1960s · Dress · Finished! · Vintage

Vintage Sewing: the “Jenny in Paris” dress

Hey, did you guys see the movie “An Education?” It came out a little over a year ago and is about a girl named Jenny (played by the oh-so-talented Carey Mulligan) who excels at academics and studies constantly in order to realize her dream of going to Oxford. But, one day after her student orchestra group she meets “music lover” David who  drives a fancy car and offers to give her a ride home since it’s raining. One thing leads to another, and eventually they wind up together. I won’t spoil the ending, but this David character is NOT who he seems to be (surprise, surprise).

Anyways, I was inspired by the dress that Jenny wears in Paris, a place she’s always wanted to visit (all throughout the movie she speaks French and secretly puffs away at cigarettes. Very chic, although I don’t want to imagine what her lungs look like) and that David takes her to, since, well, he has means as he’s not in her age group.

The dress! Although I'm not in Paris, but the backyard, so please excuse the lack of European scenery.

My version is made out of a remnant of painted linen that I got from Pacific Fabrics during the Sewing Expo in February and is lined in white cotton lawn that I had in the stash. I have to say that since I saw the movie for the first time last year, I have searched tirelessly for similar fabric to the dress, and the closest I could find was this from fabric.com (although in a different colorway).

I omitted the tie that Jenny has on her dress due to simple lack of fabric (I think I squeezed this out of a yard and a quarter of fabric) but I do have some leftover pieces that I want to make into a belt, since self-fabric belts seem to be very popular on vintage dresses.

I also paired this dress with one of my favorite hair styles, the French twist! (Quite appropriate, don’t ya think?) Today was the first day of summer AND the temp here in the Pac NW climbed up to 80*, but I was nice and cool with my hair twisted up and pinned.

This dress, like Jenny’s relationship with David throughout the film, was a series of firsts for me. This was the first time I made a pencil skirt (which included a vent) and the first time that I put in an invisible zipper. I just have to say that I am now in love with invisible zippers. They are way easier than I thought they would be, and they just make a garment look so much more professional and less home-made. I found a great tutorial in a sewing magazine I have, and you can actually insert one of these suckers without needing an invisible zipper foot. You do need a regular ol’ zipper foot, but don’t you always?

For those interested, the bodice is a heavily modified version of this bodice pattern (I lowered the neckline and took out some extra length) and the skirt is from this pattern. Definitely a mish-mash of 2 patterns that weren’t entirely meant to go together, but I have toiles from both of these that I know fit, and it made construction of this dress so fast and easy.

And finally, I just had to share my new shoes! They’re flowered canvas flats with a peep-toe. Oh-so-comfy and quite chic in my opinion. I’m expecting to get lots of wear out of these this summer!

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4 thoughts on “Vintage Sewing: the “Jenny in Paris” dress

  1. Wow, that turned out fabulously! Way to go! I admire your ability to create garments you see. . . Though I do lament alongside you the lack of European scenery around here 😉

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