Hot! The “forties dress with a modern pattern” dress

The Facts
Fabric: mystery fabric/perhaps a cotton blend/light blue dotted
Pattern: Simplicity 1880
Year: modern, but it looks retro to me
Notions: 6 light blue glass buttons, 12″ invisible zipper
Time to complete: including pattern cutting, alteration, sewing/finishing probably 10 hours
First Worn: May 2012
Wear Again: Yes!
Total Price: pattern $.99, notions $3, fabric from my stash

And I’m back! Hello everyone, I’ve been M.I.A. for quite awhile. I’m currently pursuing my Elementary Education degree and this past semester really threw me for a loop. I’m happy to report that I made it through relatively unscathed and with only 2 semesters left. But, you didn’t come here to hear about my education plans, you came for the dress!


I’ve been wanting a shirt waist dress for a long time. When this pattern came along I picked it up. I had no idea what fabric I would use or even when I would make this up. I knew it would have to wait until after school was out. When I saw the forties theme on my dashboard I had a eureka moment. I knew that this pattern would translate to a ’40’s silhouette on my body.  I thought about how women of this time made do with what they had and even sometimes used flour and feed sacks for fabric. This fabric reminds me of those bags.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am a slow sewer. I think I get really caught up in all the little details of a garment and lose track of time. I get a tad obsessed with crisp corners and straight seams.

I’m not sure if any of you have made up this pattern yet, but you definitely should if you haven’t. The construction was straight forward and easy enough. The sleeves have a nice little pleat/fold detail that’s pretty interesting. I did have to alter the bodice to accommodate what my momma gave me. I added 2″ of width to each bodice piece. I also added 1.5″ length to the front and back bodice. This is by far the most successful bodice alteration I’ve ever done. I also added 2 more buttons to the front placket so that I could button it all the way up, if I’m so inclined.


Most of my accessories are current. The shoes and belt are both from chain stores that I’m sure we’ve all been to. My bag is from a great local antique store that has a fabulous basement full of vintage clothing and accessories. I am in love with this bag, and as a bonus it was $18, far less than I spend on modern bags. Bonus! I’m all about a bargain. I used PicMonkey to alter all of my pics. I really like their site. I think I might even like it better than Picnik. It’s very straight forward. If you’re looking for a site to edit your photos, they’re it.


I didn’t go truly historically accurate with this ensemble. For one this dress is above my knees, and for another I don’t have on any pantyhose. Scandalous!
Thanks for taking a look.  I’m so glad to be back!




Clarissa Henderson started the Sew Weekly to create more wearable pieces for her wardrobe. She also joined to meet others in the sewing community.


Comments are closed.

  1. I love it! I also skipped the pantyhose and felt a wee bit guilty about it. But you’d only really notice if you could see the seams up the backs anyway! Great job!

  2. Cute! You and the dress – it suits you so well!

    I was hoping a few people would try to make modern dresses look vintage – it’s a great twist on the theme (and there is only so much you can do to a shirtwaist dress, so I’m sure this one is pretty close to a 40s original).

  3. Hi Clarissa, glad you back with us, love the dress and paired with the dark belt looks fantastic. The bag is just the frosting on the cake, that a great bargain!

  4. I love your dress! A nice updated, 40s style. Great job and welcome back!

  5. Perhaps it’s just me, but you totally look like Renee Zellweger in the first picture. Wonderful job on the dress!

  6. Love that dress.. Looks great on you.. Good luck on your next 2 semesters.. Know its rough.. My daughter is a high school history teacher.. And she loves it. [even though, I think at times she wants to strangle some].

  7. Just adorable! I love the modern take on the longer 40’s style. However, your old fashioned photos look so right on. I especially love the first one where you are flirtatiously kicking your leg back and you have that cute little smile.

  8. You scandalous thing you hehe well done, you look adorable.

  9. What a fab shirt dress pattern! It looks great on you.

  10. Thanks everyone!!

  11. Gorgeous, and I love the photos!

  12. Just tell everyone you’d almost run out of gravy browning due to extreme rationing for your legs, so it’s only smeared on very faintly….

    Kudos to you managing to sew along to any of these whilst studying and I’d say that the shape of this dress with your styling looks very 40s. Good luck with the next 2 semesters!