Ideas to Make 50s Dresses

Written by nicole breit
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
  • Introduction

    Ideas to Make 50s Dresses

    With some basic sewing skills and a suitable pattern, you can re-create a 1950s dress style with ease. First decide on the type of dress you prefer. Do you want to emulate the modest day wear of housewives and secretaries? Think necklines that grace the collarbone, tailored bodices, cinched waists and full skirts. Or do you prefer the evening wear of the era? Think slim, knee-skimming sheaths, glamorous halter dresses with plunging necklines, and the ever-popular 1950s cocktail dress.

    A 1950s dress features a form-fitting bodice, cinched waist and full skirt. (Stockbyte/Retrofile/Getty Images)

  • 1 / 4

    Get the Look With a Vintage Sewing Pattern

    Novice sewers should begin with a commercially produced sewing pattern. Online businesses like, eBay and sell out-of-print vintage patterns from multiple decades. Try searching thrift stores and estate sales as well. Contemporary pattern suppliers, including Vogue and Simplicity, offer a retro line of patterns of popular styles. For a perfect fit, practice making darts for those form-fitting bodices before you begin your dress project. Learning how to make tucks and pleats for full skirts will also come in handy.

    Perfect your pleats and tucks to add fullness to a 1950s dress. (Ewor/Valueline/Getty Images)

  • 2 / 4

    Use a Vintage Dress as a Template

    For those with intermediate sewing skills, the perfect 1950s dress can be re-created using a sample gleaned from your grandmother's closet, a thrift store or online vintage clothing retailer as a template. Carefully open the seams with a seam ripper, leaving the sleeve edges and hem intact. Iron each piece of fabric before tracing it on pattern drafting paper. Remember to include a 5/8-inch seam allowance. Adjust each piece to fit before cutting, then sew.

    Finding the perfect dress to re-create is part of the fun. (Stockbyte/Retrofile/Getty Images)

  • 3 / 4

    Draft Your Customized 1950s Dress from Scratch

    Advanced sewers and would-be pattern drafters can take advantage of the vintage "Haslam System of Dresscutting" to create an original 1950s dress pattern. Packaged as a set of books and DIY sewing tools, the Haslam system provides instructions on drafting a custom fit foundation garment from which dozens of patterns can be made. Reference books from the 1940s and 1950s are included, as well as a dressmaking template (called the Haslam Chart) for adding shape and distinct details.

    A dress form is indispensible when you draft an original 1950s dress pattern. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

  • 4 / 4

    Wearing It Well

    Shape-enhancing undergarments help achieve the crisp, feminine silhouette typical of 1950s fashion, and will make the most of your new vintage-inspired dress. Pair a bullet bra with a waist-cinching girdle from an online retailer like, or to achieve a classic hourglass figure. Complete your look with a well-chosen accessory or two: cat eye glasses, a string of pearls, long satin gloves or kitten heels.

    Figure-enhancing undergarments are essential for perfecting your 1950s look. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.