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Hollywood-Inspired Dress | 360-Degree View

Threads #208, April/May 2020

In his article, “Starstruck Sewing” from Threads #208 (April/May 2020), Brian Centrone explores the story behind pattern companies from the 1930s that built their brands upon reproducing looks from movies. With the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression, many Americans looked to Hollywood to escape the challenges of daily life. The paper pattern industry, which was struggling to survive the economic conditions, saw an opportunity to capitalize on customers’ fascination with film stars. Home sewers could emulate the fashions of the celebrities they loved and feel as though they, too, were stars.

This dress was made from Hollywood Patterns 849, a design that mimicked a dress worn by actress Jane Wyman. Our seamstress used modal/bamboo twill from EmmaOneSock.com to construct the dress. The fabric’s easy drape emphasizes the waistline pleats, as well as the gathers where the skirt attaches to the curved waist yoke.

We found the pattern for sale on Etsy.com and it arrived in good condition, though somewhat battered from its long life. Buying vintage patterns can be tricky because the longevity of patterns varies based on how they are stored and treated. This pattern was treated fairly well and was intact, though wrinkled and carrying the marks of long-ago alterations. The article includes more information about finding and buying vintage patterns.


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