Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Biba's Pink Gingham dress

Ooh my it's been awhile since I've posted an actual project! 

But I have still been sewing and scheming (and working and slothing about) and holidays are only a few days away! So many UFOs to finish and opp-shopped clothes to repair

For now however, I bring you my reproduction of Biba's gingham shift...

Do you like my Christmas decorations?


So as a recap for some of you who may have just stumbled across this post in your daily/nightly internet perusals, this humble garment was one of the first dresses sold by Barbara Hulanicki in her new role as designer for her brand, Biba in 1963

The dress was featured in The Daily Mirror in a piece on four career girls. Editor Felicity Green had requested Barbara to design an item for the feature and off the top of her head, Barbara suggested a pink gingham dress with a hole in the back and a matching Brigitte Bardot style kerchief to be sold for 25 shillings. 


The dress was so successful that they sold over 17,000 units and the 400 yards of fabric they thought would be enough for the manufacture the dress, wasn't and they resorted to petitioning all the gingham manufacturers in England for supply and ended up needing 25,000 yards!


To most Biba aficionados, finding this dress would be akin to finding the holy grail. 
It's simplicity would be passed up by any untrained eye, but one day, one might appear and the new owner would be holding onto a priceless piece of 60's fashion!


My reproduction has a few changes, but otherwise it's the same silhouette, fabric and style

The main features of this dress are the key hole back, rolled collar and of course the fabric itself.

The only changes I made were omitting the back darts (not a fan) and I brought the hem up to a modern length. This dress was designed in 1963! Dresses above the knee were still scandalous! 

Without the kerchief

I used Butterick 4712 for the pattern as it had a collar piece in the pattern. 

Making the hole in the back was as simple as cutting an even hole in the back. I just took a wild guess and snipped away! 



I made bias to finish the raw edges of the hole, before noticing it should have been faced, but I'm willing to let that slide if you do...

And of course I made the kerchief, though it might stay in the draw more that it's worn.

Front view

Back View

Roll neck collar
view showing button closure
Back view detail

And whats the point of reproducing something, if I don't also reproduce that iconic photograph?

Though I'm definitely no Paulene Stone! Every time I tried to copy her sultry look, I just ended up with duck face. 

And besides, I feel more Pattie Boyd-ish in this sugary pink number...

 



I really enjoyed making this, and it was fun to study the details of the dress and figure out how to replicate them. I hope I've done a faithful enough job, and who knows there are many more iconic items out there waiting to be brought back to life!

Thanks for taking a look lovelies! Holidays are almost here and that definitely means a lot more sewing!

Take care!
Cat xo

29 comments:

  1. You wear it well, dear Catherine! When you're out and about in this dress I'm sure you will get a thousand admiring glances along with questions like "Where on earth did you find it?" It's hard to believe a dress like this was designed in 1963. As you pointed out, revealing that much leg above the knee was scandalous at the time. As we all know, this look was widely accepted in the years that followed.

    I hope you're having a great week, dear friend Cat!

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    1. Thanks Shady! I agree - it certainly transcends the years and could be worn in any time almost, and certainly all summer long!

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  2. Absolutely gorgeous! you did a fantastic job and the length is perfect to show off your killer legs! the headscarf really suits you, too! xxx

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    1. thanks Vix! I used to love wearing headscarves when they were all the rage in the 90s!

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  3. I love it! bravo on the dress! Perfect for the hot Sydney weather. I especially like the rolled collar it is such cute detail and that you rarely see these days.

    Sewing can be so liberating! I love the idea of recreating something that inspires you, even if I am rarely that bold.

    Thanks for inspiring me. Can't wait to see what you make next!

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    1. thank you so much! There are so many things that id love to copy, but im always worried ill do a crap job at it!

      Glad to have inspired you! xo

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  4. Please make me one for my birthday next year, thanks!

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    1. please come home for my birthday next year. thanks!

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  5. Your dress is wonderful Cat , I love especially the hole in the back .

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    1. Thanks! Its a very nice little hole isnt it?

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  6. You did such a great job, I just love it! The headscarf looks really good too x

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    1. thanks Sarah! Will you get to do much sewing yourself over Christmas holidays?

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    2. I hope so! I have two weeks off work so I'm planning on getting lots of sewing done while I'm off. There's never a great deal to do between Christmas and New Year and I'm not a fan of the sales so I should be able to get some stuff done.

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    3. oooh i hate those sales! everyone looses their minds for $1 face washers or whatever!

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  7. This is so adorable and looks amazing with the kerchief! You are an amazingly talented lady, my dear. :) xoxo

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  8. It's super cute and you look just gorgeous in it!
    Such a great idea, and a great choice of frock to emulate!
    XXX

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    1. Thank you Helga! It was a pretty easy choice, especially because the fabric is still being made all these years!

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  9. i just posted on your we sew retro post thinking it was your blog but I love this dress! Your recreated poses are perfection.

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    1. Oh! ive done that a few times. i felt so goofy doing those poses, but thank you for saying so anyway!

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  10. I was so excited to see the finished product - my goodness your reproduction dress and kerchief are fantastic! You've done such a great job! They look so lovely on you and you've really done a spot on job posing like Paulene Stone, just as gorgeous. I bet you feel so fabulous walking through town in that - I would!

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    1. Oh thank you Lucy! I got to wear it today to their hair dressers - i didn't get many compliments, but I definitely wasn't wearing the same as anyone else!

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  11. Perfect match! I love the keyhole in the back! Great job :)

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    1. Its a really cool feature isn't it! Now that i've done one, i'm thinking of other ways to do little holes like that

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  12. Very cute! Love the cutout in tha back!

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  13. Wow! Awesome reproduction job!

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  14. I have been using your tutorial for turning jeans into a skirt. I did have a smile when I saw this, in the late sixties by sister had a pink gingham mini, buttons down the the front over very cute white hot pants, plus the head scarf.She kept nearly all her fab clothes, including all the clothes she had living in England, we did our big OE in the 70's, but apparently got rid of most of it a few years ago. This was probably to make way for her cook books. I was a bit more hippie than her, though there was only a year between us. How I love your blog, I'm sure I had dresses in two of the fabrics you have or it could be just my memory is going, long live Paisley print forever I say.

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