The Posture Improving Dress

Thursday 10 April 2008
One of the things I love about vintage patterns is the poses used in illustrations of the models on the envelope: they have such poise, elegance and tiny, tiny waists (well they usually are drawings and not real life models after all). So of course when we real life bodies make these dresses, the outcome is not exactly the same….

With this dress, made from a 1959 Simplicity pattern, I have to stand up straight because if I slouch those pleats at the waist puff out and give me an unflattering beer belly where one does not exist!

Sewing up the dress should have been easy since it has rather simple lines, but it was made harder by the pattern pieces being those ones where the patterns marking are perforated instead of printed (those dots are ruining my eyesight!) and picking a fabric that required a lot of match at the seams and zipper.

However once past those challenges it came together rather easy. The only alterations I made were to use an invisible zipper at the centre back seam instead of a lapped zipper and to underline the dress with a bright orange cotton batiste - I’m guessing that vintage dress patterns don’t usually call for linings because the ladies of the day wore full slips but I don’t profess to be a lady so I definitely needed a lining! I also left off the pocket because the print of the dress was busy enough so their effect was limited.

I made this dress from a crisp cotton purchased from Lincraft when they had their 50% off summer fabrics sale a few weeks ago. It is a rather bold and busy pattern for a dress, but I don't like being boring so I thought why not? I did make the matching belt, with a big brown button, but it didn't stand out because the print is so busy, so I've worn here instead with a plain brown belt, to match some old brown Witchery t-bar heels I nearly through out just a few weeks ago.

I also made the jacket, from a textured cotton canvas and large plastic buttons I had in the stash. I’m loving the gloriously wide lapel and bracelet length sleeves, and look how good my notched collars turned out! Normally I do an atrocious job on those notched collars and have to hand stitch and steam the hell out of them to get them into line, but I followed this tutorial by Barbara Weiland that appeared in the November 2002 edition of Sew News magazine and it just worked this time.

The lining method was a little ordinary IMO, instead of doing a bagged lining and then turning the whole thing out the right way, the pattern steps required the jacket and facing to be all sewn up, and then hand sewing the lining in. This was majorly fiddly and time consuming, and something for me to remember if I ever make this pattern again (but with 587 other patterns waiting to be made I probably won’t!)

Unfortunately the weather here in Sydney has finally turned cool so I may not wear this dress and jacket anytime soon, although maybe with black opaque stockings and a warmer jacket I could make it work – it is in autumn colours after all.


  1. HAHA! In relation to your "hey, that's MY fabric post", I give you one of my twin frox made from the yellow version of this (exceedingly cool, I'm sure you'll agree) print.

    I'm loving that there cropped jacket. Sensaysh.

  2. Wow, that is gorgeous! I love the print you used, it looks fantastic.

  3. That looks so cute!

    I just discovered your blog, and you've really inspired me to get back to my sewing!

    BTW...great dog!

  4. This is great! I love the dress, and adore the jacket! Plus, so great that you use your vintage patterns. Mine (I don't have very many though) simply serve as eye candy.

  5. Beautiful dress! The print is great. I really like how it looks with the belt and you have the perfect figure to pull it off.

  6. You look great in that dress! The jacket is fantastic as well. Well done!

  7. Gorgeous! I'm totally inspired to finally dig into my vintage pattern stash. You did a fabulous job!

  8. you look so adorable in this outfit!

  9. Beautiful job making the vintage pattern very current! I like the fabric choices, which saves the whole outfit from the risk of looking costumey and instead feels very fresh and modern.

  10. I love the pattern! And you are so right the poses are ridiculous and so are the waist sizes...but the styles are just intriguing.

    Love your interpretation of this dress!