Sunday, October 10, 2010

Historical Costume Inspiration Festival - The Retro Sailor Dress

Presenting my final entry for the fabulous Historical Costume Inspiration Festival!
The Introduction
I created this dress to be my sewing project for 4-H this year, and I am happy to say that it won Senior grand champion!  Was I ever surprised - I am not exactly known for my patience in often long-drawn out trials of sewing, and I honestly didn't expect my project to do so well with the judges;)  It did, however, and I al so made 2nd place in garment modeling!  
Wonders never cease=)
Here I am at the County Fair in August, shortly after the 4-H fashion show ~
The Inspiration
I knew I wanted to make a 1940s-50s styled outfit for 4-H, but I couldn't make up my mind what style to go with:)
I first gleaned inspiration for the dress when I watched The Story of Seabiscuit (Shirley Temple) with my little sisters. 
I absolutely love Shirley's dress here - it reminds me of Smucker's jam, and picnics, and darling little shoes, and everything vintage and sweet=)
Then when I saw the dress Debbie Reynolds is sporting in this photograph - I fell in love. ;)
Smart little pointed cuffs, a sailor collar, and a small check fabric with a lovely drape were all elements I incorporated into my outfit from these pictures.
I based the main pattern off of a vintage Simplicity blouse pattern used by my friend's mother when she was little.  The skirt piece is derived from my favorite half-circle skirt pattern, worn with a muslin petticoat (also made by me) underneath for the correct silhouette.
The belt and buckle are covered with matching fabric and sewn entirely by hand.  I drafted the sleeves, as well as the pattern for the pointed cuffs, and the three blue buttons are an antique find. 
The Costume
The suitcase is one of my most prized possessions - it belonged to my dear great-grandma (lovingly called G.G. by all her great-grandchildren).  A spunky Irish girl and the eldest of seventeen, Rose met and married a handsome American solider (my g-grandpa Logan) who was on leave in london after being shot down by German snipers in the French countryside in 1945.
She came over from England in 1946 as a war bride, meaning she journeyed all the way to America solo to meet her husband after the war was over.  Though not absolutely certain, I like to think this valise made the journey with her, all that brave and hope-filled voyage.
I am planning to make several posts in future sharing the amazing stories, fascinating memorabilia, and darling photographs entrusted to us by G.G, who passed away only two weeks ago after a short battle with cancer.  
This post is dedicated to her.
My gloves and sweet little handkerchief were a gift from a very dear friend, procured at an antique shop in California.
My hat, also bequeathed to me by my friend, is a cunning little affair of pleated blue velvet, held on with pearl-head hatpins.  I love the sailor-inspired buckle detail on the navy pumps=)
Posing with Rosie
I sincerely hope you enjoyed your visit - please do come back soon!
Yours, lovingly, 
P.S. Many thanks to Ellen for her talented (humorous) and dedicated assistance as a photographer!

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