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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

· A More Successful 1940s Dress! ·

As I mentioned a while ago, after previously being adamantly opposed to fashions of the decade, I decided to give the 1940s a fair chance in the last few months.

I half-way succeeded last fall, but after making that dress, I was inspired to try again and get closer to a complete success!  Well, I think I succeeded!  I am closer to liking this dress than I ever thought I'd be! ;-)

The number one change I knew I wanted to make was lengthening the skirt.  I feel like knee-length is definitely not my best length and I'm so much happier with this length- it feels much more natural!

The second change I knew I needed was to make, *gulp*, shoulder pads.  Ugh.

I've always had a major dislike for shoulder pads, and emphasized shoulders are one thing I've always hated about the 1940s.  However, I do have sloping shoulders, so just a little bit of padding really helps the whole look become more flattering!  What's up with that?! ;-)

I'm glad I've made peace with shoulder pads, but I still don't think I'll be making them a regular occurrence. ;-)

The final change I wanted to make in my 40s look was 3/4 length sleeves.  I don't think 1940s short sleeve styles are terribly flattering on me, plus it's nice to have a more "cold weather" dress. :-)

Even though Butterick 5951 isn't in their "retro" collection, it looked suspiciously 1940s to me, and I wanted to give it a try.  This fabric, with such a busy print, certainly isn't the most ideally suited fabric for showcasing the details, but I'm a bit hesitant about all the gathering anyway so I like how subtle it is. :-)

The shoulders have gathering and the front darts are gathered on the side.

I love the way the collar is formed by an extension of the front piece!

Rather than putting in the recommended back zipper, I made a back keyhole opening and used a side zipper (my favorite!).

I wasn't sure whether to go with a matching or contrasting belt, but I'm so glad I settled on matching!

These 4 vintage buttons hide in the dress a bit, but I kind of prefer them like that. :-)  There were exactly four of them, so it seemed meant to be!

This 1940s hat happened to be at a local antique shop (it's very unusual to find pre-1950s hats locally!), and I'm so glad that I picked it up even though I was in my anti-1940s phase!  It's just perfect. :-)

· Photos by Kathryn ·


  1. That is a gorgeous dress!! I have been eagerly awaiting more glimpses of it ever since I saw your picture on the sidebar! I absolutely love the details of this dress - even though the fabric hides them a little, they show through perfectly. Beautiful, amazing job!!
    I am so excited because we actually have this pattern! can't wait to give it a try.
    I love your hat, and your hair looks lovely as usual! :) Do you use a particular setting pattern?

    *dashes to pattern drawer*

    1. Thanks, Esther!

      I set the front-top portion in stand-up pin curls, the front-right in pin curls toward my face, and the front-left in a wave pattern. The back is pin-curled in rows of alternating directions (I make 4 rows). Hope that makes sense! :-) It's kind of a mish-mash of different patterns I've seen, but it usually makes me happy enough. ;-)

  2. Oh I love it! (I think most of my comments must start out in this way.) ;)
    That print is fabulous.
    I love the 3/4 length sleeves.
    I'm with you on shoulder pads. I'm always afraid of looking like a football player. (I have rather wide shoulders though.) I think this dress looks very natural in the shoulders. I imagine that was the general idea for shoulder pads to begin with & they just got carried away - reeeeally carried away. :D haha.
    I love the details you put in this dress. Those buttons are perfect & I absolutely adore the keyhole in the back. I too believe zippers should be hidden on the side. :) That belt buckle is adorable as well.
    Ok, I think I'm done now. ;)
    Won'erful, won'erful! (As Laurence Welk would say.)

  3. As usual, your craftsmanship on this is amazing! I think you did really well. And I usually can't stand shoulder pads since my shoulders are already broad, but I think this look with shoulder pads is definitely really subtle and flattering on you!

  4. So lovely, Lilly! I absolutely adore that fabric, and the dress is so lovely on you :)


  5. Gorgeous dress! I love the fabric, and I really like the length of the sleeves too - it balances it out really well. The buttons are lovely - I like that they blend in, but just add that little detail.
    Sian xx Rebel Angel

  6. This looks fantastic, nicely done! I love your choice of fabric and notions. The dress looks great with the matching belt and is very flattering on you. I'm not a huge fan of shoulder pad either but I've found with certain vintage styles they really help capture "the look" of the time period.

  7. This is GORGEOUS! I love the fabric, the fit, everything! I, too, had to make peace with shoulder pads, but now I totally love them. I've got narrow shoulders, so I think they help balance out my hips!
    Seriously, amazing job. Jealous of your sweet skills!

  8. Oh the dress is positively lovely Lily! It looks gorgeous on you! And I love all the "hidden" details like the buttons and gathers.

    the Middle Sister and Singer

  9. I think it's lovely. It does suit you. The gathers might be lovely to be showcased, in the right fabric. The black belt buckle is what caught my eye. It's a nice touch to calm down the busy print.


    1. Quinn, thanks for the vote of confidence on the buckle! It's one of my favorites, so I was worried about "wasting" it on such a busy print where it might get lost. So I'm glad to hear that you noticed it right away! :-)

  10. Stunning! I think it's such a lovely dress Lily, and really, a perfect 1940's look. I tend to prefer a below the knee length skirt myself, and I do think that length looks really nice. I'm drooling over the subtle details like the keyhole at the back and the shoulder/waist gathers... Mmm, nice... Actually, shaping with gathers is one of my favorite '40 sewing detail.

    And I use to dislike shoulder pads until I discovered that a structured shoulder {puffed sleeve or slight shoulder pad} actually is a really flattering look! I think it's something do with balancing out my hips. Whatever, I love them now! :D ❤

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

  11. I never would have thought of this fabric for a 1940's dress, but sewn it looks perfect! It makes me think of ads I have seen from the 1940's. You definitely have an eye for fabrics and styles. Your hat and necklace look stunning with the dress!!

  12. I think this is a fabulous dress, I love all the little details.

  13. Another beautiful creation! I'm glad that you gave the 40's a shot and that you are liking your dress. I love the 1940's dress you made for your friend last year! Everything you touch turns to gold!

  14. Thank you all so much! You're all so encouraging that I might end up trying more 1940s styles. ;-)

    I think it's hilarious how many of us are anti-shoulder pads, but have gradually come to appreciate them. It's so nice to know I'm not alone!

  15. I am in love with that fabric. May I ask where you found it and/or who makes it?

    1. Hi Erin! Thanks for commenting! :-) My fabric was from Denver Fabrics, here's the link-

  16. Love this dress! I have the same pattern, but I'm a little bit afraid to sew it. But now I've seen yours and it looks great, so perhaps I'll make it very soon.



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