Isn’t it nice to have a lovely new dress for Christmas? I certainly think so. The only trouble is that this type of dress often only gets worn once or maybe twice and then joins the stack of special occasion outfits languishing in the back of my wardrobe. This is because it is usually too dressy for the office and not quite an evening outfit either. Not that I go out often in the evenings these days, and when I do it seldom requires too much dressing up.

So this year I decided to remake a previous Christmas dress into a new one, so the lovely silk dupioni it was made from would get another outing. Below is my inspiration piece from Amalthee:

amalthee red dress

Pretty, isn’t it?

My silk was green, not red, but equally suitable for Christmas and a colour closer to my taste, although I have started to quite like dark red of late. But the sleeves had to go. Trumpet sleeves look lovely but are totally impractical for someone who would be doing some last minute food handling and quite a bit of eating as well. Trumpet sleeves dunked into salad dressing and turkey gravy are not very appealing. Besides, in our Australian climate you are very likely to dissolve into a puddle of perspiration in long sleeves and silk ones at that. I considered elbow length, but even that is dicey on a hot day, and anyway, when I checked the leftover fabric at my disposal 3/4 sleeves ceased to be an option. In the end I decided on sleeveless with a shawl worn over the top.

The dress originally had cut on cap sleeves, which weren’t all that comfortable, a round neck and a voluminous swing shape with a hi-lo hemline. I believe the pattern had been a modified Tessuti Lily, which is my go-to pattern for A-line swing dresses. I had extended the shoulders for a sort of cap sleeve effect, not all that expertly I have to admit, and it looks to me as if I increased the width of the skirt at CF and CB too, by tilting the pattern pieces away from the fold, as illustrated in the picture below. (What is marked selvages could equally well be the fold of the fabric, if you did not want a centre seam. With the tilt of the pattern piece the width at the neck remains the same, but volume is added lower down without tacking it on at the sides.) More details about the sewing process can be found here.

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But back to my green silk dress. I unpicked the side seams and recut the armscyes based on the Tessuti Eva dress, which I particularly like for a good fit in the shoulders and bust. I considered copying the interesting funnel shaped cowl of Vogue 9112 but in the end I left the round neck as it was, because I had a matching silver and green marble statement necklace I wanted to show off.

necklace

The back view of the hi-lo hem was a problem. Such a vast expanse of fabric! I had put a CB seam into the original dress, but even so, the dupioni did not drape much and that made it look enormous.

However, some time ago at a visit to the supermarket, I had seen someone wearing a hi-low tunic with ‘tails’, i.e. the back was split from the waist down. I really liked that look, so I decided to try it with this dress. I also took in some width at the back waist, about 10cm, to stop the CB seam from bulging outward unbecomingly at that point, and give a more fitted shape to the waist and the upper body. Not fitted, just ‘more fitted’. I am hopelessly spoiled by the loose clothing style I have become accustomed to.

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Christmas lunch was lovely. A most enjoyable afternoon with our children, grandchildren, and some of our extended family, fun, laughter and good conversation. Even the weather was cooperative for a change, temp in the mid twenties, so not too hot, and sparkling sunshine. Just right to enjoy the view from DD’s back deck down to Chinamans Beach…

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… and out through the headlands of glorious Sydney Harbour.

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