dreamy 50s dress

11.09.10 {vintage up close: 50s dress}

Several of you sweetly asked about the dress I wore in the giveaway photos, and I thought I’d share a bit more about it! I always enjoy detail photos of vintage clothing, so I hope perhaps you might like this too. The dress is indeed 1950s vintage and I believe I got it years ago when my grandfather was liquidating his antiques business. It’s a beautiful, rich shade of ink blue, and the silhouette is one of my favorites from the era (modified princess-line dress). What makes it extra special, in my opinion, is the shoulder yoke that has a bow at the back! You know I can’t get enough of bows…

11.09.10 {vintage up close: 50s dress}

11.09.10 {vintage up close: 50s dress}

11.09.10 {vintage up close: 50s dress}

The dress is far from perfect–it has a few spots of sheen where someone over-enthusiastically ironed the fabric. It also shows that I think the previous wearer really loved wearing this dress: there is a small repair on one side of the bodice where a little patch has been neatly sewn from the inside. It’s nearly imperceptible from the outside (I had never noticed it until now!), but I like to think that perhaps the original owner was too in love with how pretty the dress was to let it languish in her closet with a hole! Finding little bits of history about older garments is one aspect that continually draws me to vintage. Not to mention creating such a tidy mend like this takes some serious seamstress skills!

11.09.10 {vintage up close: 50s dress}

Now for some “geeky” details about the dress: It sports an interesting shoulder/sleeve seam–I believe it would fall into the category of a saddle shoulder, with the shaping (but I may be wrong–I don’t have any of my pattern drafting books handy to reference!). The sleeves are also seamed along the top and underarm–typical of this style. The front is not darted, as it appears, but has modified release-darts (meaning the top does not come to a sharp point, but opens up to allow for a shallow tuck). I think my favorite part of the dress is the waist shaping–it’s so flattering! As I mentioned, the silhouette is a modified princess-line. The center front panel runs from the yoke to hem, while all the other panels stop at the high hip and are joined to the skirt piece that is part of the front panel. In the back they all stop at the high hip and are joined to the skirt, which is essentially a half-circle shape. While this may sound bulky and potentially unflattering, it helps reduce some excess flare at the hips and allows for the skirt to be as full as required without distorting the bodice and waist areas.

I hope you enjoyed this little “vintage details” post! I have to admit as I was taking photos for this post, I couldn’t help but daydream a bit about copying this dress to make in a more day wear friendly fabric–maybe after the holidays I’ll have time? Until then, at least perhaps I can wear this for Christmas Day!

November 9, 2010 · 27 lovely thoughts
posted in vintage inspiration · tags: , ,

Vanessa Matono November 9, 2010 at 09:11

Beautiful dress! I simply adore it. It’s like a dress fit for a princess of the 50′s!

Claire November 9, 2010 at 09:48

Oh wow, I love the shaping of this soo much! I would love a pattern for a dress like this! Do you ever sell the patterns you draft yourself?

Casey November 9, 2010 at 12:17

I haven’t sold any patterns I’ve drafted… yet! But I am investigating the possibilities of grading them and having them printed. Probably sometime early next spring, if all goes as planned! ;) You all will be the first to know!

♥ Casey

Sally November 9, 2010 at 10:37

Whew, that dress is dreamy indeed!

Eva Girl November 9, 2010 at 10:45

Oh! If you drafted a pattern for making another dress, couldn’t you put it up for sale?! I’d Love to make a dress like this one too! It’s just so lovely and flattering! I like the yoke and the sleeves – everything!!! Thank you for sharing the detail photos – the mending is superb – wow! What type of fabric is it? It looks like it has such a nice feel to it : )

Casey November 9, 2010 at 12:19

I’m currently figuring out about grading and having some of my self-designed patterns available for purchase, and if I copy this design, it’d be a candidate! :) This is all very much in the early stages of course, and I won’t have time to work on this whole-heartedly until January. But if all goes as planned, I should have a tiny micro-collection out by early spring. You all will be the first to know, of course!

The fabric feels like a synthetic shantung-like material. It’s a nice, medium weight; which means it drapes beautifully. I’ve only ever felt something similar with high-priced synthetic shantung!

♥ Casey

✄ Fabric U ✄ iPhone app November 9, 2010 at 10:47

Casey, maybe I missed it but what fabric is used for the dress? It almost looks like a silk shantung but it’s so blue I think it’s denim. Do tell! Also what are the measurements approximately? Just curious.

Casey November 9, 2010 at 12:21

It is very similar to a silk shantung, though I’m about 100% positive it’s synthetic. The drape is just perfect; it’s a nice medium weight. But now that you mentioned denim, I’m slightly curious about the possibilities if I copied this design in a nice denim–that would be too fun! :)

I’m not sure about the measurement; I’m guessing about 36″/26″/38″.

♥ Casey

Rueby November 9, 2010 at 10:51

Oooh. Its a gorgeous dress :) My friend has a pair of vintage trousers that have two repairs done in the same manner! The pants are pinstriped, and whoever did them lined them up perfectly, you can’t see them unless two inches away. Do you have any idea HOW these repairs were done? On his pants, you can still see the hole on the inside, but the patch edges are tucked INSIDE too. Sew it on the outside and pull the edge threads through with a super tiny crochet hook?

Casey November 9, 2010 at 12:22

I’m going to take a look at my vintage sewing books that have some really great information on patching things and get back to you about how to do it! I know there are several tricks for achieving a nearly imperceptible mend, but I need to double check. ;)

♥ Casey

Penny Dreadful Vintage November 9, 2010 at 11:33

What a gorgeous shape, and the bow at the back is so cute.

Holly Storm November 9, 2010 at 12:24

Love it! and love the fabric. The blue with a sheen is just gorgeous. Do you know what fabric it is? A cotton maybe? I have noticed that sateens were somewhat “in vogue” in this period and a little later. This has such a nice grain to it, almost like paper thin denim. The collar, neckline, and cuffs are my favorite part. Clean Katharine Hepburn.

Corinne November 9, 2010 at 13:25

First off, kudo’s for rescuing this beauty! If you are a fan of Threads Magazine the back cover always has a vintage example for our pleasure. (for a little while they suspended this feature, then resumed it when readers requested) Always a favorite feature for me. I have a similar piece of fabric in my collection that appears to be a rayon. The satin-like polish and little slubs in the weave make it a stunning piece. Unfortunately, it is a small piece. I am so with you on the bows. I prefer little bows that remind me of punctuation marks on a garment, this one is perfect. Picture this dress made up for spring in a polka-dot (white with navy blue dots) with sheer sleeves. Insert smile here, I have a stack of winter projects in the wings and I’m already planning Spring…………………

sarah November 9, 2010 at 13:30

such a lovely dress. love the little collar and turned up sleeves its very sweet. it looks well designed and made, almost tailored with all the diffierent pannels :)

melina bee November 9, 2010 at 13:59

sad I missed your giveaway somehow. This dress is so amazing, it seems very multi-functional, like you could wear it a million ways without getting bored. I love to find repairs in my vintage garments, it makes me feel like the garment tells a small story. melina bee

flem November 9, 2010 at 17:07

this is so beautiful!

Esz November 9, 2010 at 17:07

Wow I love all those little details. I’m no seamstress but I like picking things out like that. That 40′s dress I have that I’ve raved about has so many pretty things – like the shape of the skirt – its in four pieces at the back and has a slight curve to the bottom that is longer than the front. Makes your butt look fab!
It has a scalloped neck with embroidery all along it – And little buttons on the sleeves too. I must take photos! Maybe I will do it tonight. :-D

Rhia November 9, 2010 at 19:44

Very beautiful dress you got there! And you teamed it lovely with pearls and headband. That repair is done with skill because it barely shows on the right side.
If I’m not mistaken that sleeve is one version of saddle shoulder. There are several different ways on doing that. It’s mostly used in knits and jersey shirts, but sometimes also in coats, blouses and dresses.

Renee November 9, 2010 at 22:09

Great dress. It looked denim at first to me. I love the back on it.

Good luck with your patterns and selling them. I think you will do great.

Leisl November 9, 2010 at 23:07

What a repair job! If I had such a gorgeous dress I think I’d have taken care of it, too!

Theresa November 10, 2010 at 04:17

Thank you for this post! My mom and I were adoring it when you talked about the headband – as I wrote already! Really great dress and I especially love the fabric, although you are right it is not that everyday-wear-suitable!
Have a wonderful day!
Yours, Theresa

Victoria / Justice Pirate November 10, 2010 at 09:48

well it looks delicious. . if one would really want to eat a dress, which I doubt.

Caitlin November 10, 2010 at 12:39

That dress is just fantastic! I love all the detail shots you have of it. Vintage construction is really interesting to me, especially all those interesting ways of doing things that seem forgotten in modern sewing.

Liz November 10, 2010 at 23:26

gorgeous dress!!
all of the fine details really make the dress wonderful

Misfit Sarah November 11, 2010 at 07:02

What a stunning dress – I love the colour and the silhouette and all the beautiful details. What a careful repair… what a beautiful dress!

Miki November 11, 2010 at 13:06

I’m in love with this dress! It’s just perfect :) .

Awesome blog, by the way.


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