A 1950’s Yellow Shirtwaist Dress (Simplicity 1459)

Hello there, readers!

I’m super excited to share this dress with you.  It’s one that I’ve dreamed about for a while and I’m so happy to see it come to fruition.  It’s even more delightful than I expected with little vintage details that turn what could have been a plain dress into an interesting frock.

This dress was inspired by one of my favorite films — Brooklyn.  The film takes place in the 1950’s and the main character — Eilis — wears a gorgeous yellow shirtwaist dress in many of the scenes.  I love shirt dresses and 1950’s silhouettes, so I decided that it was a great time to sew my own film-inspired dress.

brooklyn 1

I decided to use Simplicity 1459, a shirt dress pattern that I’ve had success with (my other two versions are here).  For my third iteration I chose a yellow stretch cotton broadcloth  which worked wonderfully for this dress.  It’s not exactly like Eilis’s dress, but my look is inspired, not a literal interpretation.

I made the sleeveless version of this pattern and left it unlined (I’m wearing a light cotton petticoat with dress).  I finished this just in time for a trip to NYC and as it was super hot and humid in the city, I’m happy that I didn’t make the bodice too fitted.


I made a self-fabric matching belt for this dress which really pulls together the entire look.  I thought about using a covered buckle kit, but I had this vintage bakelite buckle in my stash which matched perfectly, so I went with that instead.  Slide buckles aren’t exactly my favorite as I tend to fiddle with them and adjust them throughout the day.  I made sure to make the belt longer so that I could tuck the end in.

I added piping to the lapel, collar and button band, which proved to be a little bit of a daunting task due to the notches on the lapel.  I ended up altering the notches to work with the piping, which I think works so well with the solid color of this dress.

I had some beautiful yellow floral buttons picked out for this dress, but when it was time to sew them on, I decided that they competed too much with the other details dress, that I went with covered buttons instead.

yellow 1950's brooklyn shirt dress

I graded this pattern up to about a size 26.  The only alteration I made was a swayback adjustment to the back bodice.  I kept the length of the skirt, which is a little shorter on me than a 1950’s skirt would normally be, but I like this length as it fits the contemporary retro aesthetic that I gravitate towards.


This dress was a joy to sew and fun to wear.  Sadly, I didn’t wear it to Brooklyn while I was in New York, but I did sport it in Little Italy, SoHo, Battery Park, and on the Staten Island Ferry.

15 thoughts on “A 1950’s Yellow Shirtwaist Dress (Simplicity 1459)

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