Saturday, December 3, 2011

The "Christmas as in the old days" dress

...and by that I mean a Christmas that is about love, sharing, giving and getting, family, warmth, and making do with what you have.

This became a bit of a long post, brace yourselves.

Over at Sew Weekly we're using fabrics that had a previous domestic life, like tablecloths or curtains to make garments this week. Thinking about re-using, consumption, the things we value and the things we don't, I started to think about Christmas. In my family, Christmas is very important. We start decorating even before Advent and by December 24, well, mum and dad's place is covered in red and green and little lights, almost all of the decorations are the same every year. We still have the same traditions and for us, Christmas eve (which is the day when Swedes celebrate Christmas, give gifts etc.) is still pretty much the same as it was when me and my brother and sister were kids. One would think that at 28 years of age I would like a change, but I don't. One great thing I have taken with me is that a gift is really only great if you give with your heart and not with your wallet. We may not have been a wealthy family, but we sure have been able to give things that make each other happy. I know a lot of people who spend days, weeks or months worrying what to give their family members for Christmas just because their families always give expensive and fancy things, almost making it into a competition of who found the "coolest" thing to give, rather than thinking about what the person your giving something to might wish for.

I decided to make myself a red dress for Christmas, but not just any dress, a dress that would, as much as possible come from nothing, and would represent the giving spirit! The fabrics were an old double bed-sheet (I haven't found a proper name for it in English despite looking, it's two layers of sheets sewn together except for an opening where the duvet or cover goes into it, it's standard Swedish bedding) that someone had thrown away. I took it, washed it (or rather, cooked it, just in case) and stashed it. It's 100% cotton, and in two very "old time Swedish" looking prints. Two pieces, one of each print, were sent as a gift to Stacey at The Little Taylor along with the patternswap we did a bunch of weeks ago, I kept the rest. I used a pattern that I won in a Thanksgiving giveaway that Amelia at Sewly a Harpist had on her blog. The notions are from my stash, so once upon a time they probably cost me a cent or so. I was also very inspired by the works of famous Swedish painter Carl Larsson.

Here I am trying to capture the spirit of Christmases long ago...

And as a reference, Carl Larsson paintings of Christmastime in Sweden over 100 years ago...

So, the dress! The skirt is made from one fabric print, and the bodice, sleeves and pockets the other. I cut the bodice on the bias as the stripes were diagonal on the fabric, and I really love using a print to shape and enhance the cut of a dress, also, having cut it on the bias makes it just a little bit stretchy and way more comfortable! 

The pattern I got in the giveaway is this really lovely McCall's 7101, dated 1963. First time ever I win something like this, and it's in my size, yay! As you can see, view A looks very much like the dress I made! Usually I end up doing a lot of changes to the sixties patterns, but the only things I did here was to add about two inches to the bodice (to make room for the boobs, lol) and shorten the skirt two inches. Should probably have added two more at mid front, from side view one can see that the high waistline is higher front than back.

Also, instead of a hook and eye (I didn't have any at home), I put in a button and a fabric loop on the neck facing.

Last but not least - a closeup of the fabric, and look: pocket lining!


  1. I think we call the double bedsheet a "duvet cover" in English - the hint was that you use it to cover a duvet or blanket. I love your use of the edging for your sleeves. It's a very ingenious dress! And I'm with you about wanting Christmas to be the same every year. We like the same decorations, baking and Christmas Eve always has the same food! There's no change in our traditions, and that's the way everyone likes it!

  2. I really love your dress, the print, the shape,the inspiration .....just lovely!

  3. I love it! It reminds me of the Gunne Sax (however you spell it!) I used to wear 'back in the day' when I was about your age. So romantic! You did an amazing job with it, and I love the fabric combo you chose.

  4. It's awesome! So wonderful to see the pattern come to life. You did a beautiful job, the colors are wonderful. I really like that fabric. I agree with Tia on the "Duvet Cover" as well.

  5. I have just found your blog and I love this dress! I adore Carl and Karen Larsson's work. I will follow you now to see what other lovelies you come up with ,all the best Angela! You miht like to drop in on my blogs,Bright Star and Sweet Disorder. bye