Liberty Rosa Pin Up Party Dress

A Pin-Up Party Dress

June 30, 2013 · 43 comments

Hi everyone! This August my little sewing blog will have been going for a whole year. Wow that has gone by so quickly! Because I started towards the end of the Summer there were quite a few summery garments like this party dress which I made last year that I never shared with you guys; so I thought I would blog a few of them over the next couple of months in amongst my current projects.

Rosa Liberty Print Dress

As you all know by now I am a huge lover of vintage fashion- particularly of the styles from the 1930s to the 1960s. As well as loving the everyday garment styles from these eras I am also a huge fan of their lingerie and swimwear styles, which I think are so iconic. Unfortunately I have never managed to dedicate any time to properly making any of either- I learnt to pattern draft bras, knickers and slips on a lingerie course that I took but the ever pressing need to produce yet another dress or jacket seems to override knicker production. I plan to remedy this in the very near future as my lingerie drawer is screaming out for some serious attention.

That being said, I have never even considered the idea of making a swimsuit as I don’t live near the beach (which in the UK is only really operational for a few weeks in terms of bathing suits anyway!) and so I am very contented with my What Katie Did vintage inspired one. For those of you who feel differently have you seen the bombshell swimsuit pattern that Paunnet and Lladybird have made up recently? Be sure to check it out if not- it is to die for!

So the bathing suit images below held a firm spot on my big inspiration board for two summers straight not because I intended to stitch one up but because I wanted to use the style lines as dress inspiration. Ahh the sweetheart- halterneck combi: who could be upset about that? The first image is of an actual vintage piece and the second (my favourite) is actually a beer advert of all things!

bombshell style swimsuit advert

vintage swimsuit

I decided to use this inspiration to design a party dress for an event we held at our house last summer. In order to really emphasise the sweetheart neckline style I chose to draft the pattern with a band all the way around the top. I think these bands also create a nice balance in the design- preventing the centre front seam and the princess seams from running the entire length of the bodice. I wanted the bodice to be really contoured so I removed the cleavage suppression which is done by pinching out a dart between the boobs (sorry, hard to phrase that one delicately). This creates a curved centre front line- hence the centre front seam rather than a centre front fold. Doing this gives the garment a nice sculpted shape without adding any fullness to the bust.

Liberty Print Pin UP Party Dress

Now, I would normally have attempted to line up the pattern on my two centre front pieces and as you clearly can see from the pictures I haven’t. This was due to a yardage calculation error on my part and not enough time to head back over to Liberty to buy more fabric before the party- oh the pit falls of last minute seamstressing! Luckily the print is a fairly hap hazard one as these things go so I managed to make my peace with it.

The skirt is a semi- circular one as I felt that was full enough for this dress. The straps are spaced as wide as possible on the neckline and sandwiched between the layers of the top band.

I underlined my liberty fabric with a fine silk/ cotton lawn and then lined the skirt. Underlining the bodice stopped the seam allowances showing through the main fabric which they do slightly on tana lawns that feature a lot of pale background like this one.

I made a cute little self- covered belt to wear with this dress which as you can see is unfortunately missing from most of the photos. I didn’t take any blog photos of this dress last summer and when I came to photograph it this year the belt was nowhere to be found…oops! You can see it in the one photo I got pre- party last year though and I do love these vintage style self covered belts so I think I will recreate it at some point.

Liberty Rosa Dress with Cardigan

I am wearing the dress here with a Boden tie front cardigan, I got the knotted cardi bug after watching Rachel Khoo rock several over her gorgeous vintage dresses in Little Paris Kitchen,

Liberty Rosa Dress Back

I also made a simple cotton lawn petticoat with a fuller tier around the hem to help emphasise the shape of the skirt- as you can see in the photo I trimmed this with some lace. This was some vintage cotton lace that I got from Etsy, I love vintage lace!

I am wearing the dress with my What Katie Did fully fashioned stockings- for those of you who are unacquainted with What Katie Did have a look at their website. They have a great collection of vintage inspired lingerie, hosiery and swimwear. Unfortunately I think it is pretty clear from this picture that my pin up career would have been a very short lived one! Hehe

Rosa Party Dress With Stockings

I taught my sister-in-law to sew earlier this year and the first dress she completed was Vogue 8725 in the same Liberty Rosa print but in the bright pink colour way. This is a lovely simple pattern that is very similar in shape to my dress so for anyone looking to sew a dress of this style I would highly recommend it.

Thanks for reading!


EDIT: This is photo from ‘Patternmaking for fashion design‘ Fourth edition by Helen Joseph Armstrong. It shows the countour guidelines I used when drafting my dress, including the cleavage  dart (marked 5 in the diagram) that helps the princess seam bodice to dip slightly between the bust rather than to sit flat across. Hope this is helpful for those of you who asked about it below :)

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