The Tablecloth Dress, Vintage 1950's
All done! I am pleased. My template smocking has a way to go but for the first time I think it will pass. I have never been a strong picture smocker.
The challenge of getting a viable dress design out of the limited yardage and design of the tablecloth was really great fun and I totally enjoyed the process. If ever faced with this challenge, know that it really isn't difficult. You just need to sketch it out and play with it for a while.
Pattern: I used Butterick 5020 for the bodice only. Everything else above and below was original and based on how best to utilize the print of the tablecloth. I wanted to keep with the vintage feel and went with a classic "pinafore" look.
Here you can see how I cut the skirt front. I used the big corner flower for the center panel, putting piping on each side.
I used the corner sections for the back skirt. It wraps around in one piece to the piped center front panel. The sash was deliberately made to end with the white border like the skirt. I guess everything was deliberate when figuring this all out.
Fabric: In case you missed the obvious, this is fabricated from a vintage 50's card table cloth, only 54 inches square. It is all cotton and in a birds eye weave. It was lovely to sew and has a very nice drape, sort of the same weight as a good damask tablecloth, not like quilting cotton at all.
Details: The seams were finished with the serger. This fabric was quite prone to ravelling. Here you can see the bias seam allowances of the piping. They will not ravel so no finish there. I ironed them open only to spread the bulk out, not sure if that is really important but it seemed like the right thing to do.
All edges on the front were piped in the maroon binding which was also vintage. I am not sure what year but it was 25 cents for the pack of bias. I used a bias tape and ironed it flat and open. Then it was wrapped around the cord and stitched into piping.
For the smocking I tried "template smocking", something new for me. I always like to try something new to give me a new tool for the toolbox. I will try this again, if for no reason other than to get better at it. Here is the process in a nutshell:
- Transfer your desired design to oaktag (manila folder). I did this by tracing the flower off the tablecloth and and then transferring to the oaktag with a transfer pen. Simplify the shapes.
- Cut out each part of the design to give you templates. Leaves would be one, a flower another.
- Pleat your fabric and then trace around the template with a marker on to the pleated fabric.
- Outline the design with either and outline, stem, or chain stitch made with just one or two strands of floss. I used one strand and a chain stitch.
- Starting at the widest area begin your rows of cables filling the design area.
I messed up on my holding row as well. I cut it when the smocking was complete. I did try to backsmock the row back into submission but that only helped a little. This has been a real learning experience for me with this template smocking but I know the next effort will certainly be an improvement. The only way we learn is to stretch ourselves and I stretched on this one. It was great fun doing so. It will go out in the mail shortly to Carly so she can squeeze a few wearings out of it. I have extra strapping in the bodice so I can let them out if necessary...I would definitely do this again if I could just find another great tablecloth....Bunny