Thursday, February 24, 2011

The "What's Outside of Pleasantville?" Dress

I just couldn't pass up this week's theme challenge over at The Sew Weekly.  You choose a movie that has been nominated for an Academy Award in Costume Design as your inspiration and have the week to complete the look.  The first thing I did was look through the list of nominees and pick out ones I'd seen.  I love old movies, but in the end I settled on Pleasantville.  The idea of making a '50s style dress and doing the black & white/color photo was too fun to pass up!  Plus, I love Pleasantville.  I watched it again the other night and enjoyed the thought-provoking story line.

I based my inspiration on the dress Margaret Henderson wears when she and Bud go to Lovers Lane, the scene she changes from black & white to color.

Margaret at Lovers Lane

So, what's outside of Pleasantville?  Why, this hand-dyed batik print from Bali!  I bought the fabric on a trip to Hawaii and it was such a good price I bought 4+ yards of it - so much that I could actually make another dress out of it.

Oh my, color!

With visions of a photo shoot outside a la Lovers Lane, I had to settle for this Ficus.  Thanks, Mr. Ficus!

My skills are absolute zilch when it comes to pattern making and I didn't have time to search for a 1950s pattern, so I "frankensteined" a couple of patterns to get the look I came up with.  Do you recognize the top piece of the dress?  It's the Crepe pattern from Colette Patterns!  When I first saw Margaret's dress I noticed the attached sleeves were just like Crepe.  I added brown rick rack to the sleeves and neckline, though I was originally hoping for a color that matched the fabric.  Can't have it all!  The gathered skirt portion is straight from Gertie's tutorial, and now that I've tried it I want to make a regular skirt from it...I love the way her taffeta version looks.  

The dress is paired with the sole pair of ballet flats I own.  I used to have more, but they rub my feet in a way that heels don't.  Strange...  This particular pair actually has good padding.  I bought them from Marks & Spencer in London; I think it should be a requirement for shoe stores in cities to only sell well-padded shoes for all that city walking ;)  Shh, don't tell your podiatrist I said that.

Apologies for the less than stellar photo quality.  

All in all, it's a fun dress and I really love the colors of the print.  (I think I might use the leftover fabric for a second version of the Socialite Dress pattern from Anna Maria Horner.)  There are fit issues, but I'm just going to accept that for now!  It's hard being a perfectionist of sorts and not being able to achieve the proper fit, but that's what practice is for...  I feel kind of young in it - high school young - but I guess that works with the movie inspiration so, hmm, yes, that was planned ;)  Side note: I was in Sydney last year and got carded at a bar, and the drinking age there is 18!  I am nearing 30.  I'm not complaining, but it was amusing!

I really love the theme challenges Mena has set up at The Sew Weekly.  Sometimes I sew like I read books: a bunch of items started with only a dream of one day finishing them.  The weekly challenge really gets my daydreamy mind in focus, so I look forward to participating in more challenges in the future.  Have you checked out Mena's website?  She's so talented and speedy with her creations, and her photo shoots are fantastic!  There are 4 other ladies who have committed to making one creation a week for the entire year, and Mena set up a community space for others to join in if they wish.  It's an international group, which makes it double the fun!

Biggest bonus?  Only having a week usually means I need to use something in my stash, or at the very least shop local.  I've decided I have way too much fabric - it's starting to make me feel unproductive and lazy!  Must...stop...buying........


  1. I love your fabric! Good job on the pattern mash-up---I'm all about the frankenpatterning :).

    I think my recent circle-skirt binge was triggered by re-watching Pleasantville around Christmas and my sweetie making a comment like "why don't you dress like that?" ;). Such a good movie!

    Crazy on the getting carded---although on a business trip a few years back my supervisor got carded in the Minneapolis airport. He was in his late thirties, with grey in his hair! :)

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  3. Hmm, my first comment did something odd. Anyway, your circle skirt was so pretty and twirly! That's something I'd love to try too. So many project ideas...

    Funny about your supervisor! They must've thought he was a very sophisticated university student with grey hair :)

  4. It's great - well done for morphing a top and bottom together to produce such an authentic looking 1950's dress. And I'm also a fan of Marks and Spencer shoes! x

  5. I just signed up for Sew Weekly, found your profile there, checked your blog, loved your dress, and realized that you are also signed up for the Me-Made-March. The sewing blogosphere is not that large after all :-). Are you participating in Colette Patterns week?

  6. Thanks, Jane! I bought another pair from Marks and Spencer while I was there - couldn't pass up the price and the cuteness! :)

    Marina, the sewing blogosphere is very small! Sometimes I feel like I say/post the same things a bunch of times. Yes, I am participating in Colette Patterns week! It works perfectly with the CP Spring Challenge since one of the items I wanted to make is the Oolong dress. This will be the push I need to get that one done! Look forward to seeing what you make!

  7. Hello,
    My name is Katherine and I blog at and I just wanted to let you know that I have given you a Stylish blogger award because I love reading your blog. All you do is write a blog post telling your readers 7 things that they may not know about you and then award it to 7 other bloggers.
    Kindest regards,

  8. This dress is really beautiful, and I totally love this movie! Aaaah I feel like watching it now.

    Also the dress doesn't look mis-matched at all. I too am a big fan of altering patterns! That's why we sew right, to have exactly what we want? Great job!

  9. Exactly! It's so nice to customize our clothing, mixing and matching wherever we pleased :) And thanks about my dress (and yes, the movie is awesome!).


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