renfrew, lady mary style

i’m on a bit of a downton kick lately–i’ve already watched series 3 three times, and i just finished my (now traditional) christmas viewing of series 2. just don’t talk to me about this year’s christmas special. i don’t even have the words.

The sisters Crawley- Lady Edith, Lady Mary and Lady Sybil, season 2

for many, many moons now i’ve wanted to adapt this dinner dress of lady mary’s (circa 1918 in the show) into something wearable and a little more modern for myself.  you may even recall some of my earlier ideas:

i’ve become quite fond of the idea of doing this look as a blouse. a nice, basic bodice with vaguely corset-inspired stylines would be a great start:

in this instance, i would probably trace off the pattern to get the right shape, and eliminate the button front by re-aligning the center fronts minus the placket. then i could decide whether to commit to the pintucks or keep it more straight. can’t you see it in a great blue lace with a blue underlining? and the sleeves would be fun to figure out, although probably a fair bit of work to determine the best way to design, cut and insert those velvet bits and the tie-end.  (february 2012)

in fact, i started a version using these ideas, and it did not go well.  total wadder.  wrong combination of…everything, really:  attitude, fabric, timing, design.  it’s still partially finished and shoved into a file folder in area 51.


then i saw cation design’s “dutchess of cambridge” reglan sleeve t-shirt and i felt a rekindled inspiration.  this was a much more approachable version of the design i was looking for:  less fussy, less complicated, more wearable.  i went straight to gorgeous fabrics and pulled up the knits page–it must have been meant to be.  right there on the page were the three fabrics i needed:  a navy floral lace, a navy knit lining, and this great navy lace/stripe/mesh combo for the sleeve detail.


i did have a bit of an adventure drafting and cutting the blouse.  i used my renfrew as a base, for sure, having packed the fabric and some of the pattern pieces with me when i went to sit-n-sew.  but i didn’t have all of the pieces i needed and i definitely resorted to some strange and desperate tricks that involved two trips to the towson location of barnes and noble to “borrow” a book that had some of the pattern details i wanted.  and a lot of cutting of fabric on a slightly skanky hotel room carpet.

the meshy lace was very delicate and required stay tape on that sleeve cap.  the downside of this is that the sleeve is now much tighter than it should be to allow for maximum movement, and a little itchy from the stay tape being placed on the right side of the fabric before i stitched it down.  that aside, construction was fairly straightforward:  i treated the floral lace and the knit lining as one layer, and then finished the edges with shiny blue fold-over elastic scored at pacific trim in NYC.  the sleeve hem is finished with a bit of selvedge from the meshy knit to keep it looking delicate.  for now, there are no tie ends.  i’m not sure if i will ever go back and reconsider those.


BUT!  it is now a little piece of 1918 here in 2012.  and i have the most amazing blue lacy tights (pictured) to complete the look, here styled with my favorite simplicity 2571 1940s skirt.

i’ll wear it again when i am out of mourning after that christmas special…

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5 Responses to renfrew, lady mary style

  1. Jenny says:

    Wow–this is so beautiful!
    I am slightly ashamed to admit that I’ve never watched Downton Abbey. I’ve heard it’s amazing, just never taken the plunge myself.

  2. Clio says:

    Love this! That was one of my favorite Lady Mary dresses and you really hit the nail on the head with bringing it up to date!

  3. Pingback: FO: insanely frankenpatterned yet awesome star wars t-shirt | puu's door of time

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