Alice Elizabeth: My version of a 1950s House Dress by Pat Perkins

Introduction

The dress pattern and design is based on a 1950s house dress by Pat Perkins that I bought during Lockdown 2020. I wanted to create a basic pattern to dervice this and future retro inspired clothes I make. I bought the dress from a vintage seller on Etsy and posted a detailed style analysis . I had plenty of time during lockdown to learn about different vintage draping and patternmaking systems. I chose to teach myself Precision Draping from the book of the same title by Nellie Weymouth Link.

After draping the basic toile on a 2019 Misses Size 8 Wolf Form, I created a sloper on oaktag. I released this sloper into the public domain for anyone to use and improve on. This sloper is the basis of the pattern for the Alice Elizabeth dress.

Dress and Pattern Details

The dress consists of a fitted bodice with two vertical dart tucks on each side of the bodice in front. The skirt is six gores with a very moderate flare at the bottom. The Pat Perkins dress has buttons and loop closure down center front. A metal zipper was sewn into the left seam from 2″ under the arm until the hip line using a lapped application.

I do not like side seam zippers for two reasons. First they can be uncomfortable. Second they interfere with the flow of the underarm seam and skirt side seam. Since fitted clothing often falls on the bias at the side seams the potential for distortion exists. I hand sewed six button holes in the front of the bodice.

My reasons for avoiding buttonholes on the entire dress is that it would spoil the look of simplicity and efficiency the house dress is supposed to convey. I had not thought about using a hidden zipper when the dress was in progress. Now that it is finished I have a hidden zipper in mind for the future. It is a simple application I will detail when it is in progress. I used snaps because the front portion of the skirt looks better. The eye is drawn upwards to focus on the striped buttons and self-fabric belt. I do not care for metal eyelets and prongs in a belt so I used snaps to fasten the belt.

The edge of the front facing, the waistline stay and hem were finished with navy blue Flexi-Lace by Wrights. Seams were pinked. I chose these finishes because they are similar to home based seamstresses used in the 1950s. The Flexi-Lace tape was completely stitched by hand to the waistline seam using a running stitch at the waist and edge for flexibility. I used a cross-hatch stitch to join the stay to side seams and dart tucks.

The dress is made from 100% cotton chambray. It is very soft with a good drape. To support the dart tucks more a small edge stitching was used.

A back yoke was used to eliminate the neckline dart on the basic back bodice pattern. That too was edge stitch. On the inside, the yoke is interfaced and lined. The dart tucks in the back are also top stitched.

The collar is a basic collar pattern with a high stand. The undercollar and interfacing are cut on the bias. The sleeves have all-in-one cuffs.

Accessories

I chose understated accessories in sterling silver to keep to the everyday quality I want this outfit to have. The earrings have a pretty filigree. A small silver necklace, about 16″ long, with tiny beads would also look good with this dress.

Ballerina flats in navy blue complete the outfit. They pick up on the color of the stripes on the buttons. The overall impression of this outfit is meant to make the wearer attractive in a modest, understated fashion just as house dresses were intended in the 1950s.

Published by EmilyAnn Frances

Born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York when it was a borough for working families and businesses. It was the pre-Gentrification Brooklyn where you could see the sky against the trees, mingle with people from all backgrounds and make friends. A place where people bought a house for living in. There were no tourists, rarely a hotel and the word luxury was for those who lived far away. After gentrification I felt no connection to the borough or city I once loved. I now live in Linden, New Jersey where a spirit of community and neighborly interest still exists.

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