vogue 1043: lady mary style

inspiration point: lady mary’s sheer surplice bodice dinner gown from series 1 with green underdress

our office holiday party was on friday, which obviously required a new dress.  not only was it my first time to dress up in a little while, my company was recently acquired and there were 300 new co-workers on whom to make an impression.


i had been wanting for a while to riff on one of the series one downton abbey gowns of lady mary’s, a neat bit of sheer work with applique and a green underdress.  however, as i started chewing on this idea, i realized i needed to do more than riff, i needed to adapt.

(interesting side note – at what point does a design idea go from rip-off to “inspired by” to “i sort of saw this picture i liked once”?  at what point do you start to claim it as more your own?  i’m pretty sure i’m squarely in the “inspired by” camp, but where i once would have been slavishly attentive to the details in the photograph, i felt completely free to sub in details that i preferred.)


so i started with vogue 1043, which had a surplice bodice i had already fitted and worked on.  i changed the side zipper to a CB because i wanted to hand-pick and bead the zipper.  i went for a high-low hem, because even though this trend is EVERYWHERE, i sort of love it.  it adds a major element of fun to a garment, and i cannot help myself.  so i took the quarter-circle skirt of V1043, adjusted the hems, and added gathering in the back two panels for an almost-bustle and some skirt volume.  i almost went super-trendy and did an even sheerer dress over a shorter skirt, for that au currant long-sheer-skirt-over-hot-pants look, but i decided that was taking it a bit too far.  and also, all of the really gorgeous sheer fabric was more slippery and harder to work with than this lovely light cotton voile.


i didn’t want to use the cut-on, fifties-style sleeves WITH A FREAKING GUSSET on a dress that i wanted to wear in less than a week.  i knew that one bad session with the machine on that gusset piece would banish the dress straight to area 51.  so i used my sloper sleeve to draft a tulip sleeve, and then spread the tulip sleeve hem to something absurd.  i used some sheer black pleated cotton from paron’s to get a cool sleeve, sort of like another lady mary dress i am fond of.

instead of the crazy detailed embroidery, i found a completely brilliant butterfly applique at mood fabrics in exactly the colors i was trying to play with.  i love a butterfly motif like nothing else – for a period of time i had a co-worker who called me “madame butterfly” because i always wore a butterfly necklace and earrings.

20121210-102331.jpgfor the underdress/slip, i pulled out a long-neglected UFO portion of vogue 1160, and modified the hem to match my dress.  i got some spot-on hem lace at M&J trimmings, but to be honest, both of my hems on this effort are really, really pathetic.  for some reason i seem to be incapable of doing a rolled hem on any of my sewing machines.  but black fabric and black thread can overcome a lot of sins!

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10 Responses to vogue 1043: lady mary style

  1. Clio says:

    Oh I like everything you did with this dress – the hi/low hem, the underslip, the zipper. Beautiful, beautiful details! It does have a bit of a Downton feel, but I never would have identified the inspiration if you hadn’t said it.

    Aside: I’m not sure I believe anyone who tells me they can do a machine rolled hem.

  2. Kimbersew says:

    beautiful!! I especially love the almost-bustle fullness in back. I’d say you can claim this fully your own- or with a nod to Downton Abbey. lovely work and lovely on you.

  3. megthegrand says:

    The high-low skirt really makes this dress into a perfect and smashing piece! I love the beaded zipper with a fiery passion – what a marvelous touch! I bet you just rocked their socks off and made a grand impression 🙂

  4. Kat H says:

    Gorgeous! I especially love the floaty sleeves. 🙂

  5. prttynpnk says:

    This is so lovely- you look work appropriate (I struggle with that one!) but still very you and it’s so gorgeous!!!

  6. Oh man, I laughed so hard at “I saw this picture I sort of liked once” because I feel like that happens to me all the time! I am in love with your beaded zipper, and that sheer overlay with the slip goes so well with the mullet hem. Gorgeous dress!

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