vionnet dress pattern 2 (1917) – wrapped with roses

vionnet2-wrap32Vionnet Muslin #2 is done! Out of 28 dresses, that means I am 7% finished!

vionnet2-wrap43Here is the photo from the Bunka book. I read that the garments photographed in the Bunka book are not the original Vionnets, but are Japanese remakes. The advantage of this is that the garments are new, have never been worn, and in general are in much better condition than the originals. Note the ease available in the bodice. I’ll be honest, when I first saw this, I had no idea what this was. MC Hammer pants? With a rug attached to the back? With bobbles all over the straps and bodice?

vionnet2-wrap41I did some intense googling of the phrases “Vionnet Rose Dress” and found this photo of an original Vionnet dress from a book review on Japanese fashion designers. It was shown as a source of inspiration for Issey Miyake. I noticed a few things. The fabric used in this dress is a lot slinkier than the Bunka dress. Every drape in this photo just hangs down immediately. Also, that bodice is tight. Could it really have been worn by a non mannequin that smoothly without any wrinkles showing up? The hem is also uneven and raw. Bunka’s hem is straight and finished.

vionnet2-wrap42I also found this photo from the MET Online Gallery. Still not very helpful in helping me decipher what this was. I wonder if age of fabric changes anything too, I mean a garment’s drape can change quite a bit in 80ish years right?

vionnet2-wrap44Time to play. Here are my pattern pieces, let’s see if I can get a dress made out of these funny shapes. Once again, everything is cut on the grainline.

vionnet2-wrap02The skirt portion of this dress was long. Longer than my table long. I just traced what I could with a sharpie directly on my fabric, then scooted it off the table to trace the remaining portion. How I love the ease of working with muslins!

vionnet2-wrap03I transferred my lines by pressing the tip of the sharpie down on the paper for a few seconds to let it bleed through to the fabric and create a dot. Then I removed the paper and connected all my dots. Don’t worry I would never do this on real fabric.

vionnet2-wrap05All cut out and ready to be sewn!

vionnet2-wrap06Then I wondered if I was making some sort of Marilyn Monroe halter dress.


vionnet2-wrap08Nope – they’re the back poofs that go in the back. (If there is an official term for the poofs, please let me know. Bubble? Thanks.)

vionnet2-wrap09Then I gathered a rectangle and attached it to the long rectangle. This skirt portion had so much gathering involved – I gathered a total of 9 times I think. A great way to use up that spool of thread that never ends – because this project will deplete that spool.

vionnet2-wrap10Here is the bodice. With a ruler. One look and I knew this was going to be a problem. No way was this piece going to actually fit around me.

vionnet2-wrap11Told you so.

vionnet2-wrap12Since I knew it wasn’t going to fit, I only pinned the skirt to the bodice so I wouldn’t have to do a bunch of unpicking later. Note how the side seams are not on my side, but on my back.

vionnet2-wrap13Here is the bodice section on me, not actually covering a lot of my bodice.

vionnet2-wrap14Compare it to the skirt, which was wide enough to wrap around me more than twice! So I knew that although the bodice didn’t fit, the skirt had plenty of width to ensure that I could make a bigger bodice to go with it.

vionnet2-wrap15And if that didn’t work, well, I’d make some sort of cape with the fabric.

vionnet2-wrap16I decided to add 3” to the center back.

vionnet2-wrap17I also added 3” to the center front, but then removed 1/2”. So in total 2 1/2” was added to each side for the CF. Also, the bodice front is the only part of this garment that is worn on the bias.

vionnet2-wrap18MUCH better! I was pleased that it worked!

vionnet2-wrap19Now I had to figure out how to actually wear the thing.

vionnet2-wrap20Part of the skirt has a drawstring inside in addition to the main wrap ties on the outside.

vionnet2-wrap21And here is where I became confused. If left like this, I got a gap in my midriff. Sure some arranging could have hidden it, but it’s a burden to keep pulling the skirt up. So I stitched the drawstring portion to the bodice and tie, thus eliminating it’s function as a drawstring. I’m very sure I did something wrong here, but it seemed the most reasonable situation for me. With the drawstring portion of the skirt firmly anchored to the wrap tie, it meant that it ensured the skirt would overlap correctly over the opposite side. I also attached a ribbon to the inside of the right side seam so I could tie the drawstring to it.

vionnet2-wrap45My beautiful roses! Why bother with thorns when you have fabric? I decided I wanted the roses on my dress too, because if I already had the poof and the carpet in the back, it would be wrong to exclude these lovelies. I used the Vionnet bias fold rose pattern from the Center for Pattern Design. It isn’t available by .pdf, so if you want to make them realize there won’t be an instant gratification unless you order ahead of time.

vionnet2-wrap47It is essentially a giant triangle folded in half, rolled into a spiral, then stitched on the raw edges. Warning, it can get thick. Luckily I was able to machine stitch my rose closed, but if not, I would’ve had to do a lot of hand sewing.

vionnet2-wrap46This is why you shouldn’t multitask. I accidentally started sewing my roses to the waist seam instead of the upper bodice edge. Unpicking hand stitches is the worst feeling!

vionnet2-wrap22However, it was all worth it in the end! Excuse my face, the sun decided to pop out.

vionnet2-wrap01At first I thought the roses were ridiculous, but when seen in real life, they really do work well with the dress. It’s just one of those things where a photograph can’t compare to the real thing.

vionnet2-wrap23I put my hair up in a top bun because I didn’t want to hide the neck strap and roses. It’d be a shame after all that rolling and hand sewing.

vionnet2-wrap24The silhouette is really original. They still look like Aladdin pants to me.

vionnet2-wrap25A slight twist in angle changes that – back to a skirt here.

vionnet2-wrap26Now, about that bodice. It’s a balance that all depends on the neck strap. If the neck strap is comfortable, the bodice tends to creep down and droop. If I want the bodice to stay up and wrinkle free, I have to really shorten the neck strap so that it digs into my neck and is very uncomfortable. Of course it doesn’t matter right now, but were this to be a wear-in-public dress, I’m not sure what I would do.

vionnet2-wrap28I’m a big fan of how the back is divided up in layers. At the top you have roses, then a smooth bodice, then a wrapped sash, then a smooth bodice, then a super gathered skirt. It’s like rock layers in geology!

vionnet2-wrap29Poof from the front. Each poof is made of 3 pieces of fabric – scroll back up to the Marilyn Monroe halter dress comment to see what I mean.

vionnet2-wrap30Poof from the back.

vionnet2-wrap34You can slide your arms through the poofs.

vionnet2-wrap35This dress became a lot more fun when I discovered this.

vionnet2-wrap36Because, look! The poofs become sleeves in case you are feeling chilly and don’t want to show that much skin! And the gathered seam line sits perfectly on your arms!

vionnet2-wrap37From the back the poof sleeves look very elegant.

vionnet2-wrap38I doubt Vionnet intended her dress to be worn like this, but I love love love garments with secret transformations. This is also why I suggest making your own Vionnets, because even if you did somehow get access to real Vionnet dresses from a museum, I highly doubt they would let you play with it and discover different ways of wearing them.

vionnet2-wrap31In movement the dress is stunning as usual. The wrap skirt, rug layer, and poofs all complement each other nicely.

vionnet2-wrap33The poof also has a subtle V shape, which also gives you a more hourglass shape.

vionnet2-wrap39And instead of flooding you with more photos, here’s an animated gif of how to put it on.

vionnet2-wrap40You know no museum would allow a person to pose like this with a Vionnet dress. This dress sits way on the bottom of my “make for public wear” list, just because I’d have to do some major reinterpretations to make it wearable for me. Moving on to Vionnet #3 now!

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