alternative 1950’s housewife

The 1950’s housewife look has intrigued me for a couple of years, but I never could quite see it on me. Mostly, I see this look on women who are at least 10 years younger than me, who are not actually housewives. This summer, I decided to take the plunge.

The fabric is a laser cut cotton from Fabric Mart. It was only $1.99. When I saw it on the site, I could not stop thinking about it. One thing that intrigued me is that I thought all laser cut fabric had to have a significant synthetic content. That way, the laser can melt the fibers and the holes don’t get all fuzzy with washing. Well, when I prewashed this fabric, the holes did, indeed, deconstruct a bit. I think that is OK, though. And the fabric seems just edgy enough to take some of the sweetness away from my 1950’s housewife look.

For a pattern, I used the bodice from dress #3 in Machiko Kayaki’s book Simple Chic. I have 8 or 10 Japanese sewing books from different authors, and they are a great resource when I am looking for a very simple pattern. Instead of the a-line skirt that the dress comes with, I took a long rectangle of fabric cut on the cross grain, pleated it, and attached it to the bodice. I did the cross grain because the selvedge is not laser cut, so that made a nice finish to the lower edge. I did not hem it because it did not seem to need it.

In the above photo, I am wearing a tan knit tank dress underneath. I also made a bias cut silk slip to wear under, but it seemed like a bit much when I looked at it this morning.

Here is the dress on my form.

Dress Back

Here is the slip I made to wear under it.  It is a bias cut tube that I cut into a tank dress shape.  It seems like there may be too much going on when I wear the dress and slip together, so I wore a more plain tank dress under it today.

Shadow Play

Here is a detail shot of the front.  You can see how the threads are poking out of the holes.  The holes are not as well-defined as I think a laser-cut fabric should be.  I finished the neckline and armholes with self bias binding.



  1. Posted June 17, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very cool dress! I have that same floral print fabric. You have a very different eye than me when it comes to how you use fabrics. I wonder if it’s your exposure to the Japanese books. I would never think of making a bias tube with that fabric. Very cool. I really need to work on thinking outside the pattern and experiment more. Thanks for the inspiration! And see you tomorrow!

  2. Posted June 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Beautiful! I love the silhoutte with such an interesting fabric.

  3. Zeila
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Oh, it’s beautiful! I love the fabric and I love how you interpreted the look.

  4. Posted June 17, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    First – maybe that’s why Fabric Mart had this for $1.99 because the mfr rejected it but I like the deconstructedness of it!

    Second – there is no way that is a 50s dress! *smile* You look to modern and even dare I say it trendy!

    Love that you used the huge floral print that way! And see you tomorrow – are you wearing that?

    • Posted June 17, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I am agonising about what to wear, but it probably will not be this because I am wearing it today. See you tomorrow!

  5. Posted June 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Really fun dress. Beautifully made 🙂

  6. Posted June 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I have this same fabric, you have done wonderful things with it! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Posted June 17, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great dress and the underlay colors…..but I agree with Carolyn…this 50’s dress is just as happening today as then.
    A lovely contemporary classic.
    Well done.

  8. Posted June 17, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I don’t see this as a 1950’s dress at all, it’s just too modern in that fabric and the style is a classic. It looks amazing.

  9. Posted June 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I love this dress! Beautifully done, Claudine. The nude is my fav under dress BTW.

  10. Posted June 17, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I love it! so arty.

  11. Karen
    Posted June 18, 2010 at 6:31 am | Permalink | Reply

    Gorgeous and intruiging. I like the tank slip idea.

  12. Posted June 18, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    I was also eyeing this fabric at Fabric Mart. I love what you’ve done with it. Very cool!!!

  13. Posted June 20, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Fantastic and unique! I love the effect provided by the underlay dress

  14. Posted June 21, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink | Reply

    That dress is fierce!

  15. Posted June 22, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I love the dress. I bought a ton of this fabric too. I was intrigued with it but uncertain what to make with it! I love your idea!!!

  16. Posted June 22, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I would never have thought to pair the fabric and dress style together. Your choices always inspire me to think outside the box. Great dress!

  17. Posted June 24, 2010 at 11:26 am | Permalink | Reply

    Fabulous dress. I love how you mixed the styles with this 50ies pattern and the modern fabric!

  18. Posted June 29, 2010 at 12:40 am | Permalink | Reply

    I love the dress. By any chance was the slip made from this Fabric Mart fabric?

    • Posted June 29, 2010 at 7:28 am | Permalink | Reply

      Yes, that was it! It looks like a lot of people bought that fabric.

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