Ladies’ 1958 Party Dress Pattern

By Jennie Chancey


I grew up watching classic films with my parents and siblings and always sighed over the beautiful dresses worn by some of my favorite ladies of the golden era. Doris Day, Kathryn Grayson, and Grace Kelly just seemed to me the epitome of feminine elegance, and I begged my mother for full-skirted dresses to match the ones I loved on film. I’ve felt for the past several years that it was time to add the 1950s to my pattern lineup, and when the 1950s won my customer poll in late 2010, I knew it was time to get cracking!

I’ve had many requests from customers for an easy dress pattern that even a beginner could tackle. I decided to create something that would provide glamorous results without tears for beginners and also satisfy long-time vintage fashion enthusiasts. I hope this pattern fills the bill!

  • All sizes from 6-26 included in one envelope.
  • Illustrated instructions make construction easy!
  • Kimono-sleeve bodice style makes this a great starter pattern for sewing newbies.
  • Options for fun daytime dress and for evening gown with long skirt and dramatic “V” back.
  • Bonus instructions in the appendix for creating a full-skirted crinoline petticoat.
  • Download the yardage chart for this pattern.
  • ePattern available for instant download!
  • Girls’ version also available!
Paper Pattern $17.95
ePattern $9.95

A huge thank-you goes out to Katrina Casey over at Edelweiss Patterns, who offered to test-sew the new pattern for me and create four model dresses. Her glorious work is showcased above. My jaw dropped when I saw these fantastic dresses! Be sure to visit Katrina’s site and check out her beautiful line of “Sound of Music” patterns! The other photos are from a shoot we did here in Nairobi with the talented Steve Anderson and D. David Morin of Slingshot Productions–all inspired by Ruth Orkin’s iconic “American Girl in Italy,” which served as yet another muse for this pattern. We’ve got a special treat coming up from these images (and more like Orkin’s original series) so stay tuned!

45 Comments on Ladies’ 1958 Party Dress Pattern

  1. Brigid
    October 8, 2012 at 3:50 pm (2 years ago)

    I think I might have found the perfect pattern for my 16th birthday dress! I can envision it now…
    Thank you Mrs. Chancey for your wonderful line of beautiful patterns.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you, Brigid! I’d love to see your dress when you finish it!

      Reply
  2. Gracelyn
    October 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm (2 years ago)

    Mrs. Chancey,

    You’ve done it again! This is a BEAUTIFUL dress!!!! I showed my mom it and she said “Ah! Oh yes!” This dress is absolutely beautiful! Thank you so much for all the beautiful work you do!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 9, 2012 at 6:03 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you, Gracelyn! I am so glad you and your mother both like the design!

      Reply
  3. Deanna
    October 8, 2012 at 5:20 pm (2 years ago)

    It’s lovely and so versatile going from day to evening.

    I’m not sure I’d want to cook with the crinoline on but I think it would be just as lovely without it.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 9, 2012 at 6:03 am (2 years ago)

      Hi, Deanna! Yes, it works just as nicely without the crinoline. The photo shoot we did in Nairobi (coming soon!) showcases two dresses of linen without the crinoline. The drape is lovely. Thanks for the comments!

      Reply
  4. Melissa
    October 8, 2012 at 9:48 pm (2 years ago)

    The red evening gown is exquisite! I hardly ever get to sew for myself. This might have me looking for some red silk! What is your dress made of? I love it!

    Reply
  5. Taylor
    October 9, 2012 at 7:33 am (2 years ago)

    I am so going to make this dress one day! It is absolutely Stunning! :)

    Reply
  6. Adriana
    October 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm (2 years ago)

    This is a beautiful pattern and versatile. I love that is is so feminine, yet practical. With my birthday and Christmas just around the corner, I can see some lovely dresses. I can’t wait to see the girl’s dress. I would love to make matching dresses.

    Reply
  7. Katrina @ Edelweiss Patterns
    October 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm (2 years ago)

    Hello, Melissa!

    I’m so glad you liked the red gown. :) The whole gown is made from a lightweight taffeta, though you can hardly see it with the overlays! The bodice is overlaid with an embroidered organza lace (similar to a Schiffli), and the skirt is overlaid with glitter tulle. The waistline belt and the rose at the skirt hem are both constructed from wired, double-faced satin ribbon.

    Hope this answers your questions!

    Katrina

    Reply
  8. Natalie
    October 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm (2 years ago)

    Oh my, what a pretty neckline this dress has, and what a pretty silhouette all the way around. I am not usually a 50′s fan, but this is a keeper. Pre-ordering very soon. I can see making a pretty top out of it, too, with a side closure. Thanks so much,

    Natalie in KY

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 10, 2012 at 8:06 am (2 years ago)

      Thanks so much, Natalie! I can’t wait to get the photos up of the Kenyan version, which is made of drapey linen-cotton blend. Making a top would be darling–you’ll have to share photos when you do that!

      Reply
  9. Laura
    October 9, 2012 at 7:58 pm (2 years ago)

    Love this dress, especially the long length style! I’m interested in ordering, I just like the e-patterns better than the hard copy. I have 4 daughters and we use and use and use the patterns. Can’t wait for this one.

    Reply
  10. Joy Hobs
    October 10, 2012 at 1:50 am (2 years ago)

    I like them all, but my FAV is the evening gown! I have many of my own patterns, and some very hard to find, so I am going to make another one right after I get this costumes my current customer!!

    Reply
  11. Elizabeth
    October 10, 2012 at 7:07 am (2 years ago)

    Jenni, I can absolutely see my daughter wanting one of these for a princess dress. That was the first thing I thought of when I saw the blue evening gown above. Beautiful job, once again. And Katrina – I love that blue gingham with the red accents. So cute!

    Reply
  12. Jennie Chancey
    October 10, 2012 at 8:14 am (2 years ago)

    Hi, Laura! I should be able to get the ePattern worked out by early next week, so stay tuned!

    Reply
  13. Terri
    October 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm (2 years ago)

    These patterns are wonderful and just in time! My daughter is engaged andl lives vintage! I will be showing them to her and hopefully ordering soon. Love! Love! Love!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm (2 years ago)

      Congrats to your daughter, Terri! This makes up as a beautiful bridesmaids’ dress! ;)

      Reply
  14. Lyric
    October 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm (2 years ago)

    Cute for a young girl/lady.

    Reply
  15. j arnett
    October 17, 2012 at 12:46 am (2 years ago)

    this dress is beautiful, but is there any way to resize it? i am a size 24 in regular clothes, which is a bit bigger than your largest size :( if you could email me about this, i would appreciate it!! it is so hard to find plus sized dresses that arent absolutely hideous!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 17, 2012 at 8:59 am (2 years ago)

      Hi, Jamie! I have step-by-step instructions for resizing any pattern to fit your measurements perfectly at http://sensibility.com/blog/tips/how-to-resize-a-pattern. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to fit all the sizes I’d like to into the pattern sheet budget, but sizing up is very easy–especially for this pattern, as it has only a bodice front and bodice back to change (you can add width to the skirt, but it’s very full already and really won’t need anything added). Hope this helps!

      Reply
  16. Mary H.
    October 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm (2 years ago)

    The neckline, though pretty, looks very wide. Is it very difficult to adjust if one is small in the shoulders and back?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 21, 2012 at 10:31 am (2 years ago)

      Hi, Mary! It’s actually quite easy to bring in the neckline if you have narrow shoulders. You can simply cut the neckline curve inward, adding the needed amount at the shoulder. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  17. Serena
    October 24, 2012 at 8:06 am (2 years ago)

    Another beautiful dress, Mrs. Chancey!

    Reply
  18. Celeste Ashley Kostyniuk
    October 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm (2 years ago)

    This is just beautiful! I love how it is made up, especially with the dotted fabric in the retro kitchen!

    Reply
  19. ladydetemps
    October 29, 2012 at 7:24 am (2 years ago)

    I think the dresses look beautiful. I have a quick question is there an option for a long sleeve version? And do the kimono sleeves have a gusset? (I’m thinking of using it for dancing in).

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 29, 2012 at 9:39 am (2 years ago)

      Hi there! No option for long sleeves on the sheet, as it would have made the pieces too large to fit economically, but it is VERY easy to lengthen kimono sleeves if you like. Just add about 1/2 yard to your amount to provide room to cut the sleeves out the full width of the material. No gusset, either, but I think you’ll be surprised at the freedom of movement this dress affords. If you still want more room, it’s a cinch to add a triangular gusset beneath the arm. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  20. 1812lynette
    November 10, 2012 at 11:32 am (2 years ago)

    Any word on when the e-pattern will be up? I’m not normally a 1950′s fan but I love the look of the Ruth Orkin dress and will make mine in linen. Thank you for all your wonderful dress patterns!

    Reply
  21. Jennie Chancey
    November 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi, Lynette! I can put it together quite fast, but I can’t upload it until I’ve got the new site together, as I’m changing storage servers and shopping carts. Madly coding as fast as I can. Thanks!

    Reply
  22. Gertrude
    November 28, 2012 at 8:14 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Jennie!
    I am making this dress and the girls’ version for my six daughters. I am almost finished with the Ladies’ version for my 14 yo daughter. I love how easily it goes together, and it fits her perfectly. I definitely appreciate your directions for making the toile! I am using a nice cotton fabric and chose the version with the contrasting piping. My question is (since I have several more to make for her younger sisters), what are your thoughts about lining the bodice AND using piping? Would that make for a bulky neckline?
    Thank you for this lovely pattern!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      November 28, 2012 at 9:15 am (2 years ago)

      Hello! Yes, you absolutely can use both lining and piping. Just be sure to “grade” the seam allowance at the neckline before clipping curves to reduce the bulk. I can’t wait to see what you’re creating!

      Reply
  23. JC
    December 1, 2012 at 8:04 am (2 years ago)

    Truly for beginners? Even if I’ve never put in a zipper? :-). Thank you.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      December 1, 2012 at 9:22 pm (2 years ago)

      Absolutely! I’ve done step-by-step illustrated zipper instructions, and I’ve also got links to visual tutorials in my Tips section. Have fun!

      Reply
  24. Gertrude
    April 18, 2013 at 8:10 am (1 year ago)

    Hi, Jennie! I’ve made this lovely dress for each of my daughters, and they get so many compliments that I’m about to embark on one for myself! But I’m wondering if it would be far-fetched to add nursing modifications? Thanks ever so much for this truly delightful pattern! (My first time to put in a zipper and it was a “snap”, with a little patience!)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 18, 2013 at 9:08 am (1 year ago)

      Hi, Gertrude! Yes, you can absolutely put in a nursing panel. Just follow the instructions in my 1914 Afternoon Dress pattern at http://sensibility.com/pattern/1914help.htm. You don’t need a waistband, though. The top can just button to the interlining beneath. Hope this helps! So glad you’ve enjoyed using the pattern for your daughters. My girls love the full skirt!

      Reply
  25. Jessica
    December 30, 2013 at 7:49 pm (7 months ago)

    Hello! I was wondering how well you think this pattern would make up as a wedding dress. I need a pattern that is modest enough that I don’t need to make a lot of alterations, as I’m still not confident in my sewing abilities. Do you have any other patterns that you think might work based on the silhouette? What modifications might I need to make with this one? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      December 30, 2013 at 9:24 pm (7 months ago)

      Hi, Jessica! This would make an absolutely adorable vintage 1950s-style wedding dress! If you run a search for 1950s wedding gowns on Google, you’ll see a lot of examples of tea-length dresses in this style (a LOT with lace overlay on the bodice and skirt). And if you want a floor-length dress, you can always lengthen the skirt panels. Very easy! Other than that, no modifications required. Happy sewing!

      Reply
  26. Esther
    April 18, 2014 at 4:42 am (4 months ago)

    I love this pattern – I’m thinking of making it for a simple black recital dress. My question is, is it going to be flattering on a not-amazing figure? Some styles make me look like a tree trunk, rather than shaping. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 19, 2014 at 1:56 pm (3 months ago)

      Hi, Esther! This hourglass shape is flattering on just about any figure (though harder to fit to an apple shape). I highly recommend making the optional crinoline (instructions included) to create the fuller skirt. Have fun!

      Reply
  27. Anna Grace
    June 6, 2014 at 6:10 am (2 months ago)

    Mrs. Chancey! I adore the pattern you have here, and I was wondering, does this dress require a zipper, or is it just a slip-over-the-head style? Thank you for making such lovely modest patterns! :)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      June 6, 2014 at 8:22 pm (2 months ago)

      Thanks, Anna Grace! The dress has a back zipper. If you’ve never done a zipper, I have lots of illustrations in the instructions and a link from my Tips section to an invisible zipper tutorial. Happy Sewing!

      Reply

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