THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

June 25, 2009

Vintage Vogue: Sheath Dress Pattern

pattern face

I feel certain that I acquired this sheath pattern on EBay, probably in a lot with a few other ‘larger’ size 18 [ note that the bust is 36” with a 39” hip] no doubt thinking that it would be easier to adapt to my larger measurements than most EBay vintage patterns. I know that it came in a batch with several patterns, the same size from the same era, probably from an estate sale where well-meaning relatives have no idea what treasure lies in these old patterns. This one is from 1956.

I love the darts, not just one huge side bust dart, but also the double French darts on the front and back. This gives ample opportunity for fitting. When I traced off the pattern, I added a bit at the side seams as well as the sleeve underarm. I curved out a bit more at the bust, but with all these darts, I can surely find a way to redistribute the necessary ease in a flattering way, all without princess seams.

The long sleeve has 3 darts at the elbow, and there is ease at the back shoulder, without resorting to a dart. The finesse in this simple dress pattern is heart-warming.
pattern obverse
View A is the epitome of the simple stylish sheath with the addition of a wrap. I would kill for the accessories – long gloves, a small pocketbook, and the kitten heels, too. Note the notch slit at the center-back neck for a little intrigue at the neckline.

View B is long sleeve with a button-out contrast dickey at the neckline, for a modest daytime look. The marvelous notch-collar stole has buttons that give it the effect of a jacket.

You can see the pattern pieces clearly on the ‘Identification chart’ included with the instructions.


I have cut my muslin and put together the dress. I am looking for a fitting buddy to help me pin in the sleeves. Looking at it with both sleeves on for fitting will be important for the over all fit. One sleeve will not give the true picture.

I’ll take pictures and report back soon [hopefully]. I have the soft micro polyester crepe that wears like iron and never wrinkles already lined up for the first piece [bought a 25 yard bolt from Kashi at Metro Fabrics in NYC about 3 years ago – this stuff never goes out of style, and is the best for travel.]

SB2I also want point out the length of this dress – pegged and below the knee. It reminds me of the Sandra Bullock posters from her latest movie “The Proposal”. Love that longer length! SB1


  1. Love the pattern. Just the picture on the cover is divine. Can’t wait to see the actual dress.

    Comment by Beth — June 25, 2009 @ 6:46 am

  2. Ah, the perfect sheath dress! I love that leg length as well and think it is probably the most flattering.

    Comment by Bunny — June 25, 2009 @ 6:59 am

  3. What a treasure to have such a beautiful pattern in your stash.
    Looking forward to see this gorgeous timeless sheath dress pattern made up.
    I love the notch collar stole, it looks fabulous.

    Comment by Els — June 25, 2009 @ 7:24 am

  4. Sweet! thanks for pointing out the fine details, Georgene. I would think that all of those precious details could be incorporated into a sheath pattern one has on hand. It is so hard to fit a sheath without a fitting buddy! But it can be done with hours of patience and a mirror or camera. Too bad we couldn’t address your fitting in January. I look forward to seeing your muslin or final.

    Comment by Mary Beth — June 25, 2009 @ 7:25 am

  5. This will be a gorgeous dress. Looking forward to seeing it. I think that’s a good length as well.

    Comment by Trudy Callan — June 25, 2009 @ 8:27 am

  6. Really great details. I was wondering about the length. It is modern but is it flattering on shorter women who are not as slim? The double darts are so much nicer than the horizontal dart and vertical dart combo we so often see these days.

    Comment by Nancy K — June 25, 2009 @ 9:24 am

  7. I’m really looking forward to seeing this made up.

    Comment by Lindsay T — June 25, 2009 @ 10:48 am

  8. This is a very timely post for me. The sheath is the best looking dress pattern for me. I have been playing around with both vintage and modern patterns to develop a sheath sloper. Yesterday I came up with a muslin which I am hoping to post shortly. I love the vintage version with the darts like you mentioned, esp. french darts. Thanks for this post!

    Comment by Cindy — June 25, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

  9. This dress is gorgeous! I would do abs everyday just to wear it.
    I remember my mum had this kind of fake collars, too.

    Comment by vero — June 25, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

  10. MMMMmmm . . . love that stole/jacket thing! Very flattering length, I just saw a picture of a celeb today in a sheath dress at this length, too, and was surprised that the dress was below the knee. Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Summerset — June 25, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

  11. Lovely dress, what a find. I was really struck by the size – 18 – how did we go from 36″ bust being a size 18 in 1956 to being about a size 8 or so now (if I’m right about that)? Was size 18 considered average back then, do you know?

    Comment by catherine — June 25, 2009 @ 10:08 pm

  12. […] Pattern design, sewing Making a sheath or shift dress like the one Georgene is doing now see the previous post can become a staple wardrobe piece. A sheath dress is a timeless design and if you have a good […]

    Pingback by Use Darts to Create Sheath Dress Drama « THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion — June 27, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

  13. I never cease to be amazed by vintage patterns. What a lovely design!

    Comment by Tany — July 2, 2009 @ 10:02 am

  14. […] Georgene, Vintage Sewing, sewing — georgene @ 12:02 am The first fitting of the vintage Vogue sheath dress went as well as could be expected, I guess. I like to fit with both sleeves, so I asked for help. […]

    Pingback by First Fitting, Vintage Sheath « THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion — July 27, 2009 @ 12:03 am

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