kcwc - the forty four dress

I've been amassing a little collection of vintage sewing patterns recently and this is the first one tackled so far. And seeing as I put my name down for a second kcwc, I thought I'd start with one for my girl.

What I find interesting is how sizing has changed over the decades. I think we all know that we ladies are now thicker waisted, longer waisted and probably a little taller than our mothers and grandmothers were but the surprise to me came when looking at girls' sizing, because that has barely changed at all. Throughout the 1940s, 50s and 60s, sizing on sewing patterns was consistently the same. Then in the 1970s (until the present day) the chest size went up by one inch and waist size half an inch, only the hips stayed the same.

One thing that thankfully has been laid to rest is the question of the 'chubbies'. Truly, on many a vintage sewing pattern (even up to the late 1980s) you will be advised whether it is suitable or not for chubby girls. How politically incorrect is that and doesn't it just show how times have moved on? I for one think we are now in an age where political correctness has gone bonkers but surely, buying a pattern for your daughter, with the knowledge that she was what the manufacturers termed a 'chubby' must have been a real smack in the face.

This dress is named after its age for the pattern was printed in 1967. An American pattern, it is Simplicity 7281 and perfectly suited to 'chubbies' as well you'll be relieved to hear. I imagine that's because it's a tent dress! I promised I'd be using the denim-like linen fairly soon after the wrap dress didn't I? I so love this fabric and because it's lightweight, it'll be perfect for the Model this season. Notice the change of name? No longer MLF, she's eight now, don't you know!!

My one previous owner saved me a lot of bother, since she had cut out and neatly pressed the pattern pieces so all I needed to do was prepare my fabric and lay the paper pieces out.

The dress itself was a joy to sew but I think I spent just as much time perfecting the hem as the rest of the garment. It was quite infuriating actually as, because the dress has a lot of fabric and a good curve at the bottom, it meant it was bunching up like crazy when I was preparing the hem. The pattern allowed for a mighty generous 3 1/4 inch turning which I was happy to go along with since I knew the dress was going to be quite roomy anyway and a good amount to turn down at a later stage would be sensible. However, that just looked silly and I only really noticed after I'd uploaded the first set of photos. Good old BurdaStyle helped hugely here and their method worked really well, although I had to sacrifice the wide hem!

Because the Model was declaring there to be 'rather a lot of blue' I used three pretty hot pink vintage buttons and top stitched the dress in a matching thread which I like but am thinking I should have used double or even triple embroidery thread and done it by hand for greater impact.

I would dearly love to have seen the previous owner's creation. The Sherlock in me knows from previous pinholes that she made a different version from me; she did long sleeves and a back belt. However, there is one thing we doubtless will never know - did she or did she not sew for a 'chubby'?!

Happy weekend x


  1. You've made such a beautiful dress. I love the detail of using pink buttons, it adds a little bit of girliness to it (does that word exist in english?)
    Very interesting reading about sizing in vintage patterns, I wonder if the lenght has also changed.
    And beautiful photos and model too!

  2. i love it, think i'd probably wear a dress like this too!

  3. I certainly remember that dresses were worn a lot shorter then - I would have been 5, and my mother made me lots, all well above the kneeline, worn with long socks, even in pretty chilly weather! And I wasn't a chubby, rather the opposite ...

    Pomona x

  4. Just a perfect & timeless dress. I love it!

  5. I'd love to try my hand at a vintage dress for myself. Unfortunately as I am decidedly chubby (at the moment)hardly any are my size.

    The use of the term chubby is ironic considering how many more children are chubby now.

    Your dress looks beautiful.

  6. Chubby - that's such funny word. Anyhow, chubby or not - it looks perfect to me. And so does your little 'big' girl.

    Nina x

  7. Your post is so timely. I just picked up a couple of girls dress patterns from the 60s and they were marked chubby too!!!

    Your dress turned out beautiful and timeless, I love the choice of colour for the buttons too.

  8. The dress is so pretty, congrats, definitely a success.

  9. It's fantastisk.
    I just love that pattern.
    Congratulation with your daugther.
    my oldest is 8 ½ years next month and the youngest 4 years.
    Time leave so fast.
    Have at lovely sunday

  10. My mother probably bought all the chubby patterns! It is interesting that you mention the hemline..because having the hem turned up a couple of inches was the thing to do back then..to allow for growth..but you never see that on handmade clothes now! It was uncool in the '70's to have handmade clothes and I think one of the most uncool things was to be able to see where the hem had been turned up! Maybe that's why we don't do it nowadays?

  11. Oh it's so so beautiful, I love it and it looks perfect on your daughter. I'm going to make myself a denim shirtdress now! x

  12. This is so pretty - yes i would love one too. Oh yes and there was always a row of ric-rac braid over the fade line when the dress was let down!

  13. It is a great dress Kate with more than a little of the Japanese aesthetic about it. It suits your Model perfectly. It must have been fun to make something that didn't require a tracing session first! T x

  14. This is beautiful!

    I have battled those fiddly hems as well. I love the wider turn up but sometimes it just isn't worth the hassle.

  15. This is such a lovely dress..it looks beautiful on your daughter. I love the buttons too!
    Helen x

  16. What a lovely little dress!

    I always think that it's a shame that the hem comes last, as I'm normally getting fidgety by that point and just want it finished.


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