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1950's Strapless Cocktail Dress

Added Aug 9, 2011

by Peter Lappin

New York, United...






I made this strapless cocktail dress from McCall’s 9152, a vintage pattern from 1952 I bought on Etsy. It has a lined, boned bodice (my first) and is being worn with two net crinolines I made myself! This is one of my all-time favorite vintage projects and I learned a lot in creating it. My cousin Cathy loves it!

You can see more pics and read more about the construction process on my blog, Male Pattern Boldness.

More about the crinoline here.

Material Notes

The dress is made from a polished cotton rose print I found in the Garment District in NYC. For the bodice lining I used a piece of an old cotton sheet. There’s a lapped side zipper and a twill tape waist stay. In the bodice I used spiral steel boning (and pre-made cotton casing) from Steinlauf and Stoller in NYC.

The crinolines are made from stiff nylon net trimmed with polyester satin ribbon. One has an elastic waistband and the other a twill tape drawstring.

The wrap is simple nylon tulle.




Summer, Spring
Garment Type
Evening Wear

25 Comments Sign in to add a post

  • Img_0258_large

    Feb 7, 2012, 09.42 AMby buddingnaturalist

    I love Cathy. Her pose is so much bettern than the one on the pattern envelope. Cathy for president ( I would vote if she ran-espcially in this dress).

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Feb 20, 2012, 02.10 AMby Peter Lappin

      Thanks — maybe she’ll run some day!

  • 199790_10150156910048536_821278535_6660481_7663481_n_1__large

    Sep 10, 2011, 07.22 PMby mausflee

    You are a genius, very nicely done!

    1 Reply
  • 199790_10150156910048536_821278535_6660481_7663481_n_1__large

    Sep 10, 2011, 07.20 PMby mausflee

    you really are genius, very nicely done!

  • 199790_10150156910048536_821278535_6660481_7663481_n_1__large

    Sep 10, 2011, 07.19 PMby mausflee

    you really are genius, very nicely done!

  • Pc310016_large

    Aug 11, 2011, 07.33 PMby peaches2218

    Cathy looks just lovely! The print is a gorgeous match to the dress. This might be one of my Cathy favourites.

  • Il_430xn_156061385_large

    Aug 11, 2011, 08.46 AMby suzetewilliams

    You go Cathy! Beautiful dress, beautiful fabric. I have a similar pattern and I now feel inspired to make it. Great job Peter. I have to say that I feel slightly jealous of Cathy though… what a figure! :-)

  • Img_1436_large

    Aug 11, 2011, 02.20 AMby Melanie Wahjudi

    Oooh, Cathy’s dress is gorgeous! The photos are dreamy! Even attempting a boned bodice and crinolines is so brave, you pulled it all together beautifully _ Thanks for sharing and inspiring! <3

  • Miniman_wants_love_large

    Aug 11, 2011, 01.22 AMby boppygreen

    Another stunner! Wow, just, wow. How beautifully delicate. I love it.

  • Holliebell_large

    Aug 10, 2011, 09.35 PMby freakusbzzz

    Hi peter,

    Does Kathy wear her dresses after the photo shoots? Or do you just keep them as a collection to admire.

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Aug 10, 2011, 10.14 PMby Peter Lappin

      Right now they just hang in the closet — but you never know!

  • Yosh_016_large

    Aug 10, 2011, 08.20 PMby ayoshi

    Beautifull pictures ! and that dress is a real eye catcher ! Great job !

  • Missing

    Aug 10, 2011, 07.10 PMby denise2003

    Beautiful! Great job. This caught my eye immediately.

  • Marina_large

    Aug 10, 2011, 04.28 PMby Marina von Koenig

    Love Cathy! great posts on your blog – loved the petticoat construction series!

  • Fb2227aaf242c0d041dbcd583baae4e4ccfba73d_large

    Aug 10, 2011, 08.37 AMby loulourosa

    what a wonderfull dress, and those nice pictures! great!

  • Dscf6507_large

    Aug 10, 2011, 07.51 AMby urbandon

    Wonderful! Cathy is such a stunner and knows all the correct poses! Love it so much!

  • Dsc09595avatar_large

    Aug 10, 2011, 06.12 AMby Ralf Schmitz

    dear peter! please tell your cousin that i love her new hairstyle (it suits her so well and is both, feminin and stylish!) and to you my friend: my deepest admiration and all compliments to you for such a beautiful dress. the material, the pattern and last but not least the way you finish your project shows your high quality working skills. BRAVO!

  • Me__large

    Aug 10, 2011, 05.38 AMby blmfld

    what a fantastic job!!!

  • Big_tri_large

    Aug 10, 2011, 04.27 AMby cantare

    OMG she looks abs darling and the fabric is so perfect for the pattern it’s practically time travel!

  • Img_3333_large

    Aug 10, 2011, 04.03 AMby redviv

    It looks like the photo shoot was a riot of fun and all that construction effort has well and truly paid off. Lovely, lovely work.

  • Dodo_large

    Aug 9, 2011, 10.37 PMby lila-1

    Its BEAUTIFUL. Was the boning hard to do? I have never used it before either (because it SOUNDS hard!) and sometimes I think a garment really needs it. Does it help to stop the strapless dress from slipping down while its being worn?

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Aug 9, 2011, 11.17 PMby Peter Lappin

      Not hard at all (though I also thought it would be). The steel boning is completely flexible, and comes in a cotton casing, which you simply stitch on — usually along a seam allowance or wherever you need extra support. Yes, the boning holds the dress up, as does the waist stay. It’s like a skeleton.

  • 7477921d82b9cd62dad6abe75756cb0b30ea2282_large

    Aug 9, 2011, 10.28 PMby flowergirl22

    i just want to say how great you are with wearing the dress like you are,, fab,,

    1 Reply
  • Img_2769_large

    Aug 9, 2011, 10.16 PMby mollykatherine

    LOVE it! the pictures are adorable!

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Aug 9, 2011, 11.18 PMby Peter Lappin

      Thanks, Mollykatherine!

  • Missing

    Aug 9, 2011, 08.06 PMby anneecharri

    really beautiful and inspiring!

    1 Reply
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    Aug 9, 2011, 07.24 PMby mkonieczki

    SUCCESS!!! This is lovely!

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Aug 9, 2011, 11.19 PMby Peter Lappin

      Thanks — I’m pleased with the way it turned out. I had my doubts…

  • 1_copy_large

    Aug 9, 2011, 06.27 PMby dottty

    O Gooooooooooooooooooooorgeous jj:)x

    1 Reply
  • Tea_party_qui_large

    Aug 9, 2011, 06.10 PMby jacquipardue

    the dress is gorgeous! and i just love the shoes :)

    1 Reply
    • Jeans_sew_along_best_large

      Aug 9, 2011, 11.18 PMby Peter Lappin

      Thanks, Jacqui — Salvation Army specials!

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