Designing a 1940's Style Dress

Designing a 1940's Style Dress

One of my favorite time periods for fashion is the 1940s. Talk about glamour! There's something that makes you feel so fabulous wearing those waist-skimming fitted dresses with the floucy hems. 

The fabrics were usually great too - much higher quality before the introduction of synthetics like polyester. I have a few vintage dresses and they are mostly silk and wool. My favorite part is discovering a vintage dress with a metal zipper! I do have a few that are rayon, coined the "artificial silk" in the 1920s, and even though it is man-made, I do still love rayon for its silky feel and breathability.

I've been working on a 1940s inspired dress with puff sleeves that I think would look great in a floral fabric for summer, as well as in a lightweight wool for winter. 

As with all my designs, I first draft the pattern, and sew together a mock up (usually from thrift store fabric) to see if I like the design, and if I need to change anything. For this design I used an old sheet! I got started this week and can show you how the mock up turned out.

fabric cutting out to make a dress

I started with the bodice, then cut out and assembled the skirt.

Sewing a Midi Dress

Here is the bodice attached to the skirt.

Sewing a Midi Dress

And finally, with sleeves...

Sewing a Midi Dress

The last step is to attach a ruffle at the bottom, sewn onto the hem of the skirt. I'm not sure how long I want the skirt or the ruffle, so I'm going to have to experiment pinning them together in different ways before I decide on a final design. Or I may just keep it simple and leave it as it is with no ruffle.

In general I like the design, and I will be doing more work on the fit to make sure it is very flattering and fits just right. It is hard to tell exactly how it is going to turn out in a more silky fabric, as the mock up fabric is heavier and has a more cotton-y drape than silk or chiffon.  

Overall I think it has a lot of potential, and when I make a sample in a winter wool I'll be sure to post photos.


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