The Beginning- 1950s Day dress

Hi fellow sewers!!!

I am currently in Year 12 and am studying Textiles & Design. For the HSC, we are required to make an item/s. I absolutely LOVE vintage things, especially fashion/hairstyles/makeup. My grandmothers fabulous dresses in the 1940s/50s/60s have inspired me to make this Vogue dress, a pair of white satin gloves and a felt pillbox hat:

The dress

To get more marks, I have decided to use a lilac Hemp/organic cotton material which is lovely and soft, as is a great colour too! I have also purchased some great buttons from Etsy.
So far, I have done a bit of work on the bust pieces:

Back and front of the two bust pieces with darts and gathering

and am now battling with the buttonholes. These are no ordinary machine buttonholes- they are buttonholes created the way they used to make them.
You sew around the buttonhole marking, then slice a cross evenly within the buttonhole square, then you push the material through to the other side and then pin and sew the material up ( very confusing)

Here is a great picture of my inspiration- my grandmother’s 1950s fashion-

A lovely flared dress (probably a dark velvet material) c.1960?


A flared, sleeveless dress with a scalloped row of buttons down the front

• Meet the Author • missmel

Love anything vintage especially fashion, hair and makeup.

13 comments… add one

  • So glad you joined us! I love that your grandmother is the inspiration. Buttonholes can be tough, but there are some great tutorials online. Let us know how you get on 🙂

  • Good luck with this dress! I have made this one up and it went together pretty well except for those bound buttonholes. I managed to get the ones in the skirt wonky and they looked awful but I just use the ones on the top and pretend the wonky ones aren’t there! I should have been more careful when marking them out and used a more stable fabric.

  • Beautiful color! And the dress with the scalloped button holes- *sigh*

    • I know- that dress is so lovely! I wish she had kept her dresses! Who knows where they are now! What a shame! 🙂

  • Looks good. So neat to see pictures of your Grandmother actually wearing those styles. Hope you get the button holes figured out as it looks like a beautiful project.

    • Thankyou- i should get them eventually. 🙂

  • hi,
    I’ve found a way to do button holes an easy, quick and perfect way. You can read it on my blog:

  • I have that pattern too, but I haven’t made it up yet.

    I’m looking forward to yours!

  • Bound buttonholes can be tricky, but once you figure them out you may find you actually like them. They take patience, but I really like the way they look all finished. Good luck!

    • Thats exactly what my teachers said to me! They said it is a great technique to learn and use! 🙂

  • I’ve found that a couple of the things that Vogue patterns ask you to do are a little wonky and the way they do bound buttonholes it definitely one of them. If you have one I suggest pulling out one of those big books of sewing methods and seeing what they have to say about bound buttonholes.
    The other thing is that Vogue patterns have a really crazy obsession with seams stitched from the top rather than the inside which makes alterations a pain. I’ve also found that a lot of the time they’ll forget to tell you when the seam allowance has changed and that the diagrams are often generic, which means that even when you follow them exactly you’ll end up with your bound buttonholes in the wrong place (twice).
    Anyway. Bound buttonholes are easy, but not Vogue bound buttonholes.

  • Thankyou to all for your lovely comments and suggestions/tips- I have two fabulous Textile teachers who will be helping me every step of the way! If my teachers know another way of doing something (e.g. bound buttonholes) we generally don’t stay strictly to the pattern instructions as they do get a bit confusing.
    Will defitnetly keep you all posted! 🙂
    missmel xx

  • I was halfway through making that dress and put it aside because I couldn’t figure out the buttonholes, not enough information in the instructions. Since then I have bought a new sewing machine which makes beautiful buttonholes and I may just go the easy route with machine buttonholes. I might check out some online tutorials though because it would be great to master these buttonholes, they really do look great. I think I will practise on some scrap fabric first. It really is a great dress pattern, I may try making it up again, simplified by replacing the button front with a zip back closure.


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