Here she is! The fabled red satin sheath dress! Sewn entirely on Mrs. Exeter, my "new" 1952 Featherweight.
The late-day, short sheath dress.
The perfect dress for informal evenings is the slim, supple sheath, photographed here in satin with a fur stole. Change the accessories . . . and it'll have another smart look. You'll learn to handle fabric with a nap. When completed, you'll know how to fit a bodice and face a square neckline. It should take about ten hours to make.
- Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing
Sewing this was a very cool experience. Of everything I've ever made, I must say this is the garment that I'm the most proud of. Sewing on Mrs. Exeter really feels like dressmaking, you know what I mean? I never thought I'd say this, but I actually preferred it to sewing on my computerized machine (Sorry, Betty). There is something to be said for simplicity in a good machine.
Here's an inside shot for construction detail.
I stitched flat seam binding to the facings for a neat look. I also applied seam binding to the zipper before installing it, a tip from Claire Shaeffer that Cindy wrote about on her blog.
And a shot of my lapped zipper, which went in without a hitch!
A few miscellaneous notes:
- Why do my pinked seams look more like they were chewed on by rabid wolves? Is this a tool problem or a user problem?
- Sewing flat: a revelation! When I was worried about sewing in the round (i.e. sleeves) on this machine (which doesn't have a freearm), commenter Elephantschild made the suggestion to sew flat as much as possible. So instead of constructing the bodice and skirt and then sewing them together at the waistline, I stitched the front bodice to the front skirt, and then then back bodice to the back skirt. Then I sewed the side seams. This was a HUGE help on this dress, where there are so many waistline darts to line up perfectly.
- As I mentioned earlier, the belt is custom made by Pat's Custom Buttons and Belts. Look for a post later this week on using this service.
VoNBBS also includes instructions on making this in flannel, in linen, and in corduroy. I love the idea of corduroy, perhaps in a vivid mustard yellow. As VoNBBS says, "For a cool weather country dinner dress - or to be coupled as a jumper, with your cashmeres and shirts." I can just see myself, perhaps up in the Catskills for the weekend, in my cool weather country dinner dress! I also love it as a jumper, illustrated above with the jaunty scarf. I'll have to add some cashmere to my wardrobe, darlings.
But, for now, I'm putting the sheath dress pattern away, with just a little bit of sadness. (I'm going to miss the old girl.) Next up is the bolero in black velveteen. But first I'm going to take a little break for some other exciting projects (including a dress for a dear friend to wear at her wedding reception!), which I will update you on soon.
Here are the closing thoughts from VoNBBS on this dress:
Finishing touches: Remove all basting threads. Overcast seams. Press lightly on wrong side. Isn't it wonderful? We hope you have a special date soon - so you can surprise everyone by announcing, "Why thank you! I made it myself!"