1940’s Red Floral Dress

Today I finished a red floral dress from a 1940’s pattern – Academy Patterns 2029 to be precise – and I love it! 
Well I love it from a fashion history perspective, but I’m not sure I love it for me personally.  Maybe I would in a less obvious fabric, but in this I feel like I’ve just walked off a movie set and I am no longer the character!  I do think the dress suits my shape and colouring, etc, but a dress has to be your personality too doesn’t it?
Anyway, I decided to “play forties” for this shoot.  I did 40’s makeup, but you really can’t tell in the glaring sun.  I thought my straight hair looked odd (did no-one in the 40’s have straight hair?!) so I pinned it back with hair combs – something I haven’t done since I was fifteen!  My fringe wouldn’t co-operate as usual – ah well, if my hair was perfectly coiffed that probably wouldn’t be a true representation of self.  And I have a perfectly matching vintage snake bag that I planned to use as a prop, but I left it on the kitchen table.  So basically I look just like I usually do!

In case you haven’t already noticed, this dress has shoulder pads!  They look very wide, but are actually located no wider than my outer arm – which is where you would normally place them on a tailored jacket.  The shoulder width on this style is cleverly accentuated by the close neckline, line of the shoulder yoke, and sleeve head darts.  I need to insert some sleeve head wadding because they look so sharp, but my shoulders are quite square anyway and I’m scared of them taking flight!  But if you look at the pattern, they are rather pagoda-y:

This closer shot shows more of the detail – the midriff and shoulder yoke are piped with gathers..  I first sewed it as per the pattern without piping, but thought the gathering detail got lost in the print.  After a long procrastination and a couple of glasses of wine I finally set to with the quick-unpick.  Then I panicked because all I had left was some disjointed scraps to cut piping from, but then I discovered some red piping in stash that was the perfect colour red – some things are just meant to be!

The back view – it was a little breezy but the skirt hangs really beautifully:

I’m going to show you the details whether you like it or not, because finishing this dress took a whole day!  Hemming the sleeves, neckline and hem by hand, making and inserting the shoulder pads…

Each sleeve head has four darts.

…covering and sewing on the buttons:

…making the belt

I was going to use an invisible zip in the side opening, but the more I did handwork on this dress, the more I thought I should to do handwork, so I did what the instructions asked and made a placket with a hook and snaps:

This fabric is one of those ubiquitous viscose prints – you know, 80’s, faux Laura Ashley, probably came in navy, bottle green and plum…..   I found it in Miranda last year for a few dollars and after washing it I discovered it was dotted with moth holes!  Some careful single layer cutting both ways was required to squeeze it out of the narrow moth holed yardage.

I also thought the sewing instructions were cute – hand drawn and labelled – and do you remember the typewriter?!

So – lovely dress, but not quite me.  I should focus more.  Perhaps I will remake the longer sleeve version  in a wool crepe for winter to wear with boots – now that is me.

Ah well, at least I used up some stash!

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Designer, Patternmaker, Blogger Of All Things Sewing. Follow as I share projects, patterns, and my favourite tricks of the trade.

52 thoughts on “1940’s Red Floral Dress

  1. Love this dress. You did super job of detailing it. Great Seamstress!!!
    What do you think if the piping ran from under the arm down the front of the dress in the matching seam on each side? Would this be too much?
    Looking for something similar but no luck yet. 😦


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