And I also managed to be kind of accurate in weather forecasting, thus being faced with the last minute thought of needing a summery picnic dress! Because nobody really wants to wear multi-layered victorian or edwardian dresses in warm weather if you don't have to!
Quickest thing to whip up when short on time is probably the 1920s "One Hour Dress". You can still buy many reprints of the original manuals today and I happen to have one anyways. I wanted a simple, elegant, lightweight picnic frock that can get dirty and is easy to wear in warm weather. A little search on Pinterest brought up the following inspirational pics:
I liked the simple cut and lovely draping of this dress! I wanted to go for chiffon, but kind of didn't want to decide the colour before seeing what's available. So a quick visit to the fabric shops on Tuesday brought up some wacky printed poly chiffon, cheap as chips at £3 a metre (I bought 4).
I found this article on Festive Attyre's blog quite helpful, and opted for not making a paper pattern. So the pattern was drafted directly onto the material, all cut in one single piece! Simple and super quick.
I didn't get the required length quite right, so my finished gown has much less beautiful draping than the original drawing, but yeah it's wearable and still looks good!
I finished most edges/hems with machine stitched rolled hems (thank heaven for the rolled hem foot!) and french seams on the skirt sides. The boat neck is hand stitched into a small rolled hem and I decided to not make it with exposed shoulders, as I wanted it to be more of a daywear dress obviously!
Did it really take one hour? No, probably longer, though I don't know how long exactly! It was super quick anyways, and I already had a simple peach silk slip to wear underneath, in a plain rectangular shape with shoulder straps. Thankfully the colour went perfectly with my wacky chiffon print! The sides of the dress are open after all, so you will get glimpses of the slipdress at some point.
I added a huge straw hat (from Nehelenia Patterns) to complete the look and shaped the brim the night before the event.
Ready for the finished product?
American Duchess! No, that's not my real hair, it's a wig from Annabelle's Wigs that I wear on stage as well.
My husband wears a period shirt from Darcy Clothing and his black wool Victorian summer trousers made by me (after Period Patterns #14 from Nehelenia Patterns, part of a 3-piece victorian suit I made for him)! Both items look timeless enough to pass for many different eras, teamed up with the right accessories!
And a few more pictures: