The Pink Polka Dotty Dress

For as much as I love everything about the 1940’s wartime styles, I also love the contrast that the post WWII fashion offers.  It is a lovely in-between the 50’s extremes of femininity (either big, poufy skirts or slim wiggle versions) and the rationed utility clothing.  I mean, this post’s year 1948 dress is 40’s still, yet I can have a full skirt in a midi length, softer shoulders, and extra details which demand excess fabric.  Yes, very early 40’s frocks also had only some of these qualities.  Yet, the post-war period had streamlined, elegant looks while the pre-war time had many folk inspired styles often with exaggerated features.  This dress is the best of what came both before and after it, in my opinion!

Even though this dress is in my least favorite print – polka dots – I am naturally disposed to favor it, probably no matter what pattern it is made from.  The fabric has the prettiest light pink and a very rich, purple-tinted burgundy!  They fall directly in my “favorite colors” range!  The whole ensemble is finished with some true vintage gloves, pink pearl earrings which had been my Grandmother’s, a retro scarf (which had been my mom’s) as my belt, and a little 1940s original hat in the same tones.  I have a recipe for a total mood booster.  To go full matchy-matchy, I even have a vintage post-WWII rayon blazer which further pairs beautifully with my dress, only it covers up the details so I saved it just for cold indoor air conditioning or a cool breeze in the shade.

THE FABRIC:

FABRIC:  The polka dot fashion fabric is a polyester crepe, with a satin finish.  It is partially lined in both a cotton-polyester blend broadcloth as well as an anti-cling polyester.

PATTERN:  McCall #7226, year 1948 ( I never cease to be shocked at the completely sheer black version on the cover!  In 1948, really?  I love it!)

NOTIONS:  Just plenty of thread and one side zipper was all that I needed to whip the dress up!

TIME TO COMPLETE:  This dress was finished on September 21, 2018 after taking about 20 hours to finish.

THE INSIDES:  The entire raw edges are covered by full lining.

TOTAL COST:  The fabrics for this dress had been with me long enough to no longer remember when they were bought, so let’s just count this as a free stash-busting project, shall we?!

The most obvious, glaring difference than any 40’s pattern which came the previous 6 years was the great number of pattern pieces and the extra fabric they required.  The back of the skirt section is a flared out version of the classic three piece which is the same as most of all 40’s dress patterns.  Yet the front has 7 panels which get wider as they go to the hem for a fantastic sweep which is so perfect for twirling!  The bodice back is like a bloused out version of a 1950s kimono sleeved block, and so is the front underneath the three wonderful layers of horizontal pleats!

This was as easy to sew together as it is a breezy and effortless joy to wear.  As the polka dots are randomly spread all over I made absolutely no attempt at any matching, totally taking the laidback route.  The skirt is more so.  The cut on sleeves with the deep cut armholes are unconfining.  I adapted the pattern so that the zipper would open up all the way under the arm for no need to wiggle into a dress with a limited side closure.  My choice of lining also adds both comfort and simplicity.  I detest the feel of raw polyester on my skin and hate the static cling it builds.  Lining the entire dress made it opaque and eliminates the need for an extra slip, of course, but adding a cotton blend to the bodice is for pure comfort while the anti-cling poly cuts out any problems with static.  I do like a ‘throw-it-on-and-out-the-door’ kind of dress which is classy in an instant yet feels as nice like a nightgown.

There is always something surprising to the construction of a vintage pattern.  They almost always have some little detail that is put together so much smarter than it seems at first glance of the line drawings.  In the case of this pattern, it was the pleats on the front bodice which were the ingenious detail that surprised and amazed me.  The bottom two pleats are drafted into the bodice front.  You have to stitch (wrong sides together) a certain amount away from the two marked foldlines and let the pleats hang down before sewing to the side seams.  Yet, the top “pleat” is really a fake, but realistically a two ties which get sewn into the top horizontal neckline seam.  Half of each tie hangs down free at the center front so they can be drawn into a bow.  As I said, things are not as they seem in vintage patterns…they are better than they first seem!

This is the perfect 3 season transitional piece.  Now, with the chilly spring days, it is just as perfect as crisp fall days with the darker burgundy background color (especially with the matching vintage jacket).  It is lightweight enough on its own for summer, too!  I have found myself reaching for it again and again after I’ve sewn it.  Some of the things I make just immediately transition into a being a piece of my everyday wardrobe and this is one of them (versus projects that wear out of that ‘just made’ status through time).  This is why I forgot to post it until now.  Oh, I am so behind on posting sewing goodies like this one!  So, no matter what is going on in the world, and no matter whether I am staying home looking not at all as magnificent as I would like, I have stuff up my sleeves to post of past fabulous times dressed in fabulous clothes to share.

5 thoughts on “The Pink Polka Dotty Dress

  1. I am a sucker for pleats in any direction! And that is SUCH a clever detail with the third pleat!! I didn’t notice the bow at first (too distracted by those pleats?) But once I noticed it and those lovely gathers above it I loved the dress even more. And the way the whole ensemble matches is just amazing.
    It is sad how little our nice cloths are being aired these days, but it will make us appreciate wearing them all the more when we can get out and about again.
    I have also made it a point to still dress up on Sunday’s, though admittedly not to the extent I would if actually going out. But I find it helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for you comment.

      Yes, I too get dressed up in my best on Sunday…I appreciate knowing others do the same! It helps keep a little bit of normalcy in my life by staying somewhat to what had been the schedule, and feels right anyway. Besides, if I didn’t make my little efforts I do to keep up some sort of schedule of normalcy I would never know what day of the week it is otherwise!

      I’m glad to know my post conveyed just how amazing I found this dress’ details to be. It’s so hard to capture small details through pictures and even harder to find a way to describe them sometimes! And yes, the ‘matchy-matchy-ness’ of my set was all a happy series of good local finds, believe it or not. I love when things come together without even trying…that’s when they seem meant to be.

      You now, I was really skeptic at first of all the fluff that the bodice pleats added, but the longer I wore it, I was won over. Are pleats one of your favorite details to garment designs?

      Take care and stay healthy!

      Like

    • Thank you for commenting! Yes, indeed – the lack of coordination to the dots makes it much more likeable to me.

      The pattern I used is an old original from my bountiful stash. I have a big commercial grade metal pattern cabinet, with four large drawers, to hold all my patterns (see this Instagram post). Probably about 3/4 of what I have in there is vintage, and 3/4 of that vintage amount is probably old, extant originals. I have a lot of supply here to go on! So – unless I link over to another site, the old patterns I use are almost entirely from my own collection. Thanks for asking, Quinn! Stay healthy!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ahhh! That’s a great resource to have. Those pattern drawers are no joke in terms of size–I’m sure that was hard to move around the house. But, durable and able to hold lots of patterns makes it sound worthwhile. Thanks for the Instagram link. 🙂

        Like

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