In Sewing

1940s Marian Martin Dress Revisited


To add to my first post all about the outside of this dress, I wanted to share some more photos of the inside since the construction was rather challenging but a lot of fun to work through.


I fell in love with this original WWII era sewing pattern because of the unique shapes at the bodice and waist. Every once in a while I feel brave enough to “up my game” as a seamstress and I knew this was just the pattern to push myself with.


The contrasting detail at the waist is not just added on top for decoration, but is actually a set in piece that involved a lot of pinning and basting to get just right.


To make things even more challenging, there was some gathering at the bodice that needed to be shaped before top stitching the waist piece into place. I sewed a long basting stitch to sort of trace out my seam allowance on the bodice and skirt so I knew right where the waist pieces needed to go. Then, within that seam allowance, I added a small line of basting stitches that would be the gathering. Then I pinned down both the waist insets (which first needed to be folded and ironed at their seam allowances), saving the gathering for last. This allowed me to line up everything in its place and be sure I was gathering the correct amount. I really should have taken some photos of this whole process as I was doing it, but I promise it’s not as difficult as I’m making it sound.


Vintage pattern directions are usually not very helpful so I just glanced at how the waist inset was supposed to be sewn in. I honestly didn’t follow the directions for the majority of this dress. I just worked it together like a puzzle and it turned out alright in the end!


This dress was a size or two too big for me, but I couldn’t take it in at the sides or else the waist seams wouldn’t line up as well as they do now.  Because of this, I also opted for the side snaps (I did follow the instructions on that one) instead of a zipper which would have been so much faster. This was my first time sewing a side snap closure and I did a decent job except for the hook and eye. …that’s actually sewn in backwards and is virtually useless haha! Whoops! I still need to go back in and fix that.



I did some extra top stitching to reinforce the sleeve and shoulder seams since the seam allowance was only 1/2 inch to start with, and less than that after taking my pinking shears to them. I usually finish my 1940’s era garments with pinking shears because it’s the most authentic for the time period.


I used some vintage 1940’s buttons that I found at a recent WWII reenactment and really love how they add a pop of bold color to the softer blue fabric. Plus,  I was dying for an excuse to wear my new beret which also happens to be navy blue.


I wish I had made my own bias tape and piping because what I bought is slightly lighter than the cream colored fabric I used at the waist. But, in the true 40’s style, I was attempting to Make Do And Mend by using some old fabric and notions from my stash. I had originally cut the waist pieces in the same floral blue since my first intention was to outline it all in piping. After deciding I had neither the time or the patience for that, I went with the lighter color instead and I’m so happy I did. Hooray for lazy sewing! 😉


As I mentioned before, this is absolutely my favorite dress I’ve made so far and I’m really proud of the way it turned out!


Oh yes, and before I forget, let’s announce last week’s Vintage4me2 giveaway winner! After weeding out those who weren’t interested in the giveaway, there were 45 names entered.


Congrats to Esz from Kitties Drawings!! You won a $20 USD credit to use towards any item of your choice. (Hopefully that 1930’s pattern you shared is still there!)

I suppose it’s fitting that she won since she practically walked me through the side snap closure step by step, but she did win fair and square! Congrats, Lady! You deserve it for putting up with me lol.

Thank you to everyone who entered, and a special thanks to Judy for offering up such a great prize!


Have a great week, all!


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  • Wow, wonderful job and wonderfully documented. I sew vintage as well and have a similar pattern I’ve been toying with sewing. You’ve inspired me. I love the snap placket, sooo vintage! I write about vintage and vintage sewing as well as swing dancing, but this is VERY tutorial! Thank you 🙂

  • absolutely gorgeous!! I Love it in all parts!

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  • Lovely dress! I’ve never seen this pattern before and you rock it!

  • That is such a pretty dress! Love the colours, & your shoes! I have a quick question.. Didi it have shoulder pads? I am making a dress form 1942 which has the little pattern pieces for making the shoulder pads, but I am unsure about the fabric to use. Any ideas?

  • Just a lovely dress!!

  • This dress is such a treasure – it looks like something one might have unearthed in a beloved grandma’s attic – perhaps it had been her favourite frock back in the day and she could never bring herself to part with it. You did a marvelous job on, and look simply amazing in, it!

    ♥ Jessica

  • misscrayolacreepy

    I agree, the white around the waist looks great! I am so impressed that you sewed that dress, it looks so complicated!

  • It really is a stunning dress, dahlink! Your pinked seams make me happy!

  • Totally enjoyed this- I love to resurrect vintage clothing and hats.They don’t make ’em the way they used to, right? You look stunning in it and it looks like you walked right out of the 1930s! I have some tips for resurrecting hats too at Thanks for sharing all those tips on how you did this dress….

  • I love this dress! So pretty and the styling you did in the photos is great 🙂 Brilliant as usual!

  • gorgeous dress! you are always an inspiration!

  • what an amazing dress that is! i love every single thing about it – it’s just pure perfection..

  • I really do love this dress. And the fact that it had a long range of sizing up to a vintage 20. So many I see usually are just a size 12 – 16 and as you know those are a VAST difference than modern 12-16.

  • I really love the contrast part at the waist, it kind of makes the whole dress! It’s much more subtle on the envelope (though I could see it being really neat on the bias with plaid, too). But the light color just pops and ties in your piping and bias tape so nicely! So many little details to be proud of. 🙂

  • Ohmygosh!!! I love if! Fantastic job!

  • Love this dress! Thanks for sharing since it’s so nice to see construction photos and not just pretty dress photos.

  • You did a fantastic job with this dress. Thanks for the “inside” look. 🙂

    Congrats Esz!!


  • It is so much fun to see it go from paper to fabric and the detail pics are great….

  • I am not surpised you favour this dress. It is wonderful dress and suits you perfectly. Fabulous!

  • I can see why this is your favourite dress, it’s an absolute knock out! The styling, the colours, the fabric, the shape are all so perfect and suit you down to the ground. Thanks for sharing your construction details. As usual your attention to detail is inspiring 🙂

  • anyway anyway – those details are so great! Ive found with vintage patterns, studying the drawings is heaps more helpful than following the instructions.
    Or sometimes its so confusing I’ve just had to trust they will tell me the right thing and follow them (like the sleeves on my tropical print dress – that was a doozy!)…or ignore them!

    Pretty sure I’ve put in a hook and eye the wrong way round before too. 😉

  • OH MY GOD!!!!