The “Second (or Third) Time’s a Charm” Dress

The Facts 
Fabric: Blue polyester (possibly an old banquet tablecloth), $.25, blue gingham
Pattern: Hollywood Pattern 1551, ~$10
Year: c. 1945
Notions: none
Time to complete: ~5 hours
First worn: May 2012
Wear again? Yes.

Total Cost: ~$10

Back when I first started The Sew Weekly, I wrote about my desire to recreate a dress that my paternal grandmother is wearing in a photograph from around 1947. Over the past couple years, I ended up purchasing a couple of patterns that were fairly close to the dress in the photo. Last year, for the Mother’s Day challenge, I actually started an attempt to make the dress in red — the fabric didn’t cooperate with me and I pitched the pieces into the UFO pile.

Here’s the dress. The photo was taken in Cleveland, I believe, based on my Uncle’s age (the child). That’s my paternal great-grandfather sitting on the picnic table.

For this week’s challenge, I decided to make yet another attempt at recreating the dress. All the fabric came from my stash and the color was determined by what pieces of gingham I had in my collection. I don’t remember where or when I bought the pattern, so for this post, I’ll just say that it cost me $10 (knowing that’s usually on the high range of what I’m willing to spend for a pattern).

The last time I tried to make the dress, the sleeves were a real pain. I had tried to cut out the contrast from the original sleeve and then join them. This time, however, I cut the sleeves out in the solid fabric and the cut the top of the sleeve out again in the contrast fabric. I folded the edges and then topstitched the gingham portion to the full sleeve. This worked far better and was far easier than trying to figure out how to join the two pieces together.

The nice thing about working from a black and white photograph is that it allows a great deal of freedom with color choice. I actually asked my grandmother what color the dress was and she couldn’t remember — she thought black. I think the dress would have been quite cute in black with black and white gingham contrast. But since I had to work with what I already had on hand, the blue fabric just had to do.

Thanks to my friend, Libett, for taking the photos!

Author

Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.

22 Comments

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  1. Darling dress and your talent at recreating the dress is fabulous! You look just like your grandmother!

  2. You did such a great job recreating that dress! It looks remarkably similar and the style and color look really nice on you. You and your grandmother are both lovely and stylish ladies. Love it and love this week’s challenge!

  3. It’s a fantastic dress, but may I ask how it’s fastened?
    I am loving the old and new pictures! I also look exactly like my Dad’s Mum, and the more pictures I see of her, the more I admire her style and want to make some of the outfits.

  4. Perfection! What an awesome inspiration picture. Your finished dress looks exactly like it!

  5. Adorable~ You look so much like your grandmother.

  6. Definitely a charm, a great original photo and a great dress

  7. Unbelievable!!!! The dress, the recreation, the amazing likeness! Wow — you are so brilliant.

  8. Awesome recreation! Almost like this was actually your Grandmother’s dress. She had great style.

  9. You look just like your grandmother..it amazing…the and the dress… wow!!!

  10. WOW!! amazing! the dress looks the same and you look like your grandmother!

  11. so cute..It really looks like your grandmothers dress.. I love the gingham check on it..

  12. It’s a gorgeous dress! Such unique detailing! AND, great work stashbusting, you look cute in that colour!

    xoxo

  13. Wow, that is lovely. Great job figuring out how to replicate the dress, despite the difficulties! What a great photo of your family.

  14. You did it! It looks beautiful. Congratulations on recreating your grandmother’s dress!

  15. BRILLIANT job! I just love this! You look a lot like your Grandma…she is so stylish! And I just love that you’ve done it in blue!!

  16. Amazing! And I love the gingham details.

  17. Wow you look just like your grandmother. The dress looks fab Mena

  18. What a fabulous recreation of that delightful dress! I love the color blue that you went with – it looks positively lovely!

  19. wow, it looks just like her dress. You are nothing short of amazing.

  20. Beautiful beyond words, Mena. The resemblance between you and your paternal grandmother is uncanny! Both of you are stunning in your gingham-trimmed dresses. Great vintage to color transition…what a feast for my eyes!

  21. Hi Mena, love the black and white photos. The dress looks gorgeous, the blue was a surprise!

  22. Love your recreate, that is a really stunning dress!