Properly vintage


I made this dress as part of my vintage pledge. The pattern is Advance 3738



This is absolutely the sort of vintage styling that I love, but I really struggled to find fabric in my stash to make it. Firstly, it takes a bit of fabric, and secondly I really wanted a long sleeved winter version.  I thought I would make a wearable muslin to test it out as I wasn’t convinced about the sizing.

First of all I made a basic toile of the bodice, established that the darts were at the right position and that the bodice was about 4cm too short. I duly added 4cm to the pattern and then set about finding the fabric for the wearable muslin. I desperately wanted to make it from green gingham – as I’ve said before, I’m highly suggestible! However, I found this navy and white spot in my stash and I was set. The fabric has the dots woven into it rather than printed on it, so I felt that this was a nod to the way things were done way back when. I also remember, as a child, having a dress made out of a pale blue version of this fabric (with my doll having a matching dress), so I felt a sense of nostalgia.

The fabric came from The Fabric Cave in Sydney and cost the grand total of $3. My sort of pricing!

The pattern harks back to 1940 and is basically tissue paper with no markings – just various sized dots to give clues as to construction. This works really well, I have to say.

Once I put the muslin together, I had to drop the darts by 3cms and remove 3cms from the length of the bodice. I am not sure what was going on with the other muslin! The dress also has shoulder pads, which I neatly made, padded and inserted


but found that they disrupted the fit too much. I thought they were needed to get the right silhouette, but didn’t like them at all, so they are now gone.

My only issue with the dress is the weather – it’s been too hot to wear it, and I have taken a risk with it just so that I can get it blogged. However, today was mildly cooler so I wrangled my way into it – those girls in the ’40s must have had small heads!


The pattern is suitably interesting. It has a slit in the neck (to get aforementioned head through) with a bias detail running round the front, completed by the bow. The bodice has a small amount of gathering on either side at the bottom, and the skirt front is heavily gathered for about 3cms on either side of a centre pleat. The sleeves have three elbow darts giving them a lovely shape. There is a zip in the side seam and the only way I could get it in neatly was to hand sew it in. The dress is belted and I used a small silver buckle from my Mum’s stash to finish it off.


The back is simpler, the skirt has two side panels cut on the cross to give it some shape.

The tree that I am standing in front of is a 700 year old giant Boab (Gija Jumulu) tree that was presented to the local Noongar (Aboriginal) people by the Indigenous people of the far North-West of Western Australia. It was transported 3000 kms on the back of a truck. What an amazing feat!

This dress is the third of my vintage pattern challenge, and is the oldest pattern. This photo shows the front gathering a bit better. I now have plans to make a couple more of these. I might leave off the bow and make the belt a little wider. I actually have some nice soft wool herringbone that I think will be brilliant.


So the details: The pattern is Advance 3738 bought from Emsewcrazy’s Etsy site, the fabric is from The Fabric Cave, and my shoes are Letizia from Letizia in Claremont. I do feel a pair of navy blue pumps coming on!


On another note, I have decided to once again participate in Me Made May and here is my pledge:

 ‘I, Sue of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear at least one item hand made by me each day for the duration of May 2014’


13 thoughts on “Properly vintage

  1. Wow! Those sleeves are something to write home about. Beautiful job on this dress! You look really lovely in it.

  2. Haha! I got all excited when I saw the pattern and was going to say I had one in my Etsy shop but it sold and here it sold to you!! I’m so excited to see it made up! It looks fabulous and I’m not just saying that. It’s probably a good thing I’m seeing it made up after it’s sold because I really like it! That bow neckline is so nice too!

    1. Thanks Emily, I had noticed you were in the Facebook group so I hoped you would see it. I think it must be lovely to sell a vintage pattern and then see its interpretation.

  3. Love the dress !
    Worth noting that the Boab tree is situated in Kings Park and the views are of the Swan River across to South Perth.

  4. Sue, the dress looks great. I noticed and love the slits in the cuff (?) of the sleeves. No shoulder pads needed-the fit across your shoulders is just right. BTW, what is the fabric? It looks like a winter weight?

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