A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: 1950s

I have to say that I’m absolutely thrilled with how this dress turned out, considering that my sewing skills are still in their infancy. I wore my dress to work on a beautiful winter day with the aim of getting some nice pictures, but I didn’t get a chance to take any in the end, so here is a slightly dodgy photo.

At the end of the last post, I had sewn up my bodice and finished the skirt pieces. The next step was to carefully stitch the front seam, ensuring the pattern matching was as neat as possible, stitch the side seams, and then attach the circle skirt to the bodice.
One of my mods was to add pockets to the side seams of this dress. Mum and I had a debate at this stage over whether to anchor the pockets to the waist seam, or have them loose and so do them at the end. We decided that we didn’t want additional bulk in the waist, so elected to do the pockets as an afterthought.
I tried the dress on again at this stage and had my mum pin it closed. We discovered that the back had some additional bulk, which we were able to take out by making the shoulder straps shorter.
The next step was the zip. Mum didn’t have an invisible zip long enough so we used a normal dress zip. Never forget the importance of pinning and basting your zip before machine stitching.
Next came the facings, which I had cut in three pieces (front, left back and right back). After stitching the side seams, I pinned and basted the facings to the bodice. This was particularly important as we had changed the shape of the shoulders, so it took a bit of easing to make sure all of the notches matched. Mum commented that she almost never uses facings, preferring bias binding as it is much less fiddly.

Stitch the facings and bodice, right sides facing, around neckline and underarms.
Mum gave me a super duper secret dressmaker tip. Rather than top-stitching the underarms and neckline to join the facings and bodice, as indicated in the pattern, stitch as closely as possible to the seam on the facing only for a more professional finish.
The next step was joining the shoulders, which was super fiddly. Finally we added the pockets in pretty much the same way as I did to my skirt in this post.
After a bit of finishing I was done! I’m really pleased with how this dress turned out, though it’s a little bit formal for work. Here is what the back looks like.


This week I have a sewing project to share. I’m very excited about this garment because it’s the first proper dress I’ve made by myself. I bought the fabric and pattern on a slight whim at the Knitting and Stitching Show.

I wish I’d looked more closely at the pattern before starting as it clearly states that the pattern isn’t suitable for strongly directional prints, which this is. Fortunately I have my personal sewing consultant at hand to help me make the necessary adjustments.


Of course, the first step was to cut out the pattern pieces. This probably took me about two to three hours in total due to the complexity of the pattern matching. The circle skirt of the Betty dress is meant to be cut in three pieces; the front half cut on a fold and then two back pieces to accommodate the zip. To match the pattern, it was necessary to cut the front in two pieces, ensuring the pattern matched across the new front centre seam, both horizontally and vertically. Here’s a little diagram indicating how you do this. You’ll need to flip the pattern piece when cutting the right-hand side of the skirt.


Throughout the cutting, I lined my pattern pieces up with the pattern rather than the selvedges as they were slightly misaligned.

I also had to cut my back bodice pieces separately to try and match the pattern.
The first step after cutting out all of the pattern pieces is to shape the bodice with waist and bust darts in the front

And a waist dart in each of the back pieces, which are then joined to the front bodice.

It’s worth pinning the shoulders at this stage to try on the bodice. Don’t worry if it seems short at this stage; the skirt is very heavy and will pull the bodice down.
I also overlocked the seams on the skirt pieces and pinned and basted the front seam of my skirt.
The next steps will be to join the skirt to the bodice and then instal the zip. One of my mods will be to add pockets, so I’ll start thinking about the best way to do this.