3 January 2008

The Galanos Dress - Part One

I am still mulling over my options for SWAP 2008 and I think I'm closing in on a plan. Even though I'm not ready to start SWAP sewing yet, I am in the mood to sew. So, to get me in a 60s kind of mood, I have settled on my first major project for the year:

The pattern is Vogue 1854, a beautiful dress by James Galanos. There is no date on the envelope, but the lines of the dress say mid-60s (1966?) to me. Although I knew the name Galanos, I didn't know much about this designer, so I did a little surfing. For anyone interested, I found an interesting article online. My favourite quote from this article is

"When I started making clothes in the 1940's, elegance and formality were the rule. Now it seems vulgarity is rampant. It's encouraged by some TV shows and interviews. I don't really like it. The clothes themselves look unfinished, "The only thing that seems new is accessories. Most of the clothes are sleeveless and strapless. People themselves look messy. I hate the hair, it doesn't look groomed. It looks unwashed. I guess the fashion is to look blown and windswept. But it seems to me the hairdressers are doing a bad job of styling."

"Everybody seems to be wearing pants all the time. And everyone wants to bare the midriff. I really don't understand the mentality. It's certainly being casual. But it has nothing to do with class. Some of the clothes look beautiful, but I don't think the designers, as a whole, have made their mark.

Ya gotta love this guy - dang, but I'd like to spend an afternoon with this gentleman!! Also, anyone in the Philadelphia area, there is an exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art featuring the work of James Galanos, Gustave Tassel and Ralph Rucci (my all-time favourite designer).

The fabric that I'm using can be seen under the pattern, a warm brown wool tweed. When I first got this fabric, I was certain it was a knit due to the sponginess of it, but it has no stretch. It washed up beautifully, with very little fraying and so far it has been a dream to work with.

At this point, I have cut out the fabric and the underlining. I am in the process of transferring all the pattern markings to the underlining and pinning the fashion fabric and underlining pieces together. I figure it will take me about six hours total to complete this phase of the sewing process.

The pattern is very interesting. Although this dress appears symmetrical at first glance, it is not. Here is the description from the envelope: Semi-fitted A-line dress with jewel neckline has left shoulder and side back concealed button closing. Right side front and and left side back pleats. Full length sleeves with slits. Right side pocket.

Notice that there is only one pocket and the pleats are on the right side front and left side back. The only pattern pieces that are cut twice are the sleeves. All the other pattern pieces are unique. As with all the vintage patterns I have ever worked with, the instructions for this dress are exceptional. Take a look:

Before I finish up today's post, I wanted to answer a question from yesterday.
* Michelle writes, "You have commented on several mail order/web sources for fabric (2 of which I have recently used). You have yet to mention Fashion Fabrics Club. What has been your experience with them? I'm on their email list and am tempted, but before I plunge I would like someone's experience."

Michelle, believe it or not, I have never ordered from FFC. I have been tempted in the past, I have loaded a shopping cart with fabric, but I have never pushed the submit button. Sorry, that I couldn't be more help. Maybe some of my readers could leave their experiences with FFC in the comments section for Michelle.

Finally, this is what the dog has done all day - sleep, sleep and more sleep. It is just too darn cold around here (-7 C with a windchill of -15 C) to go out for a walk, so Simon is cooped up inside. I sure hope this cold spell breaks soon because both he and I are going stir crazy.


rosecy said...

I'm looking forward to seeing your completed dress. It looks awesome. I would be frozen in your area of the world. We had a hard freeze last night. I'm still shaking from the wind chill. It's 50 degrees now and still to cold to venture outside. Poor me - I'm stuck with my computer and sewing machine.

For Michelle: I have ordered a lot of fabric from Fashion Fabric Club with good and bad results. They are good at stating the list price. If this list price is below the standard price for the fabric, it's really cheap fabric. Light-weight fabric is very light and heavy-weight is very heavy. Otherwise, they have some great fabric at great prices.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Shannon - loved the pattern instructions...it is going to make sewing this dress a dream! Ummmm have you noticed that we both have gravitated to more skirts and dresses this season? Is it that retro vibe of dressing up that we have going on?

For Michelle: I too have purchased quite a bit from Fashions Fabric Club. After some initial bad starts...I have gotten pretty good at predicting what will be good and what is junk from their site. Unless you have great experience with fabrics and/or willing to take a risk, stay away from their bargain folders...just not worth it. Now their linens, wool crepes, silks (suitings and charmeuses), and I even have gotten an awesome wool/silk jersey knit from them - all of these pieces have been amazing and I was very happy with them. Hope this helps!

Laura said...

I've had good luck w/ FFC too, although some people don't like them. Their shipping is slow, so don't wait until the last minute. Their knits can be kind of hit or miss in quality - I prefer to buy a 1/8 yard 'swatch' on most to check colors and hand before I buy more. For me the combination of quality and price on most things are worth the annoyances.

Vicki said...

That is a great pattern. Love the simple uniqueness (if that is a word?).

I have a few of my mum's patterns from 60's and 70's which are a bit of a mess, but I should have a look. I think they will be too big though. And they are mainly tennis dresses!

Tany said...

This pattern looks outstanding! I'm so looking forward to this and my interest in vintage patterns (mainly Vogues) has been growing with time!

toya said...

what an amazing pattern, I would love to see how it works out. I'm been some reading on designers too, I saw the chicago chic exhibit at the fashion institute of tech. in NY a few weeks ago and I really didn't recognize a few of the designers on display.
I love that quote too, in some ways it is very true.

Christy Sews said...

I laughed out loud when I read Mr. G's comments. He could be talking about the fashions now! I love the dress. I don't blame Simon for taking his nap time--I envy him. My mom is visiting so Ms. Bootsy is getting no nap time. I can't wait to see the dress when it is complete and hear about your experiences with the pattern. 2008 is the year I plan to sew up my vintage patterns...

Summerset said...

Love the comments from Mr. G! Poor Simon - I agree, I don't like going out, either in this weather.

Anonymous said...

Shannon, I tried to order from FFC a couple of years ago, and they wouldn't ship to Canada. So we're out of luck.
Lee K

Anonymous said...

I love the pattern,

I have a question about the wool fabric that you are using, how did you actually wash the fabric? Did you steam press it?



Becky said...

I agree-- that comment could be said about any outfit today. Though you'd probably have to add excessive cleavage to the midriff comment. That's one of the reasons I pretty much HAVE to sew my clothes--at my age, it's the only way to get coverage!

And that is such a great pic of your dog!

Dawn said...

Love that dress. We have similar body types and I always try to stay with more fitted styles to define my figure a bit. I'm always afraid of the clothes wearing me instead of me wearing the clothes. I really like the lines of the pattern. If it looks good on you, which I'm sure it will, then maybe I'll attempt something with similar lines. I don't have your skills but I'm working on it every day. ;)

Marji said...

fabulous pattern. I look forward to seeing you make it up.
Re John Galanos comments, at first I thought he was commenting in an article written in the 60's and I was thinking how relevant the comments are today,...then I went to the article and realized the comments were made a year ago. yay, Mr Galanos, I couldn't agree more.
question re fabric sources: do you ever cross the River and go shopping in the Detroit metro area? Habermans?

re FFC, I live in St Louis now and that is where FFC is located. I go over to the warehouse type building several times a year, and I've gotten some amazing fabric there, but, they also have a lot of junk.

Terri K said...

Love the big nose shot of sleeping Simon! Dogs are smart, especially beagles and they go into their hibernation mode when it's cold.

Keep up the designing. I love that LH Princess tank pattern as well and have gotten more than my money's worth out of it!

Laurie said...

I have been looking for that Gallanos pattern for years. It was my high school graduation dress. My mom made it in a warm brown silk shantung (I think that was the name of the silk). I loved that dress so much. I would love to borrow it from you, I would pay to do so. It is a wonderful design! Laurie P.S. I graduated in 1968