1950s Flared Dress (Vogue 1043)

Here we are, with my first make of 2017! This is a garment that’s been a long time coming. As mentioned in my previous post, my life has encountered a few curves and swerves over the past couple of months. Sewing and blogging were put on hold for a little bit and V1043* – a dress that I started back in October for the Sew Dots challenge – was in literal pieces! But last week I decided that it was high time I pulled my sewing machine out of hibernation and got this project finished. And my goodness has it reinvigorated me! This pattern is divine.

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So cute, right? To be honest, I was pretty worried about this pattern. The wrap top and kimono sleeves presented a few different challenges and required some brand new skills. But, as I typically do, I decided to put my faith in the pattern and hope for the best. Fortunately, Vogue patterns are so well written and instructed that this trust is always incredibly well placed. The process wasn’t particularly lengthy – most of the effort goes into the bodice and sleeves – and creates a really impressive garment in a lovely, short time frame!

The bodice and neckline are gorgeous. I adore the wrap effect and it sits just perfectly. I graded out a size from bust to waist, following my measurements, and the final product fit snugly and comfortably. The handmade belt gives an opportunity to accentuate the waist a little further – I think this is a glorious touch that helps to balance the full circle skirt and make the wrap effect of the bodice really pop! The wide neckline and kimono sleeves add further vintage details to the top and sit absolutely perfectly. I didn’t have to adjust any pieces of the pattern to encourage a better shape, which is always a joy!

Neckline close-up and a shot of the back.

This dress has a fantastically 50s feel to it. When it was finished and I popped it on, I could just feel the pin-up vibes oozing off of it. This is a feeling that’s enhanced by adding a gauze petticoat to push out the circle skirt. But the skirt also sits wonderfully without the petticoat, making it totally viable to wear as an everyday springtime dress (albeit, with a lot of va-va-voom to it)!

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If you’re thinking about giving V1043 a go, I would definitely suggest working with a bold fabric. I picked up this patterned cotton from my local fabric shop and, although I was a bit worried that it would look too busy, I was encouraged by my love of both polka dots and flowers! This fabric actually has a gorgeous vintage feel to it and I think works perfectly with the pin-up feel that’s so inherent in the style of this pattern. It works beautifully with some t-bar heels, bright red lipstick, and victory rolls (I found the EASIEST method for getting some good looking victory rolls. Seriously, it is incredibly simple compared to the many tutorials I attempted to follow online. I’m going to pop a post up with some instructions soon!!).

So go forth and give V1043 a chance. It’s beautiful! Plus, you can attempt your very best, most serious pin-up poses and inevitably be much more successful than me!

*I got V1043 with a sewing magazine that I bought a while back. I goggled around for a link to where you can buy a copy. It’s available on Amazon US but there are also a few hits on Etsy!

1940s Vintage Apron (Simplicity 1221)

I’m on a real roll this October! Since it’s Sew for Victory‘s anniversary month, it makes sense that I should be churning out some adorable vintage makes. Following the success of my Objet d’Art dress – which, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know has already been out and about in the countryside – I was determined to capitalise on my new sewing momentum! So I whipped out Simplicity 1221 – a pattern that gives four different choices of 1940s aprons – and decided to create a truly flouncy apron for prancing around the house.

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Now, just to be clear, I don’t cook. I’m lucky enough to live with a fiancé who enjoys cooking and is quite happy to be in control of the kitchen. That said, every so often I decide to get my bake on and whip up a cake or some biscuits. I rarely wear an apron, but when I saw this pattern and the fabulous ruffles on the straps, I knew that – even if it goes totally unworn – I wanted to add this particular make to my collection.

I used a random cotton fabric that I found in my local fabric store, after falling in love with the polka dots and tiny alpine strawberries. It worked perfectly well, particularly in giving the apron that 1950s pin-up vibe. I decided to add a bit of extra flavour to the pattern by sewing some white piping along the inner edge of the straps. I had spent quite a bit of time debating how to break the apron’s various panels up a little so that it didn’t look too blocky – I think the piping did a great job of that. If I was going to make another version of this pattern, I would probably look at adding some more piping to the edges of the waist panel – it would just give the whole thing a little extra *pop*.

I love the vintage touches on this apron. Although the front panels were a bit of a nightmare to sew and I found the pattern a little unclear in places, the construction is definitely true to period. The ruffles obviously give the apron a real 1940s-1950s feel, which is accentuated by the fact that the straps cross at the back. There’s also a little pocket on the skirt – I appreciate a pocket on any garment, so this was a real bonus feature for me!

This definitely wasn’t the easiest pattern for me. Straying outside of the skirt/dress comfort zone is something that I rarely do. Since I’ve only been sewing for a year, every pattern generally exposes me to new skills or construction elements. Simplicity 1221 is a pretty drastic departure from anything I’ve made before so practically every step involved doing something new. I’m always up for a challenge and this pattern definitely presented it. I would caution anyone debating whether to make this particular version of the pattern to either make a muslin or take some time to really study the pattern before making. I faced a lot of confusion with some of the steps where I couldn’t quite work out what the pattern was telling me to do. Now this could just be a consequence of my relatively little sewing experience since I found that after a little perseverance I was able to figure out what needed to happen. But if you’re not used to making this sort of garment, it’s probably worth taking some time to familiarise yourself with the instructions regardless of sewing experience.

Overall, I’m super happy with this make. Despite presenting a challenge, the finished product was so worth the effort! When I put the apron on over my Betty dress (worn with petticoats) and some heels, I felt very glam! Although I am 100% sure that I would make a useless housewife and am quite happy to stay out of the kitchen, at least I’m now prepared if the Bake-Off inspires me to whip up a cake or two. At the very least, this apron is a great addition to my wardrobe of handmade goodies!

 

The Objet d’Art Dress

Oh I’m excited for this one! My version of the Decades of Style Objet d’Art dress has been a while in the making but, once I got properly under way, I just knew that this pattern was something special.

After wrapping up my dress for the Big Vintage Sew-Along, I was suffering a serious case of lost sew-jo. I poured a whole lot of effort into turning V9127 into something special and, although I was so incredibly proud of what I produced, I ended up feeling pretty burnt out. I wrote a while back about my search for a pattern that would help me recoup some enthusiasm and the Objet d’Art dress has definitely done the job. And here it is…

This dress is a 1950s inspired pattern – although, as I mentioned in my previous Vision Board post, I get definite 1940s garden party vibes from this one. The neckline and pocket detailing are truly unique points of focus for this dress. When I stumbled across the pattern (I say stumbled but I peruse the Decades of Style website on a near-constant basis), it was those unexpected twists on a classically simple silhouette that drew me in. These incredible details are something that Decades of Style patterns always do amazingly well – the Belle Curve dress is another example. And in the Objet d’Art dress, the detailing is used to perfect effect.

What is truly innovative about this pattern is its simplicity. Looking at the neckline or the pockets, you’d think that some serious sewing trickery was involved. But it is as simple as sewing darts and positioning them correctly. That’s it. Follow the markings and you end up with a gorgeous lapped neckline and some fantastic triangular pockets.

I’m trying not to rave too hard but I’m struggling to find anything negative to say about this pattern. I used a PDF version of the pattern and had no problems putting it together – that is to say, all the pieces fit and the markings were super clear. I went straight in without making a muslin (I really am the worst when it comes to making muslins because I’m impatient and always prefer to just alter as I go), grading the pattern out one size at the hips. The finished product fit like a glove with no further alterations to the size at all. Bear in mind that the dress borders on having a pencil fit around the hips/bum (although this could just be on me) so make sure you account for that when choosing your size. That pencil shape gives it a gorgeous silhouette but obviously a little less ease. Also there’s a fab kick pleat on the back of the skirt which I love!

My fiancé told me the left-hand photo captures my spirit because, in his words, ‘you look like you’re trying to teach me something’.

Fact: I hate zip insertions. They are the bane of my life. And, for some reason, no matter how many Youtube videos I watch, I’m still rubbish at it. I don’t think there’s a single zip in any one of my garments that doesn’t look at least a bit jerry-rigged. But I figure as long as it’s functional and doesn’t fall out, I’ve done the job. Probably my only piece of sadness about the Objet d’Art dress was having to put in a zip. It came out just fine in the end, although my hand is strategically covering a slight puckering at the bottom. Tips on zip insertions are always welcome (seriously, please help me).

The last thing to mention is the fabric! One of the things I loved about the look of the pattern was the photos I saw on the website, with a version of the dress made up in a green striped fabric. The pattern is designed to work incredibly well with vertical stripes. So I did a bit of hunting around and decided to exploit the gift voucher that I won from The Splendid Stitch for a photo of the Belle Curve dress that I submitted for Vintage Pledge July. The fabric is a Light Blue, Navy and White Striped Shirting  and it worked gorgeously well. If you choose to use a vertically striped fabric, no magic is needed on your end to achieve the final effect – if you position the pattern pieces as instructed, you’ll end up with a lapped neckline that is accentuated by the direction of the stripes. I particularly love the way that this came out on my version.

So there we have it! Another gorgeous pattern from Decades of Style who have, so my most recent look at the website has informed me, added a whole load more PDF patterns. I have a couple of other projects lined up for the next month or so but trust me when I say that it won’t be long before a new Decades of Style pattern is featured here!

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Big Vintage Sew-along: My Make

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The day is finally here. After many hours of plotting, planning, and making, I can actually reveal my make for the Big Vintage Sew-along! Presenting my version of Vogue 9127:

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When browsing the selection of patterns for the Big Vintage Sew-along, this 1939 design immediately struck me as the most interesting and unique. I adored the structure of the garment and the fabulous panelling. Although I anticipated that this might be quite a complex make, I figured that it would give me a valuable opportunity to learn some new skills and put my own twist on the pattern.

I knew immediately that I wanted to make this pattern in a way that emphasised the unique shape of the dress. The examples provided by the drawings on the pattern sleeve and the photos on the website were all made up in one colour – although beautiful, this approach makes it difficult to see the fabulous design of the panels. I decided straight away that I wanted to have a go at using a contrast piping down the seams to really play with the shape. And I thought a sailor vibe with the colours would really give the dress a little extra va-va-voom.

Although adding the piping was pretty complex (the panels are sewn overlapping, rather than with traditional seams), it was worth the extra effort. Not only does it really elevate the dress to a truly unique piece, I think it successfully shows off those swerves and curves. I totally adore it. And I selected exactly the right fabrics, with both main fabric and piping fabric from Sew Over It’s collection of crepes (in this case, navy blue and red).

I added some extra contrast details to pull the piece together, using notions kindly provided by Sew Essential. The white buttons really bring home the sailor theme – emphasised by the fabulous 1930s dress gloves that I found in a vintage charity shop. I also put in a red zip to tie in with the piping. The pattern comes with a couple of options for belting – I opted to go with a sewn-in belt, so that I could cinch my waist. I found that doing this and piping the panel at the top of my back gave the dress added impact when viewed from behind.

One thing I loved about this pattern was the feeling of authenticity. Instead of a zip, the pattern gives an opportunity to use hook-and-eyes. I also got to make my own shoulder pads for the first time ever (a tutorial on this will be coming soon). I was a little concerned that the shoulder pads would make the dress look too boxy but, in the end, they gave the dress a truly 1930s silhouette. Delicious!

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My experience with this pattern had its ups and downs. I’ve only been sewing for about a year, so I’m still finding that every new pattern introduces me to skills that I haven’t yet developed. This pattern threw A LOT of new skills at me – added to which I’d already decided to take a chance with the piping. Fitting the panels together and making the front pieces symmetrical was a challenge. But I found that taking a slow and steady approach really benefitted me and allowed me to keep the patience needed to turn the piece into something great. There was nothing here that totally exceeded my abilities and ultimately the pattern turned out a gorgeously authentic 1930s dress that gives me a huge amount of pride.

I would absolutely recommend this pattern to anyone wanting to get involved with the Big Vintage Sew-along. In addition to contributing to a wonderful cause (pattern profits go to The Eve Appeal), this dress gives a real feel for vintage style. While I would caution beginners to take this piece slowly, it is well worth the extra time and effort required to develop the needed skills. So take this pattern, get creative, and venture into the 1930s!

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The Veronika Skirt

Happy Sunday, sweetpeas!

I’ve been spending the past couple of weeks sorting through my current/future sewing projects and figuring out how I’m going to get to everything. For the next month or so, I’ll be devoting myself to the Big Vintage Sewalong project – the post will be coming on August 5th. In the meantime, I’m hoping to get a couple of simple makes done, but will keep the Sew for Victory posts regular with a series of vintage-inspired blogs. So keep your eyes out for those!

Since wrapping up the Betty dress, I’ve been looking to make another circle skirt. Partly because they’re gorgeous, but also because I wanted more excuses to wear my petticoat! After searching around a bit, I stumbled upon a free pattern (subject to signing up for the site newsletter) from Megan Nielsen – the Veronika skirt. The pattern comes with a variety of options, including a fabulous scalloped pocket detail. But, with my limited fabric, I decided to go with the simplest option – a normal circle skirt with a narrow waistband.

This was insanely easy to make and was done in a matter of hours. The only time consuming part was, once again, the hemming. Just take a few breaks to make sure that all that steaming and pressing doesn’t make you faint! The pattern itself was easy to use, with clear instructions, and the final product is exactly what you would expect from a circle skirt.

I actually found that the skirt came out much fuller than the one on the Betty dress, which makes it work excellently as a separate piece – although this could be a consequence of using a starchier fabric. In this instance, the skirt was made up from a cotton poplin that I bought from Walthamstow Market. The floral design works well with a simple, plain top – I have a Vogue pattern for a simple sleeveless blouse that I’m planning on making to pair with this skirt.

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So head over to Megan Nielsen’s website and have a browse of the several free patterns. Then make a circle skirt and spend even more time annoying your partner/friend/child/stranger by refusing to do anything but spin around! Trust me, your life will be infinitely better for it.

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The Betty Dress

Happy Wednesday, sweeties!

I spent the bank holiday weekend in a real bout of sewing productivity. With two months still to go until my Big Vintage Sew-along post, I’d been searching around for a relatively quick project to whip up before getting started. Fortunately, I had some fabric left over from my trip to Walthamstow market and so I decided to have a go at the Betty dress from Sew Over It. The final product is just gorgeous!

I’ve paired the dress with these gorgeous heels from ModCloth.

I’ve worked with Sew Over It before and found their patterns extremely easy to use. The instructions are incredibly clear, with a helpful glossary of terms at the front to help any sewing newbies. The Betty dress was no exception to this. The pattern was flawless and easy to modify sizes (I graded out at the waist slightly). The only issue I had with sizing was a lot of gape at the top of the back. This was easily fixed by removing the zip and bringing the fabric it in a bit. I’m not sure whether I hadn’t cut the pattern pieces out correctly – I’ve never had a problem with sizing the bust before. But it was a problem easily solved and the back came out perfectly, with a gorgeous deep V.

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I used a simple cotton fabric (you can see the heart detailing in the photo above). Cotton was perfect to work with on this garment – it made the whole piece really easy to sew and meant that I whipped it up in no time.

Having never made a circle skirt before, I had no idea how much fabric it would take up. And of course, this means that hemming is a pain in the neck. But it’s so worth it.

I bought an underskirt from Amazon for £10 and it totally transformed the dress into a true 1950s look. The dress looks great without it, but I would definitely recommend adding a net petticoat to take advantage of the volume of the skirt. It also means you can swoosh around and ruffle the dress while pretending to be a can-can dancer (not that I did this, of course).

I have so much love for this dress and I’ll definitely be making other versions of it in future. For now though, I’m off to ruffle my skirts some more!

 

How To Make a Bow Tie – Tutorial

Happy Sunday, lovelies – and a happy Mother’s Day to those of you in the US!

My brother finally arrived into town on Friday, motivating me to get the bow ties sewn and finished up. Fortunately, they went down very well, making the effort more than worth it!

In the end, I referenced a few different tutorials and found that I had to muddle them together in order to get the best results. For those of you who are interested in making this simple, but truly effective, nod to vintage fashion, the rest of this post is a tutorial detailing the steps that worked for me.

Pattern:

  • I used the Men’s Bow Tie pattern from Sew Like My Mom, available for free through Craftsy.

Materials:

  • 1/2 yard (or 1/2 metre) of fabric – this should be a medium weight fabric and non-stretchy. I used cotton poplin.
  • 1/2 yard (or 1/2 metre) of medium-weight, iron-on interfacing
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Fabric marker (tailor’s chalk, or even a biro will do – shock horror!)
  • Hand-sewing needle
  • Fabric scissors
  • Chopstick/blunt ended skewer/knitting needle

Instructions:

Step 1

Step 1

Cut out your pattern pieces (fabric and interfacing). If you use the pattern I linked to above, cut out all pieces on the fold of the fabric (despite what it says on the pattern). This will leave you with two pattern pieces from your fabric, and two matching pieces of interfacing.

Step 2

Step 2

Pin your interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric pieces and iron on. Be careful not to get the interfacing glue on the ironing board (and don’t, as I did, iron over your plastic pin heads and melt them).

Step 3

Step 3

Pin your fabric pieces together, right sides together.

Step 4

Step 4

At the centre of the length of your bow tie, make marks 7cm apart (that’s roughly 3 inches). This will serve as a gap for pulling your bow tie through to the right side.

Step 5

Starting at one of your marks, sew around the length of the bow tie, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance. If it helps, mark the seam allowance prior to sewing. When you reach the corners of the bow, raise the foot and pivot to help keep an accurate seam. Finish sewing when you reach your second mark (preserving the gap).

Step 6

Step 8

Snip off the corners of the bow tie and cut notches around its length (without cutting through the seam line!). Try to keep the notches as equal distance as possible from one another. This will help the bow tie lie flat when you turn it the right way round. I won’t lie, this was by far the most time consuming part of the whole process. But it’s unavoidable if you want the finished product to look as crisp and shapely as possible.

Step 7

Step 9

Now for the tricky part! Start feeding the ends of you bow tie through the gap that you left open. It can take a while, particularly since the length of the tie is so narrow in comparison to the bow. Use a blunt-edged tool to help feed it through (I used the blunt end of a skewer, because I’m a scavenger when I’m in Missouri). Use the tool to help push the corners out, making sure they have a shape and definition that you’re happy with.

Step 8

Step 10

Now slip stitch the gap closed. This can be fiddly. If you aren’t sure how to slip stitch a gap like this (my previous experience was only with slip stitching a hem), take a look at this great tutorial from Professor Pincushion.

Step 9

Step 11

Iron! Now I know that this violates the law of sewing that says pressing is always the right way. But I found a method that worked excellently for getting the perfect shape: iron along the seams of the bow tie and, while still hot (not so hot that you burn yourself!), rub the seams between thumb and finger. This ensures that the bow tie doesn’t come out completely flat (it basically gives it a little volume, which helps the shape when its tied), and also gives a really defined curve to the tie and the bow.

Step 10

Step 12

Done! Enjoy your gorgeous, self-made bow tie!

*Any questions, don’t hesitate to send me an email at laura@sewforvictory.co.uk*

The Eliza M Alma Wiggle Skirt

Happy weekend, dolls!

Thanks to a long weekend here in the UK, I’ve managed to invest some time back in my sewing projects. And I FINALLY managed to finish my Eliza M Alma Wiggle Skirt!*

I have to be honest, my hopes weren’t high for this skirt. As long-time readers of Sew for Victory are already aware, I am the lucky owner of some serious hips. And I’m not being entirely sarcastic here, because hips are pretty fabulous. That said, I generally avoid wearing anything that makes them look 50% larger than the rest of my body. So pencil skirts are typically a no-go. But Eliza M’s pattern was shapely in all the right places and I ended up producing a skirt that I would be happy to wear any time.

The pattern itself was super simple to follow and, despite taking about a month for me to finish, can be sewn up in just a couple of hours. So this would be an absolutely perfect pattern for a beginner sewist. It includes a couple of skill-building details – waist darts and a cute back split are great introductions to producing more tailored garments.

It helped enormously that I made this skirt up in a thick tweed (bought during my Twenty-Something Sewers trip to Walthamstow market). Such an easy fabric to sew with. And after my disastrous attempt to sew with silk, I needed this victory! My experience with this pattern (and fabric) is a definite testimony to the best way of overcoming a dip in motivation. It really is ok to put complicated and frustrating projects to the side and spend some time working on a pattern that boosts your confidence and reminds you why you love to sew. Self-care must always be #1 priority.

So there you have it. A simple, but effective, pencil skirt, courtesy of Eliza M Patterns. Perfect as work wear but, I think, also totally suitable for everyday. I’ll definitely be whipping this one out as part of my regular wardrobe rotation!

*The Eliza M website is still putting up a malware warning, so I haven’t linked to it in this post. But the pattern is available via Fabric Godmother, and can be found here.

 

The Joan Dress

It’s done! I won’t lie, it was touch and go for a while. Attaching the lining to the shell tested my patience to the limit and led to a brief ‘I will never sew again!’ moment. Thankfully sense prevailed and a few tugs-and-pulls later, things came together. So here she is – the finished product!

This pattern really challenged my (still developing) skills. As well as requiring a full lining, the dress also features my first ever kick pleat. So there was plenty here that was new for me. But I’ve always steered clear of choosing patterns on the basis of their level – I figured that sticking to ‘beginner’ or ‘advanced beginner’ patterns would not necessarily move my skills along as fast as I wanted. This strategy comes with its own set of challenges and I would say that the Joan dress was probably on the cusp of what I’m currently able to achieve. That said, I’m only 6ish months into my sewing journey, so I figure that’s not too shabby!

Anyway, let’s talk about the pattern! I decided from the outset that I wanted to invest in quality materials and use those exactly recommended. So I worked with a gorgeous red crepe and black lining fabric. These sewed up like a dream. Plus, I think the red works really well for that ’50s-era look. The pattern’s careful detailing – the tailored look achieved by the darts, plus the fabulous necktie – all enhance the vintage feel.

This is the first pattern that I’ve made from Sew Over It. It featured probably the clearest set of instructions that I’ve yet seen accompany a pattern, aided by a lot of great illustrations and diagrams. I had no problem following along and – for the first time – didn’t need to google/youtube anything for clarification. This makes me particularly happy given that I own 3 other Sew Over It patterns! The pattern also sizes perfectly. I graded out at the hips to accommodate my ample rear but had no problems with the fit at all. So you can be quite confident in the sizing chart given with the pattern.

I adore this dress. It’s got such a classy, but everyday, feel to it. And dressed up with a brooch (one of my Christmas brooches made an appearance!) or with a thin belt, it’s perfect!

So would I recommend this pattern? Absolutely. It’s simple to follow and produces a stunning dress. However, if you haven’t got any experience with lining, I would recommend either trying a simpler pattern first (I worked with Colette Pattern’s Beignet skirt as a preliminary exercise) or just be sure to take your time. But it’s well worth the effort. My Joan dress will next appear for my Valentine’s Day high-tea with my beau – the perfect garment for a day dedicated to love! Watch this space.

The Belle Curve Dress

Happy Friday, sweetpeas!

As promised, I’m returning with some pictures of my finished Belle Curve dress – pattern by Decades of Style. This is BY FAR the most beautiful thing I’ve made, totally a consequence of the stunning design.

Full dress

I am beyond in love with this pattern. Despite my fear of the 36 darts, it came out quite quickly and was strangely satisfying. The darts are the most unique feature of the dress but, as well as looking great, they create a beautiful figure-hugging shape. This dress sits perfectly on my hips and I found that it achieves a fabulous hourglass shape really effortlessly.

Dress Side

I made this up in a green chiffon-poly that I bought super cheap from Walthamstow market. Since my plan is to wear this as my Christmas day dress, I thought that the forest green would work as a beautiful colour! I also thought that the shimmer to the fabric would give it that gorgeous 1940s feel.

The only change I made was to the back by introducing a V-shape to the neckline. Partly this was because I felt that it would step up the glamour factor, but it also eliminated a bit of bagginess in the upper part of the back. Basically, it streamlined the shape.

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There is nothing that I don’t adore about this dress. It is the most accurate 1940s-inspired pattern that I’ve found to date and it just has that WOW factor. I’ll be making this up again, without a doubt! Head on over to Decades of Style for this and a lot more fabulous patterns!

Laura x