Subversive Femme

Finished: My 1950s Hawaiian dress test for Simplicity 8244 /1018 (c. 1954)

I fell in love with a 1950s Hawaiian ‘Surfrider’ dress but it didn’t fit – lucky Simplicity 8244 is exactly the same style! It’s a repro of Simplicity 1018 from 1954.

I call this a test because it really is – it’s the final test version of Simplicity 8244 before I cut into some rare vintage fabric to make my Surfrider-inspired dress.

1950s hawaiian cheongsam vintage simplicity 8244

The fabric is some awesome hawaiian print cotton I found at Hawaii Fabric Mart in Honolulu – it’s shocking pink, with teal fish. There’s even silhouettes of Diamond Head/ Le’ahi  in the background.

The burgundy fabric closures (frogs) are from Aiinee on Etsy, she has them in so many colours.

I mentioned on Facebook this pattern is wonky as heck – please make a muslin first if you want to try it! The front armholes are different sizes, and the right (closure) side chest has a smaller cup than the left (I think due to them removing the dart). Additionally there was too much horizontal room in the bust so it simultaneously sagged while being too small.

It took me three goes to get mine right, including trying to do a FBA, giving up and restarting again. I’ve tried to show the mods I made below:



  • Added an inch to the top of each sleeve to allow room for my arm
  • Lowered the bust darts to avoid pointy boob
  • Lowered the side dart so it actually hits my bust
  • Did a narrow tuck on the right closure edge to reduce the gaping – and then pressed flat as best I could
  • Added half an inch to bodice sides, tapering to nothing at the waist
  • Did a horizontal tuck across the bust line to reduce the sag factor (red arrow)

Overall – it’s turned out really well and I love it!

I’ve already started on the ‘good’ fabric version – here’s a sneak peek.


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  • Reply
    November 26, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    That looks really awesome, who says redheads can’t wear pink?! If you’re bothered by the horizontal lines and bagginess of the back, look into a swayback adjustment too, I think that would elevate the back fit a lot!

    • Reply
      November 26, 2018 at 5:08 pm

      Thanks hon. I think it’s just the way I’m standing that make it looks that way – in real life it’s actually fine. I normally do a sway back adjustment but it wasn’t needed for this.

  • Reply
    Louise Morgan
    December 19, 2018 at 9:19 am

    As always, love your blog! You make all these mods for curvy girls look easy. I’m making a New Year’s resolution to learn how to do the basic adjustments to make my sewn and knitted items fit better.

    • Reply
      January 9, 2019 at 1:48 pm

      Good luck with your adjustments 🙂

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