Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Desert Island, My OneTrue Love, The Beatrice* Dress: Vogue 8876

As soon as i spotted this Marcy Tilton beauty on the Vogue patterns website months ago, i knew. Come to momma, little one. This baby is mine. Cara mia!!! (swoon)  Seldom do i see a design which speaks to me so completely. Everything about this design clicked for me: stylish yet not trendy at all, this take on the classic shirtwaist reminds me of the ladies in early twentieth century novels by various modernists - very femme with antique details (high, ruffled collar and little puff cap sleeves over a slim arm) but extraordinarily modern in it's complete practicality (pockets!).  * my nickname of 'Beatrice' for this dress design just happened, but i suspect it hinges on precisely this antique aesthetic vibe/ birth of modernity intersection.

Easy to wear, with plenty of room to move, this dress can be made up sleeveless in cotton gauze for a summer garden party; in heavy linen hopsack with cap sleeves and sturdy buttons to toss on over whatever while gardening, cooking, or pulling a transmission; or in embroidered silk shantung and organza with cap and long sleeve as a stunner of a cocktail dress - try ivory for a completely adorable bride. Made up in, let's say, a medium weight printed linen in neutral colors a single iteration of this dress can be easily dressed up or down with accessories and pieces worn under (petticoat & cami) or over (little shrug or jacket). It also takes quite nicely to belting.

the detail on this print is so fine i wanted fine details in the construction too. i used the black & white stripe to finish the armscye as well as the pockets.
Even though i'm a diehard "small, highly edited wardrobe" gal i never could see myself wearing a uniform, committing to one look day after day. I always figured my big question was how to have a bunch of variety without a lot of clothes. Until i finished this dress, and immediately wore it for three days straight. Sure, we were having a heat wave, so i spent some time lounging around in my skivvies or a slip or a kimono, but still. I can see having a handful of these dresses in different fabrics making up the bulk of my closet and me being a happy girl.

While that was a big surprise, at the same time it confirmed my desire to focus on taking the time, effort, money, and thought to make pieces that i reallyreally like. It's fascinating how little it takes to satisfy you when that little is EXACTLY what you want.

The last few months i've been meditating on or contemplating the idea of slow fashion. I've been taking my time sewing these garments in a way quite new to me. I've never been a quick sempstress, but for many years my focus was on speedy, sturdy techniques i could use to 'knock out' clothing in as little time as possible. I do believe there's a place for this type of sewing, like when you have little kids who can't run around naked ALL the time, or when you need clothing pieces and you're not all that excited about the process (making workhorse tanks or leggings, maybe). I was just ready for a change.

Just shy of a Watteau back - so graceful, so easy to wear.
This last while i've set no deadlines for myself. I just started and took my time until i was completely satisfied with what i'd done.  On this dress i probably took the most time in laying out the pattern pieces to showcase the print of the material. I didn't clock it (another new practice), but somewhere between four to six hours sounds about right. I cut pieces in single layers to get the print placement just so, and cut four instead of two front yokes to have a cleaner finish on the inside.

I've also completely re-done parts of garments in the last few months, something i would never do before. I didn't want to 'waste' the time and was uber-focussed on the end product. While making this dress, i originally machine stitched some white cotton blend tape down the front facings under where i planned to place the snaps. But the poly in the tape and the  machine stitching made it very stiff, and the white was too bright.

all this hopping around gives a girl a certain glow....
So i ripped it all out by hand, very carefully as as not to leave any marks, then drew new placement lines and hand sewed this black trimmed eggshell tape in it's place. All this fussing added about three hours to the construction, but the end result is astronomically preferable to my eyes and hands.

Ironically, over time all this slow sewing ends up streamlining, simplifying the whole process. As i pay attention i make fewer mistakes and have more control over the process.  I've figured out the fit and construction techniques on this dress, and every time i make it in future i'll be quicker through practice. Construction details techniques, types of materials, fitting strategies - the more familiar i am with my preferences the fewer fuss and fumbles, the more i can quickly hone in on what i want to make and how i want to go about it. The calendar time stretches ever longer, but the quality of that time is smooth, satisfying, regenerative.

When i started my style journey years ago, i thought i would end up at a more efficient, organized place. I have gone about much of my journey within a rational, logical framework. But the meat of it all comes back to a very intuitive, fluid, almost leisurely approach.  Magdalen Rose was spot on!

 And yes, I'm participating in Visible Monday, not least because dear Patti manages to comment within minutes of any post publication no matter how many months since i've last posted! Supernatural powers, i'm telling ye! And of course wearing a garment you made yourself always ups the visibility ante - no one else to take the blame or credit.  But by making a garment designed by a goddess (Marcy Tilton) you can hedge your bets ;)


  1. That is really a beautiful dress! I can see what a versatile pattern and style it would be!

    Love to see that your Fluevogs are still going strong for you. :)

  2. Hooray for seeing you at Visible Monday. *You* are one of my inspirations to want to get back into sewing, and this dress is just beautiful. It really suits your personal style to a tee. xoxoxo

  3. Your enthusiasm is bubbling over. Can't wait to see how you make it next. Seven dresses for seven days. It could happen - LOL. Turned out great.

  4. Hello beautiful Sheila! thank you :) it's fun to google 'V8876' and see all the different interpretations....and oh yeah i love these shoes! Hugs to you, L &V!

    Hi Patti! oh, that is really nice to hear! you know to send me an e-mail or whatever if you get any questions - not that i'm so smart, just doing this long enough to have learned from numerous mistakes (heehee). And thank you!

    Myrna, seven dresses for seven days - you know i like the sound of that. It would pry take me a year, but maybe less as if i'm only making one thing the theory is you get quicker with every go! Very strange to me how the experience of this dress has really opened my eyes to that whole way of dressing which i'd been pretty turned off by before.

    And thanks for stopping by, especially taking time out from little grand-guy :) Can't wait to see your next 8876, too!

    Happy Sunday! steph

  5. What an utterly outstanding dress, Steph! It suits you completely...and I LOVED your description of the joys of slow sewing...something I'm investigating after all these years of rush rush!

  6. What a cool dress, and fun photos! I envy you people who have the patience to sew, and you who have fabulous shoes!

    Visiting from Visible Monday.

  7. That dress is perfection on you, Stephanie! And what a perfect fabric. Slow sewing... doesn't appeal to me. I have a lot of fabric waiting in the wings. ;)

  8. Love the hat and love the pattern on the dress.

  9. Great dress, and perfect for your style!

  10. Love the shoes. You look great in your outfitl

  11. Hi Margy - you have me a a-flustered :) thank you! i hadn't realized that you're taking sewing slower these days too, when you're in the right 'head space' it's quite rewarding.

    Welconme Ms. Sparkle! heehee, you seem to be doin' alright in the shoe department! :) and barefoot is always wonderful in a garden as colorful as yours.....

    Hi Kathleen! thank you, and nice to see another hat-lover :)

    Welcome Janis! ah, as another sempstress i'm sure you appreciate the feeling when you hit the ball outta the park, as it were - yippee!

    Welcome Zalina! thank you - there is something about a great pair of shoes, it's true.

    Happy Week All! steph

  12. shams!!! (oh fiddle, i knew i forgot someone) - thank you, i get the feeling you've been getting that great feeling of a 'just right' garment quite a bit lately :) heehee, really i wouldn't mind being able to knock out a few pieces nice and quick - lord knows i could use the clothes, but as it doesn't seem to happen i figure why not 'go with the slow'.

    Viva la difference!! hope you're enjoying the fog, if not, no worries - plenty of time for summer in october ;) steph

  13. Ah Beatrice, my favorite Shakespeare character! Your fabulous creation (with hints from brilliant Marcy Tilton)is divine, and much should be made ado about this something very, very well designed and beautifully realized.

    That fabric is really unusual, and adds lots of interest to the back of the dress - so when you're walking away, you're just as interesting as when you're approaching. Kind of cool!

  14. I have admired all the versions of this dress I've seen so far, but yours is particularly beautiful. What a gorgeous garment.

  15. I've been meaning to tell you what a hit this dress is! You chose an intereting fabric for this style and I think the striped ties are a little something "other", which I always try to incorporate, too.

    You ARE going to enter it into Marcy's summer dress contest, right? You absolutely should, you will win! And I love your labels!

    This pattern is intriguing to me. Marcy made it in a black slick woven as a 3/4 length vest that I liked a lot at Sisters this year.

    I bought the pattern just for that idea.

  16. Wow! Spot on instincts. Lovely creation and I am so impressed with your talents. Nice to have legs like yours to show off the dress, and the cute shoes are a treat with it.
    Pretty outfit, and lucky you! Continue to enjoy your summer ...

  17. Cute such interesting fabric. I saw the pattern and thought it was clever in design. You did a really great job with this dress.

  18. JOPTB - it figures you of all people would be the one who knows about the Shakespearean character, which was all news to me! interesting reading up on her, thankee goodwife ;) heehee, i spent a lot of time walking, so good to have the added interest - !

    Thank you kbenco! yep, there's a lot of really nice versions of this out there, it gave me more confidence to jump in with some pricier fabric :)

    oh Gayle, your comments are so kind :) i DID enter Marcy's contest, fortunately she announced it right after i'd finished this dress. i'm such a slow sempstress that i never can make the deadlines unless i'm already done before the contest starts ;)

    i know it's more work for her so i especially appreciate when Marcy runs these contests and posts everybody's entries - there are some AMAZING people out there knocking out really wild, wonderful stuff! i hope she posts the entries for this one too, fingers crossed.

    i saw Marcy's vest from this pattern on her blog, i think it would *really* suit you. i've been mulling on this pattern as vest and or coat as well....

    Welcome Jan! oh, thank you (blush) my pins have their troubles, but i love them so for carrying me all types of interesting places. and bless Johnny F for making walkable heels! You have fun with your summer too!

    Hi hi hi Adrienne! Thank you sweetie! i have to say that your little poochie hat is just about the most adorable thing EVER!!! hope you make a better-fitting one for your corgi soon :)

    Happy Day All! steph

  19. So great seeing you in your vest today at Stonemountain & Daughter! Love your blog and your awesome creativity! Shine on :) ~ FabricLady

  20. Hellooooo! You look marvelous in that dress! It suits you- and I can feel the joy you have in wearing it!

  21. Seldom do i see a design which speaks to me so completely. Everything about this design clicked for me: the classic sempstress