Vintage Sewing

New member – with a party dress!

November 29, 2009

Hello! My name’s Meg and I discovered Sew Retro just a few months ago… have been reading every day since and enjoying everyone’s posts extremely!

November’s almost over (and I hope everyone will forgive me for introducing myself with a competition entry) but my first retro-project ever happens to have been a party dress, so I thought I’d post it here.

This was made with Simplicity 1539 (click for a larger view, if you’d like):

Vintage Pattern - Simplicity

I used some leftover rose-printed ivory brocade (which was quite difficult to work with as it likes to fray) to make this kimono-sleeved, princess-waisted, full skirted little party dress. I had to elongate the bodice by two inches, as I always do since my torso is so long, but other than that I didn’t make many modifications. I’m pleased with it, though I think now I should have widened the bottommost hip measurement a bit since I have a little waist and big hips. Also, I think I’ve decided that kimono-style sleeves are not my favorite, as they cause fabric to pucker annoyingly when one’s arms are down. 😛 Still, it turned out pretty:

50's Party Dress - Front

And from the back:

50's Party Dress - Back

I also realized, after I finished it, that I would need a crinoline for it to really look right. Searched Ebay, but didn’t want to pay $40+ for one, so I ended up getting some tulle and making one myself. 😛 Turned out just about right for everyday wear… not full to the point of being silly, but full enough to be swishy and pretty. I’ll save pics of the crinoline itself, though, for another entry!

Thank you all so much for posting all of your projects and providing so much lovely inspiration every day! 🙂


  1. Interesting article and very inspiring, I have some good models skirts and cheap, please visit me at Greetings introduction from me. I will always read your articles because smart and cool. Hope you all the best. Keep writing and share..Cayooo..!!

  2. I love that silver! Strikes me as being really Christmassy. KImono sleeves are a bit annoying aren't they? But so easy to sew! It's a trade off between ease of sewing and annoying-ness to wear… Great dress!

  3. I think it looks absolutely gorgeous! The fabric is lovely – just what one imagines when they think of 50s-ish party dresses!

  4. Wow, that looks amazing! I have that same pattern in my stash (it's been renumbered as 2023 but is obviously the same one) and was going to make it as a Christmas party dress. I'd be interested in knowing your measurements and what size you made, since you suggest an adjustment in the hips. I have a size 12/B32" and I measure 32, 25, 35, which is an inch larger in the hips than the pattern says for that size. What did you do?

    You've inspired me even more to tackle that dress for Christmas, so thank you!

  5. Thank you all so much! 🙂 The comments are greatly appreciated — I'm really looking forward to wearing this on Christmas with my family. *^^*

    Hanna – my measurements are 35-29-42 (tiny waist, huge hips). I probably would have added 1 inch to the total waist circumference (1/4 inch to each pattern piece) for my own dress — with the ratio of your measurements I think you'd probably be okay with the pattern as is. If you did want a little extra ease in the hips you might add a tiny amount to each piece, but I don't know that you'd want more than a quarter, MAYBE a half inch total in the circumference. I can wear my dress as is pretty comfortably, I just think the bodice would hang a little prettier around the hips if I'd made it a bit wider there. *^^*

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