Behind the Seams: The “Abandoned Hangar” Dress

Its the Oscar Inspiration Week! This week for TSW Challenge, we are to pick an inspiration from the best costume winners of the past and create an interpretation of them that we can wear outside of a movie set in 2011.

My movie of choice is The Aviator (2004), a biopic depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes’ career, from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s. The film was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Leo Dicaprio (Hughes), Cate Blanchett (Katherine Hepburn) and Kate Beckinsale (Ava Gardner). I watched the DVD of this film around a month ago and loved the costumes! My TSW post can be found here.

Off course I was tossed between Kate and Ava! But, in the end I chose to do an interpretation of the mustard gown Kate wore to a movie premiere. Here are the shots I took from my TV screen so please excuse the resolution.

Pattern Review

Eva dress pattern 1939 Evening gown



I used this 1939 Evening Gown sewing pattern from Eva dress which is a reproduction of McCall’s 9906 but instead of doing the long sleeves gown version, I sewed the short sleeves version and shortened the skirt length to make it more wearable.

The pattern and instruction are very much notch driven (so if you are using this pattern, remember to mark all of them) and the diagrams are helpful. The only part I found confusing was with reference to the yardage required for each variation as I realized later that there were three variations to the dress though the cover only showed two. A long gown with long sleeves, a dress with short sleeves and a dress with scalloped sleeves. I used around 2.5 to 3 yards of fabric for version B which is the scalloped sleeves version. This is not a difficult dress to make and can be completed quite quickly.

The fabric is exquisite. It’s a Hugo Boss crinkle jacquard in bronze & cream from emmaonesock. When cutting, I had to ensure that I cut all pieces in one direction.

Photography Adventure

I’m very tripod dependent but once in a while hubby is at home to lend a hand. Yay! Since the movie that inspired the dress is about Hughes and his love for aviation, I wanted to have the photos taken at Singapore’s first airport, the Kallang airport. Opened in 1937 (coincidentally, just two years before my dress pattern!), most of the airport has since been demolished or put to other uses, the distinctive terminal building was used as the headquarters of a statutory board until April 2009. It is currently unoccupied.

When I reach the location, however, there was major renovation taking place and the security guard did not allow us in.

Nonetheless, hubby and I didn’t give up and we soon discovered that outside the main gate were some historical walls and structures we could still use as background for the shoot. A structure that looked very much like an abandoned airplane hangar, the old colonial gates/ entrance to the airport and an old, partly demolished wall as you will find in the photos below. These structures made quite an impression on me as forgotten pieces of history and while I wasn’t allowed into the main terminal building, I sure hope the renovation will put it back to good use once again.

The Gallery

I love how this dress turned out!  We went shopping after the photos were taken and I felt fab in it. Love the movement of the skirt, the super-duper flattering and yet very classy fit. I even loved the bronze colored fabric which I initially thought might be a little aging to wear but it turned out delightful! Here are the close ups shots.

A special thanks to hubby for these photos and enduring mosquito bites with me that afternoon:) My sewing machine is finally home today! I miss it so much! Gotta get the next project going!

Have a wonderful week everyone!


38 thoughts on “Behind the Seams: The “Abandoned Hangar” Dress

  1. Thank you so much everyone!
    @Tanit Isis: I know what you mean, I’ve made a 70s dress with a similar midriff too but I think 40s drapes and gathers are what makes the era different.
    @Catherine Daze: Thank you so much, unfortunately we weren’t given full access to the place:)

  2. Your Hubby did VERY well with the photos, they look gorgeous and show your dress of beautifully!

    I really is an amazing pattern, I wonder when those repro patterns came out? It is hard to find patterns before 1950s (especially in Australia), so it’d be great to know where they are available! xoxo

  3. wow! What a nice dress and photo session!. Your waist looks like a wasp (remember those Dior dresses with wasp waists?). Congratulations to your hubby-photographer!

  4. The dress is beautiful, such a timeless classic.

    You did a great job on the point for the yoke. Did you document that part? It would make a great tutorial.

    Can’t wait for next week.

  5. wow, another stunning dress for you. I really love how you are able to make dresses that look casual and effortless but still very pretty and flattering.
    once again great job

  6. this post excites me. lol! it’s a pity you can’t pose in front of an old airplane. how about trying seletar airport next time? 🙂

    the dress is biiii-oooo—tiful! love the fabric, you made a very wise decision. 🙂 it reminds me of the swing dress i’m working on abit and after seeing this, i’m going to make another one, with shorter sleeves and hem.

    thumbs up!

  7. I adore the fabric. You have picked a perfect pattern for its weight so it drapes so beautifully and you look so comfortable in it. I am very sure you will get lots of wears out of it. And I love the colour of your shoes with it.

    I really love everything you sew but this has a certain extra appeal.

  8. Each time I have a look to your work, I think you did better and better. You did a fantastic job with this one. It suits you very well and the style is yours. And the pictures are just you through your lover’s eyes.
    Have a nice week-end.

  9. Girl you amaze me. I thought the same thing about this “aging” one. But no no no.
    It’s very flattering, and what an appropriate fabric! You are so good. Sew up something from Twinkle Sews so I”ll be inspired to try something outta there again. You are one of the best blogger/seamstress (do we still use that word?) I have seen so far. Bravo.

  10. Thank you & Merci everyone!
    @Donna: Thank you so much! I’ve been trying to fit something into the themes from craft books so Twinkle Sews will be coming up once it fits in:) Thanks for the encouragement, it means so much to me:)
    @Peggy: Merci and really appreciate your encouragement, have a lovely one too!
    @Oonaballoona: LOL! You are a funny gal and I love your dresses too:)

  11. @Irene: Thank you. Actually, there is something extra in this one, a more expensive fabric hahaha:)
    @Fiona: LOL! Seletar- I’ve never been there so not sure what’s there to use as background kekeke. Good luck with the swing dress!
    @Jane D: Sorry I didn’t take any shots of that part. It was pretty straight forward and I simply followed the instructions. I am so glad you are looking forward to next week:)
    @raquel from florida: Wow! I googled those dresses and they are stunning! It was indeed great to have hubby around to help:)

  12. I love your work! I’m trying to make two thirties style dresses. The first is the Collette one, I forgot the name but it’s on the bias, yes Oolong! I like this for the second one you made here too and I know you made both so I was wondering, do you think they are too similar to one another?

  13. Thank you Justine! Based on my memory, I think the two designs though similar in some ways (bias cut skirts, gathered bodice) have some significant difference. The lapped shoulder seams of the Evadress pattern, the shorter sleeves and the fuller skirt all made a difference, the lapped seams in particular made the design distinctively 40s. I actually prefer this design to the Oolong as found it more flattering for my body type. Having said that, the oolong is really easy to sew and it’s a slip on- no zipper or buttons so that’s a wonderful to have in the wardrobe as well. Hope that helps:)

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  17. Wow, this is gorgeous! The fabric choice is lovely and the style and drape are classically beautiful…we used to know how to design such lovely garments that are so feminine and flattering.

  18. Looking at the pattern picture, I would never have thought I would like this dress, but WOW. It so cute, and something I would definitely wear. I’ve been searching the internet trying to get a copy myself, but no luck so far. I’ll have to keep searching. Did you make any changes to the pattern, or did you just make the short sleeve, short skirt version exactly as the pattern specifies?

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