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An Evening at the Symphony

Added Mar 17, 2011

by lauramae

Novato, Californ...






EVA DRESS 50-883 Evening or Day Dress, circa 1956
Vogue Couturier Design 883

Eva Dress patterns come on a sturdy bond paper that will last forever and take a beating, however, the paper does not behave anything like fabric, so I find it much easier to work with a traced muslin. I also transfer over any markings and print the pattern name and piece on my muslin in sharpie pen. For ease of use, I also add “cut one on fold,” etc. to the pieces so I will not have to constantly refer to the cutting layout.

It turns out that the drapery interfacing pattern piece that is missing from the pattern – I emailed and received a response within an hour of sending an email to Xandra – how is that for service! I drafted the drapery interfacing piece using the instruction diagrams as reference (the cutting layout gives the shape, but not how the piece works with the actual drapery or what size it is).

At first glance, the instructions are a bit overwhelming. And I would say that this pattern is definitely for someone who is not afraid of a challenge or vintage patterns. I usually am able to skim through pattern instructions and get the gist of the entire process – not this time! The pattern instructions also assume a good knowledge of dress construction. Many basic steps are left out (probably because the majority of women sewing in the 1950s had extensive sewing experience).

I decided that this pattern requires a bit more body than my fabric has, so I chose to line her. The sleeves are cut on the bias so I did not bother lining them because I do not want to add bulk. The construction of the sleeves is very interesting (they are not set-in or kimono). The top of the sleeve actually becomes part of the neckline.

The upper sleeves were quite roomy when I tried the dress on during construction, so from the underarm to elbow, I increase my seam allowance to 1". These sleeves are cut on the bias, so the extra room looked wonky to me. (I have come across this issue with vintage patterns in the past as well, so super large ease in sleeves are something I will look out for in the future.) The pattern calls for two snaps to close the sleeve opening at the wrist, but I only needed one on each sleeve once I had hemmed them. In fact, I probably did not need the slit at all because are not that fitted.

I came across a bit of a problem with the bodice front – I mistakenly left out the dart that runs across the center front seam (the large circles instead of small dots confused me). I did not realize this was a problem until I tried attaching my neck facing and I knew something was wrong. The garment I had created had a notched neckline (very popular in the 50s) which is lovely, but not the way this dress works. The instructions are a bit vague on construction and I was not paying attention. To fix this, I sewed up the remainder of the center seam, creating a point in the angled seam, then sewed up the dart that got away and pressed. The finished product is not quite as flat as it would have been if I recognized the dart on my pattern piece, but because it is the bust area, it was not really an issue.

I handpicked my zipper (a vintage metal invisible zipper from the stash). One thing to note: make sure your zipper is tough because there are a few layers and a seam that it is going to have to maneuver over – the invisible zippers that I find at Jo-Anns would not have been able to handle the bulk. Thankfully, I had a “moss” colored metal invisible zip that I purchase from etsy ages ago, and it works like a charm.

Horsehair braid was added to the drapery hems. I covered the braid with bias cotton strips and enclosed within the drapery hem for more body.

I added 1" to the torso length (this alteration is made on the two skirt pieces as they extend to just under the bust line). The pattern does not suggest where to make this adjustment, but the waistline is easy enough to find on this pattern.

I will probably put this pattern away for a while, although, if I have a chance to attend a super formal event, the strapless gown may be in my future. The cocktail/day dress with sleeves would also make a lovely wiggle dress without the drapery, and would probably be a bit more wearable for everyday! I would highly recommend this pattern to anyone who loves vintage clothing.

CAPELET, Butterick 4927 (Retro 1952):
I decided that some sort of cover-up was needed for the garment, and just managed to squeeze out a capelet from the remainder of my fashion fabric.

I also knitted up a headband/hat in a 1950s style. I purchased a buckram and wire form on Etsy, but it was not as sturdy as I expected. I cut a bit of plastic canvas a tad bigger than the form and crocheted a medium gauge wire around the edges, and basted it to the buckram. I then added padding in layers to my sturdy form. A layer of beige cotton was applied to the top of the form, and I used my green acetate to line the hat. Next, I knitted up a rounded edge rectangle with a single ball of gold colored yarn I have in my stash – there was only one of these at the yarn store, but it was too lovely to pass up, and it finally came in handy. I believe the brand name is Muench, and the yarn is called “touch me” – it is made of viscose/microfibre/new wool and looks almost like a chenille. The gold color tied in nicely with my shoes!
I am thrilled with how my ensemble turned out. Everyone at the symphony wanted to know where I got it!


  • Green Jacquard from FashionFabrics.com. I believe this is a rayon/acetate blend. The description from the website is “green jacquard” but that does not really do the fabric justice.
  • Red Zeus lining from JoAnns. I wish this fabric came in more colors and was more easily found. Every once in a while I see a bolt of it at JoAnns and make sure to grab it. The only colors I have seen are navy, red, black, and a chocolate brown. It is a beautiful heavy-weight rayon/acetate perfect for jacket linings.
    *Horsehair braid from JoAnns (I was pleasantly surprised to find black-colored braid)
    *HugSnug seam binding from fabric.com – LOVE IT!
    *Gutterman silk thread




Garment Type
Classic, Evening Wear, Vintage

7 Comments Sign in to add a post

  • Img_20120819_100632_large

    Mar 17, 2011, 08.03 PMby lorelai1982

    Wonderful! I love it!

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    Mar 17, 2011, 02.16 PMby leahfranqui

    This is just amazing! I love that you take so much care with your garments and create whole outfits including hats. This is stunning.

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    Mar 17, 2011, 12.17 PMby anajan

    Beautiful dress, and I’m in love with the fabric!

  • Avawa_large

    Mar 17, 2011, 09.42 AMby analogue

    Beautiful dress, thank you for the long description of the construction process as well, very inspiring.

  • 9042c0bf5223511d5cc13e721fdeef21914bb56c_large

    Mar 17, 2011, 07.00 AMby lauriana

    I love the dress. Very impressive. However (I don’t mean to be nasty, it just sticks out because everything else is so well made and well fitted), I couldn’t help but notice in the picture of the back that the back waist length looks like it’s too long. I have often heard (no own experience there, I’m rather small-chested) that for ladies with more than a B-cup, excess waist length often doesn’t show at the front of the garment. Of course, you may just be standing with your back curved in that picture and not have any fitting issues at all.

  • Dsc09595avatar_large

    Mar 17, 2011, 06.43 AMby Ralf Schmitz

    this looks like a masterpiece to me! i am so impressed, i do not know, what to say. chapeau! your work is amazing!

  • Charlie-deeshadows1_large

    Mar 17, 2011, 05.04 AMby smallone

    Wowza! your vintage work is always amazing….but there is just something extra special about this one. I think its the bustle effect….and I just love the caplet!

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