Not only can sewing your own clothes be fun, but it allows you to get just the style you want, in a size that fits you perfectly. The clothes that you make yourself could end up being your favorite to wear. Retro fashion may be difficult to find in stores at affordable prices. Therefore, making your own 1950s dress is a great and ambitious undertaking, allowing you to explore your creativity and craft something you will treasure for a long time.
Things You'll Need
Prepare to Sew Your 1950s Dress
Select your pattern. It is possible to create a dress without a pattern, but this is much more difficult and may fit awkwardly. 1950s dress patterns are a little more complicated since they often feature a full pleated skirt and buttons up to the collar. There are many styles of ’50s dresses. See the Resources section of this article for some places to peruse patterns. You can also purchase them at your local craft store. Some websites may even offer downloadable 1950s dress patterns for free.
Select and purchase your fabric from a craft store or on line. You will need between 2 and 5 yards of fabric depending on your dress size. Small dress sizes will probably need 2 yards, a medium dress may take 3 to 5 yards, and a larger dress may use 5. It’s best to err on the side of purchasing too much fabric, as you do not want to run short, and you can always use it for other projects. 1950s dresses often feature delicately patterned fabric, from small flowers to polka dots. You may want to purchase a small amount of contrasting fabric, as many 1950s dress styles include a bow at the waist in another color. This will depend on the specific pattern that you choose.
Spread your fabric out in an area where you have lots of space to work, like the living room floor, or a large table. Unwrap your pattern and spread out the pieces on top of the fabric.
Attach each part of the pattern to the fabric with your pins. Make sure you have pinned around the entire circumference of each part of the pattern. Push the pins down so that the heads do not stick up beyond the pattern since you will need to cut around it. You can choose to draw around each piece with your fabric marker instead.
Cut out each piece of the pattern.
Remove the pins and separate the pattern from the cut fabric pieces. You may want to save the pattern for another use.
Read the instructions that accompany your specific pattern. They will direct you as to which fabric pieces should be sewn together and the order in which to sew different parts of the dress.
For most ’50s dresses, stiff cotton with a print of your choice will be easiest to work with.
It may be easier to pin pieces of fabric together before sewing them so that they stay in place. Don’t worry about sewing over the pins with your sewing machine.
If you make a mistake, you can use a tool called a seam ripper to remove those stitches and easily make corrections.
References and ResourcesFashion Era: 1950s Timeline
The Human Ecology Collection: The Dress You Want and How to Make It
Love To Sew: Sewing and Making Dresses
Resources"Sew Retro: 25 Vintage-Inspired Projects for the Modern Girl": Judi Kettler: 2010
So Vintage Patterns: Patterns 1950s
Sensibility: Patterns and Images from 1950-1959