Monday, 31 August 2015

Sew Over It - 1940s Tea Dress

I completely forgot to post this one! This was my Spring for Cotton make, as mentioned here way back in April. I wrote some of this post before my laptop died and have only just remembered it....

I had been thinking about a 1940s style dress for a while and when Spring for Cotton came along it was the nudge I needed to buy a pattern. I couldn't find an original vintage pattern that I liked in time for the challenge, and having never sewn sewn from one before I decided to purchase the Sew Over It vintage style 1940s Tea Dress. I'm glad to say I did, because the style is just what I was after.

The fabric came from Stitch Fabrics, it's called Sea Shell Lawn. My sister bought tickets for a girly day at the Sewing for Pleasure & Fashion Embroidery & Stitch Show at the NEC in Birmingham in March. I got it then along with a few other lengths of fabrics. The fabric was really lovely to work with. Nice and crisp when it needs to be, but soft and not easily creased too.

I was a bit of a late comer to Spring for Cotton and although I initially didn't think I would actually finish on time, I surprised myself by being able to complete the dress (minus the hem and buttons on the front) with enough time to take a photo and post it to the Spring for Cotton flickr page on the last day of the challenge. Yay! I'm feeling really bad about not managing to post this now:-s

The alterations I made to the flat pattern didn't really take too much time once I'd made the first muslin of the bodice. I only made two bodice muslins and there were enough panels in the bodice to make any final fit alterations if there were any.

I made the first muslin cutting a size 12 at the bust and hips and grading to a 14 at the waist. After the first muslin I made the following adjustments:
  • Hollow chest adjustment (a tuck of about 2cm along the neckline). But I think I would only do a 1cm tuck on the next dress as it pulls a little. 
  • Lowered the centre front bust panel by 4cm. And took the same out of the lower bodice panels.
  • Added an extra 2.5cm to the length at the shoulder (adjusting the facing with the above alterations.
  • Moved the bust gathers more to the centre front, otherwise I had gathers where I didn't need them and it all looked very strange,
  • Took 1.5cm out of the width of the front bodice from the middle of the shoulder down to the waist, not at the centre front (as the shoulder was a bit out too - yes, perhaps a 10 would have been better - I think I may go back to compare my altered pattern pieces to the size 10!).
  • Altered the sleeve pattern to be a cap sleeve using the first half of Heather B's tutorial here.

After making the whole dress up I also made the following alterations:
  • Took in the dress by 4cm at the centre back (as I was inserting the zip), grading out to the middle of the back bodice (which should remain a 12 on me) and taking more in at the skirt hem (9cm in total!). Perhaps I should have graded from a size 10 out to a 12 at the waist
  • Hemmed the sleeves and skirt with black bias binding.
I enjoyed making the dress and felt confident in the adjustments I'd made. The instruction booklet was clear. I used the Sewalong pages too, which were helpful when I needed a bit more information. I knew how to put in the invisible zip and did it on the first go. Although I wish now that I had run down the zip one more time to get a bit closer and to get the zip a bit more invisible!
:-( Invisible zip, not so invisible

Hazard of taking your own blog photo's - trying to get yourself in the shot!!

I struggled a bit with the facing - especially the point on the 'V'. I think I aligned the centre front at just the edge of the fabric, and not with the seam line oops, I wont do that again! It was rather fiddly and had me cursing for a while. But it looks fine in these photo's.
The one thing I am really annoyed about is my decision to not pattern match the fabric. Because the fabric is busy, I thought I could get away with not matching it. With hindsight I see I should have definitely matched on the centre front of the bust panels. It just looks like I badly matched it rather than actually not bothering!
Tusk! no pattern matching going on here.
The idea with Spring for Cotton is to use 100% cotton fabric and to try to use 100% cotton, or vintage notions. Well, I managed with the fabric, but not so well with the zip and buttons. Although, maybe in the 'make do and mend' style of the 1940s I did reuse buttons from a ready to wear item which came with three spare buttons (very generous!), which I always collect in case I might need.

I love the idea of 1940s style, vintage and dresses. I'm not 100% confident about wearing this one. I do really like the dress on me. Maybe it's just not within my comfort zone and I will need to wear fitted dresses more often for me to feel comfortable in them...
I think I was twirling round, I wasn't falling over, honest!


  1. I love it - you look amazing and so does your work! Thank you for sharing you have made my mind up for me to go with this pattern for my Tea Dress try! Xx

  2. I love this dress. It's the best version I've seen. The adjustments you made to the bust make it. πŸ™‚