This past summer, my sister got a chance to go to the Maldives, and while she was there, she got me this fabulous fabric! It's actually a men's garment that is tied around the waist, but, hey, I don't mind. It won't look mannish when I'm done with it!
It used to look like what the men in this picture are wearing:
... I lined up the stripes on the final garment!
(Being "hippy" for my size, I took a risk in putting giant horizontal stripes across the widest part of my bum. But my thought is: balance out the hips with the shoulders, and the wider the hips look, the smaller the waist looks! Woo!)
It was a lot of mental work to figure it out, but I totally love this dress! I used a pattern I have tried before, McCall's 5517, but that time I had no idea how to really alter things and it turned out much too small. (There's no way I could get it over my hips now!) So this time I took alterations into consideration and also tweaked the design a bit to include an overlapped skirt (I couldn't give up the fringe!) and short sleeves. I managed to get all the pieces except the back out of the Maldivian fabric, so I just used black cotton on the back. I also lined it with a satiny black material I had in my stash to make it extra lush and easier to wear day to day, and I added shoulder pads for a bit more shoulder definition that could transition from a 60s to a 40s look more easily, which is how I will style it.
I really love this dress, and I feel like it's a great reflection of who I am! It's definitely vintage and tailored, but it ties in my love for travel and other cultures by using a foreign, traditional fabric.
Here is a summary of the pattern details and things I changed:
Fabric: I'm not sure. Maybe some sort of cotton-synthetic blend?
Pattern: McCall's 5517
Notions: 2 zippers, shoulder pads
How historically accurate is it? Eh, not so much. I "franken-patterned" (to use Frances' word) everything together and blended decades to get the look I wanted: va-voom, intercultural, 40s!
Any tricky parts to the pattern? This is a very fitted pattern, so it requires good tailoring skills, especially on the top. I'm still not quite sure about the fit of the top....
Did you change anything? Yep, sleeve length, and made a wrap skirt instead of a normal pencil
Time to complete: 4 days (give or take. Cutting and arranging pieces took a LONG time)
First worn: 15 September 2014
Total cost: Everything was from my stash!Notes: I would recommend staying true to the body measurements recommended on the pattern and assuming you will need to wear a girdle or foundation garment to make the proportions work (or altering the pattern for less "va-voom" proportions); the sleeve shape also doesn't let your arms lift more than halfway, so don't wear it where you'd need to move a lot!
And here's a map in case you didn't know, like me, where the Maldives is: (It's so tiny you can't even see it when zoomed out!)
Dress: handmade by me, McCall's 5517
1930s-40s hat: flea market
bakelite bangles and earrings: gifted
1920s leather purse: swapped
Photo credit to my sister, Aria, for her awesomeness!