Monday, June 3, 2013

Blue and White Birthday Dress

A little while ago I mentioned that I wanted to make something special for myself for my birthday. I posted pictures here of my newest vintage sewing patterns and many of you commented about what colors or fabrics to use. Thank you all again for your wonder suggestions. The pattern I picked to make is Hollywood pattern 1413.

I really wanted to use the black fabric I picked up a few months ago. It has a pretty red and green flower print. I was imagining it paired with my red 1940s shoes. However, I've been struggling to get my bridesmaid dress finished for my friend's wedding (it's this Saturday!!) so I knew that whatever I ended up making would be a rushed job. I also have a limited amount of that fabric and I didn't want to risk messing up. So, to the fabric stash I went and found this really lovely blue and white cotton. It turned out to be a good choice because it matched the hat I purchased at the Sturbridge Textile Show in May and a pair of navy blue gloves and purse I had in my collection.

Blue and white birthday dress! Happy birthday to me. :)
I knew I would need to line the dress because the blue and white cotton is a little see through. But that turned out ok as I was able to use the muslin mock-up for the bodice lining! I think this is the first pattern I've used in a long time that didn't need any major alterations, unlike my green bridesmaid dress which has turned into a fitting nightmare. (More on that later.) This pattern fit perfectly and it was super easy to put together! I spent one evening playing around with the pattern pieces making sure I actually had enough fabric. (I think I started with somewhere between 2 1/2 and 3 yards) The actual sewing of the dress was completed in a day. Yep, a whole day. Ok, I was up until 11pm working on the darn thing but I got it done!

Because I was in a hurry I didn't take any construction picture but I do have a few of the pattern pieces and the fabric. The skirt is made of three pieces plus the side drape. The back piece, which you can see in the upper right of this photo, was suppose to be cut on the fold. I marked one half then flipped the pattern piece over and marked the other half as I figured out the most economical way to place the all pattern pieces. The skirt front is made of two pieces, the larger of the two you can see in the lower left of the photo. It has three diagonal tucks on one side.

Trying to figure out the best way to lay out all the pattern pieces
It's a good thing I re-read the instructions before I began cutting! The bodice front is cut with the grain running cross ways instead of up and down like all the other pieces. At first I wasn't sure how this was going to look because the blue and white fabric has little woven stripes but it didn't seem to matter. The blue design on the fabric looked the same either way. Unless you are looking at the finished dress really close you can't tell. 

Bodice front and back
The only real challenge I had with this dress was the gathered section of the bodice front. Fiddly is the best way to describe it. I ended up extending the bust darts up to the base of the gathered section to give the front a smoother fit. Other than that I didn't need to change anything. I also left the bow off the bodice but figure that's an easy thing to add later.

The fox wrap was a birthday present from Cori, it was a good find. The lady at the antique mall laughed when I told her I didn't need a bag. :)
Photo op at the phone booth!
For the last couple years Cori and I have gone to Quechee, Vt to celebrate my birthday. It's become a little tradition of ours and I look forward to it every year. We spend a couple hours at the Quechee Antique Mall then go out for lunch. This year my birthday was on Memorial Day so we were able to go to the parade in town, go antiquing, and meet my sister later in the afternoon for a cookout. The days leading up to my birthday were rainy and grey but on Monday there was blue sky and lots of sun! It was a great day. :)

At the Quechee antique mall. If you look closely you can see our reflections in the mirror.
Cori wore one of his WWII naval uniforms. This one belonged to a guy who served in the Seabees. I believe his name is printed inside the uniform but I can't remember at the moment. Some of Cori's uniforms are named and others are not. He has so many now I can't keep track of them all!

This old phone booth at the antique mall made a good spot for photos. Unfortunately, these are really the only photos we took that day. I forgot my camera so we used Cori's cell phone.

Sailor calling home!
We ended the day a visit to a local Civil War memorial
Summary of the Pattern
Fabric: Cotton from the stash
Pattern: Hollywood 1413
Year: 1940s
Notions: Zipper, thread, buckle
How historically accurate is it? I'd give it an 8 out of 10. The print isn't perfect for 1940s but not too bad, however the pattern and construction are very 40s.
Any tricky parts to the pattern? I found the bodice to be fiddly
Did you change anything? I added small darts to the bodice front and back to help it fit a little better.
Time to complete: A couple days.
First worn: May 2013
Total cost: less then $20
Notes: I think it would be wise to do another muslin test of the bodice if I use this pattern again.


  1. You both look just lovely. So glad the sun came out for you in time to make your day out even more special!

  2. Lovely! A great choice in fabric too!

  3. What a great look! I love the dress pattern, and the hat is stunning.

  4. It looks so lovely and the hat is perfect with it!


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