1940 cotton dress

Hello everyone! This is my first post on WeSewRetro and I’m exciting to be here.

I wanted to make something special for myself for my birthday this year. I recently added some vintage sewing patterns to my stash so I thought I would use one of them. I had a tough time desiding on just one so I asked my blog readers for suggestions. I eventually picked Hollywood pattern 1413 and I’m so glad I did. Going through my fabric stash I found this really lovely blue and white cotton. It turned out to be a good choice because it matched the hat I purchased at the Sturbridge Textile Show in May and a pair of navy blue gloves and purse I had in my collection.


I knew I would need to line the dress because the blue and white cotton is a little see through. But that turned out ok as I was able to use the muslin mock-up for the bodice lining! I think this is the first pattern I’ve used in a long time that didn’t need any major alterations. This pattern fit perfectly and it was super easy to put together! I spent one evening playing around with the pattern pieces making sure I actually had enough fabric. (I think I started with somewhere between 2 1/2 and 3 yards) The actual sewing of the dress was completed in a day. Yep, a whole day. Ok, I was up until 11pm working on the darn thing but I got it done!

The skirt is made of three pieces plus the side drape. The back piece, which you can see in the upper right of this photo, was suppose to be cut on the fold. I marked one half then flipped the pattern piece over and marked the other half as I figured out the most economical way to place the all pattern pieces. The skirt front is made of two pieces, the larger of the two you can see in the lower left of the photo. It has three diagonal tucks on one side.
It’s a good thing I re-read the instructions before I began cutting! The bodice front is cut with the grain running cross ways instead of up and down like all the other pieces. At first I wasn’t sure how this was going to look because the blue and white fabric has little woven stripes but it didn’t seem to matter. The blue design on the fabric looked the same either way. Unless you are looking at the finished dress really close you can’t tell.


The only real challenge I had with this dress was the gathered section of the bodice front. Fiddly is the best way to describe it. I ended up extending the bust darts up to the base of the gathered section to give the front a smoother fit. Other than that I didn’t need to change anything. I also left the bow off the bodice but figure that’s an easy thing to add later.

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I’ve just finished my first sewing challenge — Lucky Lucille’s “Sew for Victory” challenge!

1940 Peacock Blue Cotton Dress

Lucky me, I already had the pattern (Vintage Vogue 8811) and the fabric and the intention of making this dress for myself anyway.  I previously made this dress for a client and thought it would be cute to make for ME as well!

1940 Peacock Blue Cotton Dress

I used a peacock blue stretch cotton broadcloth and fully lined it.  I thought that a self fabric covered buckle would be a bit too monotonous for this dress and instead used this vintage buckle that I found at a sewing show in the Bay Area a few weeks ago.

1940 Peacock Blue Cotton Dress

I opted not to put the darts in the back and added a little fabric to the bodice so that I’d have more of a blouson effect.

Vintage Brass Button

I found this vintage buckle in my grandma’s button box.  It was used and probably from the 40s-50′s.  I opted not to make a thread loop for the back as I was lazy…..plus, I like ribbon better anyway. :)

I can’t wait to wear this dress and liven it up with some snazzy jewelry and some espadrilles!  I promise to have photos of myself in a dress the next time I post on here. :)

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