Making a 1950s Cocktail Dress Part 1

Sewing-dressform-pattern-dress-form-patternmaking

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Dress bodice back

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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.

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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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