A Palette of Color “Gathered Up” into a 1946 Satin Dress

This is a vintage Post-WWII dress which automatically cheers me up.  My finished dress has a great combination going for it – comfort, easy dressing, ability to match with a wide range of accessories, cool design features, and a pretty satin shine with the bonus of a knit. Plus, I had the opportunity to do plenty of gathering, which is one my most enjoyable sewing techniques.  Here is one of those projects where everything fell together just perfectly.  The frequency of compliments seem to follow the times I wear this dress…which is quite often!

A spring garden of tulips seemed to be the perfect visual compliment for a photo shoot.

100_1405      My pattern for this dress is a Vintage Vogue that many seamstresses seem to have a love/hate relationship towards-#8728.  I looked up many, many pictures and reviews on V8728 before attempting to start on my own version.  It appears to me that many who have made this dress find it either turn out great, or at least is modified well, or it turns out fitting badly enough to be not worth saving.  As my V8728 ends up in the love relationship pool, I feel that as long as the quirks of this pattern are known, making this dress is VERY worthwhile – and quite easy.

THE FACTS:vogue-8728

FABRIC:  a 100% polyester satin finish knit; it has a rather heavy drape and semi-opaque print with a very stable stretchiness (not a flimsy type of stretch).  It’s not a period type of fabric but the print and the satin look work quite well, I believe.

NOTIONS:  I only had to buy a zipper; I had the thread (I used a very dark, almost black, green) necessary and also used some thick, 1 inch, non-roll black waistband elastic that was in my stash

PATTERN: Vintage Vogue 8728, year 1946

TIME TO COMPLETE:  this dress was finished on April 19, 2013, after only about 6 hours to sew together.  I did a few minor adjustments after wearing this a few times, but it only took me a little bit of time to do these fitting changes (which I’ll talk about later)

THE INSIDES:  the inside seams are merely zig-zagged in the name of finishing the old fashioned way, as they would have been done in 1946.  Besides, I was dealing with some seams having too many layers for my traditional French seams.  This fabric does not fray or roll anyway, so whatever! 

See the picture below to see the inside details of my seams, the double layered bodice, and waist stay of elastic.

100_1440     I had bought an extra 1 1/3 yards when I had the fabric cut, knowing that I would double layer the lower front bodice section.  I am so glad I had all that extra fabric because I actually ended up double layering the entire bodice (the back, the gathered bodice front piece, and the lower plain bodice front).  Also, the sleeves on my dress were extended out a few added inches, to cater to my taste, so I had to slightly redraw the curve of the sleeve on the pattern pieces.  Other than these personal changes, there are three basic adaptations that I feel are really necessary to keep in mind when making your own V8728.

1.)  Go a size or two down for the skirt and the gathered bodice section. Unadjusted, the dress gathers are rather much to sew down and/or look good.  I really don’t know how the gathers could have worked otherwise, because the gathers were almost as tight as they could be together. 100_1442

2.)  Take a few inches out of the neckline or the dress bodice can seem a bit droopy and tend to slide off the shoulders.  Only after a few times wearing it out did I realize this point about the dress.  Since my dress was already done, I made a little tuck along the neckline on each side next to the end of the gathers in order to raise the droopy front bodice.  After that fix, I also added lingerie straps with ribbon and snaps just to make sure I wouldn’t have my dress slipping around my shoulders.  I hope you can see my #2 adaptations in the picture above.

3.)  The dress seems better with at least the lower front bodice double layered.  My personal taste was to double layer the entire bodice, but (I think) the bottom front section would at least be a semi-necessity.  The best part about adding a second layer to the inside was being able to cover up the waistband seam and bodice gathers.  It makes for a very clean look and comfy fit.

100_1408     There were a few extra notions I added to parts of my dress to make it as well made as I could.  Since I was using a knit, I added seam binding to the fabric along the zipper sides for the very stable, no-ripple closure.  The thick waistband elastic I sewed over the waist seam helped ease my mind.  I was worried the waist might stretch (silly really!) but, nevertheless, it does make it more like those vintage inner waistbands on some patterns.  I even hand sewed a hook and eye to close this inner waistband.  Finally, I added horsehair braid into the hem of the sleeves so they would be nicely round and stand out slightly.

100_1410     True to the 40’s look, I am wearing a skinny belt and my old “Union Made” gloves.  My necklace is old in the way it is a natural gemstone, my birthstone peridot, which I strung myself with sterling silver clasps. Worn altogether, this my favorite 40’s dress/outfit I’ve made this year.100_1407

I’m so glad a bystander offered to take a lovely family picture that day.  The picture turned out so well I had to add it.

Just to add a bit of a soundtrack to the year 1946, I would like to point out one of the top 49 hits for that year, a song that has some great personal memories for me.  ‘Old Blue Eyes’ Frank Sinatra made a hit in ’46, called “Five Minutes More”. On a personal note, my dad is a history buff, and loves the classic songs of WWII.  I can see him singing or humming to himself “Five Minutes More” (among many other fun songs), especially while working with his hands.

realcorsair     Looking back at 1946 makes me want to work on finishing some models with my dad!  I have a F4U Corsair (at left) plastic plane model begging to be painted…

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