Thursday, May 18, 2017

1944 Polka-Dot Maternity Dress

For my first vintage maternity dress, I chose Simplicity 1228, view 2.  I loved the sweet details of the ruffles, and the creative pleats at the waist to allow for expansion.

I made a mock-up of the bodice first so that I could try it on.  The pattern is a size 16, and I'm measuring closer to a size 20 at the bust these days (at least in vintage measurements) so I figured I would need to size it up a bit.

I added 1/2" to the center back fold, for a total of 1":

And 1 1/2" at the center front fold, for 3" total:

I assembled the mock-up and tried it on, pinning the pleats at the waist to get an idea of how it would fit when finished.  I found that it was too big at the neck with all of the extra width I had added, so I pinned most of it back in:

I measured the amount I had pinned at the neck:

I had the foresight to jot down some notes while I was working on the mockup:

This became invaluable when it came time to cut out my fabric, especially since four days went by in between.

I had chosen this old fitted sheet because I liked the whimsy of scattered florals over polka dots, and it felt vaguely vintage to me.  I measured the sheet and found that I had almost two yards of 54" wide fabric.

I had previously soaked the sheet in Oxy Clean to brighten it up a bit, but the center was still noticeably more faded than the edges, so I tried to keep that in mind when laying out my pieces.  I didn't want a visibly faded piece sewn next to a non-faded piece.  This proved to be complicated, with my limited fabric, but I managed it.

I had to cut the center back skirt piece as two with a seam allowance, instead of on the fold.  But otherwise I got everything laid out properly.

You can see above how I angled the bodice front piece so that it widened at the waist but stayed pretty close to the original size at the neck.  I made sure to lay out the front skirt panel so that it matched the new width of the bodice waist.

Oh, the shoulder ruffles were also supposed to be cut on the fold, but I had to piece them as well.

Some of the pieces were laid out in the opposite direction as the others, but the print of the fabric is not obviously one-way, so this was fine.

I appreciated that the pattern did not include paper pieces for the neck ruffles and bias bindings.  Few things annoy me more than a paper pattern piece that's just a rectangle.  :p  I did not get quite 93" for my neck ruffle, and I had to piece it, but it worked out pretty well.

I used tailor's tacks to mark the darts in the bodice.  I had learned to use them in college, but for some reason I tend to forget about them in my everyday sewing.  The pattern instructions brought them back to my attention.

I decided to add pockets to the dress, using a pattern piece from one of my other vintage maternity patterns:

But I only had enough of the scraps to get two halves of the pockets, so I cut the other two out of muslin.

I used the fashion fabric pieces for the back sides of the pockets, since they would be more likely to show:

I understitched the seam allowance to the muslin side of the pocket, to help keep it folded in properly:

Partway through construction, I tried on the bodice to check the fit.  I was pretty happy with how it looked.

The one problem area I had was the shoulder ruffles.  I had needed to cut them from the center of the sheet, were it was the most faded.  Compared to the shoulders of the bodice, which were cut from close to the edge, there was a definite difference in color and brightness.  These photos are with the ruffle pinned in place:

I decided I didn't like how it looked, so I ended up leaving them off.  I finished the armholes with bias binding, instead:

After I attached the skirt, I tried it on again and found that the tailor's tacks for the thread eyes that are supposed to get hooked under the belt ties to hold the pleats in place were a bit off:

The belt tie is just pinned in place, but you can see that the pleat does not quite reach the marks for the eyes.  I may have forgotten to move the paper pattern piece back to the fold, after cutting it out with the new width, before marking these dots.  I debated moving them to where the pleats naturally fell on me, but decided to wait until I had finished the dress.  Besides, I was still growing.  :p

I pinked all of the seam allowances, which was one of the treatments suggested in the pattern to prevent fraying.  I liked how frugal the pattern was, with no lining.  I used lace hem tape from my stash, which was also suggested in the pattern instructions.  I really like the hem it gives:

Finally, I sewed the thread eyes as marked, but did not add the hooks yet.  I decided that the hook-and-eye closure was not necessary to keep the pleats in place, as the belt ties held everything together properly.  I might add the hooks later if I end up wearing this dress again for a second pregnancy.

And the dress was done!  Here's how I accessorized for my vintage-themed baby shower on Saturday:

I wore my green 1940s-style shoes by b.a.i.t. from Royal Vintage Shoes, which I bought last summer during my Agent Carter-inspired vintage wardrobe kick.  This style appears to no longer be in stock, sadly.

I also wore vintage white gloves from my personal collection.  I'm not sure where the purse came from originally.

My seamed stockings are from What Katie Did.  I'm kind of in love with them.

I don't quite have the patience to get my hair to do the polished 1940s look I was going for, but I think I managed a decent approximation.

My necklace is jade, a gift from Brian the Engineer that he bought for me on a recent trip to Japan for work.  I'm wearing Black Cake Mascara and Victory Red Lipstick from Besame Cosmetics.  I also have Turkish Rouge from LBCC Historical Apothecary on my cheeks.

And here are a few photos from my baby shower:

Lavender lemonade - yum!  
These bottles of lavender simple syrup were party favors that everyone got to take home:

The cake was three flavors!  Chocolate on top, strawberry with strawberry filling in the middle, and almond with raspberry filling on bottom:

I've never seen so much lavender in one place!

There was also strawberry simple syrup for the lemonade, but the lavender was definitely more popular:

There was a onesie-decorating table with stencils and fabric markers:

My friends are quite creative!

We also played games like Old Wives' Tales trivia and guess-the-circumference-of-the-baby-belly - two people got it spot on!

Good eye, Ann and Rebecca!
My lovely friends Stacy and Heather put this whole thing together for me:

(I switched to flat shoes by the end of the shower - my feet are no longer used to wearing heels!)


  1. Oh my gosh!! You look incredible. That dress is fabulous, and I'm personally kind of glad the shoulder ruffles didn't pan out. This particular iteration seems perfectly in proportion with the set of your shoulders. Added bulk at the sleeves could dwarf your frame. That said... the ruffled neck is really pretty, and I hope you get a chance to make this pattern again with the full ruffledge. :) For science.

    1. I think you're probably right about the shoulder ruffles - I do NOT have 1940s shoulders! :p But I probably will make this dress again, possibly in pink to maximize the sweetness of the design. :)

  2. The dress turned out beautifully, you look lovely in it. That's how I always do my pockets if I'm short of fabric - plain at the front. Your baby shower looks so sweet - your friends did a great job!

    1. Thanks! And I agree. My friends are awesome. :)