I am very excited to share this pattern review of the brand new 1958 Party Dress Pattern by Sense & Sensibility Patterns! If you have been into historical costuming at all, you are undoubtedly very familiar with S&S Patterns’ phenomenal Regency & Edwardian designs. And even if you are strictly a retro dress fan, you have most certainly come across their famous 1940s Swing Dress pattern that was launched to pattern stardom through Casey’s Swing Dress Sew-Along! So with such a history of producing excellent patterns, you can be pretty sure that any future pattern they release is sure to make waves in the sewing community. And that’s exactly what is happening! When designer Jennie Chancey held a poll for the next pattern era in 2010, the 1950s won hands down. : ) I was quite excited since I’ve always found the S&S designs so wonderful to work with! (And there’s nothing that gets me more ecstatic than a new 1950s dress pattern!)
But I was even more excited when I found out that I got to sew and model the dresses for her website! Test-sewing the pattern was a new experience for me, since I usually look at the samples that other sewers have made, pinpoint the areas that seem to need more fitting help, then make those adjustments in my own sewing project so that hopefully my finished dress avoids the pitfalls that other sewers have run into. In this case I had basically no pictures to go off of, so I thought to myself that I would have to be way more careful than normal to make sure the pattern fit perfectly. But my jitters were groundless! There absolutely were no fitting alterations, which really blew me away since I usually have to take in about four inches at the waist when working with a Butterick reproduction 50s pattern!
My measurements are exactly a pattern size 12 (size 6 in storebought sizes), so other than having slightly narrow shoulders I really should have all patterns fit me perfectly. But I’ve found, as I’m sure you have, too, that most 1950s reproduction patterns don’t automatically give you that hourglass 1950s silhouette! It takes wearing a corset/girdle, adjusting the above bust area, taking in the waistline, and wearing a big pouffy crinoline to look even remotely like a 1950s pattern cover. Not so in this case! I was really blown away by how perfectly and smoothly the bodice fit me as soon as I tried it on – the vertical darts in front and back are so flattering, and the bodice ends an inch or so above the natural waistline so the gathered skirt completely hides the “tummy” area!
This first dress was made with a white and pink polka dotted cotton, and trimmed with a ruched cumberband belt as the instructions suggest. I made it with the round neckline in back and with the gathered skirt option. Other alternatives would be using the more elegant low “v” neck in back, or pleating the skirt rather than gathering it like I did in the dress below.
Here we see the same dress pattern, but with no ruched belt over the bodice. I tied a simple red ribbon around the waist and trimmed the neckline and sleeves with rickrack for a very “Oklahoma!” feel to it!
This dress gives you more of an opportunity to see how smoothly the bodice fits. I was struck by how comfortable the kimono sleeves fit, as well! Usually kimono sleeves can bunch up under the arms and add too much bulk, but not so in this case! I love how the added width in the sleeves and upper bodice make the waist look smaller in comparison, and lend an hourglass look to most any figure. (By the way, I was not wearing a corset or any sort of shaper with these dresses – this is just exactly how the dress looks over a modern figure.)
I think I prefer the gathered skirt over the pleated option, but both styles are very cute. The two dresses I’ve shown are obviously quite casual, but you can make stunning party dresses or evening gowns by using a longer version of the skirt. I got to make two sumptuous evening versions as well, which I will be detailing in the near future.
Lest I forget to mention, this pattern is perfect for beginners! I was struck by how simple the construction was, and by what incredible detail Jennie Chancey put into the instructions. If you have never sewn a dress before, you cannot afford to be without this pattern! And if you are a seasoned vintage pattern enthusiast, you will adore it! It is really the quintessential 1950s dress pattern, as I doubt that any other design on the market is quite as versatile and gives you as many options.
Have a wonderful, rainy Saturday. : )