1940s | Applique | Dresses | Embroidery | Vintage Sewing

A Labour of Love

November 17, 2012

I saw this vintage dress on FabGabs.com and fell in love. I had to have something similar so set about recreating it.


My pattern is a hodgepodge from other projects- sleeves from a 40’s style evening dress I made for a client, bodice slashed and spread from a slim fitting shirt block and bias skirt developed from a 30’s style pj top pattern I made myself earlier this year. I have to admit I am pretty darned pleased with the results.The main fabric is a heavy satin backed silk crepe and the velvet is a silk & rayon mix. How to re-create the embroidery posed a small problem as hand embroidering it wasn’t something I wanted to spend weeks on and not something I’m very good at anyway. So I came up with a cunning plan… and re-purposed a lovely embroidered upholstery sample I had. To do this first I cut out the areas of embroidery I wanted to use leaving a good margin around the stitching edges and ironed BondaWeb on the back to stabilise it. Then I trimmed very close to the embroidery, lightly ironed it in place on the velvet yoke and pockets and lastly blanket stitched all the edges in place with silk buttonhole thread. I did try a sample first without the BondaWeb but the  embroidery started to fall apart as I was edge sewing it so some kind of stabilising was definitely needed. This is my version:








Making it didn’t go entirely smoothly. I had to reset the left sleeve three times before I got it to hang the way I wanted. Then a certain amount of messing about with making different size shoulder pads and what best to round out the sleeve cap with (felt in the end, rather like in some jackets) was needed. The hem has been done twice. After the first time it was an inch too long to wear with a particular coat so knowing it would really bother me I did it again. Doing the multiple rows of shirring was a bit tedious too. Even so I’m intending to use the pattern again soon with some rayon flower print fabric as the shape is very flattering to wear. It should all go much more easily second time around!

  1. what an amasing dress , so beautifully done :)…can I ask if you were to make this for someone else what sort of price do you think would need to cover your cost ? I only ask because I am having some trouble getting paid a reasonable amount for anything i make these day’s 🙂

  2. Wow, I am so impressed! And pretty flattered…. I guess I mean it feels I have good taste. I LOVED that dress and it sold right out of the Sneak Peeks. It’s a really special piece, and i love that you took the time and care to make one so perfectly. All that shirring! The shoulderpad size! I’m amazed at what you accomplished. Congratulations! (P.S. We are still open on Etsy, just have the stand alone website on hold.)

    1. Thank you 🙂 It’s no wonder that dress sold straight away. I’m not joking it was love at first sight for me. I linked to your Etsy site on my blog….you do have gorgeous things on FabGabs!!

  3. Hi there.
    As the seamster for FabGabs, I am quite impressed! Not only are you able to make a pattern, but have the ingenuity to make the embroidered part work. Thank you for sharing. I would love to see a step by step of your process (I’m not asking for it ). I know the difficulty of sewing velvet, and would like to see other vintage style things you made/ make 🙂

      1. Hi Jesse,well if there is anything in particular you’d like to know more about just drop me a line via my site… I’m always happy to discuss patterns and vintage style making!

  4. This is absolutely gorgeous! And I have to agree I think I like your version better (although that seems to be a trend with your work. The 1940s pleated-back coat you made a while back I liked much better than the original). You’re work is always exquisite, and inspiring (while also intimidating) to see. Beautiful job as usual!

  5. Thank you all very much 🙂
    While I definitely don’t recommend breaking a foot to anyone it at least gave me a good block of time off professional work to make something special for myself without having to rush through it. Vintage clothes are so inspiring.

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