Friday, October 21, 2011

40s-Style Side Ruffle Dress

This may be the most difficult dress to photograph ever. The print, which I so love, makes it nearly impossible to make out any details! So let's start with the fabric. Here's a close-up:

Isn't it cute? I bought it online here. It's a drapey rayon/cotton blend, and the print reminded me of Mexican tourist garb from the 50s. The drape of the fabric just screams 40s, though, which is how I came to this design. Also, the patternmaking was a project I could easily take on the road with me. Just some paper, a ruler, and a hotel room floor!

I started by copying the bodice from a vintage dress I own that fits me perfectly, and then I drafted simple band sleeves to go with it. 


The asymmetrical ruffle skirt was inspired by this Trashy Diva dress.
Isn't it just so fabulous? I made my ruffles curve slightly downward from center front, though, since I thought the original looked a bit like a Western yoke at the top. I converted a straight skirt to a flared one without a dart (tutorial here!) and broke one side of the skirt front into three tiers. I made ruffles (with the aid of my narrow hemmer foot and ruffler foot) and inserted them into the seams between the tiers. That's it!


When I showed it to Jeff, he said "Are those frills only on one side of the dress?"

"Yes!" I replied, thinking how clever it was.

You know what he said, readers? He said: "Interesting."

Oh, the dreaded "interesting." I explained very patiently to him that asymmetry is a design principle that some people find quite pleasing. Readers, he still seemed unimpressed. Ah well.
The back is left simple.



I made a self-covered belt (from a kit that was a gift from dear Sunni!), not that you can even detect it in these pictures. It also somehow needed a brooch.


Now that I'm home again, I'll be back to working on my coat. I'll be doing the welt pockets this weekend, wish me luck!

55 comments:

  1. That is fabulous. My first reaction to the picture at the top of the post was WOW - that is gorgeous! And 'interesting'! It's more than that, but I guess asymetrical things aren't pleasing to everyone. It looks amazing on you, and you obviously love it!

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  2. I love the asymetric ruffle. It would be too cutesy if it were symetric. I agree with Jeff that it's 'interesting', but in a great, I love it kind of way! And the fabric is all kinds of fab.

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  3. Partners should know better than to use THAT word ;-P
    I love this dress and the print is stunning.

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  4. I love it, too. Whenever I ask my partner for an opinion, he just looks really, really nervous. 'What's the right thing to say? What does she want to hear?'

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  5. Really nice, I'd wear it, no questions asked

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  6. Oh, I LOVE it. I know you must get asked this a lot but what do you do with all these gorgeous clothes? Can we buy them from you?

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  7. I'll admit that I thought the lovely belt was a midriff cut on the crossgrain, but that doesn't change the fact it's one of my favorite design elements! But I love the band sleeves too. Offer a tutorial?

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  8. I love it!! The asymmetrical ruffles are super fun! I think some of the more fashion forward design elements may be a bit too much for our more conservative (fashion-wise, that is) menfolk.

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  9. I love the one-sided ruffles and that print is gorgeous.

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  10. Beautiful dress! I love the asymmetrical ruffled skirt.

    ♥ Gina Michele
    CrochetClouds.com

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  11. I really, really like this dress Gertie! It's a great print and works well with the frills.
    Could I ask what's happend to the beautiful blue coat project? I know you're so busy these days and hope it's not on the back burner?

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  12. Love this! That print is amazing and your design really complements it. Bravo!

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  13. Oh I love it! It looks fantastic on you too! The print is just fabulous and I think you did a wonderful job tracing off some parts of the dress and adding your own element to it too. The side ruffles are wonderful! I get the "interesting" comment all the time from my mister. Sometimes just a blank stare too, like I've caught him off guard and he absolutely doesn't know what to say.

    All in all, I'm so happy you finished this project, since I know it had kind of a rough start - Oh "that" sewing machine.... Love it!
    xoxo, Sunni

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  14. lol. I always take fashion advice from my husband with a grain of salt especially since his idea of feminine beauty got stuck in the hippie period and that's got to be one of the worst styles for my shape!

    I love your dress though! The print is amazing!

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  15. That dress is so freaking cute! I absolutely love it! The print is fantastic and the side ruffles just make it so unique and so fun. It's great!

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  16. WOW I love it ..it's wonderful ...greetings tanja

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  17. Love the ruffled dress! The miracle dress? Hmmm...I'm reminded of those BBQ aprons with the sexy/beefcake/tuxedo print on the front. Tacky, yes?

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  18. Thanks, ladies!

    Miss Tallulah, I keep all the clothes for myself because I'm selfish like that. :)

    LAP, yes! I'll do a little sleeve tutorial.

    Pin Queen, I'm back to the coat this weekend! It was too bulky to take on my travels with me.

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  19. I love it! Interesting PAH ;o)

    You make it sound so easy doing those alterations, it tempts me to try it!!

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  20. That dress looks amazing! Did you use any pattern at all?

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  21. jeff, oh jeff. perhaps you and ruggy can get together over a few IPAs and work on your lexicon.

    this is stunning. i might hate you a little bit.

    (word verification: educat! as in educat yourself, jeff!)

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  22. The dreaded "interesting"! I love everything about this dress, even if it had had the more Western vibe you edited out.

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  23. I love it! Very inspiring. And don't worry, boys just don't get it sometimes.

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  24. its adorable! and very interesting in the best way possible. i love the side ruffles and the choice of fabric. and it fits you beautifully!

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  25. As always, I defend myself by saying that the tragically unfashionable (me) are simply ill-equipped to understand all of the choices of the fashionable (you).

    Oh and ladies! I also said that the dress was very well tailored! And that she looked adorable!! And I brought her cannoli that night!

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  26. I was about to give Jeff a bollocking for his "interesting" comment about a fabulous dress! But who could stay mad at a man who buys his beloved a canolis???

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  27. Such a FUN dress, and love the fabric!

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  28. LOVE it! I would totally wear it (and probably make it in a few colors/prints b/c it's just that fun).

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  29. It's so cute! I really admire your drafting talent. I also love Jeff's comment. Maybe you should get cannoli every time he scares you with an interesting ;)

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  30. I love this dress! It's so neat to see something different like this- pattern, ruffles, etc. If I might make a tiny suggestion- I think if you wear the brooch on the other side, it will balance the ruffles a little. But what the heck do I know? You look beautiful in it any which way you wear it!

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  31. It's a beautiful fabric, and I really like the cut of the dress. I like the look of the belt cut on the cross grain but I think I'd like a contrasting belt of some sort better. You've put the ruffles on the right side which is unusual, asymmetric elements usually fall on the left. You also have the belt fastened to the right when they are usually the reverse on women's wear. Nothing wrong with reversing these things but it does probably confuse the eye a little.

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  32. YOU ARE BLOWING MY MIND!!!!!!!I absolutely love the asymmetry of this dress- It is so unexpected... and your right "interesting" is never a good reply- Tell Jeff also that when your wife asks you "does this dress make my butt look fat?" A good husbands response should always be.."no, of course not! Have you lost weight?"A fabulous dress Gretchen for a Fabulous Girl--
    I LOVE it!

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  33. You are adorable Gertie, and so are your fashions.

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  34. Men, just don't get it Gertie. Don't feel bad. My hubby wouldn't even consider it "interesting"!

    Anyway, I love the asymetric ruffles!

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  35. The dress looks BEAUTIFUL! I love the ruffle on only the one side. It definatly adds a visual 'pleasure'(?) (not sure I like that word..) but it is perfect! And the belt....I thought it was cut into the skirt and bodice!! ha I looked at the original and wished I had one! My goal is to not purchase any thing for one year...just sew it. This dress is on the list:)

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  36. Haha! 'Interesting!' Such a male thing to say. For all their amazing qualities, sometimes they just don't get it. Like when I recently came back from holidays with *gulp* 9 pairs of shoes, my male colleague's response was 'what are you going to do with them'? Um, wear them! What else would I do with them?!

    For the record, I think it's a beautiful dress and you look absolutely gorgeous in it!

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  37. Gertie, you've broken my heart.

    I reckon we're the same size and you can't possibly wear ALL of the killer stuff you make, I mean there are only seven days in a week! ;)

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  38. I'd love to know how to do that sleeve too, it's really cute.

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  39. oh my word. I'm seriously in love with that dress

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  40. Oh, I don't know. I have taught my husband the proper tone of voice when saying the dreaded "interesting." All it really needs is a good "Oh aren't you clever" sort of inflection. I do applaud Jeff for his wise application of "adorable" and canolis in the face of fashion he does not understand however. (I also love that he follows and responds on the blog. Hooray for spouses!) k.

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  41. The sleeves are do pretty! Could you put on a tutorial on how to draft those band sleeves?

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  42. I love anything 40's inspired. The print you chose was a great choice. It looks like you nailed the fit.

    May I make a suggestion.... Yes???

    Your inspiration dress had the top ruffle starting on the side seam at the top of the hip bone and angled down towards the CF at a guess it looks like a 5-7cm drop. I'm pointing it out cause it creates a lovely visual effect. Don't get me wrong I think you did a lovely job and your dress looks fab on you. Just my 2 cents.

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  43. WOW! I love it. I want to wear it. I want to make one too. I find it difficult asking my husband his opinion. He freely gives it. I just don't always want his answer. The dress is different in a most wonderful way. I know I have said this before, but you are most inspiring!

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  44. Love that fabric and the dress!

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  45. I hope we're all old enough to know that there's a difference between dressing for men -- and their approval -- and dressing for ourselves -- and for the approval of other women.

    (I figured this out when I was just old enough to be allowed to wear a bit -- a tiny bit! -- of a heel, and my brother started making fun of the way my hips naturally started to sway as I walked. Since I wasn't dressing to impress my dumb older brother, I showed him what he could do with his opinion when he was off-balance wiggling his hips in parody!)

    In other words, I think your dress is lovely, and love the asymmetry, fabric, and will look forward to the sleeve tutorial.

    And, for anyone who dresses only to impress the menfolk, I suggest that you try taking a screenshot of half the dress (either half -- men's minds tend to be simple) then flip it so that both sides are symmetrical. I suspect you'll get a very different response than just, "interesting"!

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  46. I absolutely love it. And it looks amazing on you. Wow

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  47. Interesting,hmph!

    That might as well be one of those, I like you but I like you as a friend.

    I've found myself making a comment for a frind of my that always does new extensions. One of which, the mohawk, I didn't really care for so when she asked if I liked it, my comment was, "It's brave girl".

    I recently did what I thought was a Fabulous job on a bed skirt for a person and her comment was, "it's alright". After getting a million compliments on how beatiful it was she thought it was "OK".

    I think what you made was wonderful! I think the likes will outweigh the dislikes.

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  48. Love it. If you made the pattern for this and sold it, I would buy it. I am a visual person. So if have a chance and find it worth your while, I would love to see a tutorial.

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  49. Ahaha...Men just don't understand sometimes.


    I, however, understand, and I think it's a fantastic dress! And you look amazing in it.

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  50. Beautiful dresses! I love the design and fabrics! You do wonderful work.

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  51. I would love to see a tutorial on this and/or a pattern, pretty please! I'd pay for it happily. I could see me rocking this look!

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  52. I would love to see a tutorial on this and/or a pattern, pretty please! I'd pay for it happily. I could see me rocking this look!

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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