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!