Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vintage Pattern Meets African Batik Meets kokoleo

Last month I got a commission to make a sundress using authentic batik fabric that was purchased in Kenya, Africa. The customer wanted it to be a 1950s style cocktail dress based on this vintage reprint Vogue pattern:


To be honest, I'm not a fan of patterns, especially vintage ones. You'd think with all the sewing I've done that following a pattern would be no problem, but I much rather prefer devising my own way of doing things, be it custom plush monsters or a cupcake costume or any other weird one-of-a-kind. Fancy grown-up dresses with darts and gathering and interfacing and buttons and hidden side zippers still intimidate me. Which is precisely why I said, "Yes, I'll do it." To prove that I can. And I did!

 

 It took a few weeks of careful planning before I got up the nerve to piece it together. One wrong cut and I would have been screwed since it's not exactly the kind of fabric you can pick up at JoAnn's. Luckily, I remembered reading somewhere that vintage patterns run about 6 sizes smaller than their modern counterparts, so while the pattern I had went up to a size 14, that's really a modern size 8 and I needed to make it a 10. Argh! Math! I checked the measurements against those I took from my customer and realized that the pattern was too small so I simply trusted my seamstress instincts and cut about a 3/4 inch extra on the sides, top and bottom and followed the basic shape of the original pattern. Thankfully it fit her perfectly.

Here's the back view. The skirt is nearly 4 yards gathered at the waist.


 The only materials I purchased for this project were the shoulder buttons. I have a billion buttons in my studio stash, but not 10 identical ones.


Working with the free-form, assymetrical pattern was a bit tricky. I took extra care to line it up in a balanced, flattering manner, making sure not to let the circles be two giant bullseyes on her boobs. I thought the cummerbund needed a little something extra so I added this oversize vintage plastic button that matched the colors perfectly. I've had that button for probably 6 years now knowing it would be perfect for something some day. 


And now it's done! My confidence in my vintage pattern-following abilities has grown and my customer got a one-of-a-kind, custom-fit, African batik, vintage reproduction, kokoleo cocktail dress.

8 comments:

Becky said...

It's stunning. Fantastic job.

Emily said...

Gasp! It is beautiful. Well done!

Eddy Soewantoro said...

I love batik Indonesia too.
now I'll develop the Batik Bekasi motif to add the motif Batik Indonesia collection.
greet from Batik Bekasi
http://khasbatik.blogspot.com

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