Make It or Buy it? 1940s Dress with Boat Neck

Posted by on Aug 19, 2018

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Item of ClothingVicki Black Dress 

Based on: 1940s dress with boat neck 

Assessment: This classic upscale dress has a nice invisible zipper in the back. The fabric is predominately polyester but would look great in a wool or silk crepe if you were inclined to make one. 

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Patterns: This vintage McCall’s pattern is essentially the dress shape without the sleeves and belt. Here is one with sleeves though it doesn’t have the side front seams where the belt is inserted. You could combine the two patterns then determine how long of a belt you need. 

Skill to know: Belt pattern shape. To make the belt lie properly, you will likely need to cut it in a curved shape in the front. You can figure out this shape by using a piece of muslin and a dress form or a friend of similar size.

Cut a piece of the muslin at least three or four times wider than you think you’ll need. Start in the center of the back by lining up the straight grain (selvedge edge) of the fabric with the back center. You know that the belt will need to curve up as it gets to the front so you only need to leave a half-inch or so below the belt waistline. 

Smooth the fabric as you curve around the side seam. You will have excess and it will be bunchy when you begin. Work a few inches at a time clipping in toward the shape you want to create. As you do this you will notice the fabric will settle into shape and curve around to the side front seam. You can do this all after you have made the dress. You’ll just need to open back up the side front seams to sew in the belt once you’ve sorted it out. 

Decision: This dress will take about 8-10 hours to make. Depending on how expensive of fabric you choose, materials can cost from $100 to $200. If you don’t mind polyester, this dress is a very good buy. If you decide to make one, you’ll need about 4 yards of fabric for the dress and four yards of something for the lining. If you end up buying a pattern to use, check to see the yardage amount indicated on the envelope.

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