14 January 2007

Domb Luck - The Making of a Dress

I have seen many vintage dresses for sale at various online retailers and one label always seems to catch my eye: Emma Domb. I love the elegant lines of an Emma Domb evening dress - I rarely see one that doesn't appeal to me. I needed to know more about this designer, so I went in search of information. Unfortunately, an Internet search did not turn up much. This was all that I could find in terms of historical information. If anyone can add to this, please enlighten me.

At Time Travel Gowns, I found the following:
A California dressmaking company that was active from 1939 through the 70s. Early labels read, Party Lines by Emma Domb, and then Emma Domb California. Designs mainly consist of cocktail and evening gowns with accentuated bodices and flowing skirts.

At Vintage Fashion Guild, I found this blurb:
Emma Domb was a California dressmaking company that was active from 1939 through the 70s. Domb Manufacturing Company was owned by Emma Domb and Lorraine Domb Steinberg. They specialized in wedding, party and prom dresses, and were also known for fancy date ensembles. They were headquartered in San Francisco.

One of my dresses for SWAP 2007 was inspired by an Emma Domb dress that was for sale on eBay by little*things. The seller describes the dress as follows.
The skirt fabric is iridescent sharkskin, copper and black. If you look at it from a different angle, it shows black. The copper is metallic, and really glows. It has a high fitted waist, with an empire waist detail and an asymmetrical bow. The bodice is lined with peach taffeta, strapless, and covered with pink tulle, ribboned and stitched onto more tulle, embellished with inset rhinestones. It closes with a side metal zipper, and there are hooks and eyes and snaps to close the tulle over the bust area. The skirt is very full, nearly a full circle, and is lined with heavy paper for body.

As soon as I saw this dress, I was enamoured of it. I absolutely love the lines of this 1950s evening dress. The play of the different textures of fabric used in this garment really caught my eye. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to knock it off. I realized that I would be unable to find a pattern to copy the dress exactly, so I went in search of something with the same basic lines. I was quite pleased to find Butterick 8020. It has the same high waist, empire bodice and full skirt. It even has the band and bow detail under the bust. The original dress is actually two pieces: a strapless dress with an upper bodice that attaches to the dress via hooks and eyes. As I never wear strapless dresses (I am a proud, card-carrying member of the IBTC and the boning required in the bodice flattens me out even more), I decided to make the dress in one single piece. Also, instead of altering the pattern to be a sleeveless V-neck, I will be keeping the wide round neck and the cap sleeve, as this look is more flattering on me.

Next, I needed to find appropriate fabric. Although I love the look of the satin skirt with the taffeta and tulle bodice, I was unable to find fabric just like it. For the bodice, I recalled that I had a copper coloured ruffle knit in my stash that I had purchased a year ago from Textile Studio. It would stand in nicely for the taffeta and tulle used in the original dress. Now, I had to find and appropriate fabric for the skirt. I looked high and low for a satin in a coordinating colour, but came up empty. However, my local Fabricland had a sale on silk dupioni recently and I found the perfect colour. Unfortunately, the photo of the silk is not showing the colour correctly - it is actually a deep rusty copper. The two fabrics work really nicely together.

I have begun work on the dress and I will post updates as I make progress.


Leslie in Austin said...

I really hope you post your progress on this dress as you go. The inspiration dress is drop dead gorgeous. Congrats on finding the perfect ingredients for your replica!

Marji said...

Shannon, thanks for the post with all the detail. This is going to look fabulous on you.
LOL, I'd never heard of the IBTC, but figured it out pretty easily.

Minniepins said...

The irony of the internet!

I had no idea who Emma Domb was until today. Shopping for a formal at a vintage store, the two finalist were both -- you guessed it -- Emma Domb dresses. Settled on one and will pick it up next week.

So, I found YOUR blog when I searched the internet for info about Emma Domb. The poor lady doesn't even have a wikipedia page. Someone should fix that!

I plan on asking the groovy girls at the vintage shop for more info when I return and will let you know if I get any juice.

I use my little Brother sewing machine often, but for making quilt tops which I then hand quilt. My mom is the fab seamstress in the family, but nowadays has retired to making costumes and dress up clothes for the little grandchildren. I am so pitiful that when I did sew anything, I'd have to send it to her for zippers and/or button holes!! If I made the beautiful dress you are making, I'm afraid it would have to velcro up the back!! heh. Love it, though! And I appreciate your search for fabric, as I do the same with my quilts. I am currently in search of silk scrap - 7" squares. But love ALL scrap fabric! Most of my quilts are made from used clothes I pick up cheap at thrift stores.

Glad I stumbled upon your blog & will check back on you ;-)

Anonymous said...

I was looking for Emma Domb info on the internet and ran across your blog. Thank you for discussin her work. I have a beautiful cocktail dress by her on ebay. It has stains which have damaged the fabric, but it's a great pattern dress. Thought you'd like to know about it. 130236155926 is the item number. Thank you.

Unknown said...

so glad I ran across your blog! I've been searching for Emma Domb info all over the internet. I also found that a tag contacting the blue and white ILGWU is dated from 1955 to 1963.

My sister and I went searching through the attic of our old house yesterday and I came across an emerald green cocktail Emma Domb dress! It had belonged to our grandmother in the 50's. It is in excellent condition and absolutely beautiful. Plus it fits me perfectly! I'm getting married next month and I think I just found my perfect dress for my rehearsal dinner and it didn't cost me a penny!