This pattern comes in sizes 6-26. Yardage requirements for elbow-length straight sleeves or cap cuffed sleeves (add ¼ yard for long sleeves) range from 3 ½ yards to 4 ¼ yards. Yardage requirements for a dress with puffed sleeves range from 3 7/8 yards to 4 5/8 yards. Finally yardage requirements for a fully lined dress (you subtract 2 ¼ yards if you only line the bodice) is 3 yards to 3 ½ yards.
Fabric suggestions range from 100% cotton, silk, organdy, voile, linen, and lightweight shirting. This dress can be made into an everyday dress, or something extra special such as for a wedding. The 1914 dress can be made with a zipper or buttons. If using buttons it calls for 12-18 3/8" buttons. For the nursing bodice you will need 4-5 5/8" buttons for the nursing overlay, plus four snaps. It all depends on how adventurous you are feeling! Jennie Chancey of Sense and Sensibility has given a number of tips for embellishing the dress, many options are available. This pattern has complete instructions for a discreet nursing dress. This would be in the form of a bodice nursing overlay. The pattern would be for the intermediate to advanced seamstress, depending on how fancy you decide to make your dress.
I made my dress out of 100% cotton fashion fabric. I used contrasting 100% cotton broadcloth for the sleeve cuffs and waist sash. I decided to use a zipper instead of buttons and adjusted the pattern accordingly. I did put four tucks in the skirt. The tucks aren't as noticeable as I would like using a cotton print, but they still look pretty. I made a medium waistband sash as described on page 11. This is what you see in the picture. I then later made a smaller sash and want to put a fabric belt loop on each side so this thin sash will stay in place better. I found the medium waistband was buckling a lot in the back. I had to use a lot of snaps to keep it from gaping. I decided I liked a thin sash that looked like a belt better on me. I cut out the skirt and lined it with an unbleached muslin instead of sewing up a petticoat. This made the skirt heavier than I thought it would be, but still turned out nicely. I chose the straight sleeves, but would try the puffed sleeves for a more vintage look.
Sewing With The Pattern
I highly recommend making a mock of this bodice. Once it is fitted correctly you can use it next time you sew! As you mark the bodice and skirt this is the time to decide on buttons or a zipper. A 17-21" zipper could be used. At page 3, 1c I finished the raw edges of bodice back and skirt back (with a serger) to the length of my zipper and pressed 5/8" to wrong side of fabric.
Skip the neckline binding on page 3 (1E) until you have attached skirt and bodice if using a zipper, then place binding. I used a centered application zipper. Sew skirt up to dot marked on fabric then press 5/8" on seam towards wrong side to place zipper. I did not make a placket in the skirt. I don't do this. I simply skip this step because I am using a zipper. The placket is to give you more room to get the dress on, but if you use a zipper that problem is taken care of. Eliminating that step makes your sewing go easier and faster! If you are using buttons I will give a caution about the placket. A friend sewed a black satin dress using the placket and said she was surprised how much the placket gaped. A few hook and eye closures or snaps could fix that problem.
Once bodice and skirt are attached with zipper placed you can pin neckline binding right sides together. I pressed wrong side of seam allowance towards wrong side of bias binding and stitched in place to reduce rolling.
Good instructions are given for a nursing bodice. To sew a nursing dress you will cut out two bodice front pieces, one lining piece, and one fashion fabric for the overlay. I suggest using a solid cotton lining. The waistband will have four buttons for the nursing overlay, but the waistband sash will hide the buttons.
I have a serger but sewed the dress with French seams as the pattern instructions said. If I didn't have a serger I would sew all my clothes with French seams. When I pressed well the seams looked great!
Be sure to remember to pull up your gathering stitches on the bodice front (5A on page 7). If you forget this your dress will look awful. I neglected to do this while being distracted by bread baking, lunch, and web site problems. Seam rippers are at such times unfortunate necessities.
If you are making a lined bodice there are instructions for the underdress. In the tips for embellishing the gown you will find embroidery motifs, and lace insertion motifs. I didn't have much time on hand. I am happy with my simple 1914 Afternoon Dress.
Enjoy your sewing!
Jennifer Dean and her sister Caroline Allen run a business together, New Little Blessing: "A Mother's General Store." The 1914 Afternoon Dress pattern is available at her website, www.newlittleblessing.com, along with a variety of other modest and lovely Maternity and Nursing clothes patterns. New Little Blessing also provides Pregnancy/Ovulation Tests, Ring & Pouch Baby Slings, Ergo Baby Carriers, Books, SuperMom Vitamins, and more.