Making a 1950s Cocktail Dress: The Skirt


So I haven’t gotten the fabric for the lining of the dress quite yet, which means that after making the bodice shell, I decided to sew the skirt shell.

I made the pattern for the circle skirt, which was actually very simple. Here’s what I did and how the dress looks so far:

The Pattern

Circle skirts, as the name implies, look like a circle when fully laid out. I picked this design because 360 degrees of black lace would lay how I envisioned and fit the vintage styling.


To make sure everything was nice and symmetrical, I divided the circle into fourths, so I basically made a 90 degree angle. Here’s why circle skirts are so easy: I only needed one pattern piece.

I taped a bunch of paper together, then tied a pencil onto a string that was the exact length I wanted (plus seam allowance). I held one end of the string in the corner of the paper, then used the pencil like a giant compass. It wasn’t the most accurate, but I used measuring tape to fix my lines.

And voila! I had a pattern piece with that 90 degree angle I needed. When cutting, I’d have to get four pieces.



I decided to cut the front of the skirt on a fold, but not the back. I want the zipper to go up the back of the gown. Right now, I only have my lace (or shell), so I could only cut out that part. However, I will use the same pattern for the lining.


After cutting the pieces, I folded them and trimmed the bottom to make sure the hemline would be even.


Stitching and Altering

The skirt only required three seams, though I ended taking them all in, as the skirt was larger than I thought it would be. That’s OK though – I’d rather over estimate size and trim down than underestimate and have to recut entirely.


I also pinned the bodice to the skirt to make sure the side seams lined up. Turns out, the bodice waist was larger than the skirt waist, so I took in all the seams. Now it fits great!


However, I won’t actually attach the top and bottom until I have the lining sewn in place.

So far, I’m really enjoying making this garment. Creating my first pattern was a lot of fun, and I’m happy with the design. I can’t wait to finish and wear it!




4 thoughts on “Making a 1950s Cocktail Dress: The Skirt

  1. Pingback: Making a 1950s Cocktail Dress: The Skirt | Changing the World One Blog at a Time

  2. Pingback: How to Sew a Circle Skirt | The Pen and Needle

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