Making a 1950s Cocktail Dress Part 1


My friends are getting married in May, and I decided to make the dress I’ll wear to it. With a couple months until the big day, I ended up buying a dress form from a friend (great timing!). I’ve wanted one for a long time, and after posting my desire to purchase one on Facebook, my friend said she was selling hers. I got it along with some fabric and felt inspired.

Designing the Dress

On the way home last night, I was thinking about the fabric I had gotten. Among the pile was a beautiful black lace. It’s softer than a lot of lace fabric, which is nice. I decided I wanted to turn it into a 1950s style cocktail dress, so today I started sketching.


These drawings aren’t the best, but they get the point across. The smaller figure is the back of the garment. I want a nice deep V. I might add an asymmetrical bow near the bottom of the V too. We’ll see.

I’ll use my black lace for the shell of the dress, and line it with two different fabrics. I’m thinking nude lining on the bodice and black lining on the skirt.


Pinning the Form

I used some muslin I had to start drawing the pattern on the dress form. I first pinned all the fabric on, then started sketching right on the fabric. Surprisingly, constructing a pattern this way actually made a lot of sense to me. I’ve never draped before, but I’ve been sewing most of my life, so I guess I picked up some basic construction sense.

It really helps that the dress form has stitches on it. I can follow the lines that already exist – so awesome!


After drawing pieces, I cut them out and repinned them. So far, I have the bodice pieces cut out. Next I’ll transfer them to butcher paper, clean them up and add a seam allowance. Also, my waist is a few inches wider than the dress form’s, so I’ll have to account for that when drawing the pattern on butcher paper.


Dress bodice back


Dress bodice front

Things to Do

I don’t think I’ll have to drape the skirt portion of the dress – circle skirts are super easy to make. However, that will be the next step.

I have until May 2 to finish this dress. I’m also working on my Impa costume and I have plans for another cosplay outfit, so my sewing plate is quite full.


2 thoughts on “Making a 1950s Cocktail Dress Part 1

  1. Oooh, how very lovely! The lace will do so well with that pattern! Don’t you just love sewing on a schedule? Haha, I am also making a vintage dress which must be done in less than two months! Ah!! Good luck on yours =D

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