What I wear, when I wear it, and how it works on my bike
One of the unfinished projects in the sewing stuff is Folkwear 261, the Paris Promenade Dress–replacement for Folkwear 504, the 1920 afternoon dress. I don’t recall precisely why I set this aside but it’s been maddening trying to pick it back up again.
The pattern is described as an “easy-to-sew, easy-to-wear afternoon dress from about 1920” that “flatters any figure.” It’s sewn from 5 pieces (plus a sash): the underdress (cut from a folded length of cloth, where the fold makes the shoulders), the overdress/apron (front and back are each a single piece, lined on the upper half only) and the lower skirt (one piece each for the font and back, intended to be folded UP from the bottom to attach to the waist seam where the overdress & underdress are joined). Pattern reviews and bloggers (I’ve only found two women who made the dress and were happy with it, neither of whom–unfortunately–provide much detail about the construction).
I’m reasonably sure that I’ve attached the overdress/apron to the underdress improperly. It attaches at the lining, not at the apron. The instructions say to put the pieces right sides together. The right side of the lining is the wrong side of the apron, and matching the right side of the lining to the right side of the underdress does not require turning anything inside out. But the pattern illustration show the pieces inside out, which is a minor thing that doesn’t make sense.
I’ve laid out and pinned and basted and turned inside/rightside/out several times and I still don’t know how I’m supposed to do it.
Reading through the One Hour Dress booklet was helpful, in that it provides an excellent idea of how a woman would approach making a simple dress like this. Very little measuring, no fitting, as few seams as possible and mostly long straight ones. The dress, at the time, would have been largely handsewn, which accounts for the construction of the underdress. It also explains why the instructions for attaching the apron, then the lower skirt, make absolutely no sense at all.
At any rate. I’ve attached the apron to the lower skirt (which–after cutting–is step four in the instructions. Step 1 is the side seams of the underdress, Step 2 is the neck opening and facing of the underdress, Step 3 is the lining of the overdress/apron) and I’ve attached the lining to the waist seam of the underdress. At this point, I’m just making it up as I go.
When I walked through the remaining few steps of construction, trying to follow the instructions, with pins and basting stitches, I ended up with seams on the outside, which can’t possibly be right (and is not right, if you look at the finished dresses I found on the internet). So I just fit the pieces together the way the dress is supposed to look finished and will try to muddle through from here.
I fear that I picked a bad fabric for the underdress: a polyester satin in a pretty blue-ish silver. Suggested fabrics are light to medium-weight fabrics with drape, such as silk, silk velvet, rayon, featherweight cotton, or jersey. With the option to choose fabrics with more body, such as crisp cotton, lightweight linen, and silk taffeta for a more defined dress. I thought my polyester satin would stand in for the silk taffeta, but now I’m not so sure. My apron is cut from a lovely navy rayon, however.
The dress is, on the whole, too costume-like for daily wear, but not costume-like enough to hide how dated it is. It would have fit right in in the mid-90’s when I most likely bought the pattern, with the loose, long floral dresses, tied with strings in the back that were popular for a while. Now it’s just decidedly not-modern, but not interesting enough to look intentional.
I’m looking forward to considering it done and wondering whether the underdress pattern can be adapted to something a little more functional for casual wear. I’ve got two more Folkwear patterns in the queue: the Cloister dress and the beach pyjamas. I expect the Cloister dress to be wearable, particularly if I cut it shorter than floor length, but I imagine the beach pyjamas will be lounging clothes–comfortable and okay to be seen in. I’d love to make them in a rich silk and then throw a cocktail party.