Subversive Femme
gertie jiffy dresses book patio dress red vintage 1950s fiesta dress

Finished: 1950’s patio dress from Gertie’s Jiffy Dresses book

I’ve been after a red and black vintage patio dress for years! I’ve never seen one in my size, and figured it was time to make my own.

The pattern I ended up using was Gertie’s Patio Dress pattern, from her Gertie Sews Jiffy Dresses book.

This pattern is so easy to make!

The mods:

  • I sized down because the cheesecloth is super stretchy
  • Raised the V point of the neckline, as it was quite low!
  • Lowered the front dart points
  • Turned the dress into a top and skirt set instead
  • Put side zips in both, I hate back zips

For the skirt, I ended up going with four tiers so the last tier could be black. The black tier is slightly longer, and the third tier slightly shorter (I had a close look on some authentic ones and this is how they made them).

I’m not sure I would do this again as I was gathering 11 meters of fabric (12 yards) at one point and it nearly killed me!

The other problem was that the skirt was so heavy, when I attached it to the bodice it pulled down the bodice terribly! It pulled the waist down by about three inches as well as messing with the darts.

I had two options – live with it, and cut the bodice shorter, or make it a skirt and blouse set.

I went with the skirt and blouse set, so the skirt could support itself via a waistband. I ended up sewing a band around the bottom of the bodice to give me more tuck in fabric and it worked a treat.

I also used over 80 meters of trim which took forever to sew down, but the results are worth it. I wonder how long it used to take to sew the ones from the 1950s?

I also changed the trim on the bodice, and did a U shape design. This mean sewing the front pieces together first, finishing the seams then sewing the trim on.

The secret with sewing trim like this is to transfer the highest trim line to the blouse using a dissolving marker. Sew that line of trim, then use it as a guide for sewing the next rows below. Easy!

The fabric I chose is Premium Cotton Cheesecloth from our local Spotlight. Its also called gauze overseas – it’s not as fine as the semi-sheer stuff they used back in the fifties but it’s the closest I could find. It took about 4 1/2 meters to make this dress.

gertie jiffy dresses patio dress vintage reproduction 1950s red black silver trim

Overall, I love it. Jakk says she can’t tell it’s not authentic vintage, which is the look I wanted.

I’m not sure I would make four tiers again, as it took forever to gather by hand – three is enough.

But, would I make this again? Yes, definitely. I’d love one in green or yellow, but I need a break from all that trim!

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  • Reply
    June 17, 2020 at 9:21 am

    Wow, that is gorgeous! I agree on the zip situation – who can deal with back zips?! Cheesecloth certainly stretches with its own weight so great solution to that problem. And all that gathering – phew! But well worth it.

  • Reply
    June 23, 2020 at 7:26 pm

    Absolutely stunning dress!

  • Reply
    July 14, 2020 at 5:44 am

    I love it so much! I would not have thought to do a shorter tier, I would have just resized all of them, which would have been silly as I think the shorter 3rd ruffle really works well and the skirt looks very balanced.
    I am curious, what is your gripe with back zippers? I am the opposite, I refuse to use side zippers unless I have absolutely no choice.

    • Reply
      July 14, 2020 at 8:26 am

      Hmm I just find back zips awkward? And most vintage clothing had side zips until the mid 1950s, so I guess it feels more authentic too

  • Reply
    March 30, 2021 at 7:51 pm

    That is the most gorgeous set. I will be making mine in red and black too-don’t worry, different continent, we won’t run into each other šŸ™‚
    I have some really nice weight cotton and some beautiful trim-I must start making this.

    • Reply
      March 31, 2021 at 5:42 am

      Have fun making it! Xx

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