Dresses from Vintage Saris

Last year I went on a bit of a sari buying binge.  To be fair, you can buy vintage ones online for a song.  And they are about 5 yards of silk! in intense bright colors! with fun patterns and embroidery and beading!  Who could resist?

Obviously, being used, they have some stains and holes, but generally, there is plenty of usable fabric.  The biggest downside is their cleanliness, or rather lack thereof.  When I get them, they definitely have a noticeable mustiness.  One blog post I read recommended using vodka to clean saris, but I have never had any problems washing silk (even in the washing machine).  Because the saris are delicate and some of them have embroidery and beading, I did wash them by hand, using a gentle wool wash that I use for my hand knits.  The dye definitely ran, but I washed them individually, so it wasn’t a problem.  After their bath, the saris smelled fresh and clean and even had a nicer feel to them.
Here is dress number one, Marfy 3097.  I made it to wear to a friend’s wedding last fall.  I generally love this dress (although I had to put some emergency tucks in the bodice due to gaping), but I got too impatient and did not let it hang before hemming.  Now the part of the skirt that is on the bias is noticeably longer than the straight grain.  I tell myself that most people won’t even notice, but I do!



Close up of the fabric


This dress is a Vogue designer pattern (Vogue 1302).  It involved a lot of hand sewing because I hand-basted all of the gathered parts onto their corresponding pieces.  I wish I had left off the drapes over the bodice because either I messed up somewhere, or the pattern is not quite right, because the drapes don’t seem to be quite long enough and as a result are pulled very tight.  This distorts the fit of the dress.  I ended up hand-tacking it down in places to improve the look a little. I like the rest of the gathering, though.
This is my most recently finished dress.  Another Vogue designer pattern, number 1354.  In a lot of ways, the construction was similar to 1302, since it also involved hand-basting of gathered pieces.
Sorry, there were no non-blurry pics!
The pattern recommends that you underline both the lining and the bodice stays (i.e. the pieces that the gathered bodice is basted to).  I used a light fusible interfacing (this one— Fashion Sewing Supply has THE BEST interfacing, especially as compared to the standard ones you find at JoAnn’s/Hancock’s) on the lining and underlined the bodice with muslin.  The 3 layers of fabric ended up quite thick at the seams.  Sewing the lining to the bodice at the front neck opening was quite tricky.  There are lots of layers of both the bodice and the lining coming together at the corners.  I definitely did not do a perfect  job, but I think it looks ok.


Just a couple words about the design and fit of this dress.  I was drawn to the dress because of the gathered bodice and the deep v in the back.  I generally am not a fan of the empire waistline, as it is very easy for it to start looking like a maternity dress.  I’m not sure I entirely avoided that with this dress, but I’m not sure I really care.  Sometimes you want a dress to be super flattering, and sometimes you just want to wear 5 yards of light swishy silk.  Especially in the hot, humid summer!

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