Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Decades of Style 1930s Button Dress

This is was the retro dress of all retro dresses.  This was the dress that I was so excited to get started.  This was the dress that I went to three stores just to hunt down the right buttons.  

I used a Decades of Style pattern which is a modern pattern of a retro style.  The instructions and pattern pieces are for today's sewists.

Here is the lovely pattern.

Here are the lovely buttons.

I spent a great deal of time thinking about this pattern.  My body shape is a somewhere between an "apple" and a  "brick" according to Trinny and Susanah's 12 body types.  I made a muslin and made adjustments for my lack of waist, high back hips (that means my I'm short waisted and I carry that extra flub on hips in the back), and protruding tummy.  So I call myself a brick with high hips.  Not quite an apple.

I digress.  So I planned carefully, making adjustments for all the sizing problems that vex me.  I shortened the bodice and added for the tummy and hips.

Again, the pattern.

The dress on Matilda.  

I thought the contrast in colors would make the curve at the waist stand out more.  The dress looks great on Matilda because she is set at my daughter's small size.  Not my medium size.  

Now here is the scary part.  The dress on me.

Ahhh!  Have mercy!  You can all turn away now.  But before you do, look at the neck line.  What happened?  You can see the curve is not perfect.  

This pattern, although charming, gorgeous and simple, was not meant for me, a brick with high hips.  Even if I did fix the neck line knowing the mistake I made, would I feel comfortable in this dress?  No.  So disappointing after all the time I put into it.   Maybe I'll donate it to the school drama department.  

Yes, I recommend the pattern as long as you aren't a brick or an apple.  And send me a picture if you do make it.  I will be happy for you and your long waist.  

I think tomorrow I will start a more rigorous exercise routine. 


  1. I think is a really pretty dress just so you know you are not alone picking and making dresses that are wrong for your shape, my closet of shame has a few in there but you get experience in sewing a diferent pattern.

  2. There are is a styling problems here you can avoid next time. The two tone idea is good but you should use the darker fabric (the solid) in the area you want to recede and the lighter or more busy fabric in the areas where an enlarged effect is welcome (a small or average bust). So dark on bottom, bright on top. This is how most women of the non-rake body type dress for everyday looks.
    The lady in the picture has a very long waist like a VS bikini chick. There's a lot of area for such a figure to have styling lines. This is what ultimately undoes this dress for the average figure. So many fashion illustrations and runway models have this long streak of slender torso (and long pins) to work with. It's how a lot of things are designed - but does not address styling needs of the other 9/10ths of ladies figures.
    If you wish to experiment further with such a high-waisted style, maybe it'd be easier on your sewing self to try separates. A nice pin or pencil skirt in a dark color, paired with whatever lovely blouse finally makes the perfect outfit.
    FYI I heard that as sizes go up, the waist gets higher - closer to the bust and subsequently eliminating some dress choices. Look at plus size dresses and you see what I mean about options being limited - they usually have an empire waistline because it will flatter the waistline which is very close to the bust, with nothing but plainness below that on the dress to "skim the hips" - be boring so you don't notice the belly and hips. It's not the only option for women with average or plus figures but it's trotted out pretty often.
    Good luck with your next project :)

    1. I agree that the color blocking was the wrong idea, but I'd forgotten that you use the darker colors to de-emphasize an area. Yup, it is empire waists and separates for a while now. That or I'll stick to quilting!

  3. This is why I don't blog- bless you for being brave.I have many unphotographed ones just like this

  4. You made me laugh because it reminded me of the Walk-A-Way dress from the 1950s. I loved that dress and finally made it. Was I ever surprised that it didn't flatter my body at all. Dismayed it only word that could describe my heartache. Well, that dress looked good on my daughter who is 4" shorter, is long-waisted, shorter legs, has slightly bigger hips and a slightly smaller waist. I thought with my longer legs and smaller hips, the dress would look great one me. No chance. She looked awesome in the circle skirt dress (A line looks great on her, but looks plain awful on me). At least one of us benefited from my love of the dress.

  5. Well, I really like it as well! But I have almost the same dress from the same pattern company - and like you, have high hips. I also don't have a well defined waistline (darn it) - rib cage and hips too close together! I do like the dress though - good job! It does make me hesitate!

    Have you thought about some defining undergarments (long line bra comes to mind)? Maybe that will improve the dress to match the figure on the package!

  6. Have you tried it without the waistline tabs? It would become more of an Empire line without them. If you do decide to give it away or whatever do keep the buttons they are gorgeous and deserve to be on a 'favourite' outfit.

  7. I award you this commendation for bravery as well.


  8. I would try adding shoulder pads to hang the dress off your shoulders a little better. I think that would help...

  9. Thanks for sharing this helpful post - helpful to us anyway. What a shame after all the anticipation.


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