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Create a vintage detachable wrap – with pockets

Draft and sew a button-on shawl with pockets
Threads #218, Summer 2022
Photographer: Mike Yamin Source: Helen Uffner Vintage Clothing LLC Text: Carol J. Fresia

In the 1950s, sleeveless or strapless dresses (and patterns for them) often included a cropped jacket, bolero, or other cover-up to complete the look. This off-the-rack, two-piece ensemble takes an intriguing tack. Instead of a jacket, it has a matching button-on wrap. The simple halter dress is made of blue chambray cotton with fine stripes in metallic gold. The stripes have been mitered to form chevrons at the center-front bodice and front and back skirt seams. When the sun got too strong or evening temperatures fell, the wearer could button on the matching shawl. From the back, it looks like a sailor collar. In front, it appears to be a straight, sleeveless jacket, with pockets at the hem. Find out how to draft and sew a similar shawl to elevate any strapless dress.

The wrap forms a collar effect in back, where it buttons to the dress back edge. From the front, it looks like a jacket. Pattern: Simplicity SewStylish 1195. Fabric: linen, GrayLineLinen.com.
The wrap forms a collar effect in back, where it buttons to the dress back edge. From the front, it looks like a jacket. Pattern: Simplicity SewStylish 1195. Fabric: linen, GrayLineLinen.com.

During a field trip to Helen Uffner Vintage Clothing in Long Island City, New York, the Threads staff discovered an adorable two-piece dress from the 1950s. It comprises a simple fit-and-flare strapless dress, with an optional halter neckband, and a matching shawl that buttons to the dress’s back. When attached, the shawl looks like a sailor collar from the back and an unstructured sleeveless jacket from the front. It even has pockets. Whether you’re looking for protection from a breeze or from the sun’s rays, this cover-up is an easy-to-make solution.

You can create a similar shawl to go with existing strapless or halter dresses, or plan one as part of a coordinating ensemble. The basic pattern shown is drafted from your measurements to achieve an effect like the vintage inspiration. Once you’ve…

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