I'm a sewing enthusiast in Beacon, New York, with a love of all things retro. This site is all about tutorials, tips, inspiration, and lots of spirited discussion about sewing as it relates to fashion history, pop culture, body image, and gender. My first book, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, is now out from STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books! Also look for my line "Patterns by Gertie" from Butterick.
I rarely shop ready-to-wear anymore (too busy fabric shopping, I suppose), but yesterday at lunch I made a brief reconnaissance mission to Anthro. You see, I had spied this aqua version (below) of the "Tracing Twirls" dress online and fell madly, deeply, head over heels. Look at that 50s-inspired bustline! I knew I would have to attempt to drape this design. (You might remember that I blogged about this dress back in March - I was in love with it back then too.)
But how to begin interpreting the design? (Besides writing a desperate e-mail to my draping teacher telling her I must drape this design, stat!) I knew it would help tremendously to look at this dress in person. Luckily, it was in stock at my local Anthro, albeit in the black and white colorway above. I grabbed it, along with a few other dresses I wanted to study and made my way stealthily to the fitting room with my secret fashion spyware. (Okay, I actually just walked to the dressing room with my iPhone in tow.)
I took tons of pictures of the dress, from the inside and out and studying it closely definitely helped me understand how it was designed and constructed. I stared at the bodice pleats until they made sense to me. Here's a covert pic of me wearing the dress. (The fit isn't bad, but it's not perfect - just more reason to make my own!)
I especially liked the colorful petticoat detail on the lining.
I also tried the Dagmar shirtdress, because I was attracted to the skirt pleating patterns and the side seam pockets paired with a side seam zipper. I love the shape! I wouldn't have thought to put the pleats in the center only, but it was super flattering.
I also tried the Cascading Bows dress because it looked like it had high-quality construction. It did! Look at the lapped back center zip. (I put one of these into my latest dress and they're my new favorite thing.)
Here's the metal zip exposed.
And here it is open. There's a lovely grosgrain ribbon detail behind the lap.
But the fit - horrors! I tried a 10 and the bodice was too big while the hips were pulling tightly. Note to self: bows "cascading" down the abdomen = not a good look. Ugh. On the bright side, it's my color!
All in all, it was a productive visit. I got to look up close at some great dresses, and also be reminded once again of the beauty of not having to rely on ready-to-wear.
Later in the day, I couldn't stop myself from practicing "draping" the Tracing Twirls dress bust with a paper towel at my desk. Yes, draping is definitely taking over my brain!
P.S. The draping project I've been documenting is thisclose to being done! I finished it last night, but then decided I needed to fine tune the fit on the hips. Hopefully I can take pictures sometime this week. More to come!