Sheer Shirtwaist Dress: Preparation

Not too long ago (when I was doing the sewing for the new book), I went on…well, a binge.  A fabric binge.  I refuse to apologize for that, actually, because some of the best fabric purchases I have made have been tucked in amongst other things–you know, like when you’re buying a bunch of fabric, and a piece that you might not have gotten otherwise suddenly gets added to the cart because your resolve has weakened or because the price was too good to pass up, and you get it home and realize it was TOTALLY the best thing you bought that day.  You know, like that.

Well, this linen was one of those:

It is the dreamiest shade of lilac.  It is 100% linen but with metallic threads running through it.  And as if all that wasn’t enough, it’s also a woven windowpane plaid!  LOOOOOVE.  It’s drapey, believe it or not, and has a soft hand with lots of movement and a nice weight.  I got three yards, no idea what I would do with it, but loved the color and put it in my cart, which then filled up to the point that I didn’t edit this piece out, and BOY am I glad I didn’t.

I got it home and looked at it and re-folded it and wondered about it.  Each time I’d go “shopping” in my shelves for fabric for a new project, I’d peek in at this one and wonder what it would be.  Then one evening, lying in bed, waiting to fall asleep, I knew: a shirtdress.  A smart little 1950s-era collared shirtdress, maybe with a touch of safari flair.  The problem is, this fabric is pretty sheer:

And I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but slips are getting more and more rare these days–it’s not like in the actual 1950s when you could get one at the corner drugstore.

And that’s when this idea was born: a semi-sheer shirtwaist with an underdress.  I’m pretty excited, I’m not going to lie.  I like the idea of NOT lining this fabric, and letting its sheer-ness remain, but being able to wear it in polite company with a sweet little batiste underdress to maintain my modesty.  I’m planning to work through it gradually, around and about other projects, and share details with you as I go along: the pattern selection and adjustments, the drafting of the underdress, the construction to account for all the sheer-osity, and then a final reveal.

I love projects that combine the traditional with the unexpected, and I think the plaid-ness of this fabric combined with the sheer-ness of it does just that.  Looking forward to having more details to show you next week as I begin the construction!

You Might Also Like

  • Laura Brown
    August 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Interestingly enough, this is not the first time bastite slips have come up. I saw a little girl (under 2) wearing a crocheted dress one Sunday, and her mom must not know what those are, because she was only wearing a white tank top and bloomers under it for all the world to see. I’m lucky enough to have a mother who sews, and when I was little (ages ago) the slips were as common as weeds in a garden. Now, you’re hard pressed to find one, even for little girls. There should be a resurgence in my opinion, as it keeps little girls looking like little girls. I think big girls (women) should wear them too, instead of slips, because I hate those nylon things in the heat we have! 🙂