Monday, September 12, 2016

1940s Floral Dress

For my next 1940s dress, I chose this lovely pattern:

I had some very odd pieces of my floral fabric, because I had originally used it to make a mock-up of one of the bridesmaid dresses for my wedding, and it was cut on the bias.  So I had about a yard and a half of yardage left, plus scraps like this:

I needed to use these odd scraps to cut out some of the bodice pieces:

It was a little funky cutting them out, especially since so many of the pieces needed to be cut on the fold:

I used the thread-pulling method to determine the straight of grain:

I cut out the bodice using my new multi-size cutting method - size 12 at the shoulders, 14 at the bust, and 16 at the waist.

To help me remember all this, I like to highlight the size I'm cutting at each juncture:

This pattern only went up to size 14, so I had to improvise slightly:

You'll see I also wrote some instructions on the pattern piece for making it into a blouse, which I actually did before making the dress, as a sort of test-run for my modifications.  The blouse is halfway done, but that's another post.

Construction was fairly straightforward, just following the pattern instructions for once (although I accidentally installed the invisible zipper on the opposite side seam as directed).  The only issue I had was with attaching the skirt front to the yoke:

It may be hard to see in the pictures, but the center of the gathered skirt section formed an odd little bump which would be decidedly unattractive on the finished dress.

I solved this by pulling that center section upwards until the excess fabric was eliminated:

This is how the revised stitching line looked on the inside:

Other than that, the pattern and instructions were excellent.  I had one more small issue, but this I blame on my fabric:

Kind of hard to see, but the bottom point of the back neck slit frayed out.  I doubt I would have this problem with a sturdier fabric.  I had chosen a rather cheap polyester satin.

To solve the problem, I hand-stitched around the edge of the point with a buttonhole stitch, just as I would do with petticoat pocket slits in my 18th Century costuming.

I hemmed the dress with lace seam/hem tape from my stash, sewing the top edge by hand:

I like the extra weight and stability it gives to the hem.

I actually finished the dress in early August, and wore it for the first time when I was still in Iowa visiting my parents and sisters.  I got a couple pictures of it then, but didn't do a proper photo shoot until just over a week ago, after Brian the Engineer and I got home and had settled back in.

I love this dress!

I set my hair in pin-curls the night before, and did my best to wrangle them into a passable 1940s style:

It's a learning process.
I of course accessorized with my red sunhat and Loraine 1940s sandals from Royal Vintage Shoes.  

You may notice one thing missing from the 1940s silhouette - shoulder pads.  I haven't decided yet if I want to add them and make the dress more authentic, or keep it as-is - 1940s inspired.  I worry that shoulder pads would look wrong on me.  I do not have 1940s shoulders.

I have 1840s shoulders.  
Nonetheless, the dress is comfortable and incredibly fun to wear.

Especially with awesome accessories!

After the photo shoot, I played some more with my hair and came up with a more formal updo:

If it weren't for my aversion to shoulder pads and lipstick, I think I could be quite at home in the 40s!  


  1. Ooh pretty. This was next on my To Do list (if I even finish 1777), but has been overtaken by events. Love the fabric, and your updo is perfect.

    1. Thank you! It's a marvelous pattern, I think. I'm planning to make it again in purple rayon.