Sunday, August 5, 2012

Finished: 1950s Vintage Dress for Promaballoona!

Don't forget to check out and enter my pattern giveaway!

Okay, ladies and gentlemen. It's time for Promaballoona! Be prepared for lots of pictures. In retrospect, I probably should have posed with my boyfriend as well, but who would have taken the picture?

Very quickly, I'll give some background. The whole idea of Promaballoona was to celebrate Oona's birthday (in real life, if you happen to be in LA! - which I'm not. Sigh.) with a prom celebration. 

I never went to prom. In fact, I think I went to 2 dances in middle school and that was it. I don't even think there was any dancing with boys. That's not to say I wasn't asked. I was even asked to prom by 3 different guys. One of whom was cute and semi-popular (I was one of the smart dorks, but definitely not one of the popular smart dorks) and I completely laughed in his face. But not because I didn't want to go with him. I really wanted to say, "Me? There are so many girls who are prettier and funnier and more __ than me. Why do you want to go with me?" 

But I didn't say that. I just laughed. He looked shocked and hurt. I looked around awkwardly. Then I walked away. Trey, if you're out there and reading this, I'm sorry.

Yes, I was once painfully shy and awkward. For about 15 years.

So anyway, I developed social skills some time after the age of 22. Long after the time for proms and dances. Which is part of the reason I was so excited for this! While I couldn't make the party, I did want to make a fancy dress and go out and have fun on my own. Or, you know, with a date. :-)

I decided to go with a vintage dress because I have always loved vintage things, and dressing up in general, but until recently I typically didn't have the courage to wear them. 

It's not that people or kids are mean or rude, it's that I just didn't have the courage that I do now to not care what other people think. I have no problem walking down the street in something different. Of course, it helps that I live in New York City now. :-) Back to the dress...

It came together beautifully!

Grayson was my worst problem. Not only did he enjoy laying on my  fabric, but he also liked eating the instructions.

I used Butterick pattern 5708 that I got on sale for dirt cheap, and I found this amazing satin fabric for only $4/yard at my local fabric store. I was originally going to go with this beautiful blue/purple color, but my boyfriend had just yelled at me 3 hours earlier for always wearing the same colors (i.e. blue, purple, and black). So I went with a nice bold red.

Part of the problem I had with the pattern was actually the end and the tying of the straps. There was an option where it could fold over my shoulder and tie closer to the bust, giving the appearance of a wrap, but I couldn't get it to lay correctly. Nor could I get it to match on both sides. I ended up asking my boyfriend to tie it since he's good with knots, but he tied it at the shoulders.

They looked so nice, I didn't have the heart to ask him to re-tie them.
I'm not sure if you've noticed, but most of the bodice is actually an upside down triangle. I was afraid that would look terrible on me or somehow look awkward with my chest, but actually it doesn't look bad as thought. Well, as long as I maintain proper posture. I suppose that's a plus for most people, but I'm typically a sloucher.

One of the things I was nervous about was the full skirt. I had so much fabric for the skirt. You have no idea. Unless, you know, you've made a 1950s dress before. 

I never have and the amount of fabric scared me. I gathered it, per the instructions, and it shrunk down a little, but it was still pretty massive. Because the top was so fitted, I was nervous. (Looking back, I have no idea why.)

Regardless, you guys, my point is this: because it's a 1950s pattern and because it's a full skirt, the instructions say to wear a petticoat. I was like, "Psh, yeah right. Who would wear a petticoat for real?!"

Well, turns out that I would. I remembered yesterday that I bought one for a Halloween costume last year. I wasn't sure if it was long enough, but I dug it out of my closet and it ended up being the perfect size and the way my dress puffed out was amazing. It was a little itchy, but I didn't care.

Look at the fullness of the skirt! It's so amazing!

Ha, I'm including those pics above to show you more of the full skirt, but mostly I feel like they look like I'm in a horror movie. Like I just woke up and was all, "I'm supposed to go to a party today, but where did all the people go?!"

Of course, the downside to a full skirt is that when the wind blows, it blows your skirt. Which is bad in general, but when you're wearing a white petticoat, you especially don't want people to know.

Stupid wind. 
Another great reason for wearing vintage? The amount of guys who stopped to check me out and hit on me went through the roof. Ahem. Not that I'm looking. My boyfriend actually got very angry at a few of them. But it wasn't the typical gross cat calls that I sometimes get. Or the smirk and a "Hey baby. How you doing?" Guys were so much more polite.

 Women also stopped to give me compliments, which I enjoyed far more than the men stopping to hit on me. I'm surprised children didn't ask for a picture with me. (Just kidding. I'm really not that full of myself.)

Okay. Now on to the biggest downside of this dress. It was very easy to make. I made very few modifications. I think it looks pretty good on me. The fabric is beautiful...

But the fabric is so freaking hot. I mean, it was in the high 80s at least with the highest humidity possible. The dress was just sticking to me. And not in an hot, sweaty tshirt kind of way. I'm from the south, and I'm used to wearing lots of cotton and jersey in the summer for obvious reasons.

But this felt like a deathtrap. I'm not exaggerating. I had it unzipped the second I got in the building. Luckily I encountered no neighbors while going up 4 flights of stairs.

 So yes. I think this post is long enough. The pattern was a breeze, I just love the dress, and total for everything (including the pattern!) was $21. I'll just have to only wear it during the fall, winter, and spring.

I kind of want to make it again, but this time in a cotton. I might adjust the neck line to not be so droopy so I can lean over without having to worry about showing off the goods.

Happy Birthday, Oona! If there's ever a bash on the east coast, I'm definitely there to celebrate!


  1. you SHOULD be full of yourself because this dress in bangin'! (in a very Respect The Vintage way, of course. i love how classic dresses make onlookers behave.)

    and just before you got to the horror movie part, i was wondering where are all the people, how did they find a deserted new york street?. HA.

    thank you for the birthday wishes, we'll drink to you tonight, and see you at the wrapup! (and oh yes, there will be an east coast meetup very soon...)

  2. that color on you is stunning and the neckline compliments you beautifully. fabulous job!

  3. That color looks amazing on you! Beautiful dress!

  4. This dress is ridiculously beautiful, I love it so much!