The “Melissa” Dress

Check it out – I made another 1940’s garment for Sew For Victory!


(And yes, I did actually finish it in time. Just. But then I didn’t get a chance to post about it. Oh well.)


Anyway, I now have another 1940’s dress in my wardrobe, which makes me happy. I do love me some 1940’s style.

This one is Hollywood 805, from 1942. I love Hollywood patterns – the images of movie stars, the styling. Something about it appeals to me a lot. I’m slowing building up a collection of Hollywood patterns, although this is the first one I’ve gotten around to making. (Of the grand total of four that I own so far…. I did say I was building up a collection s l o w l y…!)

Hollywood 805

So, one thing about Hollywood patterns. Or at least this one. The instructions are really rather sparse. Looking for guidance on which way to press darts or tucks? You won’t find it here.

The details, on the other hand, are lovely, in that 1940s way. The shoulders are interesting – the back extends over to the front, and joins as though it’s a yoke, so there is no shoulder seam. The neckline in particular is interesting, with it’s points. The sleeves are dart-fitted at the sleeve head. The bodice is gathered into the waistline at front and back so it’s fitted around the waist, yet gives a blousey effect. The pockets have notched details at the top and are sewn so they jut out at the top. (And the inset belt is lovely, although I omitted it so I could ‘future proof’ the dress with the side seams.)


There are a couple of things I’d change next time. I forgot to lengthen the bodice as part of the grading up in sizes, so the waist sits a bit high at the back. A belt disguises it, but I’d rather it was about another inch lower at the back. (The front, however, is fine.) The sleeves are a bit tight as well – I didn’t bother grading them, but next time I will. They’re not too tight to be uncomfortable at all, but a little bit more ease wouldn’t go amiss. Oh, and I’d lengthen the shoulders by about 3/4″ as they’re a little bit narrow, which results in the neckline pulling a bit.


But none of those are stopping me from wearing this dress, and enjoying it!


(According to Steve, I look “like a cross between a punk and a granny”. I have no issues whatsoever with this description.)

The Facts

Pattern: Hollywood 805
Year: 1942
Fabric: blue Ikea cotton, acquired from Mel at a Wellington bloggers meet-up swap (thanks Mel!)
Notions: 8 vintage white buttons from my great-aunt’s stash
Alterations made:

  • Graded up to my current size
  • Future-proofed by attaching the skirt to the bodice on the flat, and sewing the side seams last
  • Removed the inset belt (in order for it to be future-proof-able) and added 1 inch at the top of the skirt and bottom of bodice at the back so back waist seam matched front waist seam
  • Added interfacing to the button placket and the inner necklineK
  • Rounded the corners of the inner neckline (because the pattern had already been altered that way. Next time I’ll re-alter it back to pointy corners)
  • Drafted a new back neck facing as that pattern piece is missing
  • Moved the top corners of the pockets out by 1 inch on each side so they don’t stick as far out from the dress

First worn: for a walk around the zoo on Monday 1 April
Wear again? Already have. πŸ™‚ It got worn to work this week, and got a couple of compliments from people who didn’t know I’d made it. Yay!!
Make again? Yep, I likes this pattern.


The photos were taken on a walk around the zoo. This gorgeous lady came up to say ‘hello’:


28 responses to “The “Melissa” Dress

  1. Pingback: Hollywood 805 | Patterns patterns patterns

  2. This is so pretty! I love the little details that make it extra special, like the notches on the pockets that echoes the neckline and the gathers at the shoulders. The fabric is very sweet and it looks good with yellow shoes. πŸ™‚

  3. Love it, especially the collar and pocket details!

  4. Wow, what an interesting dress! I love the neckline and shoulder details!

    • Thanks! πŸ™‚ (I’m now starting to wonder if I can translate it into a blouse with the same neckline…. Hmmmm….)

  5. This is gorgeous! I love the angular details of the neckline and pockets!

  6. Yah! Zoo pics! Rich and I really need to go to the zoo again, we haven’t been for like a year. I really like the pretty fabric of this dress and also that pocket is so cute.

    • The zoo is awesomesauce. It’s changed quite a bit in the past year – fabulous new enclosures for the sunbears and the tigers. πŸ˜€

  7. I feel so famous! πŸ™‚ Hehe. Love all the details! The peaks at the collar and then repeated on the pocket in reverse plus all the sweet gathers, I’m glad you got close ups. You are so rocking 1940s!

    Do you have like an annual Zoo pass or something? We should do a Zoo meetup after Winter I think, maybe after a special sew along, we would have the best day and get so many greet photos! πŸ™‚

    • You deserve to be famous lady! πŸ˜‰

      You know, I never realised until you pointed it out that the neckline and pocket details mirror each other. Huh, that’s pretty awesome!

      I do indeed have an annual zoo pass. Heck, it’s only about 8 mins walk from our house, it would almost be mad *not* to have one. A zoo meetup sounds like a fab idea!

  8. So many gorgeous details! What a fab 40s make!

  9. I love the details on this dress. The gathering at the shoulders and the pockets really take it up a notch.

    Grannypunk should totally be a thing! Mixing and matching different fashion eras is awesome.

    • I totally agree! Why stick to just one era when you can have them ALL!!?! πŸ˜‰

      The more I think about it, the more I’m liking this grannypunk concept. Hmmm…. *contemplates what to make next*

  10. This is very cute indeed. I love the details and the colour.

  11. Love this! The details are fantastic (the little pocket notches and the collar in particular) and as always it fits you great.

    Also, totally loving grannypunk (as the commenter above said), it’s perfect!

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