1950s · Sewing

She’s Got a New Spell

There is something rather magic about a dress.  Be it a full skirted cotton frock with skinny straps that slip from shoulders, or a mile of satin, jewel-coloured, wasp-waisted, manipulated into the most perfect feminine silhouette, there is simply nothing like a really great dress.  And there is nothing like a woman – or a girl for that matter – in a dress she loves.  A great dress can lift her spirit, can empower and seduce in a way no other item of clothing can.

I could not live without dresses, particularly in the Australian summer. Humid days where the air hangs heavy, when all I want is a wisp of cotton voile between me and the world. Or strapless cotton frocks, worn with sandals and a summer hat, bare shoulders slowly freckling in the summer sun. Even the plain black shift, with a brooch on the shoulder and a pair of sling-backs, is effortlessly chic.

And so I suppose that the vast majority of my fabric stash are dresses in waiting. Aforementioned voiles in plains and prints, or over-sized roses and brightly coloured florals, not to mention my devotion to the polka dot; all ironed and folded, waiting to be dreamed into existence. Silks and laces, beautiful pieces of fabric I bought knowing they too would be spun into something elegant and feminine.  It’s amazing how a piece you bought 20 years ago can suddenly be the perfect fabric for a dress you just have to have! I love making dresses, love nothing more than seeing a photo of a vintage dress, or a chic frock on a woman in the street and knowing I have patterns and fabric that can approximate the look I want. I think if I were only ever to make and wear dresses for the rest of my life, I would still be the happiest seamstress in the world.

Which brings me nicely to the point of this post.  You may remember a couple of weeks ago in this post, I was showing off about a dress I’d made last year.  A dress that was inspired by this gorgeous woman:

Dita's Dress

If her new book had only had this image in it, it would have been worth it. Look at that ruffled bust, look at they eyelet lace, those beautifully tied bows!  I looked at that dress, cried, and knew I had to have it. I knew I had a pattern I could hack, and had faith that somewhere in the folded piles was the perfect piece of fabric.

I’ll confess that it wasn’t the easiest.  I’d never made a tiered gathered skirt, figured there was probably a mathematical formula that would help me cut the perfect length of fabric (I had the depth figured out).  But through trial and error, and an afternoon spent gathering, this came to life.

Dita Dress long

In the words of Stevie Wonder, isn’t she lovely? She is tea length and is made of the lightest cotton voile, in little red and pink cherry-type shapes. Look.

Dita dress ribbon close up

I know I’m showing off, but I really love the ruby ribbon on the straps.

Dita Dress Strap close up

And yes, to answer your question, I feel like the prettiest girl in the world in this dress.  I’m not the prettiest girl in the world, which is testament to the power of a dress.

And so, after three frustrating weekends of sewing with black silk organza, which I swear I will never do again, I threw in the towel, and made Dita Mark Two.

Sufjan Dita Dress longshot

She is not that different to Dita Mark One, except that she has three tiers not four,is more gathered in the bust, and has weird sleevie things, which were supposed to be like the ones in the dress Dita is wearing, but clearly are not.

Sufjan Dita Dress bodice close up

But I think the less I say about the weird sleevie-things, the better.

Sufjan Dita Dress bow close up

And so there it is Lovelies.  Two beautiful, ‘I feel pretty’ dresses, one of which is being worn on a hot hot date tomorrow night.

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