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THE 1920’S MATA HARI DRESS Monday, October 23 2017
I used some gorgeous hemp silk from Organic Cotton Plus, that I was given in exchange for a review.  I had never sewn with hemp before and it sounded interesting and a good fabric for this dress.  The fabric was un-dyed and I wanted to try dyeing it, so Organic Cotton Plus also sent me the procion dye and soda ash to dye the fabric and experiment with.  This fabric was so nice with a beautiful sheen and it resembled linen. It’s a kind of a light midweight fabric and opaque and just gorgeous.
I thoroughly read the directions and followed them for the first time that I dyed the fabric.  The only thing was that I did not have was enough salt in the dye and I’m not certain if that effected the color, but it turned into more of an apple green color.  Looking at the photos now as I write this blog post, it pretty much looks exactly like the color in the jar.  At first, I thought about going with that color, but I really did want more of blue tinged emerald green for this dress, so I decided to dye the fabric again.  I used an emerald Rit dye for the second try and got it a little darker, but still not the color I imagined it would be.  So I tried dyeing it one more time.  Third time’s a charm, right?  The last time, I used a teal dye and got a color that was much closer to what I pictured in my head.
I paired the hemp silk with silk cotton that I had leftover in my stash from another project.  The two fabrics went so well together and the lightweight silk blend fabric didn’t add bulk under the overblouse.

My inspiration for this outfit was a 1920’s version of Mata Hari.  I made this to wear to the Friday Night Social at Costume College, which had a spy theme.

Ever since I bought this pattern a couple of years ago, I pictured using gold bias tape for the trim.  I think it went well for what I envisioned with kind of a gold lame look.  I added gold bugle beads to the trim as well as a beaded tassel on the overblouse.  I’m not sure why the tassel doesn’t fall over the side drape on the dressform, as it seems to when I wear it.

That beaded trim took me much longer to complete than I thought it would.  There’s a lot of territory to cover on those tiers!  I was sidelined by the wildfire, which put me behind on my projects.  I brought this dress to work on while we were evacuated, but didn’t have much desire to bead it.  I ended up beading it while we drove down to LA and even did some of it while I was sitting in a lecture at CoCo.  I didn’t notice until the trip down that I hadn’t even hemmed the dress, so I hand sewed the hem in a CoCo lecture as well.  I also had failed to add the gold bias tape to the side slit on the skirt, so that’s something I need to do in the future.

I did a lot of hand sewing on this ensemble, which is something that I think always gives a better finish, especially with vintage outfits.

This fabric was really a dream to sew with.  Like I mentioned before, it’s a lot like linen, with a beautiful texture and sheen.  It does wrinkle a bit, but not as bad as linen.

I actually prefer this dress without the overblouse, but I love the three tiers.  Janet (Decades of Style) mentioned that another sewist had made a jacket out of the overblouse, so I think that’s what I’m going to do.  I think that hack will work and be pretty easy with a slit down the center.

As with most 20’s patterns, I went up a size at the hips to achieve the loose columnar fit with this dress.

The lightweight silk cotton that I used for the bodice is a bit sheer, so I have a slip on underneath it.  To be period correct, I should be wearing a slip regardless.  Janet had recommended using the same dress fabric for the bodice, so that you can wear this ensemble with or without the overblouse.  I didn’t have enough fabric for the bodice, but thankfully I had a similarly colored fabric already in my stash.  The pattern suggests using a lining fabric for the bodice.

This dress wasn’t really one of my favorites to sew.  Why?  I guess it was just because those tiers weren’t that fun to sew, but the effect that they give is well worth the effort.

When I put this dress on to take photos of it, I forgot to add the sautoir necklace that I wore with it at CoCo.  Below is a photo from Coco and how I wore it there.  I still need to work on taking photos in public with another photographer…. I am so much better posing when I’m by myself.

As I keep making/wearing gold outfits, I’ve put some gold shoes on my wish list. :0


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