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.

brooklyn 1

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.

yellow 1950's brooklyn shirt dress

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.

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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15 thoughts on “A 1950’s Yellow Shirtwaist Dress (Simplicity 1459)”

  1. I really love that wide collar! It al fits you so nicely, and the piping was worth the effort! <3

  2. This looks awesome Tanya! You look really good in yellow and I love that belt you made too!

  3. Gorgeous work! I have an aversion to paper patterns but you’re tempting me to go back!

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