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.

    1. Take all pleat lines and extend them outward to find where they converge (are they really darts?).
    2. 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:

Finished Project
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.