Make your own classic 1950's spring dress with this easy tutorial, wear the iconic fit, and flare dress this year!
In this article:
- Skip to Spring in This 1950’s Vintage Dress
- Here’s What You’ll Need for the 1950’s Spring Dress DIY
- How to Sew a Pretty Spring Dress | Step-by-Step Instructions
How to Make a 1950's Spring Dress | Easy DIY Tutorial
Skip to Spring in This 1950’s Vintage Dress
Binge-watching period dramas from the 1950s to the early 60s sparked an interest in me for the vintage fashion of that generation. Costumes from the movies Hairspray, The Help, and the hit TV series Pan Am saw a bevy of the classic fit casual dresses with billowy skirts.
While I love the stories, along the line of empowered women, empowering women, and timely social issues, I couldn't help getting drawn to the costumes. They were flawlessly executed, at least to me, a fashion sewing junkie.
I guess it's safe to say, “prim and proper” defined the 1950's feminine wardrobe, especially the dresses. Fit bodices tapered down and nipped at the closely-defined waistline with flowy, round skirts cut just below the knee were staples of the feminine fashion of that era.
They don't make 'em like that anymore, so I decided to make one on my own. It's my first vintage venture into fashion sewing, so I hunted down the easiest tutorial to follow and I found it in a video from a lovely old soul, Angela Clayton.
It's a cute spring dress in polka dots fabric, another signature of that era. From this easy dress tutorial, you can create your own version or style for vintage spring dresses.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab a few yards of lining and polka dots fabric, and get to sewing your latest chic piece to add to your wardrobe!
Here’s What You’ll Need for the 1950’s Spring Dress DIY:
- 3 yards of polka dots fabric
- 3 yards of cotton broadcloth lining
- Hook and eye closure
- Starch alternative spray
Tip: Different bodies have different measurements, so this tutorial won't be measurement-specific. However, that shouldn't stop you from learning how to sew without a pattern.
How to Sew a Pretty Spring Dress | Step-by-Step Instructions
Spring’s bright sunny weather makes for beautiful days, perfect for flouncing around in a 1950’s cute spring dress you’ve sewn all on your own. So, let's get this DIY spring dress started now!
This 1950’s dress for spring is super chic and makes for an amazing vintage-inspired piece. It’s perfect for a sunny spring day spent outdoors.
Step 1. Pin the Skirt Pattern to the Lining
Use 1/4 of a circle skirt for the skirt pattern. Pin this onto the folded edge of your lining.
Remember to fold your lining in such a way that you'll have a semi-circle once unfolded.
Step 2. Cut Along the Spring Dress Pattern
Once your pins are in place, cut along the pattern to get your lining. Repeat steps one and two to get two pieces of your semi-circle linings for making the full circle skirt of this vintage dress.
Step 3. Place Lining on Fabric and Cut
Pin the cloth lining to your fabric. Then, cut around it. Repeat the process to have two semi-circle pieces of your polka dot fabric.
Step 4. Cut a Line for the Zipper
Cut a straight line down the center of one of your fabric half-circles. Doing so will help you attach the zipper later.
Step 5. Sew the Fabric Pieces Together
Attach pins to the sides of your polka dot fabric, and sew half-inch stitches at the seams. Make sure not to sew the back seam you just cut.
Step 6. Sew the Lining Pieces Together
Similar to the polka dot fabric pieces, you’ll want to repeat step five for the two lining pieces.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a sewing machine. You can simply sew by hand.
Step 7. Iron the Seams
Iron the seams on both sides of the fabric to smoothen them out. Then, let the skirts hang overnight. Doing so will prevent the skirt from having an uneven hemline.
Step 8. Spray Starch Alternative on Fabric
Spray a few spritzes of starch alternative onto your fabric. This will help stiffen the fabric a bit. Don’t forget to go over it with an iron after.
Step 9. Cut Bodice Pattern
Place the bodice patterns onto your lining. Pin them in place to keep them from moving, then cut along the sides.
Step 10. Mark the Darts
Mark the darts with a pencil. Remember to mark only on the wrong side of the fabric. Then, remove the pins. Connect the marks you’ve made with the help of a ruler.
Step 11. Cut the Fabric for the Spring Dress Bodice
Place the bodice pattern on your polka dot fabric and place pins on the sides. Then, cut along the sides. By the way, you can opt to cut the front panels one by one to help make the polka dots look symmetrical.
Step 12. Mark the Dart Lines
Don’t forget to mark the dart lines with chalk. Use a ruler to help you maintain a straight line.
Step 13. Align and Cut Fabric
Place the fabric you’ve just cut on the rest of your polka dot fabric with the wrong sides facing each other. Make sure the polka dots are lined up, then, pin the fabrics together and cut. Once cut, mark the dart lines as well.
Step 14. Cut Fabric for Back of the Bodice
Repeat steps 11 to 13 for the back part of the bodice. For this part, it’s not necessary to have the polka dots lined up.
Step 15. Pin Darts Together
Pin the darts you’ve previously marked. Take note, the pins should go through on both sides of the fabric to make it easier to sew on.
Step 16. Sew the Darts
Sew the darts on. Need a tip for making your darts look smooth? Simply sew past the point where it tapers off.
Step 17. Attach Panels Together
Iron the front panels then, pin them together. Make sure the darts line up within the seam. Repeat the process with the lining cloth as well.
Step 18. Sew the Seams
Sew the seams together, placing a half an inch seam allowance on the edge. You should have a Y-like pattern on the front part of the bodice after.
Step 19. Prep the Spring Dress Bodice
Begin by placing a few snips on the tight corners of the bodice, then, pin along those ends. Repeat this step to the lining cloth.
Step 20. Sew the Spring Dress Bodice
Sew along the pinned edges, leaving a half-inch seam allowance. Next, sew along the shoulder seams as well.
Do this on both the polka dot fabric and lining cloth.
Step 21. Sew the Spring Dress Sleeves
One of the great things about this tutorial is how the pattern of the bodice already contains the sleeves. To begin working on them, iron the seams you’ve just sewed on.
Then, stitch the sleeves, leaving a half-inch allowance from the seam. Doing so will give you a guide when turning the hem of the sleeves inward.
Step 22. Attach the Fabric to the Lining
Pin the polka dot fabric to the lining cloth along the neckline and back edge. Don’t forget to line the major corners and seams first.
From there, you can line going outward. Once pinned, sew the two pieces together.
Step 23. Clip Corners
Snip the corners and edges so you can turn over those points a little smoother. Once snipped, turn the bodice with the correct side facing out.
Step 24. Pin and Sew Back Edges
Pin the back edges together and sew. When sewing, remember it’s best to stay as close to the seam as you can.
Step 25. Pin and Sew the Sleeves
Turn the edges of the sleeves inward, then, pin them in place. Double-check to ensure there are no raw edges sticking out.
You can do this by tucking the two fabrics inward on its own. Once you’re happy with the pin placements, sew them together, leaving a fourth of an inch allowance.
Step 26. Pin Pattern and Trim Skirt
Place the pattern on top of your skirt and trim if necessary.
Step 27. Sew the Spring Dress Skirt
With both the right sides of the fabric facing each other, sew around the skirt’s edge, leaving a half-inch allowance. Remember to be careful when turning the skirt to sew, so the seam allowance remains equal in all areas.
Tip: If you’ve made a mistake, simply trim the excess seam allowance after.
Step 28. Sew the Hem of the Spring Dress Skirt
Turn the skirt right side facing out, and pin the edges. Sew across the hem, leaving a half-inch allowance on the edge.
Step 29. Secure the Pieces
Secure the pieces together by sewing on a top stitch across the waistline and top edges.
Step 30. Iron the Hems
Make the hemlines nice and smooth, by running an iron over them.
Step 31. Attach the Bodice to the Skirt
Attach the bodice to the skirt by finding the center point of both and placing a pin in. Then, continue pinning going outward. Once you’re done, sew these together with a half-inch seam allowance.
Step 32. Sew on Tape
Cover the raw edge of the fabric by sewing on a strip of tiny bias tape.
Step 33. Sew to Attach the Zipper
Follow the instructions that come with your zipper when sewing this onto the back seam of the clothing. I recommend using a top stitch for this step.
Step 34. Attach the Hook and Eye Closure
Finally, attach the hook and eye for your dress. A simple hand sewing will do the job for you.
And there you have it! A flattering 1950's spring midi dress you made yourself.
You’re now ready to rock the vintage look with this 1950’s dress. Do a little twirl and you’re all set for a beautiful spring day ahead.
Press play to watch the full video tutorial on the 1950’s spring dress courtesy of Angela Clayton:
I hope you love this 1950’s spring dress tutorial as much as I do. To be honest, I’ve made two of these dresses already. One’s in navy blue and another’s in black.
I'm eyeing a pretty fabric with a floral print to work on next. I can’t help it. They’re just so stylish!
Will you be making this 1950’s dress this weekend? Let us know in the comments section below.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published 0n May 1, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.