Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Dior-esque “17


Quite honestly, I have no idea where this came from…there I was (almost) happily sewing up an Oska inspired winter collection and then I veered way off track. 51CSULc-dUL._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_Oska and related designers leave out the feminine hourglass shape and go for comfort. I have totally adopted this aesthetic and find it both comforting and classy, yet, I still harken after a fitted look.

I have been reading, and I mean actually reading and not just looking at the pictures, The Golden Age of Haute Couture 1947-1957. A V&A book production that is a combination of history, academic research, fashion and insight. The principal designer covered in the book is Dior and his post-war New Look -full skirts and nipped in waists – a rebellion against austerity and rationing.

I have worn the same two dresses on the Big Day and accompanying festivities for about five years now, so it really is about time I updated. Mind you these two dresses are true classics and will survive for many more years yet.


Linton Tweed red and ivory boiled wool. Both are sewn from McCalls 2401 – a true classic sheaf dress with loads of variations and options. I believe it’s OOP but it shouldn’t be – if you ever get a chance – buy it!







Tartan/plaid/checks are always popular around the Christmas and the New Year period.

bobby-brown-red-grey-check-plaid-tartan-cotton-fabric-cudI found some non-traditional tartan at Croftmill in greys (my fav colour) with reds and orange and navy – all my other favourite colours in one cloth! Too good to pass over. This is a shirting cotton but in my winter muddled mind I envisioned a festive dress in lightweight wool: I truly and actually know it’s cotton but I can sew it to look like wool – Can’t I?



Skirt is the first major absorber of fabric as I opted for a circle. Best option is always Paco Peralta’s half circle skirt. This skirt feels and moves like a full circle but is much more manageable and uses half the fabric. You get the drape and swirl without the girth. il_570xN.271636588Honestly, let’s face it, hips that are hips do not need extra attention drawn to them.

A beautiful pattern – every sewer should have this one in their arsenal too. The original pattern includes two lengths, lining and personally, perfectly hand drafted. No sewing instructions but you only have to look online for real-life sewers contribution tips and finished versions and it is actually a relatively simple but deceptively well crafted skirt that it could be figured out by beginner-intermediate sewers and additionally you get the perfect garment. I’ve made it loads of times – cotton, jersey, linen.  This time, I also managed to include an inseam pocket and cut the longer length for holiday drama.


As swirly and drapey as this skirt is on its own, I then moved into the Twilight Zone and thought – what if I put a petticoat underneath? I am moving into an alternative universe at this point – I am a person who has always eschewed the full circle skirts of the 1950s and opted for the more slimline pencil silhouette. But Hey ho… I bought some red netting and red poly cotton and hacked together a puffy petticoat.


Using the same Paco skirt pattern for the petticoat, I get the same drape and fullness as the skirt. Even if I say this myself, I did some nice sewing on a garment that will (should) not be seen: ribbon trims on the netting seams and French seams throughout, just in case it does actually comes on show. The waist is merely closed with a tie which should allow for easy release after a Christmas dinner.

Shouldn’t everyone have a red petticoat even if it only hangs in the wardrobe??


Needless to say there was leftover fabric and you know I can’t leave well enough alone, so I made the bodice from vintage Vogue 1136 (OOP) . I added a few inches to the bodice length but that was the only alteration. I think we should all look a little more closely at dress bodices that can be made into tops.

A beautiful back neckline with cross-over back bands and generous sewn-on  cap sleeves.


In order to to be able to actually get this ‘top’ on, the zip is reversed and opens from the bottom. As I was working with leftovers, matching checks was random and I don’t mind in the slightest. It may not be acceptable in the haute couture houses in Paris but for a Christmas dinner in Belfast, it’s fine!

And….then there were more leftovers but we are down to scraps at this point, so I made a eight core corset belt from Burda (so old I have no record of the issue date or number). No chance of putting on weight with this one…..


The corset belt was stiffened with all my scraps of interfacing – iron-on, sew-on and every weight available – a bit like a patchwork of interfacing. It is firm but soft enough to sit down in without causing a loss of blood or oxygen to vital organs.

The belt is secured with true corset hooks and eyes purchased from the Aladdin’s Cave of Sew ‘n’ Sew in Belfast city centre. You want what?? Yeah we have that somewhere…..


Instead of a Christmas dress, I have Christmas separates that look like a dress.


Hopefully, I have paid homage to Mons. Dior with his revolutionary skirts and used Sn Peralta designs to make this idea a reality.

The skirt and top without the belt…..but with cat


An inordinate amount of space on the sofa is taken up with skirt and petticoat however…..


I do not have the hand-span waist (19″) that Dior designs demanded but perhaps some 21st century Spandex might help.


My apologies to the perfectionist but I find interest in a certain amount of originality and uniqueness in mis-matched checks especially for the minor pieces in this ensemble.


Truly, I thank you, one and all, for your support, comments, reading, encouragement, inspiration and for just being there in 2017.

I respect and admire the pattern designers and creators whose ideas we humble sewers try to turn into reality. Thank you.

I salute the coming year with positive enthusiasm and I hope you will come along with me too.


I wish you all a peaceful, restful Christmas (Holiday) break and the healthiest of New Years.

Let the sewing begin 2018!



30 thoughts on “Dior-esque “17

  1. tartan-tatin! Lovely missus, I’m well-jel as the kids say!

  2. Ruth, Your creativity is so inspiring! That ‘dress’ looks wonderful on you and looks like a lot of fun to wear.
    Have a lovely holiday.

  3. This is a triumph Ruth! Makes me jealous we are in the sunny southern hemisphere. Have a wonderful Christmas and i look forward to reading all about your makes in 2018. X

  4. How wonderful is that outfit!? Merry Christmas and a very positive New Year back at you 🙂

  5. How lovely is that! If you can’t flash the red petti at Christmas, when can you?

  6. Stunning dress, wonderful homage to Dior and that book is fantastic I’m always rereading it. Wishing you the happiest of holidays.

  7. Fabulous outfit, love your blog. Merry Christmas

  8. Very truly festive. Love that petticoat!

  9. Love all the parts of it. And the red petticoat. Am thinking of making a red flannel petticoat with adjustable tie waist, for a friend. Would be grateful for any advice, please. : ) Have seen some red flannelette sheets! Dee

    • Hi Dee, sorry about the delay. In future if you’d like some guidance please use my email which is on the blog

      Anyway – make a half circle skirt from the base fabric, instead of inserting a zip just bind the opening with a length of bias. Neaten the waistband with more bias leaving long tails that can be shortened to suit. Because it’s bias you don’t even need to sew the ties ends but it does make it look more finished if you do.
      Hope this helps

  10. Absolutely gorgeous! I love every bit of every bit of this.

  11. Beautiful, and lots of fun, and versatile too! Love that skirt. Happy Christmas Ruth! 🎄

  12. Fabulous ,Ruth and a love the way your outfit evolved as the fabrics allowed- just what I love to do too!Hsppy Christmas and thanks for your great blog!

  13. Very different but gorgeous. You do rock this style! Have a lovely Christmas. X

  14. Stunning Ruth. You hog that sofa girl!

  15. Love the checked dress. I thought it was all one piece until you said something about a corset. Great job.

  16. Love, love, love it, how good is that, truly inspirational. Please continue to inspire me and stretch .
    my mind

  17. I too love all the creativity and imagination that went into making this ensemble! Beautiful colour and the swing of the skirt with the petticoat is true design inspiration. Beautiful and just in time for the holidays! Happy Holidays and all the best for 2018.

  18. wow, fabulous. so many parts, I am sure they will appear as separates with the rest of your wardrobe. I am majorly jealous, I didn’t even start my outfit. Merry Christmas.

  19. Wowsers!! This is absolutely brilliant! I’m thinking very Vivienne Westwood. I love the the corset waist is separate, and the petticoat is great. Merry Christmas!!

  20. The outfit is beautiful! And the petticoat is absolutely gorgeous!!!
    Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

  21. Ruth, Thank you once again for trusting my pattern, the dress is beautiful. I wish you a happy and healthy new year full of joy and happiness.! Paco.

  22. What an amazing and original dress! Love it!

  23. That’s a very clever outfit. Vivienne Westwoodesque! Love the back neckline in particular. And I can see all the pieces working well in other outfits too.

  24. Having the plaids un-matched on the corset actually forces the eye to think that you are naturally smaller in the waist area…clever girl! So great that you are tall enough to carry off a long circle skirt WITH a petticoat…if I tried to wear such an outfit, you would think I was trying out to be a Swiffer floor duster! Wishing you the best of 2018 to come with many more creative projects to share!

  25. I like your new outfit! Mismatched plaids are usually only noticeable to me if there are 1 or 2 seams mismatched, if all are mismatched, it’s a design feature according to my eyes & brain 🙂 I agree about checking dress patterns for tops. I don’t wear dresses, so now a dress pattern has to have high “how’d they do that” factor or details not found in a top pattern to make it into my shopping basket.

  26. Hi Ruth! I just found your blog a few days ago and have been going backwards since then reading as many posts as I can. I love your style and how you fearlessly try all sorts of styles and pull them all off so well! You make me want to experiment so much more than I do now! Happy New Year to you and your family!!

  27. This is just so killer, I absolutely love it, there is the biggest grin on my face right now! It is, to my mind, a little Alexander McQueen-esque, and I love that – I’m all for a little bit of off-centre juxtaposition. You look amazing in it 🙂 Happy New Year to you!

  28. Such a fun post as usual, keep on being unperfectionist and fun. I envy your sewing skills. A very happy New Year to you too. If I ever finish this, I might show you a piece of lovely Burberry fabric I bought in the sales which I managed to turn into a Darth Vader coat. I think I’ll go back to square one, pencil skirts…

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