Sewing a 1940s dress
Vintage fashion is very much "in" at the moment and when I was looking through my sewing room I found this Folkwear pattern for a 1940's dress. I also found some viscose floral print which hangs nicely.
For this dress I researched traditional methods and used them as for as possible. This is not a quick make and is for experienced sewers.
I have wanted to sew a dress in 1940's style for ages, I bought the vintage style fabric and pattern ages ago but never got around to sewing it.
I am pleased to say that this pattern is now for sale in the UK and you can purchase it from MinervaCrafts. Glamour girl dress pattern
I'm suggesting that you use a heavy woven dress fabric which hangs well, this floral viscose Challis would be perfect Floral print viscose challis
When sewing vintage the first step is to take your measurements and choose the pattern size which corresponds most closely. Do not just use your usual dress size as patterns do usually vary from these. This is true for any pattern, but more so for vintage as women were much smaller back in the 1940's.
Cut the pattern pieces out and lay them on the fabric on the correct grain, as shown on the pattern piece.
Cut out the material, leaving larger than normal seam allowances in true vintage style. Vintage garments were made to last a lifetime and so extra fabric was always left in the seam allowances to enable the garment to be let out if necessary and to be honest it is good practise to do it now.
The next step is to transfer all pattern markings to the fabric using your prefered method. Keeping with tradition for this garment I am using tailors tacks and thread markings.
The front bodice has been stitched together and pleats formed at the shoulder, just follow the pattern markings and you cant go wrong. One point to note is that if you want an authentic finish to your 1940's dress there were no domestic overlockers and seams were finished by turning under 1/4" . Similarly zippers if you could get them, or salvage them from another garment, had metal teeth and were quite obvious by todays standards, no invisible zips here girls! Sometimes a piece of fabric was used to make a cover, as in this pattern, so that the zipper does not show.
I need a bit of bias binding and made it myself with an easily obtained, and easy to use tool. To be honest bias binding is so easy to make I would not bother to buy it ready made, and the quality of home made is so much better
Bias binding makers are available from Jaycotts Bias binding maker .
The pattern is quite complicated and is taking a fair bit of time to get it to look right. Thank goodness I chose a patterned fabric which is more forgiving than plain! In all honesty I would not recommend this particular pattern to any but an experienced sewer, the main pattern houses Simplicity, New look, and the rest all have beautiful vintage style patterns.
We left off last time with only the front of the dress completed.
The dress is made quite differently to usual in that the fronts and backs are made seperately and joined at the side seams.
So, on with the back!
Before adding the side zip and stitching the side seams I tried it on just to ensure that I liked the fit, I did.
There is a zip in the side and I added a small welt to ensure that it could not be seen, then I stitched the side seams and tried it on again.
If you want to be correct then use a metal teeth zip Metal tooth dress zip you could use a plastic zip butane invisible zip is not suitable
Now, I know that I said that seams were finished differently, but I have just got my very first overlocker, so guess what? Thats right, I finished the seams on it, all of them. I have to say the garment looks fantastic on the inside so a break with the vintage era worked in my favour! I have to say also that I was longing to use it.
The fronts and backs are now sewn together, zip inserted and all neat inside.
The next step is the sleeves. They are rather cute because they ae gathered up the sides,
I dont know if you can see them properly on this photograph.
Once the sleeve seams are joined gather the top as this makes it easy to put the sleeve in place. Gently ease the gathers to fit the armhole, makeing sure that you do not leave any pleats in the fabric as it will spoil the effect.
Neaten the edge of the sleeve and the armhole. Press.
The next job is to cover a pair of thin shoulder pads with some leftover fabric and to first of all tack them jn place, try it on , make any adjustments and loosely catch stitch them in place
I overlocked the bottom of the skirt and turned it up about 1 1/2 inches, but you hem it to the length you would like. This dress is longer than I would normally wear, it is calf length but I can always shorten it if I want to another time.
So, here it is, awaiting its final pressing.
I have some vintage jewellery from the period and will wear some with
It, the jewellery actually belonged to my grandmother and I do wear it quite a bit myself
I hope that you have enjoyed seeing how I made my dress, I would appreciate your comments and questions.
#vintage #1940s #Folkwear #sewingblog