Mystery dress

by Always Alice on November 28, 2012 · 10 comments

in 1930s,1940s,Children,Dresses

Hi all! I haven’t posted anything in a long time but I hope to catch up soon. We are in the midst of moving so most of the sewing stuff is either packed or in boxes and there seems like no end in sight. So, to keep myself somewhat occupied I have started to “organize” all of my piles of mystery pattern pieces I got from a barn sale this past summer (I have tons of pics on my blog). When sorting through them initially I found several chunks, for lack of a better word, of pieces pinned together. They have no envelope, no picture, no labels, and all are unprinted pieces. The first pile I was able to easily discern is a little girls princess seam dress. I’m guessing late 30s or early 40s based on most of the other small sized patterns in the stash. The only part I cant figure out is the shoulder. I think the funny sticking out piece is a pleat. But what in the heck is the inserted piece (#5) that goes with it? I haven’t made anything that resembles this and I don’t have any other patterns that have a piece like this (I don’t think, it’s so hard to keep track).

I have traced the pieces so they are easier to see and marked everything too. I know everything fits together and I’m not missing anything. There are two sleeve variations, a waist tie, and a collar. I also have no idea how to close the dress. There are no dot or notches indicating a closure area and I don’t think it can slip over the head. The neckline seems too high for that. I was thinking of just doing a back button and loop since its a little girls dress. My best guess is that is around a size 3 or 4. My daughter is almost 3 and she is very tall. This looks like it would fit loosely. The SA also appear to be a 1/2 inch. Any help is most welcome!

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I'm a self taught seamstress with only a couple of years under my belt. I love to sew from 1940s and 1950s patterns and try to work a little vintage into my modern life. Each garment helps me get closer to creating and designing well constructed and original garments.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

EmSewCrazy November 28, 2012 at 11:43 am

Looks like you have it in the right place! Your fronts are too narrow without it.
First some links to possible ideas. This is an alternative to the pleat theory: Or it could be an inverted pleat like this:
My guess it is it was supposed to look similar to this style in the T yoke part:

There are some great tutorials on how to sew mitered corners or square pieces to get neat results. Seems like a cute dress. Hope some of this helps.


sarah November 28, 2012 at 11:46 am

I would say you’re right on the back piece, looks like a dart to me. Piece #5 looks to me like it’s in the right place — I think you are missing an insert between the center front and side front pieces. Or maybe piece 5 was longer and was cut or torn at one point?


Brooke November 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I agree that it looks like you put piece #5 in its proper place in the layout. Maybe it’s gathered down to fit like so many 40′s styles are. Here’s one that I have for an example – the pattern pieces in it seem to fit together like yours.


Always Alice November 28, 2012 at 1:01 pm

This is what I found that matches the shoulder. My thought is that maybe #5 is some sort of contrast. Then #5 is topstitched on top of the pleat bc the top edge of the pleat is low and would be raw? I just can’t picture it. I may just have to cut it in fabric and fool around.


Always Alice November 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Then there is this one. I think this is closest to the dress, with a button and loop front and waist ties. But then what does #5 do except add to the shoulder width to fill it out?


Always Alice November 28, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Okay okay, last one. This looks just like the pleat except the inset piece would be on the shoulder not the bottom. Would that make the bottom pleat open, not sewn down like the shoulder? Oy.


Kat November 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm

How exciting … a little pattern puzzle mystery!
I haven’t checked all links in the previous comments … my first guess was a insert with tucks?
Can’t wait to see how you make it up!


sewinghappyplace November 28, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I agree with Kat. I think it is an insert that is prepared with pintucks before inserting into the body of the dress. Cool mystery.


Debbie December 1, 2012 at 10:08 am

My first thought was the tuck, pleat, gathers, whatever, went into the insert with the skirt sewn flat. I’ve been watching an old Shirley Temple movie this week and it seems the bodice pieces are more sewn over the seams, like that T-yoke above, with edging detail, rather than inserted. Maybe use an accent fabric.


Linda N December 11, 2012 at 9:16 pm

The insert is probably meant to be tucked from top to bottom, then inserted between the other front pieces.


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