Start your sewing adventure with us.

Join Seamwork Now

Behind the Seams

Take a look behind the seams of a stunning midcentury cocktail dress.

Posted in: Style & Wardrobe • November 30, 2015

Every year I aim to make a special cocktail dress just for the purpose of wearing to the large number of social gatherings that always seem to pop up this time of year. This dress never becomes a reality, inevitably a mounting to-do list wins, and I wear the same little black dress I have been refashioning with necklaces and scarves for years.

When I first laid eyes on this stunning vintage piece I knew this dress was a physical manifestation of my dream holiday dress. It has it all rich color, fascinating details, and of course, faux fur. The gorgeous unexpected design details create an overall swoon-worthy effect.

This midcentury dress features a form-fitting silhouette sewn to fit the body with little ease. It's made of a vivid cranberry wool knit and lined with a woven cotton. The cotton lining adds stability while the knit exterior helps to achieve soft shaping.

The high v-neck is trimmed with high-quality faux fur. The faux fur is stabilized with twill tape and hand sewn to the neckline of the dress. This detail is not original to the dress and was added by one of the owners, presumably as a means of closure and modesty for the front wrap-styled neckline.

The upper bodice has an empire waist, finishing right beneath the bust. The bodice is cut in two pieces with an extension in the center front, which creates the wrapped belt detail.

The fitted kimono sleeve is shaped by a two-piece underarm gusset that extends all the way to the hem of the sleeve. This gusset is edgestitched to control the seam allowance at the underarm.

Contoured darts create shaping at the waistline in both the front and back skirt. The waistline is further emphasized by the wrap belt.

A center back lapped zipper finishes the dress. The zipper is expertly installed, and rayon stay tape stabilizes the center back to avoid a lettucing effect when installing the zipper.

Rayon stay tape is also used on the inside of the dress. The gussets, facing, hemline, and back vent are all stabilized with this trim. The lining of the dress is treated as a backing. All seam allowances are exposed and finished with a simple straight stitch.

The hemline of this dress features a short back vent to allow for ease in movement. The hem is hand sewn for a clean finish.

Model Ching Ching Wong appears courtesy of NW Dance Project

Join the Conversation

Sign in or become a Seamwork member to comment on this article.

Sign in            Join Seamwork

You May Also Like

Explore More Seamwork

Seamwork members have access to hundreds of patterns, with two new patterns available each month. Membership starts at just $15 per month!