A 1950’s Red Chambray Pleated Dress (Vogue 8973)

Hello, readers!

I’m happy to share this 1950 Vintage Vogue pleated dress with you!  I chose this gorgeous red dotted lightweight chambray for this project, which worked well with the numerous tucks and pleats that make up this dress.  I love this style, which is a little bit late 1940’s and a little bit New Look — all of which somehow seems contemporary while staying true the year of it’s design.

red chambray 1950's vogue

The bodice for this dress took me some time to master.  As I had recently sewn a dress with bodice tucks from a vintage 1950’s pattern, I was familiar with sewing them, but the instructions for this particular pattern used a different technique in which the fabric is first pleated and then the bodice pieces are cut out instead of the tucks created on the bodice pieces.  I preferred this method, but would much rather do it with a pleater board as I found it difficult and time consuming to get them perfectly straight.  Even with using the correct pattern markings and following the instructions, it’s still hard to keep them straight and uniform.  I did a lot of basting and my fingers felt raw from ripping out so many stitches, but in the end, I’m pretty proud of my efforts, even though it’s not perfect.

back tucks

As this is a Vintage Vogue pattern, it contains couture techniques like an inner waist stay (or inside belt).  Before I started sewing this dress I set out my supplies, including some Petersham ribbon to make the stay.  After I sewed the skirt to the bodice, I opted not to add the waist stay as I felt the fabric was sturdy enough to hold the skirt nicely and that the belt would pull in the waist.  I also don’t like summer dresses too fitted as it’s very hot where I live in California and I like ease for air-flow.  However, after looking at my dress photos, I feel like it would look better with the waist stay, so I’m going to add it to this dress.

I made a self-fabric belt for this dress using the pattern pieces and technique demonstrated in the instructions.  I considered using one of my covered belt kits, but opted to use this vintage pearl buckle instead as I felt that this belt needed a little something that contrasted and stood out.


This dress has a lot of hand-finishing which although time-consuming, also adds to a wonderfully finished interior.  The collar, front band and sleeve facings are all hand-sewn.  I love how the thread disappears into the weave of this chambray.

My favorite aspect of this dress is the skirt.  I fell in love with the inverted pleats and the length of the skirt.  I am not wearing a petticoat with this dress, but a lightweight cotton one would probably work well with the skirt to add a little fullness.


I’m so happy and proud to have sewn this dress.  Chambray is not one of the suggested fabrics for this pattern, but linen is, so I figured this lightweight chambray would be a similar weight and work equally as well and I believe it does.  I’d love to make another version out of a silk crepe de chine and look forward to either buying or making a pleater board before I do so.  I love pleats and tucks and this dress has them all.

featured cali

Tanya H, from TanyaMaile.com

Tanya is a Northern California ranch girl in love with retro prints and vintage patterns with a bit of modern flair. When not battling with her cat over her sewing table, she likes to repurpose junk, throw frisbees for her dogs, immerse herself in history books and geek out over sci-fi and fantasy. You can find her at her other home on the web: Mrs. Hughes.

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30 thoughts on “A 1950’s Red Chambray Pleated Dress (Vogue 8973)”

  1. This is gorgeous, Tanya! The chambray really takes those pleats and bodice tucks beautifully. What a masterful match of pattern and fabric. Lovely, lovely work! All that pleating was totally worth it. 😀

  2. Hell yes, girl, this looks fab! I can tell how hard you worked to get those pleats perfect, because they look it. I love the fabric, too. It’s cool how it looks solid from far away. I’m not familiar with pleat boards, but I’m totally intrigued as I love pleats, but hate all the marking involved in getting them right.

    1. Why thank you! A pleater board is freaking cool, although a bit expensive. My MIL showed me her doll-sized one, which is cardboard and kind of like an accordion. You put the fabric in the folds and then iron it and voila! You have pleats!

  3. Love this dress, it looks so good on and the colour is gorgeous, I’ve not heard of a pleat board before but now I want one (my Christmas list is growing) I do like the idea of pleating the fabric first then cutting.

  4. Your dress is lovely. The details are gorgeous and the color is perfect for you. You look so happy wearing this dress!

  5. Just beautiful! The fabric is perfect as is the color for you. Thanks for being such an inspiration.

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