Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on September 4, 2011
At last our 1950s walkaway dresses are finished! I have so much enjoyed this 1950s sew-along, and I hope you all have as well! For those of us who are not quite done with the sew-along, I am still happy to answer any questions you may have, and look forward to seeing pictures of the results!
So this week I am posting pictures of my finished Butterick 4790 Walkaway dress, and any of you who wish to can link to your photos in the comments section. If you don’t have a blog but still want to share your 1950s dress pictures, just send them to me via email and I will see if I can attach them at the end of this post.
Without further ado, here are the pictures of my latest pink 1950s party dress….:
I am so happy with how my new dress turned out, and it is always interesting to see how each type of fabric changes the way these 1950s dresses look, even though I use the exact same version of Butterick 4790 every time!
Instead of sewing buttons down the front of the wraparound piece, I decided to just close it the usual way (with snaps on the inside), and sew narrow lace trim into half of a heart shape on either side of the center front. The reason I incorporated the lacy heart into this dress is in celebration of National Sewing Month, when seamstresses are encouraged to enter heart-themed designs to the national contest. Since Ronald Reagan announced in 1982 that September was National Sewing Month, home sewers all over the country have made a point of celebrating this wonderful pastime which has played such an important role in the development of the US of A. Without a doubt, the women who sewed at home were a large part of America’s success, whether they were those brave women on the prairie who sewed everything from quilts to gowns, the Victorian upper class who spent their leisure hours embroidering, the brave mothers during the Great Depression who made their daughters dresses out of feed sacks, or the 1950s housewives who saved their families’ money by sewing their own clothing.
I threw together the 1950s headpiece the night before these pictures were taken, and I thought it added so much to the ensemble! I just used a crinoline frame I had made, covered it with a cream taffeta, machine-stitched swirls of ivory ribbons on the front, and added three fabric roses in varying sizes to the headpiece. For a finishing touch I wore a birdcage veil in front of it which I pulled back so the Russian netting covered the front of the headpiece. As far as the inspiration for this is concerened, I modeled it after a very similar shaped hat that Lucille Ball had worn for some of her most famous “I Love Lucy” episodes. And if you look at the pattern cover for Butterick 4790, you will notice the white headband/headpiece that the red-haired lady in the white and black dress is wearing has a very similar shape.
These pictures were taken at one of my favorite locations in the whole world, Portland’s International Rose Test Gardens. Founded at the height of the Edwardian era, these gardens became a safe haven for European rose species whose futures were threatened by the bombs of World War II. Throughout the war years many of England’s endangered rose plants were transported to the Pacific Northwest and replanted in Oregon’s fertile soil where they still thrive today.
But back to 1950s dresses! Here are a couple more closing shots of this dress, which may be my favorite of the three I have sewn so far.
If you haven’t already worn your dress around town, I would encourage you to dress up one day and see what kind of response you get while doing your usual activities! The first day I wore my orange 1950s dress out, I heard constant exclamations of surprise almost non-stop! Some older ladies who work at a store I frequent (and who are usually not the least bit friendly) were suddenly delighted I was there and insisted I turn around so they could see the whole dress. Women I had never even met launched into fifteen minute speeches about how very authentic my ensemble was and how it reminded them exactly of how they dressed when they were in high school in the 50s. Younger girls were equally as excited about the vintage inspired outfit, and I could hardly walk anywhere very quickly since I was constantly getting stopped by people asking about the dress!
One lady told me I looked as if I “belonged on top of a cake”, and not a few people were amazed to hear I had sewn it, when it was actually a very quick dress to sew. Everywhere I went people went away in a better mood after seeing the dress, which leads me to wonder if it might help cheer everyone up if ladies went back to wearing beautiful dresses every once in a while. Of course I am not suggesting that this sort of outfit is practical every day, and to be honest I wear pants at least 90% of the time, but I do think there is something to be said for dressing up now and then!
It just feels so nice to walk along with a full skirt swishing when you move, and to feel very elegant even if it’s not a special occasion! Thank you all for participating in this sew-along, and for giving me a very good reason to sew another 1950s dress from the classic Butterick pattern!
But just because this sew-along has come to an end does not mean it is the end of my blogging about 1950s fashions! On the contrary, I have recently been studying all four versions of this pattern, (the 1950s version, 1960s, 1999, and 2006), to see how the patterns and sizes changed throughout the decades. In addition, I look forward to posting pictures of a recent 50s apron I drafted off of an original vintage find, and sharing some Fall 1950s fashion articles that I’ve scanned from a newly-acquired magazine.
For the next couple of weeks the majority of my time will be spent in seeing that my next pattern for Maria’s Sound of Music dress is released, but after that the schedule should free up so I can keep sharing the projects I’ve been working on!
And as always, happy sewing!