Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Carefree Valentine

I like Valentine's Day. It gets a lot of flack for being over-commercialised (what holiday isn't?) and creating forced romance, but I just think it's a nice idea. Just like Mother's Day, Thanksgiving (for those of you across the pond), VE Day and many more, it's a day dedicated to showing your appreciation. And for me, it's a reason to embark on an ambitious sewing project. And also an excuse for chocolate fondue.

So, if you follow me on twitter you'll probably have noticed my incessant updates on the progress of my Valentine's Day dress and be wondering what all the fuss was about. Well here we are, the big reveal... ta-da!

I gave hints to the inspiration, but I wanted to keep it a secret until I unveiled the finished dress. It was, in fact, the dress worn by Ginger Rogers in one scene of the 1938 film "Carefree". I first came across it on Wearing History (almost precisely two years ago, it appears!) and it immediately went onto my wishlist.

As such it's been a very long time in the planning, so when I was drawing up my schedule for this year's sewing I determined that this dress would finally be made, and allocated it to February (figured Valentine's Day was as good a deadline as any!).

I didn't want to make a precise replica; I gave mine a sweetheart neckline (more flattering than the jewel neck of the original) and 3/4 length sleeves (as I wanted it to be a bit warm), and replaced the pleated skirt with an A-line style. Because I had in my head how I wanted it to look, I used a whole selection of vintage patterns to translate my design into reality. The skirt is from McCall 4280 (ah! Yokes and shirring - my two sewing obsessions), while the bodice is cobbled together from Butterick 7432 (the pinafore/jumper dress pattern I used for my 2010 Christmas dress) with a substantial FBA, a re-drafted neckline and sleeves borrowed from yet another pattern.

It's made up in wool crepe (which I've had in my stash for like a year, destined for this project), and the heart applique is in wool felt. The satin-stitch embroidered arrows took two full days, and isn't quite complete - I want to add another arrow on the sleeve like the original, but I need to buy a smaller embroidery hoop to do it. The stitching doesn't bear close inspection, but from a distance I think it looks rather good. I even quite like the inside - the thread ends like a hundred tiny fireworks!

I hemmed it (this morning!) with bias binding, and blind-stitched by hand (I always hand sew my hems). I would have used black hem tape, but I didn't have any; what I did have was this fun gingham bias binding I bought recently. I rather like the cheeky touch of colour.

And now I'm off to get myself some lunch and one of the heart-shaped chocolates the chap gave me. Here's wishing you all a happy Valentine's Day - mwaahhh!


35 comments:

  1. AMAAAAAAZING! You so talented, gurl!

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  2. Wow I'm impressed! I loved that dress in the movie, it really does make you swoon and you have done it justice!

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  3. beautiful dress - the appliqued heart and arrows is brilliant. well done !

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  4. Oh my goodness, I love this! The embroidery is so beautiful. And good for you for getting it finished by Valentine's Day...I'm still working on the dress that I had earmarked for Christmas!

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  5. I'm very ba-humbugy about Valentine's day (though I'm wearing red and pink shoes today in hopes of brightening my mood), but I love this project. You did a wonderful job.

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  6. What else can I see rather than this dress looks só gorgeous, and you yourself aswell! Cupid is definitly aiming for you!

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  7. I love this and I'm jealous. I love your blog it really inspires my creations :)

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  8. Well done! Might I be nosey? Did you teach yourself to dress make or did you go to classes/college? Just curious.

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    1. I taught myself - it's not that difficult (until you get into more advanced techniques & tailoring), I just learnt by following the directions on my patterns, plus a little trial and error.

      xx charlotte

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  9. Oh my word!!! I remember seeing Carefree a few years back and this dress definitely stuck in my mind with its over-the-top-fabulousness, and yours is simply perfect! I love the sweetheart neck line it makes it better than the original!

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  10. I am so impressed by this beautiful dress. You are such an inspiring lady!Hope you had a great Valentines ;)

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  11. Great job! I love the heart and arrows detail.

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  12. OMG!!!! That is just AMAZING!! I LOVE IT! I mean there really are no words to desribe how much I LOVE this! I want to make one now! Though not any time soon...I have WAY too much on my table.

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  13. The applique is so cute! Love it to bits! :)

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  14. How lovely! It's just perfect for today! And kudos for making a wish list project a reality!

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  15. Really love it!!!! I must take time to know how to sew... not easy with a full time job...
    I love the red heart with these arrow, you did a great work!

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  16. I heart your dress. It is amazing!

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  17. Absolutely BRILLIANT! I just love it! Congrats on a beautiful creation!!

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  18. Oh my goodness, that is divine!!! Well done!

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  19. It looks amazing! Damn. I was just watching this the other night & thinking of recreating it myself. Oh well. I can still admire yours!
    -Andi x

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  20. Wow! You area clever girl!!! I've just started on cushion overs and am finding sewing really therapeutic! I'm inspired to move on to something trickier soon but will be leaving the fan frocks to you my dear- well done!

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  21. That is the sweetest thing ever! The change to the sweetheart neck was a great choice. You would say you look amazing - but you always do - how about I say you look "amazing-er".

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  22. It's so lovely, what a great homage :)

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  23. Charlotte, you look GORGEOUS!!!! I am so glad someone finally made a dress in homage to Ginger's! I've been smitten with it for years, and often wondered how it would look made up. It's gorgeous--and you put a lot of thought and care into the construction. Bravo! :)

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  24. Late to the party but let me join the chorus - this is fantastic and looks amazing on you!

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  25. YAY!!!! I LOVE it!! You did a beautiful job! This dress is fantastic!
    I must make one someday... I was just watching this movie again the other day and pining for it!

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  26. It looks amazing!!! I have long had that dress on my "to-make" list. It's neat to see your lovely interpretation of it :)

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  27. This dress is truly wonderful! xxx

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  28. What an amazing tribute! I was born on Valentine's day and I saw Carefree as a little girl and thought one day I will have a dress like that. After reading this post I am inspired to add it to my "to do" list and wear it next year on my birthday! Thanks for sharing this and reminding me of what can be accomplished!

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