I have a soft spot for vintage party dress patterns. The problem is, I almost never have a reason to wear a vintage party dress. Imagine my excitement when I was able to make my own bridesmaid dress for a friend’s wedding! I decided to use Butterick 9561 from 1961 . I was instantly drawn to the faux wrap bodice. I did make some changes to the pattern, for instance, omitting the modesty panel and reducing the skirt volume by half . My fabric is also vintage; though I estimate about twenty years more recent than the pattern. I bought nearly seven yards of this lovely double layered lace fabric from an estate sale and it was perfect for the occasion!
I’ve written in further detail regarding my modifications and posted additional photos over on my BLOG. It was a lot of fun to have a reason to sew a ‘fancy’ dress. I also think this pattern would be great sewn in cotton as an everyday dress, so there may be more Butterick 9561s in my future.
Last year in late autumn I spotted a beautiful Bette Davis Pattern on etsy, Hollywood 1221, published in 1934. And my boyfriend was so kind to give it to me as a christmas-present.
I already copied the pattern a few days after the holidays (because the pattern is so old I don’t want to use the original pattern pieces anymore), but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago I finally decided for a fabric and started cutting.
The choice of fabric wasn’t that intelligent in hindsight. I used1,5m of a white spotted green cotton print I bought a few years ago in the odds-and-ends-box of a nearby fabric store that doesn’t exist anymore. I chose it because I thought it was close enough to the spotted fabric on the envelope drawing and could look good (but it is not really appropriate for this time, in the sewing magazines I own polka dots don’t appear earlier than late 30ies, in earlier issues I only found them to be used for children’s clothing).
For this project it was just enough, I had to cut the lower back in two pieces, otherwise it wouldn’t have fit.
Well, the resulting dress is really…dotty. The matching of the pattern is at some seams better than at others, unfortunately where it didn’t fit was in the centre front (in contrast to the text on the linked page, it is a two-piece skirt. There is no seam in the pleat and I didn’t think of adjusting the width of it to match the dots).
The pattern asked for two zippers, on at the side and one in the centre back. I used a white nylon zipper in the neck and a light cream one in the side seam (because I had them in stock, I do know they aren’t authentic for the 30ies) Both zipper-seams are hand-sewn as is the hem.
I used white thread for all seams, this seemed to be a better match than green one.
The size is a straightforward 12, only thing I changed is I shortened the hem by 7cm.
Because the pattern was too weird with the stomacher in between I applied a rest of white cotton ribbon after having already finished it, now it is a lot better.
I used every bit of it. As you see, it wasn’t enough to attach it on both ends of the stomacher-part in the back as well, the rest I had was just enough to form the button-loop for a button in the neck above the zipper.
As I said, I didn’t change anything. Like the most american patterns, the seam allowance is included, something still unusual for me (it is uncommon in europe), because it makes it difficult for me to imagine how large it will be in the end (and in this case it was difficult to match the fabric pattern as well). When looking at the result it seems as if the bodice is a little too long, when making it again I should try to shorten the stomacher-part.
I made a dress using a B5748 which is a retro reprinted dress I believe from 1960. This dress is gorgeous and when I found this fabric with lions, tigers, and leopards, I knew it was a match! I made a cross between view A and B as I kept a plain front bodice but put a bow on the back. It calls for a fully lined bodice and skirt but after learning in September that fully lined skirts get VERY heavy( I made B5882 for convocation) I decided to only line the bodice. I cut the size that I usually am but after constructing it, it was huge so I had to take it in a considerable amount. The pictures show it without a petticoat because the only petticoat I have is the one I wore to prom and it was HUGE(here’s the link to that post).