At the beginning of the year my lovely hubby bought us tickets to The Goodwood Revival, an annual festival of historic motorsport and aviation, celebrating the glory years of the Goodwood Circuit when it was in action from 1948 to 1966. I’ve always wanted to go to this famous race meeting, not just for the cars but for the chance to join thousands of others dressing up in period costume and travelling back in time to an era that I absolutely love. Revival goers go all out with their outfits, hairstyles and accessories so for this reason I’ve been planning mine for six months! Originally I was going to make two styles of dress, one for each decade, and after a lot of research consisting of eating cake, drinking coffee and scouring google images, I came across a 1940’s pattern I absolutely loved.
Butterick 6239 is a modern reprint of a pattern from 1942, the dress design is exquisite with pleat details on the front of the bodice which give the dress its shaping, it also has a dropped waist and a swishy knee length skirt. It was released in the early 2000’s but it has long since been out of print, which meant I struggled to find a copy at first. It took 6 weeks of constantly checking Etsy and Ebay until i finally found a copy and bought it straight away despite it being too large. I regularly have to resize vintage patterns as it’s a lot harder to find originals in larger sizes – the average dress size was smaller then so I’ve had to learn the art of upscaling. However this time I had to reduce the pattern pieces by two sizes. As with all the dresses I make I first sewed up a toile to see if there were any fitting issues, but it fit perfectly!
I had the challenge of making the dress during the summer holidays when sewing time is at a premium and replaced with days out, trips to the park and holidays, so I had to sneak in a couple of hours here and there once the boys were in bed. Luckily the pattern isnt too complicated and it didn’t take too long to cut the pieces and sew together. The most time consuming part was stitching in the pleats and making sure they lined up perfectly when it came to sewing the front seam of the bodice, it was well worth taking my time on this part as they lined up first time.
The finished dress is absolutely stunning – it looks exactly like the pattern cover illustration, and perfect for the Revival. The release pleats on the bodice are striking, it’s a detail I’ve not come across before, but I love how they shape the bodice, and really make a feature on the dress.
After trying the dress on and feeling great wearing it, I decided to abandon the idea of making a 1950’s style dress and make a second version of the 1940’s dress instead, but this time in a leopard print cotton. It came together even quicker the second time round and looked equally lovely. Its amazing how using a different fabric print can transform a dress pattern.
We went to the Goodwood Revival on Saturday and Sunday – my husband and my sons donned their 40’s finery and all looked very dapper indeed! I wore the floral dress on the Saturday and accessorised it with a fur collar, vintage gloves, 40’s style shoes and a matching handbag. I felt a million dollars, and even more so after having my hair styled at the famous Betty’s Hair Parlour at the festival.
I then wore the leopard dress on the Sunday, keeping the same accessories but adding a black fascinator. We had a brilliant time and it really felt like we’d been transported back to the 1940’s. Everyone made such an effort with their outfits and looked fabulous, the car races were thrilling to watch and I got goosebumps watching the Spitfires and other WW2 aircraft displays in the skies above. I was sad to come back to 2015 on Sunday evening.
Butterick 6239 has now become one of my favourite patterns and I’m planning on making it again in different fabrics; the next one will be in a wool crepe ready for the winter. Now to find the perfect colour!