Simplicity 1578, circa 1945: The Summery Polka-Dot Sundress

Front view #1.

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Front view #2.

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Front view #3.

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Closeup view: lucite bracelet and faux bakelite black bracelet. (The bruise is probably from getting beaten up at jiu jitsu.)

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The Facts

Fabric: Navy and white polka-dot rayon, $5/yd 60″ wide
Pattern: Simplicity 1578
Year: 1945
Notions: Navy invisible zipper, $1
Time to complete: 16 hours, maybe more
First worn: Never been worn yet!
Wear again? Yes
Total price: $11

Pattern used:

It’s the middle of winter here and since every week has been 30 degrees and freezing. It’s refreshing to work on a summery rayon polka-dot sundress.

I’ve made this pattern once before unsuccessfully. This time around was different.

Construction details:

  • made a muslin (which accounted for the 16+ hours)
  • basted all the seams before sewing it up
  • inserted an invisible zipper in the back
  • used seam bindings for the armholes
  • serged the seams
  • used some leftover navy gabardine for the neckline facing
  • hand-tacked the facing at center front to prevent it from flipping up

Using a fabric with good drape and hand was crucial. The rayon is lightweight and has good drape. This pattern also reminds me why the 40s is my favorite sewing era. I have enough leftover fabric for a skirt, a blouse or shorts and the silhouette is vintage enough to be authentic yet doesn’t look costume-like or overwhelming.

I don’t know how many sleeveless sundresses I’ll be making but this silhouette is definitely a win.

(Cross-posted on Sew Weekly.)

14 thoughts on “Simplicity 1578, circa 1945: The Summery Polka-Dot Sundress

  1. Pingback: Simplicity 1578, circa 1945: The Polka-Dot Sundress «

  2. Certainly, that dress is a victory! The silhouette harmonizes well with polka dots and you look so summer …. Oh, I hate the cold … I also need a breath of spring.
    Wonderful job!

  3. Agree with above comments!
    Wouldn’t have seen the possibilities of this pattern, but the fabric picks everything up and makes it absolutely perfect. Loved the lucite/bakelite bangles, too. Wonderful perseverance doing the muslin!
    Great job – and many thanks for teaching this old dog a new way of looking at 40’s patterns!
    (Now, where’d you get that fabric – been looking for exactly the same thing for aaages!)

  4. Thanks guys!

    I found the fabric in this small store in the garment district here in NYC (not sure what it’s called!) They were having a sale on cotton in the middle of winter so I just found one that had the best drape.

    I definitely think 40s patterns are one of the most under-estimated. Most times I think they look frumpy in the illustrations so others tend to overlook their potential, but I find them some of the easiest to fit and most economical to make.

  5. Oh! NYC garment district – am **green** with envy!
    Definitely agree with “frumpy.” Will remember your comments about fit & try some.
    Thanks again!

  6. I’ve been meaning to tell you how much I admire this — you’re absolutely right about the 40s — still lovely and authentic without being costumey. What a great summer dress to have (and easily layered in the cooler months!). The color and shape, I think, is very flattering.

    I am definitely obsessed with sleeveless sundresses (they feel more casual to me, so I’m more likely to wear them) and I just bought a 40s slip to whip up with some crepe for a dress — we’ll see how this goes :)

  7. Awww I’m fortunate enough to live within walking distance of the garment district so I’m there every few weeks or so.

  8. I really enjoy your dress. It looks fantastic. Most of the sewing terms are lost on me, but I’m learning and I am super glad there are bloggers out there like you to inspire me.

  9. Thank you, Riki! Most of the times I feel like I’m talking more to myself with the sewing terms just so I can remember it for the next version. :)

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