Wednesday, September 23, 2015

How to Copy: 1963 Party Dress & Draft an Over Skirt


This adorable vintage illustration from 1963 shows a navy or black brocade cocktail dress with a bustier type bodice and gathered skirt with a folded over-skirt or apron. It has a simple concept that appears more complicated than it is. By using current patterns, it's possible to copy this dress on your own.


The bodice is a simple shape, with a horizontal neckline that has a small notch in the center. By using a similar fitted bodice, and adding that "V" notch in center, the same shape can be created. Black satin ribbons trim this bodice edge, create the straps, belt and edge the overskirt as accents.  A tiny bow is also seen at center front.

The skirt pattern you use can be gathered, semi-circle or "A" line. What gives the distinct look is an overskirt that has a center front opening with front edges folded back. This can be draped over the under skirt and sewn to it around the waist line seam. You can see with this design that the overskirt hem is trimmed up at the sides with black ribbon too. The center back edges of this drape are left open, without a back seam and bound in the black satin ribbon. Ribbon could be used for the hem edge as well.


Both of these dress patterns are a good place to start if you don't have your own bustier dress pattern.

Simplicity 1690 is remarkably similar to this vintage dress, and could be used to make the copy. The vintage overskirt is longer than this pattern, so it may need to be lengthened.

New Look 6457, view "A" has the basic pattern elements. It would need to have the overskirt draped. If you try that method, use muslin or scrap fabric so you can get the right look without using your fashion fabric. It can be a flat width of fabric the same length as the under-skirt.  Fold back the front edges and trim up that angle as shown in the illustration.  Leave the over-skirt open down the back like an apron, so it doesn't need to have a seam or zipper.

To create your own over skirt, using a gathered or "A" line skirt pattern, follow this tutorial. I used small scale patterns to create this, so it will look different than a true pattern you make using full sized patterns.

Because the over skirt folds back, it will need to be fully lined in the same fabric. This will mean that two complete over skirts will be cut from the fashion fabric. Be sure to try a sample layout to estimate your yardage for this so that you have enough fabric for the skirt.


Creating a skirt drape is a fun way to make an original and dramatic dress of you own design, and this style would be flattering to most figure types, creating a unique look with vintage style.

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