Jun 30, 2014

Finished Project: LBJ Dress

Like the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Butterick 4029 took more time than expected. 

I started sewing this vintage 1960s pattern weeks ahead of a planned night out on Broadway with my husband to see "All the Way," the play about Lyndon Johnson's unscrupulous (but ultimately admirable) efforts to push anti-discrimation legislation through the United States Senate in his first year as president. My husband is fascinated by LBJ; he prays every night that Robert Caro lives long enough to write the next volume in his epic biography on LBJ. The play was incredible (but it closed last night so if you're interested, you'll have to wait for the revival).

The dress was also pretty incredible. My husband may be as obsessed with it as LBJ. He told me a dozen times it was his favorite thing I've ever sewn:



I owe all the compliments to the fit — and the neckline, which I reshaped several times before landing on this. Remember how the original neckline tried to filibuster me with this unfortunate hunchback effect?



I took some good advice from Lisa (Notes from a Mad House wife) and cut the back into a scoop. I also had to deepen the darts on the back. The results were sexy but wearable:


If you've ever done such a fix, you know there are many steps in reshaping a neckline after your fabric has already been cut out. In order, they are:
• Remove facings
• Adjust darts to take out excess
• Use curve to redraft neckline curve
• Cut (and pray)
• Trace new neckline to draft new facing pattern 
• Cut new facings from your fabric
• Sew facings
• Finish facings (understitch; handstitch down facings along zipper)

Bye bye, facings!
I made a number of other fit adjustments to Butterick 4029 (which I most likely will not be sewing again!):

• Continued the front French dart up into the front neckline, creating (in effect) a Princess seam
• Took excess out of the shoulder seam, which of course meant that I also had to...
• Lower the armscye and....
• Find a new way to finish the armhole because the original facings would not match up now that I made so many changes. I opted for a bias binding:


Exhausting, right? Let's just look at the dress:



This is how I styled it for our night out on Broadway — with silver flats and a DIY Anni Albers-inspired necklace made from silver bobby pins and a tub stopper chain.  


I had planned to make View E:

But considering the heat in NYC these days, I tossed the sleeves as quickly as LBJ threw out the Voting Rights provision. Once again, from the back:


 A dress that fits so well is an achievement considering all the points that had to be altered in order to iron out all the issues — not like, ending-segregation-level achievement, but a success nonetheless. Hopefully I will have more than one occasion on which to wear it!


26 comments:

  1. Well done! and what a great save from the back that you could carry a bowling ball in! ;-) Love the necklace too. Quite unusual.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! The necklace came in a little kit from MoMA, but you could make it easily with dollar store stuff

      Delete
  2. i love your posts. there are too many things here that i love, if i start mentioning them all, it'll be act three.

    BEAUTIFUL dress.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fab save! I've often wondered how those french darts look on the body. You look very chic, I'm glad your husbo continues to admire you in it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The French darts are lovely. It's a cool design element.

      Delete
  4. Gorgeous! I love the scoop back.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love love love the way this turned out. You look fab!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Amazing transformation! I'm so impressed with how you pulled through given all those steps. Makes me really want to take those FIT classes you and Kelli were talking about to help improve my improv skills. Beautiful dress and it's nice to see someone dress up for Broadway! I remember when I was a kid everyone dressed up, but it's gotten so casual in recent years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's so rare that we get to go to Broadway, so when we do I like to dress up. I have plenty of chances to dress down in my day-to-day life! If you're spending $50-$100 on your ticket, you should definitely make it an occasion

      Delete
  7. beautiful! the fit looks impeccable. you'd never know the hunchback look you started out with! there's always that moment of insane panic when things aren't working, glad you saved it. i'm having a thing with lowered back necklines, so i'm pretty much in love with this dress. you definitely need some occasions to pull it out again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, AND I need more dresses with low back necklines!

      Delete
  8. Great dress. Great save. I actually wore a skirt to a Broadway show when I visited NYC in May and looked more dressed up than a lot df people. BUT, I nearly froze to death. I had to wrap my raincoat over my legs and put my playbill in the space between the seat and the back because the air conditioning was so cranked up it was like sitting through a polar vortex! How was the air in your show in this beautiful but more bare dress?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It WAS cold in there but I brought along a cardigan so I was OK.

      Delete
  9. Wow, nice save! Definitely worth all the trouble in the end, it looks great. I love the necklace too, I may have to try that...I like the one with the ribbon and metal washers too. Very cool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah,the ribbon and washers necklace is awesome. I get so many compliments on this one. It's clever.

      Delete
  10. This looks amazing on you!!! What a great save!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great save and now it looks just as gorgeous leaving the room as entering!

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a labour of love (or sheer determination?) This has turned out magnificently and I love the scoop back- it's summer sassy!

    ReplyDelete
  13. You achieved a fantastic fitting, uber flattering dress. All that work was worth it. Definitely make it again. It is a winner.

    ReplyDelete
  14. As much as that dress is totally hot stuff, forget it for now…….because that necklace!!! *off to the hardware store*

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Find home based jobs of link building, facebook marketing, add marketing, add clicking and much more jobs.
    www.jobzcorner.com

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...