1940’s Dress-Part 3 (the photos)

I lost a little sleep this weekend, but I finished my 1940’s Du Barry 5947 dress for the Sew for Victory sewalong.

I’m pleased with the way the dress turned out. The fabric is light and comfortable.


I did a fair amount of hand stitching, which I hadn’t counted on. Mainly, the hem. I wanted a blind hem, and because the skirt is curved, I didn’t want to mess with a blind hem on the machine. I haven’t had success with easing and blind hemming at the same time. So I stitched it by hand while catching up on Mad Men.


I successfully raised the armscye and reduced the sleeve cap ease. The original sleeve had 5″ of ease–no wonder I had trouble setting it! I reduced it to a little over 2″ of ease, which took the poof out of the sleeve cap, but I don’t miss it one bit. I was able to set the sleeves without any gathering stitches. And my range of motion is much improved.

Scout leader Qui.

I thought this lovely silk scarf matched the dress beautifully, but I really don’t know how to style it! I feel like a scout leader and at the same time over-dressed.

Maybe the hardest part of this whole project was taking the photos of myself–it isn’t so easy. First I went to the park, but it was quite crowded and I chickened out. I settled on this vista overlooking the Capitola village. It’s a pretty view, but I’m not sure it’s really the best spot for photographing a dress. I made the best of it, and I practiced with some different settings on my camera.


Now that it’s all said and done, I’m so glad I joined the 40’s sewalong!  Working with the vintage pattern turned out to be not so scary at all.  In fact, I’m really pleased with the drafting of the pattern.  It went together nicely and fits great.  I like the pleated skirt now that it’s hemmed–it lays nice and flat around my midsection, but it flares out to a comfortable size.

I think I’ll probably avoid patterns with vestees in the future.  I didn’t really like putting in the vestee–I think I’d prefer a regular button up shirt dress with a collar.  I topstitched in dark green to accentuate the green-ness of the fabric, but it’s hardly noticeable in the photos, so I’m not sure it matters all that much.  Up close I guess it’s a nice detail, and it does help to outline some of the pattern design.

The sewalong motivated me to finish this detailed project, and also to try new techniques.  I’ve decided I love pinking seams!  Thanks Rochelle for organizing this event–I hope to join more sewalongs in the future and try more 40’s patterns too.

1940’s Dress–Part 2 (the muslin)

Last night I finished my muslin, sort of.  It was after 10pm and I’d only set one sleeve, but I needed to snap pictures and go to bed.

But I feel I got enough done to get a feel for the fit and construction.

I didn’t want to take pictures wearing the dress last night because this was post-workout and shower, and my hair was doing crazy things.  No time to blow-dry, I had sleeve(s) to set!  But here’s a photo from the night before, pre-sleeves.

I feel pretty confident in the fit of the dress–I added 2″ to the waist and hips when tracing the pattern, based on the size chart measurements.  The bodice has tucks and gathers, so it’s slightly loose and billowy–but I think that’s the design, right?

The sleeve went in quite poorly, despite gathering and basting first.

So many little tucks!  I think I might try setting in the sleeve flat on my final garment.  It’s a tight space to work in with the sides sewn up.

The addition of the sleeve did seem to limit my arm movement to an extent.  I would like to improve on this, but I’m not totally sure how.  It fits at least as well as any RTW button up shirt I’ve worn, so dare I say this seems “normal” to me?!  From what little research I could do online, it seems I need to raise up the armscye for a closer fit, which enables better movement?  I think I’ll try tapering down on the seam allowance around the under arm of the sleeve to slightly bring it up.  I would love input from anyone who knows more about this though!!

The collar and vestee were a bit challenging–I didn’t find the directions to be very clear.  But now that I’ve done it once, I’m sure I can do it again.  I think the collar points and the vestee points look a little extreme and pointy, so I plan to make those a little smaller and softer around the edges.  Although the addition of a sleeve seemed to balance out the collar some, so maybe it’s not so bad?

The muslin was a great opportunity to practice the construction of this dress, including my first hand picked zipper.

There’s definitely room for improvement on the zipper application, but I did enjoy this method and will try it again.  (And Sallie, I totally used fabric glue to “baste” the zipper in place before stitching–worked like a charm!)

I didn’t have time for any saddle stitching, but I will probably practice some decorative stitches on the muslin before the final garment.  I don’t think I have time (or the desire) to do the saddle stitching by hand, so I’m hoping that top-stitching with a thick thread will do the trick instead.

I don’t find the pleated skirt to be especially flattering to my shape, but it really reads “1940’s” to me, so I’m gonna stick with it.  I hope with a shorter hem I’ll like it more.

I’m excited to get started on my final garment now!  This dress has way more details than anything I’ve done recently, so it is definitely challenging me and a lot more work.  But I think the time investment is totally worth it.

Talk soon,