20 November, 2011

Forever Young by Puritan

On the way to  meet with Becky Ross of Project Runway (season 9) fame, I picked up a dress from my daughter. I came armed with a measuring tape and pins because she had called and wanted me to alter the dress for her. It turned out be a different type of altering.
She had bought this vintage dress at a thrift store. The dress itself is sheer with a navy blue background and one inch white polka  dots all over. She wears it with a tank top and tights. She wore it all summer. 

But the old sheer material was fraying all over the place. At least two extensive repairs had been made to contain the fraying seams.
I was taken with the sewn details. The collar starts at the back and drapes over to the front. So there is this interesting lapped detail at the back neck.
Back Collar neck detail (not ironed yet)

Two darts (one added as an alteration) at the front sleeve area helped shape the bust area.
The front skirt is flat at the front but has four pleats towards the side seam. The back skirt has four gores. The fit is flat at the waist and with the gores (backside) and the pleats (front side) - it brings together a nice full 50's skirt which falls just below the knee.
Front pleats

There is also back neck darts as well as back waist darts to keep the shape close to the body.
I could tell it was older because of the label and the seaming but looking it up on the internet gave some more details.

It was made for the Forever Young line probably back in the 50's. There is an interesting article about the fashion line over at the Vintage Fashion Guild. Apparently the dresses sold were licensed copies of European designers.

 My altering was basically to stablize the seams. My serger was threaded with black and I had recently finished working with my scarf which was also sheer and prone to fraying. I did a spot check on tension and settings and found them to be set just right for this material. One of the previous alterations had been done with white thread (on a dark blue fabric! -even if the dots are white - hhmmph!) and another was done with navy blue thread on one side and a light blue in the bobbin.  I decided I didn't want to unpick if I didn't have to and my black thread should be invisible next to those colors.
Serging. You can see the serged, stablized seam at upper left.
The serger cuts off the excess seam -mostly threads here- as it secures the seam.
The white thread is from a previous stablization attempt.
I started my serge at the hem and came up to the waist, tapering off before I reached the waist tape. I serged all four gores, then started on the top of the dress. The side seams, even the darts were really fraying so I hit them with the serger too. I did all the seams that were fraying and then used almost half a bottle of fraycheck to help with the seam stablization.
The skirt seams and the top seams all led to the waist seam - I finished serging here.
I re-hemmed the hem that was loose and I ironed a bit and it looked like a different dress inside.

***I don't have enough light in the house to take a full-on dress photo but you would not be able to see or appreciate the sheerness nor the design of this navy-blue dress with white polka dots.
Front button placket - where the collar-roll starts
I love my serger - it took less than an hour to do all the stablizing which consisted mainly of serging the seams and applying fraycheck.
The last two buttons (past knee) were re-sewn on wrong -gathering the material- but I elected not to fix those as doing so would create more holes that would fray. I didn't think it was that noticeable.
It's a stunning dress that would be interesting as a pattern because of all the details.
My daughter wants to wear this dress again and since it had been fixed before, I made the decision to use the serger to fix it this time.

All of the seams looked like this before I cleaned it up.

A further article about the House of Mod contained this interesting look-back at women's wear in 1965:
"In 1965, women could not wear trousers to dine at La Côte Basque—or to work in most offices. “You have to realize how square everything was,” says Schumacher. “When we opened, women were still wearing hats and gloves. There was even a union rule that no dress could be shipped unless it was a certain length.”"

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