen. So I whipped up this one in an hour or so.
The 1950s slip from my stand-by slip pattern is just 2 pieces, dart fitted yet pullover, and very easy since I skipped the facing instructions and did bias trim around the arm holes and a narrow hem at the neck edge. The fabric is thrifted - a smooth high quality cotton that is so nice to wear and a dense weave so it blocks more light (though I still doubled the skip layers at the skirt by wearing a half slip too). The eyelet trim was cut from vintage sheets and pillowcases and top stitched to the slip.
I added some trim at the neck too, to be a built-in modesty panel if needed.
The pretty hem ensures that if the slip ever peeks out, it won't detract from the overall outfit. (A grungy slip peeking out can ruin an otherwise elegant outfit.)
The bodice had my favorite kind of shaping - short dart tucks in the front to release the fullness, and longer darts in the back where I don't like it blousy.
I used a hem facing on the dress, and made the slip just a bit shorter than the hem facing. Besides, I needed a dressy slip, so this outfit added two staples to my wardrobe.
I paired the dress with my vintage navy heels, a hat of the same era as the dress, a narrow navy leather belt, and vintage navy rayon gloves with flared cuffs.
Comparing this dress with the first version, I can see how far I've come in less than a year. A hand-picked zipper, and patience enough to match as many stripes as possible, and French seams, and interfaced cuffs and collar! :-)
My second polka-dot project can be crossed off the list!