20th Century, What I wear

Finished projects: the Lonely Heart wedding dress

I’ve finished the late ’40s wedding dress for Lonely Heart, and the show is on, and the dress is on the actress, and I’m done!

Simplicity 4215

The dress however, I’m sorry to tell you, is just a trifle frumpy onstage.  It’s partly because the bodice is so long – it really shortens and widens the body.

The 'Lonely Heart' wedding dress

I’d like to try the dress on a different body type: I think that would help a lot.

The 'Lonely Heart' wedding dress

I also really, really want to try the dress in better fabric.  Extremely polyester tablecloth damask was a brilliant choice for the demands of stage, but it isn’t a flattering fabric, it’s a PAIN to gather, and it was very tricky to work with along the waist shaping and sweetheart neckline.  Being a seamstress is a lot easier when you work with really high quality fabric!  😉

Oh, and Lonely Heart was fantastic – really brilliant music, great costumes by Mrs C, excellent reviews, even Mr D was entertained and impressed.  Hopefully it will have a bigger staging soon!


  1. I can see how the fabric really affected the final outcome–it seems that something more fluid and drapey would have made the “waist to skirt” transition less abrupt and the look less frumpy, perhaps? Regardless, an excellent stage piece–perhaps we can get a shot of how it looked under the lights on your or MrsC’s blog! And I’m in love with the neckline!

  2. I think I just realized why I don’t like my current sewing project…its silhouette is very similar to this dress, and yes, it shortens and widens. I think I feel better now about abandoning the project. Way to hold up under all the polyester gathering, though! Glad that the show was a success!

  3. Looks great!
    I made a wedding dress for a friend who had a similar idea/vintage pattern we started from. It was difficult to get it to not look frumpy on her, because of the bodice length you mentioned, so we ended up scrapping it and basically drafting something on her.
    I’m surprised that pattern is so late! It looks early 40’s to me.

  4. Aha, frumpy is exactly the look needed for an anonymous, middle aged bride who we know is stupid enough to marry a man she just met who wears a toupee. 🙂 She looked sweet and pitiable. So it couldn’t have been better, but nowhere near as cool as making something gorgeous to the wearer. But yes, I would love to see this dress made the way you want it to be. It would be SO gorgeous!

  5. Lynne says

    It really wants to be full length, doesn’t it? And preferably on a tall, thin girl. With serious heels, even. The pattern is very attractive.

    I can see how your version would really suit the character, though. So hard not to see your creation looking really beautiful! At that waltz-length, it has a slightly panniered effect, looking as if the character is dreaming of herself as an 18thC princess, but not getting it right.

    Does the actor wear a girdle?

    • Well thank you for the support!

      Yes, definitely tall and slim and with a little bust.

      And the actress doesn’t wear a girdle – it’s a quick-change, and she has to walk and sing and fall down and get dragged around!

  6. I’m always shocked at how difficult polyester is to work with compared to cotton, wool, silk or linen… And unresponsive to the iron. That’s unforgivable!

    Interesting lines, I would like to like it but it reminds me so much of the 80’s…

    • I know! I tell clients that it’s worth paying for good fabric, because it is so much harder for me to work with cheap fabric that I have to charge more for the extra time I’ll invest.

      Interesting that this reminds you of the ’80s, but yet you still love mullet skirts!

      I do think this would look much less ’80s in a proper fabric.

      • Yeah, I don’t know what it is… Cognitive dissonance helps me like mullet skirts…

        That’s really interesting that you charge extra.

        I mean.. for theatre stuff poly is fine… I think you’re right about this in another fabric. What about something fluid?

        • I don’t charge extra – I charge how much work it will be for me. And some fabric are simply evil and hard to work with and take a lot longer.

  7. Look at the pattern cover. If you mentally draw where you think her knees and feet should be…her calves are 2x the length they should be! If I bend my legs up to my body, my foot to knee, knee to hip, and hip to arm pit measurements are all similar. And the drawings hips are barely wider than the neck! Me thinks they already knew that pattern would make a woman look short and dumpy…That is why they made the drawing so wierd! Only a 7 foot 100 pound woman in 8 in stellettos could pull that off! I think a better fabric would have helped some but the average sewer couldn’t make it look like the picture AND make it fit on an average height and build woman. (May be you could…being above average ;-D)

    • Learning fashion drawing we called that the ‘heroic’ figure: head + torso = 2, legs = 5, where real people have a 2 to 3 ratio! Most pattern drawing still use heroic ratios – that’s why the drawings on the back (the properly ratioed line drawings) are so helpful!

      • Does the back drawing make the dress look less dramatic and more dumpy? I interested to see what it should like. I can envision your theater dress with a more drapey material and a full length but I’m still not convinced that it wouldn’t look dumpy on an average shaped woman. And on a plus sized woman, I think it would gastly!

  8. Natalie says

    Sewing for the stage is always hard. I think the dress came out great. Do you have any photos of it on stage?

    • Thank you! I don’t have any onstage photos, but hopefully there are some out there somewhere. I’ll see if I can hunt some up.

  9. This dress *could* work on someone with very long legs & a very short waist, because it would correct all those exaggerations (So I’m going to thank you profusely for the tip & go look for the pattern on eBay…).

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