Sunday, October 7, 2012

A 1950s Dress for Faire!

So, what to do when your local Renaissance faire is about 100 degrees and it's not a faire that suggests authenticity? You make a 1950s sundress, of course!

1950s Faire Dress

With my lucky hobbit button!

Also, We were quite pleased to seethe Guild of St. Ives this year! I wish we had more like them at our faire.

1950s Faire Dress 1950s Faire Dress

We started out pre faire with a picture that begged to be taken--so very 1959, well, except for the background. My dress is from a vintage Advance pattern that was really rather wonky. The shoulders needed about five inches taken out. Now, I know I'm small, but really! The adjustment also made me need a waistband, as I only took about four inches of fabric in the muslin (the shoulders are drawstring--I didn't take the inch or so that that lowered things into consideration), but since I really like the waistband, that's good. The skirt was supposed to be about 90 inches and gathered. Too small, for sure! I box pleated my three panel, about 135 inch skirt instead. I also changed the bodice tucks to darts, as the tucks were extremely unflattering.

The fabric is from my stash--I bought it from Farmhouse Fabrics years ago to make a Regency dressing gown. I still have quite a bit left, actually. It has purple and orange diamonds woven in.

I made the entire dress--fitting to done--in a day. I'm not quite sure what came over me!

1950s Faire Dress 1950s Faire Dress

A few posed costume shot pictures. The accessories are all from Etsy, except the gloves--which I apparently forgot to put on after lunch--that were a gift from a friend. I had bought a pair of vintage shoes which ended up being much too small, so instead I wore modern ones that weren't right, but weren't glaringly wrong either!

1950s Faire Dress 1950s Faire Dress

And a few more angles.


I'm wearing it over a petticoat from Twila's tutorial. Not only is it her tutorial, but she--thankfully--did about half the work and let me use her industrial machine. This is the only project that I haven't completely done myself. Quite a change! However, since we put in a combined total of about 23 hours of work, I'm rather thankful. I think my last authentic faire dress--a 1480s Florentine--took less than 23 hours total. I did do finishing work--the waistband and upper yoke--on my wonky tension machine, but as that was stretch stitch, gathering, and a double sewn seam, all was good.

My petticoat is slightly different than the tutorial, it's 6 not doubled ruffles into six yokes, which are then sewn to one yoke to decrease waist bulk. The top yoke was a piece of fabric about 8 inches deep, sewn right side to the six yokes then flipped over and sewn like a waistband, so the top edge was a fold. That encased the yokes and made a fold at top to gather to the waistband--much easier than gathering the slimy, rolly fabric again!

Kennedy--The Man for the 60s!
I was quite disappointed when I got home that I didn't wear my John F. Kennedy--The Man for the 60s campaign button I have. I did wear it to do volunteer data entry/voter registration/commit to vote cards later that night though, and it was a big hit in the OFA office, so not all is lost!


So, last year, Regency fairies, this year, 1950s, what next year? It should be fun!

LJ tag for the project here!


  1. Fun times. I wore 50s to my Ren Faire once last year and I got so many more compliments on it than I ever did when wearing my actual period dress. Plus, when it's that hot out, it's so much nicer to be comfortable!

  2. Ahh, I remember those days of the 50's. We wore pointy bras, garter belts & stockings, and full slips under our petticoats. I was so happy when the skirts shortened to under the knees in the late 50's. Good job on your 50's outfit.