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The Opera and the 1 hour dress

Thursday, on a whim, I purchased tickets to the opening night of The Marriage of Figero. One of the things I love about living in Merida, is the availability of culture. There is a symphony, both the Russian and Cuban Ballet have performed here, there are lots of museums, and there are art galleries. Admittedly, I don’t attend all those things, but I like being around the people who do.

inside the Peon ContrerasOccasionally, Husband and I will go to the symphony, I’ve been to a couple of string recitals,and we periodically do other cultural things. Now that I have my INAPAM card, I’m eligible for all sorts of discounts, including a 25% one on opera tickets. For less than twenty dollars each, my friend, Carol and I sat in heaven. The 3rd row balcony seats in the newly refurbished Peon Contreras Opera House.

The appointment line at the O'Horan- only a 45 minute wait!

The appointment line at the O’Horan- only a 45 minute wait!

Opening night was yesterday, after spending the morning at the Hospital O’Horan (I’ve enrolled in Seguro Popular, but this post isn’t about that), I decided that I didn’t have anything to wear. First, I made a necklace.

La Lotería, sells cheap earrings for 17 pesos each, unless you buy 12, then they are $11.99 (a dollar?). BK bought 6 and I bought 6. Two of my pairs were identical, I thought that I could make a really cool necklace using the components. I’m currently craving butterflies, I have a pair of “marquisette” butterfly earring, a bejeweled butterfly barrette, and some butterfly fabric for a purse.

Finding where my findings and tools were hiding, took up a little time. I haven’t designated a place in my studio for them yet. I didn’t have time or the inclination for an elaborate bead weaving project, I just took some jump rings, a lobster claw clasp, and some crystal components and went to town.IMG_20150617_083504687

24 pesos worth of earrings

24 pesos worth of earrings

embroidered chiffonThe necklace needed a plain dress. I didn’t want to wear a black
blouse and black skirt, and there was some grey taupe lining fabric and some pretty grey embroidered chiffon in my stash just crying out to be made into a 1920s style dress.

This photo doesn’t do it justice, but then again, it’s charcoal grey, not exactly a bright color.
So at 1 pm, with about 6 hours to work in I decided to make a dress. Not just any dress, a dress worthy of going to the opera in.

After looking at my pinterest board titled, “Flapper, Great Gatsby, Jazz Age-the 20s!” especially the pins from Midvale Cottage, I decided to make a 1 Hour Dress, since I already had that book. Of course, I didn’t want to make a simple 1 hour dress. I mean, I had several hours, lots of hours. Plus I had successfully made a couple of 1 hour dresses already.

So first, I re-read the instructions and proceeded to cut out the blouse portion, fold it and cut out the neck. I folded it wrong, and ended up with something that would work for an empire line.  No worries, I had yards of the lining. This time, rereading again, following the directions exactly, I cut 20 inches of fabric, long enough so the blouse would reach my hips. Either they left out the part where you fold the fabric and then cut out 20 inches (40 in total) or I didn’t see it.  Hmm, what to do? Since this was to be a plain slip, I decided to just fold it in the other direction. That worked, after a fashion. If I had been using a knit fabric it would have made a snug fit, but in a thin lining fabric, after putting in french seams, it definitely would NOT have fit me. I don’t exactly have the gamine figure of the ideal 1920s flapper. Another easy fix, I simply added side panels and a bust dart to take up the armhole.

back of 1 hour dress- showing pleatBy now it was almost six, I had taken a break to have a mani-pedi, my manicurist comes to the house. A tiny rolled hem before attaching the skirt portion sped things up, instead of gathering, I put a pleat in the back. Doesn’t that look nice. So far my 1 hour dress was taking me about 4 hours.


Now to hem the neck and sleeves. I decided to face the neckline with some lace, at the point, because I was in a hurry, the fabric bunched a tiny bit. I decided to tug on the stitches and maybe finger press because I didn’t want to unpick the stitches. The fabric tore.torn neckline 1 hour dress




I ended up wearing an Indian  Shalwar Kameeze, leggings, and entirely different earrings. Today, I am going to revisit my dress, and see what I can do.

About Theresa Diaz Gray

Born in New York City, I grew up in California, and have lived in 3 countries and 6 states. I'm a first generation Cuban-American who lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I'm committed to living an abundant and creative life and helping others do so too through DIY!


  1. There is much I like about my part of Mexico. But the lack of cultural events is not one of them. I need to check on Guadalajara’s offerings more often.

  2. You had me till the end. So glad someone else tries making an outfit hours before an event. It has never worked for me, but you are so artistically adventurous, I just knew you would pull it off. You’ll have to wear it for the next cultural event. Lovely necklace!

    • Hi Kathie,

      When I was younger, I probably would have kept on sewing until the bitter end. I’ve been known to be hemming instead of walking out the door! Maybe I’m addicted to the adrenaline?

      If I had planned better, I think it would have been okay. In retrospect, I should have used a tank dress pattern that I had for the slip. I always get in trouble when I get too grandiose and start to deviate from the plan. Then I could have done the overdress.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!


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