Friday, November 1, 2013

The Shirtwaist Dress circa 1957

Vintage Pattern Contest
As I've been doing so well completing my Pattern Review contest entries lately, I decided to enter the November competition: The Vintage Contest!  The rules require sewing a garment using a vintage pattern, defined as pre-1978.  After digging through my stash of both fabrics and vintage patterns, I decided to tackle this classic shirtwaist pattern published by Simplicity in 1957. 
Now this pattern has a few advantages over some of the other vintage patterns I consdered... First and foremost this pattern is in the appropriate size.  As anyone who has purchased vintage patterns before can attest, these patterns are not multi-sized like our modern day versions.  Rather, you purchase the appropriate size based on your bust size.  Second, I had a perfect polka dot border print in a cotton sateen on hand which has been languishing in my stash for years.  Third and finally, this is a "Slenderette" pattern.  As per the Vintage Patterns Wiki, the Slenderette line of patterns were drafted with the goal of making the wearer appear slender or at least slenderer!  And I ask you, who could possibly resist a cotton polka dot "I Love Lucy"-esque dress which promises to skinnify you as if by magic? 

I also like the directions which I found to be straight forward, simple, and fit on a single sheet of paper.  I often misplace the multiple sheets of directions (this is a tragedy of working on multiple projects simultaneously) so a single page of directions is an organizational godsend in my book!

Now I say this pattern is the correct size as it is a Bust 38... and clearly my bust has not been a mere 38" in many a day.  However, my upper bust measures at 38 so this size provides the appropriate sizing in the shoulders which is the most difficult part to alter.  That said, I will have to do a classic full bust alteration here to add the necessary volume to the necessary areas.

 After making a standard full bust alteration, I cut the altered pattern peices out of a plastic backed paper tablecloth from the grocery store.  This allowed me to pin together the basic bodice and further adjust the fitting. 
For example, I noted that I would need to add a bit of additional width to the center back.  I also noted that after my alterations I needed to re-adjust the armholes that now refuse to line up properly.

Once I was satisfied on the matter of fit, I cut into my fashion fabric and pinned together the peices to make further tweaks to the fit before taking to my needle and thread.  This also gave me an opportunity to make some stylistic decisions.  For instance, did I want to use the border polkadots for the collar?  Sleeves or no sleeves?  And the ever important conderation of length...  

Next I take on actual assembly of the dress.  As I noted above, I've reviewed the directions and they seem clear.  Plus, at the end of the day a shirtdress is not an overly complex garment.  Ultimately how it turns out will be more a reflection of fit and fabric than of any complicated technique. 
I know what I'll be doing this weekend...



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