Friday, August 17, 2012

1940s Pink Polka-Dot Dress

Just last week finished a 40's dress project that has been in the back of my mind since last fall. When Mom and I were in Hancocks fabric store, I saw this lovely mauve pink and brown polka-dotted rayon fabric, deliciously sheer and floaty in the clearance fabric. I immediately envisioned it as a swingy, feminine 1940s dress. But - what to use as lining? Well, we happened upon a remnant of very lightweight silk satin - there was *just* enough fabric to use for dress lining. Not a scrap more, but it was the perfect color to match the rayon and provide the right color of lining.

I got....a little busy and distracted last winter (Jordan...:) and somewhat forgot about the project. And it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that I had a definite idea of how I wanted the dress to look:

My inspiration picture (found on Pinterest, where else?):

So, to copy the dress seen at left, I pulled out my stash of vintage patterns and began piecing together the different elements, ended up having to use 4 different 1940s patterns!
Here are the main ones:

Dress bodice was cut from this 1941 McCall's Pattern

Dress skirt was cut from this 1942 pattern, over skirt had added width for gathers.

Sleeves were cut from this 1942 mail-order pattern from
 'Fort Worth Morning Star-Telegram, Pattern Dept., Marian Martin Patterns'
They all went together quite well!

Thankfully all the patterns were the same size, so it was easy to mix-and-match.

I altered the bodice pattern to have a V-neck, and added a collar. The collar would *not* stay ironed correctly when I first made it (squirmy rayon and silk just don't always obey....) So I "fixed" it by adding dark brown cotton homemade bias tape all around. Stay! lol. Then after doing that, I had to add a matching dark brown cotton voile tie belt. Hey! all this was meant to happen. The brown plastic buttons are the only ones I could find that matched from my random tin of button chaos.
Unlined sleeves are hemmed and then gathered in with elastic for a little 'ruffle' effect.

Newly-aquired vintage 40s scalloped brown straw hat makes a nice addition.

Really adore the swingy-ness of the skirt - the sheer rayon fabric floats on air.
Can't wait to wear it to our next swing dance!

I do have a couple of faults to confess with this dress - the buttons are slightly off center. Don't really know how this happened - but it's not major enough that I'm going to worry about it. :)

Also, the skirt ended up just a tiny tad longer in front than in back. Grr. That is fixable, but I am *not* going to take the hem out - I would be afraid of disaster striking. I love the feel and flow of both the silk satin and the rayon sheer, but they were SO hard to work with. They both squiggled and squirmed around so much while i was sewing and didn"t hold an ironed crease it"s a wonder any of the pattern pieces turned out the right shape!

I hemmed the silk underskirt a few inches shorter than the sheer overlayer to get a more ethereal effect.
Shoes are from 40's style swing dance shoes from Aris Allen , in brown suede and white mesh.
 I really like the medium-height of the heel.

So, there you have it! My latest 40's project.

Do you have any retro projects going on right now? I'd love to see them!


SisterlyLove said...

I love that dress! The photo shoot is perfection as well!


Lilac Bud Gal said...

OOH!!!! That is so 'spankin' cute'!!!!!!! I absolutely love it!!! :) :) =D Polka dots are a weakness with me, though, I'm afraid!! ;) I love how the brown accents turned out! It looks totally put together. :) And your shoes and hat are SOOOO adorable!! I love hats, but I'm afraid I don't look quite as darling in them as you do. :)
Nicely done, as always!!! :)

Kristin said...

Very cute! I agree with Genevieve, the photo shoot is amazing. :)

I'm terrified of working with slippery, sheer fabrics, but now you've inspired me. I saw some on clearance at Joann's the other day and I might have to check them out when I go back this weekend.

As for retro projects, I'm working on sewing another version of the 40s swing dress (from S&S patterns). All I have left is sleeves and hemming, which I'll hopefully do tomorrow! :) I used rayon, but I interlined with broadcloth, so it wasn't so slippery. I also made the Lola apron (from Sew Liberated) this week, and it's very retro-looking.


Janel said...

It's gorgeous! I love it. : )

the momma (aka Shannon) said...

so pretty! it really suits you so well--and your photos came out perfect! love the shoes, too!

Stephanie A. said...

I love this dress! The shoes, the hat, it's all perfect. The vintage look is definitely coming back. Thanks for sharing.

Thilda said...

Oh my Your dress is amazing.I agree with the other ladies. It is really sweet on you. A Swing dress is on my to do list for the next month.
Keep up the good work.
Best regards


Fairlightday said...

Absolutely adorable dress! I've always been afraid to work with the more sheer fabrics, and now that I have little ones wanting to sit on my lap while I sew??? I'm afraid it will have to wait for a while longer. Some day. And for now I'll just enjoy your lovely creations. :)


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