Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Tim Gunn Project: The Day Dress

Stash busting 2014:  A Vintage Vogue Couturier Design

Fabric:     2 metre of fabric, 1.5 metre of organza underlining fabric.

Pattern:    Vintage Vogue 2103

Thread:    I found orange and navy coloured thread in my stash for the overlock and sewing machine.

Zipper:     20" invisible zipper

Basting Tape:  40" basting tape


The making of this dress is comparable to a roller coaster ride, filled with highs and lows. At one point I believed that I declared that I would never make this dress again. I'm over that low point and I'm thrilled to pieces that it finally finished.  

There are three fabrics that make up this dress. The main colour is an orange suiting fabric in 100% polyester. I picked it up a couple of years ago when yet another fabric store was shutting down. I had enough fabric to cut out all the pattern pieces but I thought it might be too much orange. I know, I can't believe I just typed that!

I went shopping a few months ago for another fabric that I wanted to use for the bodice front yokes. I found a cotton blend fabric that I thought would work colour wise. I thought that I picked up more than enough and even cut out the sleeves which was not my original plan for the contrasting fabric.

All was working out fine until I was piecing together the lining pieces also cut in the contrasting fabric when I realized that I forgot to cut out the curved section and there wasn't enough left over. I should not have cut out the sleeves. I hit a low point then when I feared that I would not find the navy fabric that not only makes up the sleeves, yoke but also the bodice lining pieces. Luckily, I find that there was some sitting in the discounted section, a high point in the production of this dress.

The third fabric is a nylon organza which is the underlining for this dress. I picked up a nylon organza for two reasons:
  1. It was significantly cheaper than the silk organza. 
  2. The colour was a gold/yellowish hue that I thought would work with my fashion fabric.    
In hindsight, I should have gone with the silk organza. Even though I love how the dress turned out with the underlining, I don't like the scratchy feel of the nylon organza around the armhole seam. And by the time it came to finish the hem, the nylon organza was fraying. I was not impressed. Sewing is filled with lessons, this is one of them. You get what you pay for.  

I fell for this pattern the moment I spotted it over at Etsy. It is a Sybil Connolly design. She was an Irish designer that made a name for herself on the world stage and had an impressive client list here in North America that included the Rockefellers, Julie Andrews, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy. First lady Jackie Kennedy wore a Sybil Connolly design when she sat for her official White House portrait. It was a pleated linen dress. In 1965, Connolly was named into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. You can find out more about Connolly and her life here.  

With an impressive CV and international fame I have to admit that Connolly was an unknown to me until this pattern entered my life.  

I now understand why her designs are considered a national treasure. They don't make dresses like this anymore. The pattern is full of perfect details. The front bodice piece has gathers and the inside bodice lining is darted with eight delicate darts that give it the perfect shape without adding bulk. I feared that the neckline would be too tight for my liking but it is perfect. There was quite a bit of hand-stitching that went into this dress and I have to tell you that part was enjoyable especially when I noticed what a difference those details make. I have never put this much time and energy into a dress. 

If you are considering this pattern, go-for-it! Seriously, despite all my whining and the length of time that it took to complete this pattern is a gem. This, my first version, is not an example of my finest sewing but I think the next one will have all my mistakes ironed out. I have a British wool in my stash  to be matched up with silk organza underlining for the next one. Considering how much work went into this one I think I'll save it as a summer project when I'll have more time to focus on all the hand-stitching and little details.

The pattern calls for a lap zipper but I chose an invisible zipper instead. It is the only change that I made other than lengthening the hemline and sewing smaller seam lines to fit my hips. I'll have to remember to make a below the waistline adjustment to give my hips some moving room without compromising the seam allowances. Other than that this pattern is perfect.  

Happy Sewing!


  1. My grandmother had this pattern in very small pattern stash. I don't know if she ever made it. Seeing the picture reminds me of the smell of the drawer she kept her small stash of patterns and notions. I am so glad to see it made up. It is beautiful.

    1. Thanks Annette. What a lovely memory of your Grandmother.

  2. Oh my goodness that pattern is amazing and I adore your fabric mixing. All your hard work really paid off, just lovely!

  3. I LOVE the color contrast! The orange is so so lovely, and this pattern is a gem! Well done!

    1. Thanks Meg. I've been holding onto this fabric for quite some time. I'm happy that it worked with this pattern.

  4. The dress is lovely. Would you possibly be able to bind the armhole seam so that it isn't quite so uncomfortable? That pattern is one you can make over and over. Such a classic.

  5. Rhonda that is a great idea to bind the armhole seam. Guess it is going back onto the sewing table.


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