Tuesday, May 30, 2017

1944 Daisies Maternity Dress

My second #vintagepledge dress is done!  It's another maternity dress from a a real vintage pattern, also dating from 1944.  (See the first one here.)  I loved this pattern for the creative use of belt ties for an adjustable gathered waist, the neckline, the sleeves, and the pockets!

My fabric is a bright and cheerful red floral rayon challis that I bought on a whim from Denver Fabrics last summer.  I got the piece on clearance for $8!  I was quite pleased with that purchase.  It was a 2-yd remnant - 60" wide - and of course the pattern called for 3 1/8 yards of 42" wide fabric, so that was going to make cutting interesting...

I started with a mock-up, which I actually made at the same time as the mockup for my first maternity dress.  On this one, I decided to try out both sleeve options:

Actually, there are three sleeve options - the third is a wrist-length sleeve gathered into a cuff, but I didn't really like that one.  I was torn between the short sleeve and the 3/4, but I was fairly certain that I wouldn't have enough fabric for the longer sleeve, anyway.

I was right, as it happens.  I *barely* had enough for the short sleeve!

I had also added a bit of extra width to the mock-up because I thought I would need to size up again (turns out I didn't) from 18 to 20, but I ended up not having enough fabric to do that, either.

I cut everything out except the belt ties, but you can see above how I left as much space for them as possible the middle of the yardage.  I knew I would have to piece them.

This is how much fabric I ended up with for the ties:

I pulled threads to get the straight-of-grain, then lined up the pattern piece to get the width:

More thread pulling:

I ended up with one piece the full width of the fabric, and two shorter ones that I added onto each end.  Then I cut the seamed piece in half to make two ties, which ended up being only about 6" shorter than the pattern piece.  Close enough, I said!

The dress construction was quite interesting, but unfortunately I did not take many photos as I was making it.  It was kind of fun how each of the notches for the seams were numbered in the order in which you are meant to sew them together.  I've seen this before on vintage patterns, but the was my first time using one like it.

One small change I made was to omit the neck stay from the cutting layout, mainly because I didn't want to waste any of my precious fabric on a piece that would never be seen.  Instead I used seam binding from my stash:

I also had to fudge the seam allowances on a couple of pieces, which resulted in spots like this:

Not a big deal, as long as the missing bit is confined to the seam allowance.

I used the same package of seam binding above to finish the hem in the same way as my previous dress, but there wasn't enough to also hem the sleeves.  I found another package of similar tape:

Slightly different edge:

The directions were a bit confusing at times, and used some terminology I was not familiar with.  For instance, "waist" instead of "bodice."  Also, because of the way they are printed the written descriptions of each step do not always line up with the corresponding line drawing, so I had to read them over several times before proceeding.  But I didn't make any mistakes!

All in all, I liked the pattern.  I did skip the bows at the neckline, and the shoulder pads.  I also did not add snaps to the front yoke, as I didn't have any problems with the neckline gapping.  The dress is a comfortable pull-over style (and I love any dress that doesn't involve me sewing zippers!), but as it's meant to be worn it's not terribly flattering:

At least, not over a 39-week pregnant belly.

Pockets are nice, though.
It might have been cuter in the first few months of pregnancy.

Brian the Engineer opined that it looked more like a housedress than a going-out dress.  So I re-styled it slightly.

All I did was lift the front waist up above my belly, cinching the belt tighter for more gathers.

Now I have a defined waist!  Much better.

Accessories help, too.
I'm wearing Victory Red Lipstick from Besame Cosmetics, vintage gloves from my collection, Loraine shoes by b.a.i.t. from Royal Vintage Shoes, and seamed stockings from What Katie Did.

I really like the fact that the top edge of the pocket is larger than the side front skirt panel where it is attached, which makes the pockets stand open just a bit.  It makes them an obviously intentional design choice, and not an invisible afterthought.  It's a little thing, but it makes me happy.

I'm hoping that the dress will be more flattering after I have the baby and my waist goes back to its normal position (and size).  The great thing about these vintage maternity patterns is that they're clearly meant to be worn past pregnancy, with lots of adjustability for a fluctuating waistline.  You'll see this dress again!  


  1. Wow, I'm impressed with your cutting-out skills! Nothing went to waste there, that's real 1944 frugality.

    I can see that it might not be looking its best right now, but that's a very pretty dress, and I'm sure you'll get lots of use out of it in the future.

    1. Oh, I am the queen of getting the best use out of fabric! Yeeeeeeeeears of practice, so often self-imposed by wanting to make something out of a particular fabric when there is not enough to do so. :p