Hot! The ‘Liquorice Allsorts’ 40’s Dress

 The Facts

Fabric  Liquorice Allsorts print cotton, bought with the cherry fabric I used for my Circle skirt
Pattern Butterick B5209
Year 1947 Reproduction
Notions zipper, thread
Time to complete  an hour a night, over a week. I could have done it way quicker with an uninterrupted block of time, but time is sadly lacking at the moment. 
First worn Today for the photos
Wear again?  Most definitely!
Total price About £15.00?  I can never remember

I do actually own some genuine 40’s patterns, but I am terrified to use them.  I got them in a bundle of twelve patterns from ebay that was advertised as 60’s and 70’s, but when I got them I realised they were mostly from about twenty years prior to that.  They are not in great condition, although all the pieces are there.  One day I promise I will make them up.  However time is very limited at the moment – two kids and a full time job see to that, so for this challenge I decided to go with a pattern that I have already attempted once, so I knew what adjustments to make.  This pattern is really quick and easy, an absolute joy to sew.  The only tricky bit I found was getting it all to lie flat where the two front bodice pieces meet.  Nothing a couple of choice swear words and a hot iron couldn’t sort though.

The fabric is very un-forties.  However this week I decided that I really really really need a bright pink liquorice allsorts halter dress in my wardrobe. End of discussion. I was going to use it.

Despite the fact that I made all the same adjustments to this dress as I did to my previous one from this pattern the fit is still slightly off, and I have the same weird underarm thing going on as I did last week.  I’m thinking I may have to face another one of my fears, and start using a smaller size bodice with a dreaded ‘full bust adjustment’.  I do always seem to have too much fabric at the back and across the top of the bust, so maybe that is what I need to do?

Even with the minor fit issues I love this dress.  In an attempt to bring a tiny bit of forties spirit to the photos we took them with my chickens -during rationing they were a household essential according to Gladys, my ninety three year old neighbour.  Gladys also has some great stories about an American airman she knew at that time, but I couldn’t possibly pass them on,  just in case any of you are easily shocked…




Taracat is a beginning seamstress, scientist, teacher, mother, gin drinker, almost author, drama queen and a bit of a stroppy 'mare. She discovered The Sew Weekly in February 2011 while using the internet to teach herself to sew. She's getting there.


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  1. Hi Taracat, beautiful sun dress. Love the colors, great color palette for you.

    • Thanks Krista! I love the colors too, I just hope we get the weather this years so I can wear it.

  2. I love the combination of vintage pattern with modern fabric. I am also in the FBA boat. I’ve just started doing them. That will definitely help you with the “weird underarm thing.” Cute!

    • Thanks Clarissa. Have just started research on FBAs for the next challenge, so watch this space.

  3. Oh Glady’s sounds like a riot, what a fun neighbor I’d love to hear what she got up to. I love that you chose non conventional fabric for this challenge, I’m down with that. Love this dress, you look fab, hopefully you can find a happy place with the bodice, once you’ve mastered it who know’s how many halter necks you’ll have by the end of Summer. Great sewing.

    • Hi Kazz! Gladys is great, even though she keeps trying to steal my husband. I think now that I’ve been sewing for a while I am gaining the confidence to try less conventional fabrics. And of course you and the other ladies here are a constant source of inspiration.

  4. Lovely dress! And yeah, you do sound like a candidate for an FBA. I’m working on my first one now, and I actually think its not that bad. I’m hoping it will be like most things in sewing in that it will be worth the effort and it will get easier with practice. Gladys does sound awesome!

    • Cheers! I am definitely going to try the FBA with my next project. Fingers crossed…

  5. FBA (Full Bust Adjustment) will be your new best friend and, trust me, they are NOT as hard as you want/think them to be!

    This dress is super cute and a definite summer must-have!

  6. Love your licorice dress and super jealous of your Eglu and chickens!

    • Cheers Rachel! Eglu’s are great – I know someone who has one with two chickens on the balcony of their flat! Of course my chickens would much rather roam the garden destroying my veggies.

  7. Cute! I love licorice allsorts! I have that pattern – can’t wait to try it.

    • Cheers Trish! I love this pattern, I have plans to make version B for another challenge soon.

  8. Those colours are great! Works so well with that pattern.

    • Thanks Diane! I’m really glad I went with this fabric, the colours really cheer me up.

  9. I love this pattern but I’m not game to make it without the back section (industrial undergarments required). The fabric is so bright and peppy.

    • Hi Jen! My next version will have the back section. I know what you mean about the undergarments – I’m okay as long as I don’t move about to much. Gives me an excuse to sit back with a drink and let my husband run around after the kids for a while though :o)

  10. HA! I love the idea of being shocked by stories of the American airmen… teehee! Love the dress – the bright pink is perfect for summer and I agree, you definitely needed to make it as it’s just too fun to pass up!

    • Cheers Meg! The latest from Gladys is that my husband is the spitting image of the airman, so I think I may have to keep an eye on the two of them ;o) I can’t wait til the weather improves here and I can get some wear out of this dress.

  11. Sweet dress and even sweeter with the candy print. I have that pattern too. I found the lining part a bit challenging and I don’t know if I would ever make it again. I love your photos,. I also have garden beds and four hens. It’s amazing that all of us find the time to sew!

    • Thanks Barbara! I admit there was a fair bit of swearing while trying to figure out the lining, but I think I’ve cracked it (touch wood) and have plans to make another. I think if you saw the state of my house you’d see how I have time to sew – ironing or sewing? No decision really ;o)

  12. Love this fabric, the vibrancy of that shade of pink suits you so well.