Completed: 1947 Tiki Dress

I never expected to participate in the Vintage Pattern Pledge. Sure, it’s a wonderful initiative and I love vintage designs, but my luck buying vintage patterns was not always the best. First, I can’t find them locally, so I have to buy online, and the times I’ve done it the pattern didn’t fit me at all. They were always huge, so for me it was more a gamble than anything. But then I discovered that sells a few vintage reproductions with several sizes in each envelope, so I knew that it was this or nothing. I purchased three patterns, and this B5209 is the first I decided to make.

It’s a beauty, right? I had several possible fabrics to make this, and at first I was not sure about which version to make. View B would be more appropriate for spring but there’s always something that irrationally attracted me from halter dresses, so I made view A. Finally I did something completely unexpected and used a fabric that I purchased more than a year ago by the kilo. It was two one meter and a half pieces, enough for a dress. I haven’t used it before because I usually avoid green (10 years wearing a green uniform makes that to you), but it seems this year I’m learning to wear it again.

As you can see, I have omitted the front and back seams on bodice and skirt pieces. My print is busy and I didn’t think that these seams would add much. And this way I also saved a little bit of fabric.

As you can see I modified the back piece quite a bit. The original shape was not bra friendly at all, and that would have made me leave the dress in the closet forever. I quite like the new shape though. And BTW, I always had a skinny back, but it has broadened a bit since doing pilates and capoeira. It seems huge on this picture. You can see how I modified the back piece in the picture below, and how the original design was meant to be.

I made a size 8, although my measurements corresponded to a size 10. It’s snug but I can breath perfectly. I’m not sure if I’d have liked a loser fit. I had to shorten the straps a create a wedge close to the side to make it fit. Usually one should shorten the midriff piece, but this wouldn’t have worked for me. I must have a weird shape, because I often have to shorten the area between shoulders and bust. The halter needed some “burrito” construction that was not completely clear on the pattern instructions, but it was not difficult to visualize and and make.

With those mods the dress fits perfectly. I had a gaping issue on both sides of the neckline, probably because I stretched the fabric while sewing, but I fixed like I did with my Cambie (original tutorial here), with some twill tape and I have to report that I’m very happy with this fix. No more gaping, yay!

The bodice, according to the instructions, is self lined. This part of the construction reminded me a lot of the Lonsdale Dress. Some design lines are the same, and it’s also self lined. As my fabric was a bit thin, and you could see a bit through the white parts, I decided to line the bodice with some while batiste from my stash. I think it brings out the color making it look much better. I didn’t have enough for the skirt, so I went to the closest haberdashery in search for a similar fabric and came back with the most similar one, a white muslin that was a bit more stiff than my batiste. I gathered skirt and lining together and I think the muslin gives the skirt the right oomph. Here a picture from the dress innards. It looks so neat and pretty. Also, because I’ve used a different fabric for the lining, I have only used 1,5 m for the entire dress, so I have another equal piece left (that I’m already using for something else).

This is my first time working with so much gathers (and my first gathered skirt). I usually avoid them for fear that will make my bottom look bigger (than it already is) and also because somehow I thought they looked kind of messy. I see now that they can look fine when made right, and that is sewing three lines of stitching, being one of them at the seam allowance and the others inside it, then pulling the thread on the right side of the fabric and distribute the gathers evenly. I have learned that I don’t dislike gathers, and I may make them again in the future.

The hem is sewn by hand with some petersham added to give some structure to my soft fabric. It took me a while but totally worth it. The lining is hemmed by machine, nobody sees that.

The zipper, hook and eye are not my best jobs, but they are still decent. Probably I should have stabilized my fabric with some interfacing. And BTW, I loved that this dress doesn’t use any darts or interfacing. Those two steps are often things I don’t enjoy so much and that require a lot of precision.

I’m looking forward to summery weather to be able to wear this dress. Made with a not so loved fabric and a pattern that I didn’t know if it was going to work, I didn’t have very high expectations. But you know? I really love this dress, and it takes so little fabric that you can make as many as you want. I have some black satin that I bought some years ago and I didn’t know what to use it for. I think it would make a lovely dress .


  1. What a nice dress and you look adorable in it! It suits you very well, and the fabric plus your styling gives it a bit of “exotic” feeling. I think you managed the fit of the bodice really good, wich I think is not easy on this dress! I think I will put this Dress on my summer-sew-list πŸ˜‰

    1. Thank you Yacurama! I was a bit disappointed when I tried the muslin, but I like the final dress after the modifications. I like exotic styles, it should be my hunger for summer πŸ˜‰

  2. Te ha quedado precioso, y te sienta estupendamente!
    Te ves realmente guapa con Γ©l, y la flor en el pelo.
    Ahora a esperar el solito para estrenarlo!

  3. Your dress is gorgeous! I love the fabric, and also how you raised the back of the bodice. It definately makes it more wearable. The innards look brilliant, and the gathered skirt is lovely on you. I don’t own any vintage patterns, the fact they are usually only one size puts me off. These multi size reproduction patterns are a much better idea.

    1. I had the same problem as you with vintage patterns, but I think reproductions are a very good alternative. I’m also happy with the raised back. I wouldn’t have worn it like it was originally. Thank you for your kind words Lynne!

  4. I love your dress! And, I love your attention to detail. The inside is as beautiful as the outside. πŸ™‚

    I think it would look great in black satin!

    1. Thank you! I was not sure if I was going to like the end result but I decided to put effort on it because badly finished garments are never really loved, and I would always regret it. Luckily I loved the dress πŸ˜€

      1. I feel the same way. I try to pay attention to the details because it really makes a difference on how I feel about the garment in the long run. πŸ™‚ I love that this is a vintage pattern too!

  5. You really did a great job! I adore your hem: It’s so clear and precise! The lining is so chic! May I say that I don’t like gathering too? I still have to find the perfect project :)! Besos chica!

    1. Thank you Nico! The hem really paid off. I have to say that I like gathering a little bit more now, after making this dress, but I think it has to be done in a neat way. It’s so easy to make it look messy!

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