Green Atonement dress on Kiera Knightley // Closet Core Patterns

I love colour. Hard. When I was in Paris I was utterly disappointed by the “classic French” style. Yes, everyone looks chic and elegant and timeless, but all the women also look interchangeable. A sea of grey, beige, black. Every once and I while I would peep a Parisian in red or yellow or aquamarine and it was almost titillating – like a Victorian man starved for skin who is shocked by the nape of the neck or an uncovered ankle, a shock of colour in Paris is scandalous.

My favourites are easy to spot in my closet. I have altars devoted to bright coral and acid yellow, but my oldest love is kelly green. There was a time when it was more or less the only colour I wore. I’ve branched out since then but still get verklempt when I remember this green dress from the film Atonement:


Of course, this insanely beautiful bias-cut 30’s style emerald green majestic wonder is from the film Atonement. So many of my favourite things in one garment. It is here that I would like to say a little thank you to the internets; because of you I can easily find the dozens, nay, hundreds of women also obsessed with this dress. This site does a great job of dissecting how it was made. And this one takes my obsession to dizzying new heights with an incredible history of the dress with various photos taken in person.

My reading revealed that the hallucinatory colour is probably not available at your local fabric store. A master dyer made 100 versions of this emerald green – they narrowed it down to 3 which they used at different times in the film to invoke varying subtle moods.

Suffice it to say, 3 dresses into what I hope is a lifelong learning curve/love affair, I doubt my sewing skills are quite up to snuff yet. Besides the fact that the fanciest thing I’ve done over the past few months is sprinkle parmesan on my popcorn on Netflix/jammie night with the fella. If only my friends would have ill-conceived, doomed weddings!! I NEED SPECIAL OCCASIONS TO WEAR MY DREAMS, DUDES.

Alas, you can imagine the shriek of joy uttered when this popped up on one of my embarassingly frequent “70’s vintage dress pattern” google image searches (what can I say – I’m a sucker for Studio 54 stylez):

Eff off. Get on my body immediately. She looks so easy to make! Again, occassion-less, but the more I sew the more I feel I should just wear the damned things wherever I want. I’ve earned it. I think this number would look bewitching floating behoind me when I ride my bike to the market, don’t you think?

Unfortunately every online source I’ve found for this pattern is over $70 which is more than I feel comfortable spending on a dress for a hypothetical bike ride/doomed wedding. So until then, I keep it in my dream bank and pull it out every once and a while to pet and murmur to: “One day pretty baby. One day”.


Hi! I'm Heather Lou, a pattern designer and sewing educator for the modern maker. At Closet Core Patterns, we transform your imagination into step-by-step implementation that helps you create a wardrobe you love - not one you're limited to buying off the rack.

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