Chocolate 1940s

I’m honestly not a very big fan of brown. I’m kind of a black girl – don’t know how or why it happened, but it did. I own only black shoes, besides two white pairs and a red pair. I own only black and grey tights. I only own one brown shirt, and no brown skirts.

So this dress is a significant departure for me, color wise! The fabric was my grandmothers – I think it’s a rayon crepe. I discovered it a bag deep within my closet among her other sewing items, and it came with matching lining fabric, seam tape, bias tape and thread. All that was missing was a zipper, and that I was able to find in the stash – it’s even metal!

I used the lining fabric for the belt and bow – I think I need to slip a bit of interfacing or belting into the belt, it wrinkles a bit more than I like on the sides. The bow itself is absolutely fantastic – a wonderful vintage style that I’ve come across once or twice in 1960s dresses.

The pattern is Vintage Pattern Lending Library’s 1940s Cocktail Dress pattern. Compared with the last VPLL pattern I made, this one had better directions, but the fit was a bit wonky. Instead of having just a bit extra ease (the given size is about 1″ bigger than my own) it was very baggy. I took about 2″ out of the bust and 1″ out of the waist, and the hips were a bit small. The sleeves were also quite baggy, and I took those in – that, however, might be more of a matter of personal preference. The cut of the pattern itself, however, is unique and charming. The unique cutouts on the neckline are fabulous, and worked well in a fairly sturdy fabric.

I changed the zipper from a side opening to a back opening. I’ve got a rather generously sized head (7 1/4 in men’s hat sizes!) and have found that necklines need to be fairly generous if I’m to get them on without smearing lipstick everywhere. That was the fault in my last dress and there’s makeup stains on it now to prove that!

You can also see my newest Goodwill steal here – a pair of Leg Avenue seamed stockings for half off of retail. Perfect for the authentic vintage look, but I still need to work on getting those seams straight!

The pattern suggests at least 2 1/2 yards for this dress. By removing the front drape, shortening the skirt by an inch, having a narrower hem and ever so slightly overlapping bodice pieces, I was able to fit it into exactly two yards of fabric. If I had known that it was going to be too big I could have saved even more fabric! However, squeezing an already economically cut dress into even less fabric really does echo the war time spirit of the 1940s.

It’s been really refreshing to make dresses this fast – this one took only six hours . . . before I had to alter it. Still, it’s record time for me. I’ve just started using a wonderful (free!) time keeping program called Toggl, which allows me to create tasks and track how much time I spend on them each day by simply activating a timer on my computer. It’s great accountability and lets me know how much to charge clients when I do custom work or alterations. I can’t wait to use it during the school year to track how much time I actually spend working on costumes. Hopefully my productivity this week will continue – I’ve got some fabric set aside for skirts, a whole bunch of half made vintage dresses to finish, and some fabric to list on Etsy! Stay tuned for more posts about that – I’m really excited about the fabric I have to offer, and the prices should be good too!

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8 thoughts on “Chocolate 1940s

  1. What a beautiful dress! I love your hair in these pictures as well, have you thought about doing a tutorial? I can never work out how to do that particular hairstyle and have always wanted to!

    • I actually really struggle with 1940s hair in general – my hair does not like sitting in nice big rolls without frizzing really bad. My worst fly aways are around my face, right where it needs to be pretty and smooth! Pinning them back just exacerbates the breakage. The best tutorials can be found on places like The Fedora Lounge and through tutorials on Youtube!

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