This pattern is a vintage out of print pattern, circa 1950’s. It won one of my monthly polls on my old website back in 2006. When I started the project, I was unsure of what fabric I would use for it, but I eventually settled on a poly charmeuse that looks very much like silk. It has a faint print that looks like a rubbed on/dyed black lace effect.
Vintage patterns tend to run very true to sizing, are more consistent (in my opinion) in sizing than modern patterns. As I could expect, this size was going to be too big in the shoulders and torso. I am a petite and I’ve grown accustomed to certain “standard” alterations for my stature.
Vintage instructions tend to also have vintage techniques. They also are usually very good. I adapt them as I go along, using fusible interfacing where I can, and serging where appropriate. Sometimes they won’t have layouts for your fabric (if they are old enough, they may only have a layout for 35″ fabric! Fabric came in wider and wider yardages as time progressed … they wouldn’t hesitate to piece something back then)
In order to figure just how much I need to take out, and where, I went ahead a worked up a muslin. The images of the muslin and alterations are below.
It was pretty obvious that I would need to take out length from both the torso and the skirt. Additionally, I wanted to lower the neckline. Both of these would require analysis before attempting the alteration. Here is how I analyzed the pieces.
- Take all pleat lines and extend them outward to find where they converge (are they really darts?).
- On the bodice, these pleats did not converge on the pattern piece, therefore I had two options.
- Move them closer together as I lowered the neckline.
- Remove one of them altogether
I chose option #1… I was lowering the neckline by 1″, so I moved them closer together by approximately 1/4 inch each.
- On the skirt the problem was different altogether. They converged on the pattern piece. I would need to make sure that they also converged on the pattern piece once shortened. Here is what I did…
- Shortened the pattern piece
- Extended out the lines of the tucks to see if they still converged on the piece
- If they did not, chose a point on the pattern piece that would be suitable, and then changed the angle of the tucks to conform to it.
Another problem I had with the muslin was the shoulders. They were too wide. In the photo below, I’m marking the armhole for moving (keep in mind that this is a minor alteration, there are better ways to do this if you must make a significant change)… In the photos, I have cut the pattern for alteration and pivot …. and finally, rejoined the piece (notice how I had to redraw the distorted lower corner).
Below there is another photo where I am applying the alteration of the shoulder to the back piece.
With this new pattern, I assembled a wearable muslin out of some vintage 80’s fabric. I found the sides to be a bit loose, and took them in. until the fit was good in front … However … You will notice that the back fits rather snug. I decided to let the back out via shaping the darts in the final version.
The photo of the wearable muslin is below:
If you browse my gallery, you will notice that I took a few different shots of the dress for your perusal…
I wore this dress to my company holiday party last December (yes, it took me that long to get around to reviewing it). I wore my hair in a 40’s style, bright red lipstick, and fishnet stockings (the heels are in the photo). I was so up against the deadline on this one that I was actually hemming it in the office before going to the restroom to get ready!! It was an immediate hit. I felt so glamorous wearing it, too!
This pattern has lovely drafting, and a distinctive vintage vibe … however alter it can be difficult, and on the fly changes in the techniques may be necessary for modern equipment.