Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gump Dress Revisited and Ready for Remake

An ever-growing part of my fabric stash is fabric that is pre-formed or pre-used — in other words, garments, old sheets, and barkcloth drapery panels. I first mentioned this dress right after I found it in a Palm Springs thrift shop and today I returned to it to see what it had to say to me. I still found the fabric beautiful and I tried the dress on again. There are two big problems about the fit of this garment:

1. The dart control is all rotated into gathers in front at both the bodice and the waist, and in back it's in an inverted pleat that's tacked shut in two places. This makes the fit very loose; in fact, it's baggy.

2. The generous wearing ease is not a welcome feature, especially in this fabric, which is a high quality cotton poplin. I find this fabric fine for bottom weight, but terrible for a blouse. It's got too much body and feels (and looks) tent-like. In the current weather I'm enduring, it traps a lot of heat. Noooo. We want the opposite effect from our clothes.

There are a lot of great "couture" construction details, however. The label says it's from Gump's San Francisco, but it was made in Thailand (maybe a custom job??). It just looks like it was expensive. The care label says the fabric is hand screened and calls for washing by hand in "pure soap flakes." I've mentioned the ball buttons before, but there is also a wonderful, delicate loop by which you could hang the dress on a hook, if you needed to.

The bodice is joined to the skirt in two ways: in a 1/2"-5/8" seam reinforced by narrow twill tape, and then the two raw edges are enclosed in a Hong Kong seam finish. Try finding that in a dress today, even if by a schmancy designer in a schmancy boutique.

I tell you, this seam isn't going anywhere, and I know because I'm trying to take it apart. Even with my Cadillac seam ripper, it's slow going. I may give up and simply cut the skirt off the bodice instead. My plan is to use everything on the bottom half for a skirt and set the bodice aside to use for another project. One thing that won't be in my favor is, I will not have a nice, long piece of this fabric that runs on the grainline to use as a waistband. I will either have to do petersham-faced waistband, or find something else to use and gather the skirt into it.

I think a green, light blue, pink, or white top would be pretty with this. This will be my first foray into repurposing a garment.