Sunday, 29 April 2012

Wheldon's 413- 1940s dance frock

This is a quick and comfy dress I ran up using Wheldon's 413, a 1940s dance frock pattern, as a base, and a pin-dot print viscose jersey. I only used the bodice pieces from the pattern, as I planned to make it a simple knee-length gathered skirt cut as a rectangle. First step was to grade the pattern up by a whole 6"! Since I was making this up in a jersey for the first go, I didn't worry too much about accuracy with the fit at this stage. Each bodice piece was slashed and spread to enlarge it.

I'm mostly happy with it. It's comfortable, easy to wear and very flattering in person. Plus it only took 2 metres of a 60" wide fabric! The top edge does have a tendency to curl over due to the lack of interfacing (as you can see above), something I may go back and add in, and the neckline is a little wide for wearing with a modern bra. I'll either have to go strapless or find/make a pair of nice dress clips to hold it in place on the bra straps. A pair of ribbon bow brooches maybe? I also ended up squaring off the bottom edge of the bodice, which has a slight upwards dip at centre front in the pattern, but the vertical stretch of this fabric meant it lost this due to the weight of the skirt pulling on the waist seam. This simply meant not pulling up the gathers as much.

A closer shot of the bodice. Pardon the dusty mirror ...

I'll definitely use this pattern again; it was amazingly quick and easy to sew up. I even managed a neat blind stitched hem with the cam in my machine, something that's always difficult to get just right.  A couple of alterations are needed for the next attempt though. As I used jersey this time I omitted the back darts, and it fits nicely, which means once I sew up the back darts in a woven fabric and take into account the stretch of the current fabric it would be too small. Another couple of inches need adding in at the waist then. I'll also need to take care where I attach the straps at the front so I don't get the bra strap peek again. I can't wait for it to get warm enough to wear dresses again properly!



  1. Wonderbra Ultimate Strapless. If it can keep my jigglers in check without falling down, spilling out or flattening them, it is definitely worth investing in! I've worn mine for three nights out and a studio photoshoot since I got it ten days ago.

    I would make the strap piece wider so that the neckline ends up narrower, that way it'll hide any bra straps and also reach in far enough that it holds up the edge that keeps rolling over.

  2. I think it stretched slightly along the neck edge as I hemmed it, so on wovens in future it shouldn't happen. I might unpick the neck edge and add a facing to stabilise it, maybe move the straps at the same time. It was the last step other than the hem so should be easy enough.