Hot! The ‘Elsie Phyllis’ dress


Fabric: Vintage Printed cotton from inherited stash. (possibly 40s?) Thrifted Poplin

Pattern: Fashion 4360 (1947)

Notions: 1 regular zipper from stash

Time to complete: 12hrs

First worn: for photos

Where again: I love it… but I may have made it a bit too period accurate to feel comfortable for everyday.

Cost: $15 for the pattern (ouch! but I was in love with that heart shaped lapel.. and it was at a vintage fair), $1 for the poplin.

Oh I hope I get this in on time! I left it til Monday to start this dress. I’ve been a bit nervous about opening this pattern. It looked so fragile, I thought for sure it would be a mess inside and I’d regret my $15 spend. But let me tell you… opening this envelope was the most fun part!! Inside I found some patterns drafted on newspaper. 1947 Newspaper to be exact. So then I spent way too much time reading snippets about ration cards, the death of one of ‘princess’ elizabeth’s seamstresses that was working on her wedding dress, and some great advertisements.(my fave was the bottle of mortein bug killer that had ‘With Extra DDT’ proudly emblazoned on the label.) I assumed the patterns would be tracings of the original maybe with some fit changes.. but it seems the original owner decided to draft a different skirt shape and a slightly different collar. And.. every pattern piece was labeled with ‘Cool pattern – Elsie Phyllis’. Seriously.. someone in 1947 labelled their pattern as ‘cool’!! love it.

I’m betting that Elsie’s 1947 ration of fabric didn’t allow for the 4 wide panels of bias cut skirt required. Her version is much slimmer and multi panelled cut on the straight. I was just barely able to make the original dress with my 3.5m of 34″ (after wash) fabric. Her collar pattern is intriguing as well. I think maybe she ditched the top collar and just did an extended version of the lapel with the added scallop. Hers is also a bit narrower. I may actually make Elsie’s version next time.. just for fun.

The instructions were pretty good for a pattern this old. By that I mean… there were at least some pictures and even the patterns had a few stamp markings on them. It even included an instruction for grading the pattern one size up or down. I used their method for grading the bodice one size down (which was just taking a half inch off the entire side included the sleeve and underarm) and it worked out just fine. My other 40s options are from home journal magazines and have no pictures in the instructions and no markings on the patterns. I’m glad I went with this one for this week.

I am a bit disappointed that the lapel doesn’t really look like the one in the illustration. Seems like there was a bit of artistic license used there. But it would be pretty easy to redraft it to get that real heart shape I was imagining.






I’m loving the 40’s use of tucks at the waist instead of darts, and I love those little extended sleeves. Oh and of course.. who couldn’t love giant pockets!

Confession – this isn’t the final hem.. I need to let it hang for a while. As an interim measure I’ve just done an overlock roll hem.


So.. What do you think? Is it too 40’s for everyday.

I’ve noticed that modern fabrics used for vintage patterns have more wearable results… but I have a rather large stash of vintage fabrics and patterns (terrible I know.. haha) So I may just have to start embracing period dressing.


oops.. I almost forgot.. Yes this is a different colourway of the same fabric I used for my shorts last week. My Nan in law was like that.


Casey Sew

Casey Sew joined the Sew Weekly Sewing Circle in 2011 and completed 38 challenges. Casey learned to sew first from her mother, and then during an Advanced Diploma of Fashion course she completed 10 years ago. Her sewing supplies are generally thrifted or vintage passed on by family.


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  1. The dress is lovely, I think you really did justice to the print. I so love the story of the pattern! My first ever set of circular needles was a a job lot on eBay and came all the way to Italy from Newfoundland, wrapped in old pages of the local newspaper. I had so much fun with that!

  2. I love it! And there is no such thing as too 40s for everyday. People now wouldn’t know a great dress if it bit them. Yours is awesome!

    • Your line ‘wouldn’t know a great dress if it bit them’ is going to be my new mantra when I brave wearing this out. hehe. Thanks Meg.

  3. Great to see you up there in such a fabulous dress!

    • I was so excited to see me up there too! Feels like the first decent thing I’ve made all year! haha

  4. It looks beautiful. You have to wear it as often as you can.

  5. What an amazing treasure you found! Your dress is awesome and fun. Great job!

  6. I think your dress looks great. My husband walked into the room as I was looking at the pictures and said ‘nice dress’ too! I don’t think it looks too costumey. I’d wear it as often as poss if I was you.

    • My husband likes it too! I think even the boys wish we all frocked up a bit more. Thanks Sarah.

  7. You look fantastic in that dress! You should definitely wear it and see what happens. I bet you’ll be surprised at all the compliments you get.

  8. Yes, I vote for period dressing. The dress is perfect.

  9. Definitely wear that dress OFTEN. What a cool story too. Great post

  10. Cute dress and a great bit of sewing archeology too…

  11. That is absolutely adorable, and I think you should wear it as every day! Yes, it’s vintage, but not costume-y, and it suits you perfectly.

    What a lucky find with the pattern. How wonderful to have such a story tucked inside it.

    Love the fabric too. It looks more 1970s to me than 1940s – the 1940s florals aren’t usually so basic and cartoon-y. But I might be wrong ;-)

    • I was totally thinking 70’s when I pulled it out of the cupboard.. but then there was just something about it when I started working with it. Hard to say… it just seemed older. The nan in law collected pretty much everything from 1945 (when she moved into her house) onwards. It was quite the mix.. so I never quite know what I’m working with!

  12. Hi Casey,
    So nice to see you up there. Missed you.. I love,love that dress.It looks fantastic on you.. You need to wear it often..
    I love the pattern..What a great find. and all the newspaper articles..That was worth the $15 ,ha..

    Happy sewing. enjoy your dress.

    • Thanks Judy! I thought the same thing. The newspaper alone made me happy with my $15 spend. Considering it just cost me more than that to buy two coffees, a kids milkshake and a gingerbread man… I say it’s money well spent.

  13. I think this is completely fantastic!

  14. Definitely not too 40s for everyday – it looks absolutely fantastic on!

  15. I really like it, the dress is beautiful. To me it conveys the 1940s in the right way, not a costume, more comfortable and wearable. That floral is just lovely and its great that you have it in 2 colors. Great Job.

  16. I think it’s gorgeous, and could easily be worn for everyday! Love it on you. :-)

  17. G O R G E O U S Casey, You should totally wear this, it looks fabulous. Well done.

  18. I love your dress Casey, it reminds me of a RTW dress I had in the 70’s. Many
    fashion styles at that time were reminiscent of the 1940’s.

  19. I’m with the girls-wear it often. It’s beautiful and on you with the belt and your hair it’s a sweet little dress and not costumey at all. Love it!

  20. It’s gorgeous!!! This dress was made for you. :)

  21. Love this dress~ It looks great on you.

  22. It’s lovely but I am going to be the voice of dissent. I don’t love the white bits. Sorry! I agree with Leimoni and think the fabric is more 70’s than anything – but it still really works as a 40’s dress! If it were mine I would replace the white bits with the floral – but I grew up in the 80’s and still get around like an old witch dressed in black most of the time!!

    • Oh and such a shame that the collar bits aren’t shaped like the picture. But there would be a tricky bit of patternmaking and sewing required to achieve a better heart shape don’t you think?

  23. Love it! Definitely cool for everyday wear.

  24. Wear it, for sure! The collar looks pretty great to me, not too terribly far from the illustration. What a cool pattern history– I love finding surprises in vintage patterns!

  25. I agree with the previous commenters – you should definitely wear this for everyday. It doesn’t look too period to me but it’s just a very pretty dress (but not too fancy). And I love the white bits in particular. Wouldn’t replace these at all – it adds such a pretty contrast and makes it look so fresh and crisp. The heart-shaped lapel shouldn’t be too difficult to draft…and OMG, the story around the pattern is just wonderful! I inherited a few old sewing magazines from my grandmother and I love going through those magazines and reading her little comments about the individual styles…I wish every pattern came with such a great story.