Vintage finds and retro handmade--a sweet mix I know you'll love.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Maxi Dress is Back!

Giambattista Valli, Paris Fashion Week 2012

I've been watching the dress trends slightly more than usual this season.  I guess I've just been in a girlie kind of mood, because I've been wanting almost every sundress I see in the sales circulars, emails, and stores.

The top trends this year seem to be maxi dresses and mullet dresses.  In case you aren't familiar with the names, a maxi dress is full-length, narrow-profile (columnar) dress that tends to have a sort of ancient Greek vibe about it.  The mullet dress (also called dipped hem dress) has a rounded hem, sort of like the hem of a men's dress shirt, that is longer in the back than the front. Sometimes it is full-length, but frequently it is about knee-length in the front, and mid- to lower-calf length in the back.

The last time maxi dresses were really popular was the 70s, while the mullet dress style was last popular in the very late 80s into the 90s.  Both styles were borrowed from earlier eras, as well.  The maxi style was from the turn of the 20th century, and the mullet hem seems to come from the 1920s.

Besides the trends in sundress cuts, I've seen them divided pretty evenly into three types of fabric prints:
Asos Dipped Hem Dress
  • Bohemian/tribal--Bohemian prints include the colorful zigzag, Ikat, and southwestern prints, along with feather and leaf motifs, mostly in earthy colors.  It all has a sort of "Return of the Native" or "Back to Nature" vibe.
  • French/nautical--The most popular motif for this trend is narrow, horizontal stripes, because the classic French sailor's uniform had a shirt with narrow navy blue and white alternating stripes.  Besides this obvious nod to the French navy, you might also be seeing rope prints and trims, solid deep blues with a military design (like the pants that French sailors wore), and aquatic life in the prints or as a border along the hem or waistline. 
  • Colorblock/Geometric or Organic Shapes--These dresses have very bright, frequently neon colors in large geometric shapes, floral prints enlarged to such an extent that they no longer look like flowers, or sections of the dress in solid blocks of color.
McCalls Pattern 4533
Although I have vintage scarves available in these prints and colors, I really have no plans to sell larger pieces of vintage clothing at this time. However, I do have several vintage sewing patterns that make maxi-length dresses. Most of my patterns are from the 70s and early 80s.  I just thought I'd share them here, in case you would like to make a dress in this style, customized with your own choice of fabric.

Out of all my patterns, this McCalls pattern from 1975 looks very easy--mostly straight seams and very little embellishment. I think it would be great for a beginning seamstress, or for someone who just wants to whip one up quickly before they lose interest in the project or the season is over.
Butterick Pattern 6510

There is also this Butterick pattern from 1984, which I think was designed for evening wear or the office. The sleeve lengths, skirt lengths, and necklines are interchangeable for maximum versatility.

I'm sure either pattern could be converted to mullet hems by an experienced seamstress, but getting the rounded shape to hang right will take some doing, as my mother used to say.  Converting the pattern is not something a beginner should try.

I have other patterns in that section that work for the maxi trend, should you decide to check it out. Just click on the links under the photos and go exploring in the sewing pattern section in my store.

Thanks for reading!  More to come, next time.

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