Monday, December 2, 2013

McCall 9777: THE Awards Gown


On Thursday evening, I had the chance to attend the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards Ceremony in London.  It was a swanky, black-tie event and I just barely managed to finish this gown in time!

You may remember, when I first heard that I would be going to the awards ceremony, I held a poll on my blog for which gown I should make.  I had wanted to make a gown from one of my 1940 McCall patterns.  I ended up getting busy at work and waited too long to begin sewing the gown.  When I pulled out the 1940 McCall gown pattern, I realised it would take an astonishing 6 metres of fabric!  Eeps! I knew it would be too much to spend for a gown, since most of the nice dress fabrics are quite expensive here.  Then I remembered about this beautiful blue taffeta fabric I had in my stash that I had bought a couple of years ago from Croft Mill.  I had nearly 4 metres in total and knew it would be perfect for the event.  The question was, which pattern should I sew to go with it?

I went through all my patterns looking for something that would fit and would show off the fabric but also didn't require copious amounts of material.  Most of the patterns were for softer fabrics such as chiffon or crepe. Then I came across McCall 9777 from 1938 which I had picked up for steal on Ebay UK because of the damaged envelope:


At first it's easy to get lost in this gown pattern because there is a lot going on--ruffled dickey, fabulous belt, busy printed fabric…but if you look at the line drawings, you see a very chic halter dress gown.  And I knew it was a match made in heaven!

I made several changes to the original pattern:  The original pattern has a seam down the front which is partially covered by the ruffled dickey.  I decided that I would go sans dickey and instead sew the bodice front on the fold and eliminate the centre front seam altogether.   I also didn't opt to make the belt.

I tried my best to make the intricate embroidered flower detail of the fabric match up while cutting out the material. This was made all the more difficult in that both the skirt pieces are cut on the bias.  I was able to match up part of the design down the centre front and centre back but less so on the side seams.  Because of the bias cut, it gives an unexpected shape to the embroidery-which I really like!


I made the matching short collarless bolero, which cleverly catches the front facing in the shoulder seam..giving the illusion of a collar!


The back of this dress is amazing!  I just love the low-cut scooped out back and how the little bolero completely covers it up.  To give a bit of stability, I interfaced and lined the entire bodice.



The dress closes with a side hand-picked zipper and the halter has two hook and eye closures.  I ended up being able to just barely get enough fabric for the full-length gown and matching bolero.

Oh, did I mention that I ended up sewing up this entire dress (bolero and all) the day before going down to London?  Yup, things have been a bit crazy busy around here lately…I can't believe I got it done in time.  A big thank you to David for helping me hem the dress and for sewing the hook and eye closure at some absurd hour in the morning!!


And the awards ceremony was AMAZING!  There was a reception, followed by a grand dinner, the awards ceremony and the event ended with dancing. phew!

The set-up was very grand…


Javita and I had a great time with the other women who attended the ceremony with us.  Unfortunately, our University didn't win in the category for which we were nominated…but the University did win in another category!  Which was fantastic.

The other exciting bit of the evening was that it was hosted by Sandi Toksvig, a comedian and BBC 4 presenter:


She even came and sat at our table before starting--I was star struck!  It was such a fabulous evening.

Hopefully I can revisit my 1940 gown patterns for a holiday or New Year's Eve dress!

56 comments:

  1. Wow, that dress looks lovely on you. Sounds like you had a fantastic evening!

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  2. Absolutely beautiful gown Debi. I LOVE it and you look stunning, well worth the mad rush! And your husband deserves thousands of brownie points for sewing on hooks and eyes (my most hated sewing task), what a hero! x

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  3. Gorgeous gown, and I love Sandi lucky you.

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  4. You look amazing! Well done!

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  5. You look so beautiful, really a great pattern and it seems to have been made for such a glamorous event.

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  6. Fbulous gown! You look stunning!

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  7. Beautiful dress! You did an amazing job, especially considering how little time you had to sew! Nice work!

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  8. The dress is absolutely stunning! I love how you've made a vintage look work in a modern setting. The color is gorgeous and I'm so glad that you had a wonderful time to!

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  9. What a lovely dress! I've learned by know that it's really difficult to find 30's or 1940 evening dresses which would work in a firm fabric like taffeta, but this one really does.
    And the event sounds so amazing…
    And I'm quite impressed with all the help your husband put in.

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  10. Gorgeous!! And you are brave!

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  11. Debi, you have truly outdone yourself! That is a stunning gown!!

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  12. Beautiful dress, I love the colour! Well done for getting a nomination at the award ceremony too!!

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  13. Debi you look so beautiful! I love the color of that fabric and I think the pattern you picked plays up the elegant embroidery so well. A simply gorgeous dress!

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  14. Looking gorgeous, David must be very proud ;)

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  15. Totally gorgeous. You know you have reached sewing nirvana when you can whip one of these up. I never would have noticed itfrom the envelope. Beautiful use of fabric and beautiful on you.

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  16. Holy Moly! Thats a stunning pattern! Ooooh we need to do another pattern swap - what I would do to raid your pattern stash!!

    That gown is amazing and to be able to knock it out in a day - nice effort!!! And even better you have reasons to make such garments!

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  17. Beautiful, Debi! I love the fabric you selected :)

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  18. Gorgeous, Debi! I love this color on you, and the setting for the photos is spectacular.

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  19. stunning dress, debi.. and you look like a movie sta in it :)

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  20. Such an elegant.dress. I will have to look at the line drawings closer on soem of my "busy " vintage dress patterns. You look stunning.

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  21. What a beautiful dress! You look stunning in it! Can't believe you made it in a rush!

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  22. Lovely! The color is amazing.


    Formal events are so much fun to dress for, aren't they?! And I cannot believe you completed a gown and bolero in a single day - that has to be some kind of record!!

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  23. Oooh, you've done it again! Debi this is so gorgeous, that blue is just perfect on you ;) And congrats on your nomination!

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  24. That is such a stunning outfit, you look amazing :)

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  25. Oh, such a lovely gown! That inky blue suits you very well. Glad you and your fella had a grand time.

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  26. Thanks Jennifer! I had always passed up this pattern in favour of others (I think it was the dickey which was a bit over the top) but the lines are just stunning. A really love pattern to sew up!

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  27. hehehe! Thanks Mokosha…I definitely felt like a movie star!

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  28. Thank you! We took these photos just outside Holyrood Palace…there's something about the winter light that is so romantic!

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  29. YES! to another pattern swap!! I've been pawing my 1940 Dubarry coat pattern for the past few weeks…really want to sew it up sometime soon!!

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  30. Thanks Lyndle! I know the pattern envelope is really busy..but the pattern is beautiful!

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  31. Awww..thanks! Yes, he says it is favourite (behind the 1933 dress). He thinks the lines from 1938 are his favourite…so I will definitely be sewing more from this year.

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  32. Thank you my dear! I had fun making this one!!

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  33. Thanks Lauriana! Yes…I think it was the only pattern I had that could work with the taffeta (that wasn't a 50's pattern). All the other ones require a bit more drape and a LOT more fabric!! hehehe

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  34. Thanks Ette! I really, really wanted to make a me-made dress for the event…because how many times do you get to sew a gown? :-)

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  35. Thank you Jane!! David definitely deserves a gazillion brownie points because I HATE hook and eyes too (in fact, I often avoid putting them in!)

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  36. Oooh well if you see any patterns on my FB page, let me know which you'd like! Did you see Leea's version of that coat pattern? I copied it for her too and she's made it up fast - it looks great!

    http://vintagefollies.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/40s-style-coat-in-colours-of-autumn.html

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  37. Absolutely gorgeous! I watched The Lady Vanishes the other day and thought of you and how much I love seeing what you make. Love you, miss you, someday I'll visit! :)

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  38. The gown turned out amazing! I'm so proud of you for putting it together so quickly and so well. You looked glamorous in it - those lines of the 1937/38 patterns look so good on you. Definitely in the top three of my favourite outfits you've made.

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  39. I think Debi has become addicted to the adrenaline rush she gets from sewing these complex projects so close to the deadline. :D


    I think we just have to make sure this woman gets a sew-cation soon!

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  40. I'm so glad you went for a plain front - the dickey would have definitely been OTT. This version looks elegant - simple lines and an elaborate, light-catching fabric. You looked fantastic in it.

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  41. I certainly am, Siri. It's been amazing to watch her improve her sewing skills and take on more daunting projects.
    I'm proud of how beautiful she looks as well.

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  42. Yes, definitely. I love the mid-to-late Thirties' styles on you. I particularly liked the way the fabric fit (but didn't hug) the small of your back, then draped from there, accentuating the waist but not hugging the hips. It made a lovely, feminine figure that was a bit more subtle than the later styles. Yes! More from the Thirties!

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  43. Thanks, Lauriana.
    I didn't do much - I like that Debi asks me to pin her hems and do little things here and there.
    Sewing makes her so happy - I'd do anything to support her hobby/habit.

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  44. Thanks, Jane.
    All the credit to Debi. She's amazing.
    I'm glad to help where I can.


    I was sewing the hook and eye and the hook wasn't sitting right, so I found a tutorial online and learned a good method, so I went back and did them all that way and it worked out.

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  45. I'm always glad to help, and now that I know how to put them in properly, I'll be happy to anytime.
    <3

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  46. Miss Debi, I've finally realized who you look like! You remind me of Lady Cora on Downton Abbey

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  47. I am very familiar with that last minute adrenaline rush. And I am confident that if you asked Debi
    what she would want to do on a vacation, her answer would be sewing related –
    this hobby of ours is an odd combination of stress reliever and stress inducer!

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  48. Oh, just to clarify, by sew-cation I mean a break where she gets to sew at leisure, not a break from sewing.


    Funny enough, the latter didn't even cross my mind.

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I read each and every comment--thank you so much!

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