My Vintage Fairy Godmother has been quite active over the last few months. In fact, I’m actually quite lucky to have friends that give me vintage pieces that they no longer want or don’t know what to do with. The story behind this ensemble, definitely falls into this category.
Over the Summer (on the same day) my friend Annalee and another friend, Kelley, dropped off bags of goodies on my front porch. Annalee gifted me this gorgeous orange chiffon dress, rolled up in a bag and falling apart. And Kelley gave me this glorious belt with Diamante buckle (along with other wonderful things as well). And last year, my neighbor and friend, Joyce, gifted me a large collection of vintage pieces from her family including this divine black velvet coat (it only needed cleaning). Also among those treasures - another black velvet coat and a peach and black 40’s dress. Both of those were re-worked and given new life. You can read about them here:
The condition of this Orange dress was actually not too bad. The thread was disintegrating and the side seams had come apart completely. There was even scotch tape (why Annalee?) holding them together. And the garment was stained in several places with a burn hole right in the center front. I can totally understand why someone would think this dress unwearable but also so please that it came to me for rescue.
I started by sewing the seams back together and then tried it on. What luck that it is cut on the bias. It fit me perfectly, however, was miles (inches) too long. My new friend, and custom dressmaker, Karen Tierney, came by and pinned up the hem for me. That is really something that one can’t do on one’s own, so it’s important to enlist the help of others when you need it.
The gown still had a hole in the front and several spots that wouldn’t come out with spot cleaning. I am very hesitant to send this to the cleaners since the thread is so delicate. I really wasn’t sure what to do about that. My first inclination was to just leave the hole but it kept nagging at me. I delved deeply back into the archive of my bridal past and remembered the Vera Wang dress that I fell in love with (but didn’t buy) when I was looking for a wedding gown. That dress was amazing and had loads of organza flowers sewn to the dress at the bottom of the skirt and they floated up and were scattered unevenly as they got closer to the bodice. And, each flower had a little bead in the center.
After hemming this dress, there was quite a bit of fabric left over. I cut out little flowers and sewed them on with Rhinestone beads at the center. These beads have little channels on the back so you can just sew them on. Brilliant. All the holes and most of the stains were covered and the dress felt like new.
The gown needed a slip, so I looked in my favorite Etsy shop - Vintage Pattern Lending Library, for a vintage pattern that would fit the bill. I found a great slip pattern that was a low back, floor length with a flounce at the bottom. It was perfect for this dress. While the dress fit me well, my body needed a little encouragement to really look the part for this evening ensemble. So, I invested in a terrific undergarment. It fits me beautifully and puts everything in right place, but the back neckline was much higher than the low “V” back of the dress and slip.
The slip pattern would need to be altered to accommodate this bra and the fabric was a close enough match that I figured it would be alright. In the end, I’m very pleased with this decision. The whole look is quite flattering.
I’ve never felt so glamorous! Especially not at 11am, when my mom and I did this photo shoot ha ha!
The Belt my friend Kelley gave me needed to be made smaller, but that was simple. Nothing a seam ripper, needle and thread couldn’t fix in two minutes. Also, I sewed bra carriers onto the slip. The bra carriers are just thread chains attached to the strap with a snap on the end and a snap on the strap. These are sewn to the inside of the slip. There is also a carrier done the same way, sewn onto the inside of the dress to connect the slip and bra to the dress. The dress was slipping off my shoulders and connecting the three garments helps hold the dress in place.
The dress came to me which each and every one of it’s buttons. What luck. Could probably have had matching buttons made, but it would be expensive. The place I used to get them made in SF is permanently closed. Would love any references for custom buttons.
Here you can see ow the dress looks after I took it out of the bag, all sad and droopy. Also pictured is the slip pattern. It’s a great pattern. I just sized it up for my circumference, changed the back neckline and put the front and back on the bias. Easy-Peasy and worked great under my dress.
The Whole Look -
Dress - Annalee (Thank you!)
Slip - 1934 Ladies Low Back Back Evening Slip - Reproduction Sewing Pattern #T1466 - Vintage Pattern Lending Library
Velvet Coat - Joyce (Thank you!)
Velvet Belt - Kelley (Thank you!)
Shoes - Decobelles and Angels by Laurie Gordon
Hair Flowers - Made by me with velvet vintage flowers from Jennifer Osner
Earrings - Feathered Outlaw Alameda
Stockings, Gloves and Foundation Garment - What Katie Did
Vintage Hand Bag - Yard sale in front of my mom’s house
Photographer - Mom - Sheila Askin
Until Next time