Finished: 50s Halter Dress

Hi all!

Of course it would be better if I had finished this dress just a week ago, because we had some very hot days over here. But I was busy and didn't feel like rushing. So here it is, at the end of summer I finish a summer dress. Oh well, it won't be the first time that I'm a bit behind with sewing. 

Before talking about this dress I want to let you know I've been thinking about my blog lately and what to do with it. I like to share my finished projects, but I also want to give it something more. I was thinking about writing tutorials. But I realise there are so many great tutorials out there already and I don't feel like writing stuff which has be done already a dozen of times. And probably in a much better way then I can do, because I still don't feel really confident about my (English) writing skills. 

But I will write a tutorial about drafting the bodice of the halter dress. So far as I know, it has not been done before and I can try if I like it and make it work. If it does work out I might try this more often, but only when there's not already a good tutorial out there. 

So that's the thing about tutorials. I also thought I can add references to the techniques I use in my projects. If one want to use a paticular technique they know where to find it this way. You have to think about books, youtube, websites, blogs, ecc. At least you know I have tried it with succes and hopefully it inspires you to add some nice techniques to your sewing projects as well. I hope this will give some more depth to my blogposts. 

Adding more accessories :D
Ok, lets talk about the dress then :) I really loved making this dress. Things went pretty well and it was a great opportunity to try some new sewing techniques. I drafted the Bodice myself using my block pattern and after some trial and error I got a good fit and the halter straps behaving in a way I really liked. As inspiration I used these pattern illustrations:

The skirt pattern is borrowed from a pattern I found in one of my early 50s sewing magazines. It is a 3/4 circle skirt with lots of gathers. It consists of 4 pieces. I really love how the skirt falls, it's very elegant. 

Because of the halter the back has no support. I decided to add Spiral Boning and a Waist Stay, so the bodice has some support and stays at the right place. I never used spiral boning before, but had it in my stash for quite some years. It's great material to work with. I definitely prefer it over plastic boning,because spiral boning is much more flexible. It can bend forward and backward but also to the sides. Because of the boning I also added a lining to cover the boning up. The waist stay is made of grosgrain tape and I added hooks and eyes at the ends.

Inside out: Seam Binding, Waist Stay and Machine Stitched Narrow Hem
As usual the seams are finished with Seam Binding. I still think this is the prettiest way to handle raw seam edges. To prevent stretching I added Stay Tape to both sides of the straps. You can imagine the fabric will stetch over time. 

I did some pattern matching at the center front and center back seams. At the center back I also added a Lapped Zipper. I sewed this in by hand so I had more control over the fabric. The hem is finished with a Machine Stitched Narrow Hem.

Pattern matching on center front and back

And now I'm hoping for some more summery days so I can wear this dress just a couple of times before autumn starts!

A dress like this screams for a 'good' twirl!
Here are the used techniques with their references:

 Seam Binding:  
Tutorial written by Laura Mae; Prefold Method (I don't cut the pieces at the right length beforehand, but just iron very long lengths of seam binding and cut them to the right size afterwards. 

Spiral Boning:
J. Cole & S. Czachor, 2010. Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers. Pp. 171-174. 

Hand Picked Lapped Zipper:
I learned this technique when I made Vogue 8767. It was part of the sewing instruction amd since then always do it this way. 

Note: Make sure that the overlap will cover the zipper at the waistline seam. You will see that the overlap will pull away a little at this point.

Stay Tape Neckline:
Tutorial written by Tasha of Sewaholic

Gathered skirt:
Modevakschool Nationaal. Kleermakerspraktijkboek. Pp. 56

Note: This technique is very common. If you search on sewing gathers you find similar techniques.

Drafted Bodice:
I couldn't find anything similar in my pattern drafting books or on the internet. So I figured it out myself.

Machine Stitched Narrow Hem:
C. Shaeffer, 2011. Couture Sewing Techniques. Pp. 74. Called Pin Hem.
J. Cole & S. Czachor, 2010. Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers. Pp. 419-420.

Waist Stay:
J. Cole & S. Czachor, 2010. Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers. Pp. 246-247.


  1. What a gorgeous dress! I just saw your post on Facebook and followed your link over here. You can never have too many tutorials! Looking forward to reading them.

  2. This dress looks so lovely, you really outdid yourself with this one :-)

  3. WOWEEEeeeee!!! What a beautiful dress :D Great of you to add all your resources, it may well come in handy! Don't worry to much that others make tutorials, and that they may or may not be better than yours. It doesn't matter, it is your blog and if you want to do tut's, you should! Your writing skills are very good too :) Go, you!

  4. Wow!!! Your dress is absolutely gorgeous! Well done on working out the halter neck, and the print matching is perfect.

  5. Sensational dress! What a classic, fun make! I love punchy tropical hues on you, honey. They make your eyes sparkle!

    Big hugs & happy tail end of summer wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

  6. I'm following you for a while now and you inspired me so much. I saw seambinding at your blog for the first time and I think it's one of the most elegant ways to finish raw edges. So I made a sort of biais-band myself, but it gives a lot of work and the seam gets a little bit too thick.

    When I want to buy seam binding in the Netherlands, what do I ask for in dutch, cause when I ask for seam binding I'm afraid I will get 'naadband' and that's not the same...

    I'm looking forward to your tutorial and - of course - your future garnments.


    1. Hi Sacha!

      I'm sorry I haven't replied earlier, but I was quite busy lately.

      Alas, it's really hard to find seam binding in the Netherlands. If you're lucky you will find some at a flea market.

      I bought mine from an US based webshop called Zipperstop. I orderderd different colors and calculated the best shipping costs. It might seem pricey but from one roll of 1oo yards you can finish many different garments :)

    2. Thank you for the reply.

      I guess you have to be very lucky to find it at a flea market. I had a look at the webshop and was a little bit overwhelmed by the amount of colours. But, choosing contrasting colours may have a nice effect too, so the choice of the colour isn't that important. So, I will try it...

      Thank you again, I keep on following you and looking forward to see the result of your autumn projects.

      Kind regards,

  7. So pretty!! Love the colours in the fabric, and that neckline turned out so well!

  8. This dress is just stunning! The colour, the style, the fit, it's all perfect on you. I think tutorials on your techniques is a great idea. I always feel I don't give enough detail on how I make my garments, so would like to figure out a way to go more in-depth on my blog. xx


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