1940s Evening Gown in Progress

I have mucho to update you all on, and I’m having difficultly deciding where and which project to start with!  See, it’s one of *those* months, in which way too many things needs to be sewn in a short amount of time.

Currently on the fast-track is a 1940s evening gown that will be worn to the Reno Newcomer’s Club Fashion Show at the end of October.  My new neighbor, Carole, is planning this event, and has gone with the theme “The Golden Age of Fashion,” focusing on 1940s, 50s, and 60s attire.  The only problem is that nobody is actually wearing any vintage fashions in the show, so she has asked me to represent the 1940s.

Vintage Vogue 2858

We looked over my box o’ vintage patterns and settled on a “Vintage Vogue” (2858) I’ve had for years, and tried out some long time ago in the shorter length, with bad results due to fabric choice (back when I were a youngin’ and didn’t know of such things!).  This time I chose a drapey, silky, lightweight, shiny, soft, yummy wine-colored poly satin, but amazingly I still had the same problems with frumpiness!

In-progress in frumpy-form, with just TOO MANY gathers

It’s the pattern: it calls for small gathers at the sides, and gathers at the front, down into the dropped-waist point.  Unfortunately this just all makes for frumpiness, especially the skirt gathers, which have a delightfully 1990s way of pooching out just over one’s ovaries!  Lovely.  Even with the tailoring to the back darts the dress just didn’t look good on.

Operation de-frumpification: I removed the gathers on the side, removed the gathers in the front, cut the slit in the front of the skirt higher, and added a fishtail to the back for a little train, and *now* it’s starting to look like the slinky, sexy, soft and supple gown it’s always wanted to be.  It’s still in-progress here, and wants for finishings to the hem, the sleeves, and for the shiny jet trim to be adhered.  I look forward to wearing this, representing American Duchess Atelier, and having some lovely photos to show you guys in a couple weeks!

Still in-progress, but with the alterations to make it more flattering.

Bottom line: this Vintage Vogue pattern is out of print, which is probably a good thing.  Without heavy alteration and tailoring it is just plain frumpy.  It also requires an annoying amount of basting, and a side zipper (eeeek!), so just don’t even go there!


  • Isis

    October 12, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    I've made this gown and I love it! Though I agree on the pouching- it's on the list of shanges to do. I'm currently making a short version fro summer wear- spookily enough in the exact same colours as the short version on the picture. I've had to do some major changes in the back, due to the fact that differ 3 sizes from the front to the back, but that made it possible to put the zipper in the back instead. 🙂

  • American Duchess

    October 19, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    I'm not sure why I despise the side zip so much – it just seems to be a pain in the butt to put in. Then again, when is the last time I sewed a zipper even? I think over a year ago! I suppose that's just what happens when you everything you make has either laces or hooks, right?

  • Unknown

    January 20, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    I like a side opening, though I prefer a placket to a zipper. I've had dress frumpiness from a lovely sketch before now. I read somewhere that if it's just a sketch it usually hasn't been made up by the pattern house, though with older patterns, sketch are more the rule! Love your adaptations Lauren.

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