Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Inspiration: Helen Rose Yellow Ombre Dress

How amazing is this design? When I posted my green ombre chiffon dress, our dear Peter pointed out that it was very reminiscent of Helen Rose styles. Which reminded me of this fabulous yellow ombre dress (sourced here, with lots of interesting info).

It was worn by Debbie Reynolds in the film Give a Girl a Break. (Yeah, I've never heard of it either.)

What's great about the dress is how it uses the deep color of the ombre at the top and fades to ivory, whereas most ombre designs do the opposite. It gives an airy effect at the bottom: perfect for dancing!

Anyway, I became so obsessed with this dress that I made it the lock screen picture on my phone (briefly replacing Henry, can you believe it?). I couldn't stop thinking about making a similar design.

I stopped by B&J last week, and they had a fabric so close to the original dress that it's eerie.

I looked through my vintage pattern collection, and thought this design might be a good starting point.

McCalls 9526
To top it all off, I had the idea to try to reproduce the envelope silhouette as much as possible. In this post, I wrote about the difference between fantasy and reality when it comes to vintage pattern illustrations. Many people pointed out that the right foundation garments are key to getting the correct look. (I agree that it's a starting point, but no underwear is going to make me 9 heads tall!) So what better challenge than to make a similar dress to my green ombre, but using a very 50s foundation: waist cincher corset, crinoline, and longline bra. I'll write more about my undergarments of choice in upcoming posts.

P.S. Happy New Year! I spent last week with family at Rehoboth Beach. I'm home now, working away on the book, which is starting to look like a book!

29 comments:

  1. Having the yellow on top instead of on the bottom makes it look so much lovelier than the image conjured up by a recent comment I read about some fashionista's donning of a gown that was white on top, fading to yellow on the bottom. The commenter snarked that the dress looked as if she'd had a bladder accident.

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  2. What a dreamy dress! It reminds me a bit of the pink dress Vera Ellen wears in White Christmas, which I've dreamed about flouncing about in since I was a little girl. :) I'm excited to see this one come to life!

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  3. The color at the top of the skirt reminds me of variegated flowers (tulip or morning glory maybe?) with the petals pointing down. It would be a very pretty and airy spring dress. Perfect inspiration when looking at the snow outside :)

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  4. Wow, that is a BEAUTIFUL dress! And it looks so dreamy on Debbie Reynolds - if I wore a dress like that, I think I would have to dance everywhere :)

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  5. I like how the color being fully saturated at the top changes the visual focus to the top of the garment pushing up towards the face rather than leading the eye to the floor.

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  6. Ooh, what a gorgeous dress! I really like how it fades to white on the bottom, though as with anything white, I'd worry about spilling something on it (although I know not everyone is as clumsy as I am...). I love your pattern choice and I can't wait to see the finished dress!

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  7. Georgeous! I think I prefer ombré starting from the top down, much more flattering. Can't wait to see yours :)

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  8. Beautiful yellow dress! Although I really liked your green one too. But I too like the darker colour at the top best. I love the sheer little sleeves and quite like the draping around the bust area - would be very flattering (for a small busted woman like myself ;-))

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    1. I think Gertie used the bust draping style in one of her other dresses, a summer one with?cherries?

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  9. Thank you for all your blog posts this year. Looking forward to reading and learning in 2014 - all the best for a wonderful New Year!

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  10. Thank you for your sharings, advice and tips! happy New year from Paris, France!
    Ally

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  11. Oh my goodness, I cannot wait to see what you do with this! What a gorgeous dress!

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  12. Helen Rose's designs were absolutely lovely,I'd love to wear them every day! Can't wait to see this!

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  13. Dress is gorgeous! You will knock this out.

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  14. Can't wait to see this project unfold. Love, love the colors and thanks for sharing the Debbie/Fred image. Wonderful the way the two mirror each other. All of Ms. SpoolTeacher's best friends throughout her whole childhood were named Debbie after Ms. Reynolds. Ms.ST was never fond of her acting, but she was a rave among her mother's generation, hence the naming of their children. So, you have some dated followers, Gertie.

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  15. I read this post earlier in the day and then happen to be up watching "That's Dancing" (showing dance sequences from the 20s to 80s) when this lovely yellow dress was shown. It moved BEAUTIFULLY!

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  16. oh this is will be so beautiful! Cant wait to see it. And happy new year to you Gertie! I hope 2014 is prosperous and filled with many happy memories for you!

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  17. What an awesome inspiration- can't wait to see what you make!

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  18. Ally - Design Rewind Fashions on EtsyJanuary 1, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    I can see why you became obsessed with this dress - what an amazing bodice! Can't wait to see how your dress looks when completed. I know it will be amazing! Happy 2014 to everyone!

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  19. I agree with Peter, that ombre effect sets my teeth on edge. But other than that, that dress is stunning.
    -Sandra

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  20. Rehoboth! I get excited when something in my little state gets a mention. :)
    I like the dress better on the mannequin than in the movie picture, but it looks like a fun project.

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  21. The bust of that dress looks a lot like the strappy one you designed for butterick. Perhaps you could frankenpattern them together to reproduce the inspiration piece. Cant wait to see what you do with it.

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  22. I just love this dress. It reminds me of watching Debbie and others of her vintage dance across our screens making us all think that we could glide and move just as well if we had the same dress!! Such a beautiful twirly dress. I can't wait to see the finished product. BTW I've really enjoyed reading your blog, it's provided great encouragement to get back into the sewing room and sew for myself again as well as my grand children. Happy New Year

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  23. The dress is beautiful! I love the color. Can't wait to see how your dress turns out! Happy New Year!

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  24. I have to say Helen Rose is a legend my favourite dress is the white chiffon dress from Cat on a hot tin roof, when elizabeth taylor runs downs the stairs in it. WOW. It's featured in Dressed A century of hollywood costume design. (The book is huge and barely scratches the surface)

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  25. This is indeed such a lovely dress and the fact the it fades towards the bottom just makes it better, it get's the attention to the face and creates this flying feeling, like the girl wearing it will take off like a little fairy. I am very curious about the results. I love to look at old vintage patterns, but my feeling is they never come out as you might have dreamed it, you do manage to make something beautiful and unique though. I wish you lots of luck and cannot wait to see the result.

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  26. That is GORGEOUS. I basically want every fabric from b&j now. Might have to order something!

    So, interesting that you mention Helen Rose. I just bought a Helen Rose dress on eBay, and it's gorgeous, but I had no idea how special it was! I only paid $40. Now I am a little scared to wear it!

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  27. Wow! What a beautiful dress. I love the use of color in the ombre. It reminds me of the dresses I saw yesterday at a Grace Kelly exhibit in Doylestown, PA. They were all incredible and I left having much more of an appreciation for excellently constructed clothes.

    PS Glad to hear your book is coming along!

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  28. When I saw this my jaw dropped to the floor. Words cannot describe the beauty of this dress! :)
    Great work!!!

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

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