Vintage Sewing

1950’s Dress

May 21, 2013


Hello, this is my first posting on here and I want to share with you my first ‘vintage’ make.  I have been sewing and knitting since I was a young girl but this is the first time I have drawn out my own pattern quite like this one.  I recently bought a fab 1950’s book (via pdf) from Subversive Femme on Etsy.  It is  by Enid Gilchrist and has loads of designs to draw up as in the picture shown.  At first viewing the patterns look quite daunting but they are not.  You just need a set square, tape measure, a pencil and paper – I used baking parchment.

I needed to change some of the measurements a little and found this easy enough as the book details how to do this.  I also made a ‘mock up’ of the bodice which I was glad to have done as some tweaks were made to this too.

The cotton fabric was bought in Paris from Marche Saint Pierre, very near to the Sacre Coeur.  It’s a fabric shop on 5 floors.  Needless to say my eyes were popping out of my head when my partner took me there!  So much fabric to choose from!

I chose to make a petticoat to go underneath my dress.  This pattern is also in the same book.  The dress hangs much nicer with the petticoat and I decided to put broderie anglais lace at the bottom.  I could have added net but didn’t want my dress to stick out too much so lace is great.

When making this dress I also completed my first invisible zip and looked on You tube to help me.  It actually wasn’t too difficult and I’m very pleased with the result.

I’m loving my new dress and feel inspired to make some more clothes in this way.  I hope you like it too?



  1. That is very pretty! You did a nice job! I like the fabric, too. I am going to be in Paris in September, and I was thinking of visiting one of the wonderful fabric stores there. (There is an article about them in the Threads magazine I just bought.) But I am intimidated because of the language difference, and mostly, because I’m just a beginner. I have enough trouble trying to buy fabric at JoAnn’s! But this seems like an opportunity I might not get again for years. I’d like to hear more about your trip to the fabric store, if you have time.

    1. Hi Leigh Ann, You will love it in Paris! There are several fabric and haberdashery shops in this area of Paris and they are situated just at the bottom of the steps of the Sacre Coeur. Don’t worry too much about the language problem. I speak a little French but even so I think I must have ‘English’ writtain across my forehead 😉 Even though I asked for ‘trois metres sil vous plait’ the response was in English. There are staff walking about the shop with metre sticks and all the fabric is laid out. You just ask one of them to cut the metres you want and then take the cut piece to the till – easy!
      Thank you very much for your comments on my dress and good luck and happy sewing!

      1. Thank you very much! I really appreciate your taking the time to tell me what to expect. I am very excited, and feel less intimidated now! I hope to visit and find some beautiful material (some of which I might save until I’m better at sewing!) I’ve managed to learn “please,” “thank you,” “hello,” “goodbye,” “excuse me” in French–all the polite words. But buying fabric in French might have defeated me! As I said, I can barely do it in English sometimes. Thank you very much for your answer. Your dress is very pretty.

  2. No way! I JUST bought the same Gilchrist download from S.F.! You did a beautiful job. I want to make that dress as well, but I know my zipper won’t be near as good as yours.

    1. Have a look on You tube for help with zips. I thought the same too but it was easy really.
      I was so excited to receive the book! I want to use it again and again…

  3. Wow!
    I own the book and I always wondered how that dress would look.I might make that next.It looks amazing.

  4. The more I look at this dress the more I like it! And wow! I hope my zippers are that good someday soon! Can’t even tell there is one except for the tab!

  5. Wow! That’s a fabulous job!

    I’ve sewn up a few of the seperates, but never a full dress cos i’ve always felt daunted too – you’ve inspired me to give it a go with your lovely dress!
    (I’m Subversive Femme on Etsy heheh).

    1. Hi Bex, Thank you! I hope you enjoy making a dress….. I just jumped straight in to a biggie item 😉
      I fancy making the princess dress too as that is lovely.

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