Finished Object: Zemelda Dress

Zemelda (no back story, I just put her on and that’s her name), from Advance 2599.  I want one of those hats.

Made of inheritance rayon (a stash that outlived the stasher), a long zipper and a little thread.  No lining in this one.

First, the pattern alterations:

Front Bodice piece, I laid the original paper pattern over my FBA-ed front to show the difference.  I did a 2″ FBA, to add a total of 4″ across the front.  When you do one of these pattern alterations, it creates a dart under the arm, where my dress didn’t have a dart.  I could have left it, but thought I should rotate out some of the fullness to the shoulder dart and the gathers.  If I make another dress from the pattern, I’ll leave the underarm dart and see what happens.

I also had to add 3/4″ to each side seam tapering to 1″ at the hips.  I didn’t add to the bodice side seams, figuring it would come out of the gathering.  I’d like to see how it looks if I actually add to the side seams on the bodice, too.

Why so much tweaking?  Why not go up a size?  The back.  A 32″ bust fits my back perfectly.  I’ve spent enough time playing with back pieces to know I’d rather not adjust a back/shoulders/neck area.

I really like the back.

Back kick pleat, hanging straight and smooth.  I under stitched the folds on the pleat, makes all the difference.

Pleat in action.  Shall we play guess the age of the rayon?  I think it might be from the late 60’s, early 70’s based on the design, but I’m not sure.  Any other guesses?

Lila took a few pictures of me.  Movement shot.  Also, I like these shoes but I think to wear them with this dress, I should wear dark stockings.  Something about them looks a little off, like the dirt farmer’s wife in her Sunday-go-meeting frock.

Another Lila shot.  Can you tell I was talking to my little girl when she went paparazzi on me?

About these pockets- I tried first the stripey fushia; my misgivings proved well-founded. I tried to make a belt the same color, it was hideous.

What to do?  I had barely enough of the fabric left to cut the squares for self-fabric pockets.  As happens, I cut one of them a little too small, so they all had to be cut smaller.  I tried everything else, I think I don’t have a choice but to go naked or use the slightly too small self-pockets.  Any ideas greatly appreciated.

The zippered front is so fun, and it’s really easy to dress.  Many, many of my old-pattern dresses must be wriggled into, nearly impossible when girdled up, and excessively difficult on hot mornings.  This difficulty necessitates Husbandly assistance- I can dress myself, but often it is easier if he helps.

I like the dress- it has great details like darted sleeve heads, the entire back of the dress and the pockets.  I want to make this in a soft stripey cotton, perhaps making the long sleeves and using the button placket.  This is a great basic dress pattern for those who love the early 40’s.

What do you think?  Can I add a long sleeved, tonal stripey cotton version of this dress to my Before New Years list?  Please?

The jerkin has some possibilities as a button-up-the-back shell.

Pattern Review

In other news, I wore my Model T out the other day; when I took it off I noticed these holes.  I didn’t notice them when I put the dress on, they’re towards the back hem.  Luckily, I wore my coat all evening because it was cold.  How embarrassing!  Where could the holes have come from?  It’s a puzzle and now I have yet another over-engineered house dress.


  1. I, personally, like it best with the self fabric over the purple, like in the top photos. I'm sure you'll have a moment of inspiration and come up with something perfect. :) What a shame about your beautiful Model T! I'm almost crying for you!

  2. I also adore the back. No idea when the fabric is from, but I can't tell you have delighted I am to see you post about a jerkin. I'm sewing my way through the projects in The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction and my next assignment is to sew a jerkin. I had never seen the word before and now — twice!Also, my six year old was paparazziing me for much of the day too, saying "You can use this picture for your sewing blog, Mommy!"

  3. It could have eaten but for two things- I haven't washed it except getting out the excess dye, and it looks like it was scuffed somehow. Perhaps caught in the car door and scuffed on the road? That's all I can come up with though it seems implausible.

  4. Love the Zemelda dress! The back is awesome, the kickpleat is great–and it fits beautifully! Great job! A long-sleeved version would be great! Hmmmm…The belt and pockets would look best if maybe you found a hat to match or a flower for your hair…. Though I do like the side pocket with the bet (not such a big fan of the smaller pocket). Wonderful dress!!!

  5. Love the dress! I say that it should go naked. And you MUST make it up in a simple fabric, like a stripe, so that all the beautiful finishing details can really show. I think they get lost in the floral.

  6. What a fantastic dress, vintage that looks contemporary but still looks vintage, very tricky to pull off! And I love the pics that Lila took, must try that next time I have a preschooler telling me to stop taking photos and play!

  7. Your dress is incredibly cute! Love the vintage look and the photo by the bike REALLY makes it look like a picture from the 40's. I love that!

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