Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on October 19, 2012
The Sense & Sensibility 1958 Party Dress Pattern Review
It is with much excitement that I’m sharing this pattern review of the new 1958 dress pattern that Sense & Sensibility Patterns has just released! Sense & Sensibility has a long history of producing excellent patterns, and whether you are a historical costume fan or a retro dress enthusiast, you are almost certainly well-acquainted with this company! Up till now their patterns have ranged from the 1780s all the way through the 1940s, but this latest pattern adds another fabulous decade of dresses to their collection.
I was most excited when Jennie Chancey (the owner/ designer at www.sensibility.com) and I discussed my modeling this new pattern, and for several months I stashed away fabric and planned exactly how the pictures would be taken. My planning was not in vain! From the moment I began cutting out the pattern, I could tell this was going to be a really amazing retro dress design. I’ve done my share of sewing with reproduction patterns, so I’m pretty used to having a Butterick 1950s pattern be four inches too wide in the waist! I simply assumed there would be the need for some alterations, since we rarely make our dresses as nicely fitted as they really wore them back in the 50s. But boy, was I wrong!
For the first time ever, I did not have to make one single alteration to get the bodice fitting properly! It fits so smoothly in the upper bodice area, is superbly shaped by vertical darts in front and back, and has such a cute, fitted look in the waist. I was quite astonished that not one single adjustment was necessary. The pattern is simple enough for a beginner to whip up, and is practically fool-proof with the meticulous instructions and flawless fit!
The kimono sleeves drape wonderfully even in a starched cotton, and they add that distinctive 1950s look to this versatile pattern. The bodice ends an inch or two higher than the waistline, where the full skirt camoflauges any “tummy” area for a very flattering fit.
And speaking of “versatile”, I was amazed at how adaptable this dress is! While the basic bodice and skirt are simple and classy, you have such a variety of options at your fingertips. The first and most obvious addition is accessorizing with a belt as was so common in the 1950s. But wonderful alternatives are wearing a ribbon sash instead, or using the pattern’s instructions to create a ruched cumberband belt! This is the option I went with for the pink and white polka dotted dress, which I fondly refer to as my “cupcake dress”! You can also choose between a round neckline in back or a lower “v” neck that is suited to evening gowns (pictures coming soon!).
I’m not entirely sure why, but the pouffy skirt and girlish colors remind me of a giant cupcake, or else the perfect retro birthday party dress. : ) I think it’s a shame that only the little girls get to wear all the fun, pouffy dresses, but this pattern makes sure that grown women can wear a fun dress or two, as well!
The skirt gives you the option of gathers at the waist, as shown in the dress above, or pleats at the waist, as you’ll see in the photo below.
It’s a retro soda fountain shop! I thought this old fashioned soda fountain would be the perfect setting to have pictures taken of a 1950s dress. In fact, I have wanted to use this location for over a year, so I was very pleased to finally do so! Here we see the same pattern made up in blue and white gingham (the 1″ Caroline Gingahm by Robert Kaufman Fabrics), with the pleated skirt instead of a gathered skirt.
I trimmed the neckline and sleeves with red rickrack trim and added a matching ribbon at the waistline. The overall effect is either very “retro Americana”, or else a vintage picnic dress! I know that Lucille Ball wore gingham dresses in her on-screen kitchen all the time, so you really can’t go wrong if you choose gingham for a 1950s dress.
The skirt doesn’t look quite as pouffy with the pleats as it did with the gathers, but it gives you another excellent option and could even pass for early 1960s with this different silhouette.
~ All in all, I cannot say enough good things about this pattern! The dresses came together without a glitch, and you can probably sew one up in a single evening. With this one pattern you can take the basic design and add a plethora of trims, ruffles, and flowers for a party dress, or keep it more simple for a “housedress” sort of look. Evening gowns are another viable option by simply lengthening the skirt and using the “v” neck in back, and you could even make a vintage wedding dress by using a lace overlay on the bodice and adding a layer or two of tulle over the skirt! No vintage pattern collector should be without this design, and even a novice seamstress will find this pattern to be absolutely indispensable. ~
So that’s what I’ve been sewing in my spare time, and I look forward to sharing more pictures from this pattern soon! Don’t forget to pop over to the new pattern page and take a look for yourself. : )