Vintage ’40s in Blue and Red

Although this dress is obviously influenced by years past, Bunny Bear Patterns describes her design, “Soda Pop,” as vintage 1940s.  I’m no expert, but I see this more like the 1950s or even the 1960s. The clothes from all these years make me happy, so I guess the point is moot. Here is the dress:

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The bodice fit is this pattern’s best feature. I love the darts in the front and back; few doll clothes patterns include darts. This pattern has no neck facing; it is impossible for me to make my work neat without a facing, or better yet, without a lining for the bodice. I lined the bodice and hand-stitched the hem of the cap sleeve and the lining for it.

For some reason, white collars have almost become a trademark of my doll dresses. I often spend time perusing fabric stores for white print on white so that I can easily mix the white collar or white blouse with a bolder print. This closeup view features this collar in all its glory. Hopefully, you can see the white design on the white background that is machine embroidered. I was a bit nervous about getting this collar even. A mistake is always more obvious with a white collar against a darker colored dress. This collar is just about perfect.

Here are some thoughts about sewing collars, lapels, pockets, ties, or any shape that is sewn together and turned right-side out. This is a bamboo point turner like the one I’ve used for several years. When I started sewing with more delicate fabrics, I added more point turners to my sewing tools. Amazon has a variety of them. In the past, I was so hung up about getting my collars or other items perfectly pointed that I’d accidentally stretch the fabric while trying to shape the corner. I’m learning to hold back. This particular collar was a challenge because the embroidered fabric added bulk to the seam. I trimmed the seam very close to the point before turning the collar. Then I was careful when I turned the collar. My “point” is “round” at the end, but it looks pointed from a distance.

point turner

This pattern suggests using 1/4-inch ribbon. I couldn’t grasp the idea of sewing two rows of stitch on delicate ribbon so I used 1/4-inch double-folded red bias tape. I’m getting pretty good at sewing on bias tape. In case you didn’t know, one side of double-folded bias tape is slightly wider than the other side.

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If you sew on the narrow side, you will be certain to catch both sides without falling off the under side edge. Further more, if you try different presser feet, you can find one that makes sewing very close to the edge easy. I didn’t go off track once with this sewing project. My stitching is not perfect, but it is close to it.

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I’d planned to attach two bows to this finished dress, as the pattern suggests. I’d purchased ribbon that matched the bias tape thinking the similar colors would fool the eye. But I realized that my ribbon was 3/8-inch wide, 1/8-inch too wide. It didn’t look right. I decided to fall back on my favorite rose that I learned to make with McCall’s 6875.

This dress is unequivocally one of my favorite projects EVER. I give the pattern designer much credit for this sweet dress. However, I think the pattern requires lots of experience because the photos aren’t as clear as they could be. I can usually get by relying on the instructions, but I’ve sewn many dresses and only need guidance on the details. I think the pattern would be better if the bodice were lined, like I lined mine. The neck should at least have a facing. Otherwise, there’s just a small clipped 1/4-inch seam on the other side of the neckline.

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You might be able to see how straight my stitching is in the photo above, especially with the red thread on the white lining. I’m not bragging about my talent; I’m showing you a skill I have learned, not based on talent; it’s based on trial and error and figuring out what to focus on in order to sew in a straight line. In this case, the edge of my presser foot lined up close to the edge of the bias tape. I still have trouble controlling the presser foot when I’m sewing over something too thick for the feed dog to work properly. In that case, I’m liable to go off the edge or get stuck.

A little word about using Velcro. I’ve tried pinning it on, and/or basting it, but pushing straight pins through the Velcro and the layers of the garment is difficult, even risky. I’d always stab myself. Now, I use one straight pin for general placement only, and then I hold the strip of Velcro in place with my fingers as I stitch it. I start sewing somewhere in the middle of the long side of the strip, instead of the end; this way the Velcro doesn’t shift out-of-place while I’m stitching over the bumpy beginning of the strip.

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You can find us on Pinterest.

soda pop clip art

10 thoughts on “Vintage ’40s in Blue and Red

  1. In addition to the stunning dress, I can’t get over how great the doll’s bob looks! My daughter has what looks like this same doll, and when I inquired, AG wouldn’t re-wig her sans bangs. The bob on your doll does the bangs justice, though, and she looks absolutely terrific. So brave new of you, and so worth it!

  2. I was thinking of buying this pattern, so I’m so glad you talked about it. I love your version! I,, too, prefer lined bodices, but I’m used to step by step directions. I assume you cut out extra front and backs. I assume you sew shoulder seams first, baste the collar on, and then put the lining bodice right sides together with the bodice. Sew around the neckline and down the back and turn? Then you turned in the hem allowance of the sleeve caps and handsewed them together? It looks like the lower bodice seam is hidden–I assume you hand sewed the lining waist seam after sewing the dress to the bodice? Thanks so much for any advice! I love the nice details of linings! I wish all patterns were constructed with nice details instead of the shortcuts I often see.
    Beautiful dress!!!

    • Hi Kathy, the included instructions are written thoroughly but the photos aren’t clear. I changed a lot, but what I did made common sense. You have described what I did. The included pattern includes what she calls a “back facing,” which is merely an extension of the back seams. I cut quite a bit off. (I don’t understand why she didn’t at least face the neck.) Although the pattern pieces are well-marked (like CENTER BACK), I checked and double-checked the fit before cutting. If you’re using Velcro, you ultimately want the back left to overlap the back right just enough so that the collar meets at the neck in the back. I did not want the side seam showing through the armhole so I hemmed the sleeves after sewing the sides together. To hem the sleeves, I only turned the fabric once for the sleeve and once for the lining. I ironed in the hem (which is the key) and slip-stitched the two together with the lining a tiny bit shorter. I used white that you may see peeking under the sleeve. You might prefer a color that matches the fabric better. I also ironed under about 1/4-inch of the lining at the waist. One of the reasons I line the bodice is to hide all that ugly gathering. I slip-stitched it under after I’d sewn the first ribbon to the bodice.

      The instructions that come with the pattern are good about telling you at what stage to attach the ribbon (or bias tape in my case).

      The online pattern makers are usually very friendly, if you have a question, or you need a clarification. But I am always here to get you feedback. Obviously, you know what you’re doing.

I love getting feedback. Yippee!

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