Aug 3, 2010
Readers, before I get too swept up in new projects, I wanted to take a closer look at Cathy's 1942 Hollywood frock, or as I've dubbed it over at Burdastyle, The Barbara Stanwyck dress. Why Barbara Stanwyck, you ask? Well, she did wear a lot of dresses that looked like Cathy's Hollywood dress... um....er....
...oh, what does it really matter?
Anyway, I thought we might take a peek at what was going on under Cathy's dress for a change. Of course, I'm talking seam finishes, facings, and other details -- pu leeze.
I'm not the most fastidious of dressmakers but I'm making a concerted effort to raise my skill level and do things correctly. (Cathy may only wear these dresses once but who knows who might be wearing them next?) I'd love some tips from some of you more perfectionist types -- and I know you're out there!
For starters, I used medium sized shoulder pads since athletic Cathy's shoulders are on the broad side for a broad.
I finished the facing edges, waist and armscyes with my serger, but I left the skirt panel and sleeve allowances as-is. In an ideal world I could have serged them but the fabric isn't too ravely and I didn't want any bulk that might show through when I pressed.
To prevent stretching and to reinforce the waist, I used rayon bias tape, stitching it to the underside of the serged seam allowance. It gives the waist seam more rigidity as well. I didn't have black, just tan, but no worries, it doesn't show through.
In the back, instead of gathers there are two small pleats. I added an inch-and-a-half to the bodice length by the way, since vintage bodices tend to be very short.
This is the underside of the front placket. You can see the buttonholes on the right.
Here's where the bodice and skirt meet. You can see that there are gathers on either side of the button placket. I think that placket was supposed to overlap perfectly but I wanted to have the neckline be a little more open up top to emphasize the "sweetheart" shape, so you can see where one side peeks out from under the other. Of course, on the outside you don't see this.
I used largish black plastic buttons, nothing fancy, and of course I didn't make bound buttonholes -- some day though!
I'm very fond of the shaped yokes and gathers beneath, which really give the dress its period look. Sadly, in this busy fabric, they don't really "pop."
There's a zipper up the left side, roughly eight inches long, that crosses the waistband. I used a regular zipper this time instead of an invisible one and it turned out quite nicely. I find invisible zippers often snag; maybe I'm stitching too close to the teeth.
Friends, I cheated on the hems and cuffs, just serging and turning under about half an inch, and topstitching. I did this on the cuff because it was easier and on the hem because I cut too much off the bottom and didn't leave enough to do a wider hand-stitched hem. OK, it was faster too and on this fabric nearly invisible. Since the fabric is quite heavy and drapey, it didn't need extra weight to hang nicely.
Many of you commented on Cathy's makeshift turban, which was just a big square piece of poly knit left over from an earlier project and a bit of veil from an old hat. Of COURSE I knew that turbans don't have veils but I often like to test my readers to see if they're paying attention. And you ARE!
I picked up these lovely gloves at the flea market for 2 (TWO!) dollars. Look at those details: hand embroidery and seed pearls!
I've noticed that great attention is always paid to Cathy's footwear and there's quite a bit of online buzz after her fashion shoots. Amici miei, ALL of Cathy's shoes (and bags) are from the Salvation Army -- please don't tell Cathy. Would that it were not so. My cousin has champagne taste and I the proverbial beer-bottle budget, so I do the best I can under the circumstances.
I am trying hard to magnetize a high-end vintage clothing store that will take care of Cathy's accessories and bijouterie in exchange for a highly visible credit. (Think opening credits of Lana Turner movies produced by Ross Hunter). Let's make it happen. The glamour stakes are rising and Cathy's fans are growing restless. Are you out there, Harry Winston?
Finally, so many of you have asked how YOU can get Cathy's Forties look at home. Sadly, without Cathy's flawless complexion it will be nearly impossible, but for those of you who would like to give it a shot...
Cathy is no snob in the make-up department. She swears by Physicians Formula "Le Velvet Film Make-up" in ivory. (A rising celebutante like Cathy never knows when she might be caught on Le Velvet film!) Very hard to find these days, sadly, but you can order it online.
Cathy loves Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick even if it is most likely made from animal by-products if not actual rendered roadkill. A little Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Liner for added oomph and of course, loose powder to set and...our glamour girl is good to go!
In closing Cathy is happy to answer any beauty questions you may have, but please, no more than five questions per reader just to be fair.
And now back to sewing and other normal guy stuff.