Monday, May 28, 2012

The Ballroom Belles Tea Dress

I thought I'd keep the sewing technicalities of this dress separate from my post earlier today on the 1940s Relived event at Brooklands, where it got its debut.


Pattern: Hollywood 1552 from 1939 or 1940, the same as I used for my Big Apple dress.

Fabric: One of my own fabric repros, Ballroom Belles, which was based on photos I took of an original 1940s tea dress. It's available through spoonflower; I got it printed on cotton poplin but it would be lovely on their silk crepe-de-chine or silk-cotton blend fabric.

Notions: Vintage metal zip, amazing vintage buttons (probably dating from around the same time as the pattern, and I had a set of three so it was obviously meant to be), vintage plastic buckle, bias binding (also vintage, as it happens!).

Techniques: Bound buttonholes - I don't have a buttonhole attachment for my vintage Singer so I thought I might as well try bound buttonholes as the pattern directed. They're not going to win any awards, but I don't think they're too bad for a first attempt.


Alterations: Because the original pattern is in quite a large size, I had made significant alterations in its first incarnation, the Big Apple Dress, so I transferred those adjustments to a traced version of the pattern and used that. I used the alternate sleeves on this version, except I gathered instead of darting the sleeve cap because I like the look; I also made a little tuck in the hem of the sleeves to make them closer fitting to the arm and accentuate the puffed shape (sorry I haven't got a close-up photo, but you can just about see the effect, especially in the top pic).


Make again? For sure - I love this pattern and I'll definitely revisit it again (in fact my sailor dress will use the same pattern, with an altered bodice).

23 comments:

  1. That looks fabulous! I can't wait to see what you do with the sailor dress!

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  2. I love that print, I need to get lots of that! Beautiful dress too :)

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  3. That dress is wonderful, I love it. And I so admire the way you accessorise, myself I always blow it on a handbag that´s more practical than pretty or a knit hat that´s comfy rather than stylish. And then I cringe when I see photos after... I´m thinking of organizing accessories differently, to make the combination choices when I´m clearheaded, not on my way out of bed and out the door.

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  5. That dress looks beautiful on - what a lovely design on the fabric!

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  6. Wow, that's pretty fab! Where did you learn to sew and follow patterns? I am fascinated to know!

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    1. I actually learnt to sew simply by following a pattern! I did a bit of sewing back in school and university, but my first vintage sewing project was the aforementioned Big Apple dress, which caused me great confusion. If you're interested in learning to sew, I made a list of five golden rules and a guide to finding easy patterns which might help you get started!

      xx Charlotte

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  7. I love the outfit. Where do you get your shoes?

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    1. These ones I purchased wholesale on my last buying trip to Thailand - they're so comfortable! I'll definitely bring back more next time I go.

      xx Charlotte

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  8. You have so great sense of style, I love how you mix accessories, it inspires me to try out! :) This dress looks amazing, I love the print!

    -Sara
    autumn, coffee and inspiration

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  9. I must say I'm very impressed with your bound buttonholes - I love attention to detail and they make a lovely frock even more beautiful. xx

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  10. Love it and the fabric pattern, it's gorgeous.
    I just wish I could take the plunge, I know how to sew, I can use a pattern, it's the trying to fit it to me I can't do! No matter how much I read about it I still become completely confused by it. I'm too short and there's too much difference between bust and waist and hip for me to just go ahead, everything would need changing. Even standard shoulders are too wide for me. The whole damn thing would need re drafting!

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    1. You can eliminate shoulder problems by choosing a pattern with "kimono" sleeves (cut in-one with the bodice) - lots of 50s patterns have them - the only adjustment you might need is to wide necklines so they don't fall off the shoulders. A full skirt will take care of the hip size problem. Waist sizes are very easy to take in - even if you make it from a too-big pattern, you can try it on, then simply take it in at the sides (equally on both sides of course!). Bodices are also very easy to shorten - there's always a diagram on the pattern instructions, even vintage ones. This new vintage vogue pattern is a perfect beginner project - in fact I'm thinking of using it for a sew along soon.

      xx Charlotte

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    2. Thanks! I'm really going to have to make another start on this. I am at that age where I don't like showing the top of my arms anymore, not that I ever did much to be honest, just not me, I like proper sleeves.
      I had a big disappointment recently, my husband bought me a pattern that was supposed to have been made to my exact measurements...and believe me they were correct....not cheap but it was a copy of a shirtdress I love that is getting past it. Anyway, I made the bodice and collar and thought it looked big, got to the sleeves and kept thinking it was my fault, but no, I could have used it for a three man tent! I don't know what she'd done but it was way, way, way out. I got so disheartened I chucked it. The pattern was wrong, too, despite having been given the orginal to look at. I don't know what she was playing at, she does bridal ware and patterns like this so I thought she would know what she was doing. What a waste of money, I wasn't happy!

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  11. It truly is glorious that frock. And those buttons!! :)

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  12. WOW! I wish I could sew like that!

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  13. I LOVE this. You are truly talented! Great style and taste!


    Charmaine xx

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  14. Your dress looks beautiful, Charlotte! I just adore that fabric of your's, especially. :) Gorgeous job!

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  15. So, so wonderfully pretty! I adore aqua hues like this fantastic dress and just have to say it looks smashing with your lovely golden hair colour.


    ♥ Jessica

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  16. I would really like to find this pattern but when I do a search for Hollywood 1552 pattern, two different patterns come up in the search engine. One is a Bette Davis Glamour dress and the bodice looks similar to the one you are wearing in this post and the other is a 1940s shirtwaist dress with a fly front. Which pattern did you use? I am wondering if you can post a pic of the front of the pattern when you use a vintage pattern? It would very much help me out. :)

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    1. Hi Holly, I previously posted the pattern image when I was working on my Big Apple dress, here: http://blog.tuppencehapenny.co.uk/2010/05/apple-dress-project.html. It's the Bette Davis one on vintage patterns wiki here http://vintagepatterns.wikia.com/wiki/Hollywood_1552_A.

      xx Charlotte

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