This sewalong is a non-commercial enterprise that I'm just hosting on this blog!
So some background for this sewalong - I have always been captivated by the glamour of old movies, particularly that amazing golden age of Hollywood in the 30s and 40s. I adore eveningwear, but equally the extravagant and over the top bedroom (boudior) wear. The burlesque star Catherine D'Lish makes the most amazing dressing gowns, and at around $500 they are extraordinarily good value for money (honestly think of the fabric costs!) but UK customs are a headache and there's something special about making one's own. So I took inspiration from hers and from vintage sewing patterns.
Now this sewalong had to hit a few nails:
So taking all that into consideration, I looked long and hard for an appropriate pattern. And trust me, it wasn't easy! Eventually I decided that we could modify Simplicity 8013 which is a lovely 1970s faux wrap dress, with good reviews and is genuinely a nice dress pattern for later too (hey I like value for money!)
Now a heads up - I went seriously ROGUE on this pattern. Sure we are using it as a base, but it is only that. My instructions are going to differ substantially from this pattern.
I'd also highlight that although I am so happy with the outcome of mine, there are probably things I'd do differently and I want you to be aware of them before you embark on this, to ensure the overall result will work for you. To be honest, it's probably better to drape this. We aren't necessarily going about this the best way! The pattern is for a FAUX wrap dress, and there are limitations that come with that, it's perhaps not as full on the bodice as a standard dressing gown, and there's less coverage as a result. It probably looks better worn closed than open, due to the bodice construction. Tulle/net is a pain in the backside to sew with!! Seriously. Perfectly possible, but not pleasant. I had wanted this to be more beginner orientated, but fabric choice rather prevents that. We'll also be doing French seams (unless you choose to do otherwise) so heads up about that too! This is a show piece, rather than practical - duh! Polyester and nylon and highly flammable - PLEASE don't wear it to cook in or sleep in, as if there is a fire, it will melt on you and that will be horrific. Seriously, night time wear is treated to be flame retardant for a very good reason. Swan around in this, but don't wear it to sleep in, and don't hold me liable if you go up in flames wearing so much highly flammable fabric!!
Still game? Here are an outline of what you will need and the steps to this sewalong:
I bought my tulle locally from Edinburgh Fabrics and was very pleased with it. I'd highly recommend them. I’d also bought some from Minerva Crafts which although lovely, was the wrong colour! I also wasn’t very happy with their customer service so wouldn’t really recommend them. The key term when looking for fabric for this is “soft tulle”. BTW because I used tulle net which does not fray, I did no facing or lining, please be aware that my instructions will reflect this if you are choosing fabric which needs an edge treatment! I will talk you through the edge treatment I used on the tulle.
Some other tulle I found that looked good are:
But please note I have no experience or links to these companies.
Btw if anyone wants 10 metres of pale pink soft Italian tulle that I got from Minerva, I’m happy to sell you on all or some of it.
I used marabou trim, but this is not essential. You could use any sort of trim or even several rows of ruffled tulle. If you choose to us marabou, you will probably have to hand sew it (I did), other trims or ruffles have the advantage that you may be able to machine sew them! Another trim you may wish to consider is using feather boas instead of marabou. Several sewn together may give you a nice thick trim. This is something I considered using but I couldn’t find the right colour.
I'll be honest, the marabou was by far the most expensive element of the sew, here are some other ideas to keep the cost down:
The marabou I bought was from Minerva Crafts (same time as I bought the tulle). What you are looking for with the marabou is that it is fluffy and as thick as possible (trust me, not that easy!) I personally wanted thicker but couldn’t find it. I got around this by using two rows to make it thicker.
Here are some websites for marabou, again I have no experience or links to them.
I just used a poly satin for the sash and this is widely available. You could also use satin ribbon instead if you want a thinner sash, or even make the sash out of tulle to match the rest of the dressing gown.
Organise your materials and we'll get started soon! These will be the steps of the sewalong.
You'll note that I'm not giving timescales - we'll track everyone's process on our facebook group called 1940s Fashions Sewalong (we did a 40s dress previously) and decide when most folk are ready for the next step so we don't leave anyone behind.