My Current Project: 1960s Shift Dress

I'm trying something new.

I went forth on this blogging adventure with one idea, but I think it could be something more. What I will now begin to do is post about the costumes I am building and a bit about the process.

May as well jump right in!

Right now, I am working on a project for the play "The Rimers of Eldritch" by Landford Wilson. It takes place in a former coal mining town in the rural Midwest, 1966.

My costume shop is fortunate to have a large collection of commercial patterns going back to the 1940s. This is a great place to start, especially for a project like this where the character very likely would have made her own clothes. 

Unfortunately, the pattern I had was many sizes too small. Also, given the changing shapes of modern bodies, it was not exactly proportional to the actress I had to fit. But, I at least had the beginnings of the correct shapes to move forward. I traced the pattern and then added generous seam allowances. Cutting only the right half, I placed the pieces on the dress form (which I padded to be the same proportions of the actress) and re-draped the dress until it was in a state that it would both retain the period shape and also flatter the actress. Finally, I had to re-drape the collar so it would fit the new neckline and reflect the shape that the designer desired.

This technique allowed me to save a lot of time and research. If I had begun from the beginning of the draping process, it would have taken me double the amount of time. Could I have done it that way? Yes. But beyond an exercise in ego, there was no need. Beautiful results could be made from a much more simple solution.

Fittings Tuesday. More to come on the development of this dress!


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