Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on December 23, 2011
“Have yourself a merry little Christmas!” Well, I was planning on posting my 1950s Christmas dress pictures a few weeks ago, but it just so worked out that I am posting it only a day before Christmas Eve! So here are pictures of the party dress I made from a shiny black and red checked material, and trimmed with black velvet at the collar and cuffs. Like the blue silk 1950s dress I made this fall, I used the Butterick retro pattern 5556 – more or less (I’m afraid it was less this time!).
The fabric is a mixture of red lame and black cotton/poly, which meant that it would melt if you tried to iron it! So when it came to pressing all those skirt seams I just had to settle for flat-felling them, minus actually using an iron. And since velvet cannot be ironed under any circumstances (unless you want to ruin it), I spent a little extra time to “finger press” the seams.
For this version of B5556, I omitted the front darts in favor of my favorite type of “tuck”, which is really easy to do but gives a much more flattering finish.
Any good 1950s housewife would have had a stack of dishes to wash, I'm sure!
When I came to the bodice I didn’t like how tightly it was fitting, so I initially made plackets from the black velvet down the center front which I intended to close with buttons. But somehow it was still too tight and straight for my liking, so I added a “v” shaped black velvet panel down the center. On one side this panel is sewn to the inside of the placket, and on the other side it closes with snaps.
And since a looser fit meant the dress fit differently than the blue one I sewed, I decided to add some rayon Venice lace to the neckline to add a couple of inches. I’m not entirely sure what era this lace came from, but it was in a collection of Edwardian laces that I inherited from my friend’s grandmother. I think it was sitting in a cedar chest for at least sixty years, but it’s still in very good condition. As with the velvet “v” panel, the lace is attached on one side and closes with snaps on the other to allow for a front opening. (I omitted the side zipper altogether for this rendition of Butterick 5556.)
I have so enjoyed wearing the dresses I’ve made from this Butterick retro pattern, but if I make another version I would lengthen the bodice by a couple of inches. Right now the bodice hits me a good two inches about the natural waistline, which means you don’t have to wear a corset with it, but it makes you look a little shorter and stops well above the narrowest part of your waist.
I made the belt detachable, which was nice since I actually prefer the dress without the belt.
So once I finally finished sewing this “vintage” party dress, I had a plethora of festive occasions to wear it for! I first donned this 1950s dress for a Christmas party earlier this week, and the next day I wore it for the photo shoot in a retro-looking kitchen! Today the dress was put to use again when I attended a jazz Christmas concert which my dad performed in.
Me, my dad, and Rick Homer... You'll notice that men can only be on this blog if they're wearing tuxedos. (Well, I did let Michael Landon on in his three-piece white suit.) : )
My father (a jazz singer and pianist) was joined by one of my favorite people – Mr. Rick Homer, who is the son of legendary jazz musician Ben Homer. Ben Homer co-wrote the now-classic song “Sentimental Journey“ while touring with Les Brown and his “band of renown“. In the 1940s when Ben Homer was traveling the country with this band, Les Brown discovered a young singer by the name of Doris Kappellhoff, whom you may know better as Doris Day. Doris joined the touring band accompanied by her mother who acted as a chaperone of sorts to ensure she would be safe. Since the musicians often traveled with their families back then, Ben and his wife brought along their then-baby Rick Homer. And when the couple wanted to go around town by themselves, Doris would offer to help out by watching their child. So this man who plays with my dad was frequently babysat by Doris Day!
Today Rick is an outstanding trumpet player, and frequently appears with my father for their jazz gigs. Today they played a selection of “Swing” era Christmas songs, jazzed up carols, and some Christmas “Chipmunk” for fun. My dad brought the house down with the finale of “O Holy Night”, and all in all it was a very memorable occasion to wear my dress to! (And everyone loved the dress today, too!)
So my sewing is done for at least a couple days, and I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Christmas! I am so thankful to the Lord for all the things I’ve been able to sew this past year, and I look forward to seeing what sewing projects are in store for the coming year!
Have a Merry, Merry Christmas,