A 1950’s Yellow Shirtwaist Dress (Simplicity 1459)
Hello there, readers!
I’m super excited to share this dress with you. It’s one that I’ve dreamed about for a while and I’m so happy to see it come to fruition. It’s even more delightful than I expected with little vintage details that turn what could have been a plain dress into an interesting frock.
This dress was inspired by one of my favorite films — Brooklyn. The film takes place in the 1950’s and the main character — Eilis — wears a gorgeous yellow shirtwaist dress in many of the scenes. I love shirt dresses and 1950’s silhouettes, so I decided that it was a great time to sew my own film-inspired dress.
I decided to use Simplicity 1459, a shirt dress pattern that I’ve had success with (my other two versions are here). For my third iteration I chose a yellow stretch cotton broadcloth which worked wonderfully for this dress. It’s not exactly like Eilis’s dress, but my look is inspired, not a literal interpretation.
I made the sleeveless version of this pattern and left it unlined (I’m wearing a light cotton petticoat with dress). I finished this just in time for a trip to NYC and as it was super hot and humid in the city, I’m happy that I didn’t make the bodice too fitted.
I made a self-fabric matching belt for this dress which really pulls together the entire look. I thought about using a covered buckle kit, but I had this vintage bakelite buckle in my stash which matched perfectly, so I went with that instead. Slide buckles aren’t exactly my favorite as I tend to fiddle with them and adjust them throughout the day. I made sure to make the belt longer so that I could tuck the end in.
I added piping to the lapel, collar and button band, which proved to be a little bit of a daunting task due to the notches on the lapel. I ended up altering the notches to work with the piping, which I think works so well with the solid color of this dress.
I had some beautiful yellow floral buttons picked out for this dress, but when it was time to sew them on, I decided that they competed too much with the other details dress, that I went with covered buttons instead.
I graded this pattern up to about a size 26. The only alteration I made was a swayback adjustment to the back bodice. I kept the length of the skirt, which is a little shorter on me than a 1950’s skirt would normally be, but I like this length as it fits the contemporary retro aesthetic that I gravitate towards.
This dress was a joy to sew and fun to wear. Sadly, I didn’t wear it to Brooklyn while I was in New York, but I did sport it in Little Italy, SoHo, Battery Park, and on the Staten Island Ferry.