Hundred Years Wardrobe: 1970s

Over the Summer I was invited to a 70s party with the brass band that I play in – and it was the perfect opportunity to make my first Hundred Years Wardrobe make. I had the idea for this project at the beginning of the year, but thought I wouldn’t have time to make anything so shelved it until I had the chance to make a 70s outfit. I wrote a post about 70s fashion quite a while ago so I knew there were loads of trends to choose from – hippy, disco, punk, flares being obligatory. I did what I usually do when faced with something like this – went to Pinterest and searched for some iconic 70s figures to get some inspiration. I was pretty close to doing a Bowie look (but which one?!) but then I happened upon this amazing Zandra Rhodes outfit worn by Freddie Mercury and my mind was made up – I’ve always loved queen and thought what better outfit than this!

This was made by Zandra Rhodes and I thought it looked relatively simple to make – I would just have to master pleats!

I started with this really big, thick piece of cardboard I got from work and thought it would work as a pleating board, but in fact it was too thick.

Waaaay too thick!

Instead, I used a piece of thick paper/thin card I already had and it worked much better. For a pleating board, you need something thin enough that the pleats will be sharp. I used this tutorial on YouTube, but I didn’t back it with fabric – which I would definitely recommend if you’re going to try pleating a lot of fabric as my board kept expanding when I put the fabric in. But I just about managed it.

Once I’d made the board, I tested it and it seemed to work – and the fabric seemed to hold the pleats once ironed. The fabric, which was actually much thicker than would have been ideal, was a viscose-something mix (I can’t actually remember) which I bought in my local fabric shop. It was super wide and the ladies assured me that it would hold pleats, which was the main characteristic I was interested in.

I bought 4 metres of the fabric and used about 1m for the trousers, which I didn’t really photograph, either while making them or while taking the final photos. I used the Gertie Cigarette Pants pattern from her book Gertie Sews Vintage Casual as a basis, adding triangles to each side of the leg to make the flares. This was the same pattern I used for my Dressmaker’s Ball dress and I made some tweaks here and there, but it was a good job the fabric has quite a bit of stretch as it made them a bit more forgiving fit-wise and more comfortable to wear!

With the rest of the fabric, which was luckily really wide, I cut it in half parallel to the selvage to make about 5.5m of fabric which needed to be pleated! I got into a rhythm after a while and managed to pleat it all over the course of 2 evenings – of course I left making this outfit until really late so I was in a hurry and working on it every spare hour I could find.

I used some paperclips to try to hold some of the pleats in place as I moved on further down the fabric as I was worried the weight of the fabric would mean the pleats would drop out.

With the majority of the fabric pleated, I used every other little scrap of fabric to make the yoke pieces. But first i cut them out of calico, to be the under-layer which would hold most of the weight of the pleated fabric – and it was heavy! If I made this again I would definitely use something lighter!

Here are the front york and 2 back york pieces sewn together at the shoulders – a lot of this was guess-work, and holding pieces of paper up to myself to figure out how big to make them, but I did use the facing from the Inari tee and dress as a basis for the length and shape of the neckline.

I’m pretty sure the original Zandra Rhodes outfit only had one seam in the pleated fabric, probably at the back, but I had to have 2 so I had one at the front and one at the back, so I stitched the front seam together before I started pinning it to the calico support structure.

I then pinned all of the pleated fabric onto the calico under yoke. In the original outfit, I think it looks like there was more fabric in the middle of the front and then it’s a tiny bit more spread out as you move up Freddie’s body and over the shoulders, but I didn’t have anywhere near enough fabric to make it look exactly like the original – I would love to know how much fabric is in the original, I think it could easily be twice as much as I had.

After sewing on the pleat to the calico, I then cut the front parts for the yoke to cover all the stitching and everything, from the main fabric. I added a seam allowance so I would be able to fold the edges in, like a patch pocket. I also overlocked the edges as the fabric frayed like crazy!

After lots and lots of thinking about how to construct the top – mostly when lying in bed trying to sleep –  this was the only way I could come up with to make it. I figured it didn’t matter what it looked like on the inside as the outfit was for one party, but I would love to have a look at the original and see how it was constructed.

When pinning the front part on, I pinned the necklines together (which were the same size as I didn’t add seam allowance there), then worked from the middle out towards the shoulders, to try to make sure it was straight compared to the layer underneath.

At this point, I was pretty excited with how it was looking – and to be honest pretty pleased with how it was looking.

It seems that it was at this point that I stopped taking photos – I was stitching the top yokes on in the afternoon of the day of the party so I assume I was so rushing to finish that I didn’t document the rest of the process, but the back was pretty much the same as the front, which looked like this when it was all finished.

I then added a facing around the whole neckline, again using the Inari pattern as the basis. Then I added some eyelets to the back, to be able to lace it up (which facilitates being able to get in and out of it.

And now after all that writing and the in progress photos, I couldn’t resist trying to recreate the Freddie photos at the top of the post.

You can see in this photo, below, how there wasn’t anywhere near as much fabric in my version as in the original, but you get the idea and it was good enough for a one-off party.

Hopefully with my next Hundred Years Wardrobe make I won’t be in so much of a hurry (though who am I kidding, I love working last-minute to a crazy deadline!) so I’ll maybe have more than one post to write, about some new techniques I’ve discovered or some more inspiration images. But at least I’ve got the ball rolling!

Also I’m going to see Bohemian Rhapsody, the Freddie Mercury biopic, for my birthday in a couple of weeks. Would it be too much to wear this outfit to the cinema?! 😉

 

 

Bright Pink Alix Dress

I made a pink  maxi Alix Dress and I love it!

pink-maxi-alix-dress-1I actually made this back in November – it was one of the things I planned to make that month – for a party in the middle of the month. I also wore it to my work Christmas dinner last week. People can dress up as much as they want for the Christmas dinner and most people did not dress up as much as I did, but I didn’t care because I love this dress. Also there was a guy in almost a tux (it was a normal suit with a posh shirt and bow tie!).

pink-maxi-alix-dress-2
I made the size 10 as it perfectly matched my waist and hip measurement, thought it was 2 inches too big for my bust. I made a toile of the bodice (the cups, yoke and waistband) to see how much fullness I had to take out – I thought it might have been more or less than 2 inches. I took 1/2 inch out of each cup in the end, having measured my full bust measurement and my high bust measurement, as demonstrated by By Hand London in their sewalong to the Georgia Dress. To do the actual small bust adjustment I hunted around for a pattern with a sewalong with similar cups with gathering at the bottom as I wasn’t sure how best to remove the fullness. Then I had a brainwave – Tilly and the Buttons’s Fifi pyjamas. I followed exactly the instructions in the bust adjustment post and it worked perfectly. I probably could have taken a little more fullness out of the armpit area, but I think the fit is pretty good, if I say so myself!

pink-maxi-alix-dress-6The fabric is this cerise plain viscose from Abakhan. I ordered a sample first to check on the shade of pink and realised the fabric was maybe a little thin – I didn’t want a Princess Diana moment of the skirt becoming see-through, so I decided to underline the dress. This gave it a nice weight so means it moves well when I walk. I don’t know if this is something everyone know – this was my first time working with viscose – but my god does it crease! You can see above the creases around the arms and across the waist because I wore it to the work party but didn’t iron it before taking this photos! Even lightly folding up the pieces once I’d cut them out, I had to really iron them as they looked like they’d been screwed up in a bag for a month!

pink-maxi-alix-dress-4I doubled the cups, the front skirt and the back of the dress – the yoke and waist panel are self-lined anyway. I ordered 7m of fabric. The pattern calls for 4m for the maxi dress but I was pretty sure I wouldn’t need fully twice the amount – I find By Hand London sometimes overestimate the fabric required.

I really love the huge pleat in the back, and the waist tie means I can cheat that it fits better across the back than it probably really does! Fun fact, then back piece of the dress is one piece – that was fun to cut out!

pink-maxi-alix-dress-3 I like the pleats on the top of the skirt front and the ones on the shoulders, which I forgot to take a detail shot of! This is a good dress for eating a big meal in, by the way! The tightest part is above the stomach so you can look chic but there’s room for a full belly, especially because of the pleats!

pink-maxi-alix-dress-7Apart from the sba, the only other change I made was to cut 8cm off the length, leaving 4cm for the hem. I measured the finished length of the dress before I made it and should really have shortened the pattern piece, but I wanted to make it the full length in case I decided to wear it with heels, then it would still reach the floor. I decided to wear flats, though, in the end, so 8cm came off the hem. I found with the Elisalex dress that I was shorter than the person the pattern was drafted for, so I think it’s a standard change for me to shorten BHL patterns.

pink-maxi-alix-dress-8I hope you’re impressed, btw, that I ventured outside to take some photos! Finally! I’ve felt too silly to do this in the past as our flat in London didn’t have a garden (obvs) so since moving into our flat in Cirencester, I’ve been meaning to go into our shared courtyard-y garden-y type thing and it was fine. Most of the other tennants don’t use the garden much, expecially in this weather, so it’s relatively private 🙂 It gives a truer sense of the colour of the fabric too, which is a bonus!

pink-maxi-alix-dress-9This is definitely a good dress to flounce about in because of the fullness of the skirt – it’s just pleasing how it moves when you move. It’s not so great for climbing stairs but that’s a small price to pay for such a cool dress!

pink-maxi-alix-dress-10 pink-maxi-alix-dress-11

I really enjoyed making this pattern even though it’s not usually the kind of style I’m drawn to. I love, love, looooove that it has no fastenings! Makes it seem quicker to make somehow. I think I’ll have a go a the tunic version, probably to wear at work, and maybe the mini dress, though I think this is my least favourite length. I’m sure sewing this pattern was influences by my watching Good Girls Revolt around the same time. This was a really good series, I thought, made by Amazon, but they’ve said they’re not going to make any more, which is a shame. Did you watch it? What did you think? There were lots of comparisons to Mad Men because of the era, but I thought it was less polished, in a good way.

And now I will leave you with an outtake from my photoshoot – with thanks to The Boyfriend for taking loads of photos to make sure there were at least a few I was happy with! Not sure what’s going on here…….

pink-maxi-alix-dress-5And zoomed in for extra lolz…….

pink-maxi-alix-dress-5-cropped

Save

Save

Save