Cynthia Rowley has my heart with Simplicity 1939

Simplicity 1939 dress chiffonYou never know what you are going to get when thrift shopping, especially for patterns. Actually, mostly you do know what you are going to get…80’s big shouldered dresses, or some shapeless “Easy” frocks. But 1 lucky day I unearthed this OOP Simplicity 1939 dress for 69 cents. Yes!

Navy chiffon border print dressWhen I paired it with this beautiful border print heavy chiffon, I knew I was making things difficult for myself. I only had 2 yards because I had bought it like 3 or 4 years ago at the Sew Expo in WA at the Vogue fabrics booth. I couldn’t have known at that time that this pattern was going to fall into my lap!

S1939 dress with tiesI cut my pattern pieces out and played tetris on the fabric. If I eliminated the armhole bands, took width out of the skirt, and cut the ties down the left overs, I had just enough. And I mean just.

Simplicity 1939 sew in chiffonWhat I did was redrafted the front and back pattern pieces to add the width of the finished armhole bands onto those pieces. It only made those pattern pieces a little wider, but eliminated some big fabric hogs that were those bands. It simplified the sewing process a bit, too. I ended up finishing my armholes with navy vintage bias tape I also found thrifting!

S1939 chiffon dress sewFor the ties around the neck, I just used the scrap I had left. I was glad I got a bit of the border at one end to make it more interesting up near my face. I could only cut 1 tie that I doubled over and used to finish the neckline.

S1939 dress in navy chiffonI had to line up the hem of the skirt with the border, and I didn’t want to cut any of the lovely moss green color off, so I just made a very narrow hem by folding over my selvedge and stitching it. I also wanted to preserve the length, because I’m kind of a tall girl and nothing is worse than a too short maxi dress!

Cynthia Rowley pattern 1939 For the innards, I interfaced the waist yoke and inserted an invisible zipper. I have no idea if that was in the instructions or not, but it seemed necessary, so it probably was. When I tried it on, the yoke seemed a little large, so I added elastic into the top seam to keep it from slipping down.

Cynthia Rowley Simplicity pattern dress 1939This is my favorite dress ever. I will wear this dress every week this summer and feel like a million dollars in it. Look at the drape of those shoulders! The cute tie! And in my favorite colors ever! Cynthia Rowley, you design a mean dress.

I entered this dress, and 5 other garments, in to the Endless Combinations contest at Pattern Review. You should go check out all the lovely things the ladies made and go vote for your favorite,

Quick bullets:

  • Interior engineering of interfacing, invisible zipper and elastic in the yoke.
  • Had to change the pattern quite a bit to fit on 2 yards of fabric, but I succeeded!
  • Surprisingly lovely pattern! I might try the raglan sleeve version. Cynthia Rowley does good work.




27 thoughts on “Cynthia Rowley has my heart with Simplicity 1939

  1. Gorgeous dress! The pattern is wonderful. What a great find…love the fabric too. Well worth the effort it took to make the pattern fit to the fabric.

  2. Holy cow. I love that you took some width out of the skirt- killer sillouette here. Not a shape everyone can pull off, but it’s stunning on you. Such a reprieve from all the fit and flare too…nice work!

  3. It’s gorgeous, Helena! It’s great you were able to eke out the dress from the fabric you had on hand–well done. I also had a look at your entry for the Pattern Review endless combinations contest…great outfits. I may have to try to do one of those contests at some point because it seems like a good motivation to actually think through how the things I sew will work together. I tend to just focus on one piece at a time and then nothing goes together.

    • Thanks! I had to make it work because I could just picture the dress in my head and it wouldn’t go away. I really like sewing for contests for some reason.

  4. WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW!!! ok, this is one of those pieces that I would never believe was handmade. This is incredible! The fabric, the dress, the pattern – all of it is perfection – and you do indeed look like a million bucks in it! So well done, I am super impressed. This is amazing!!!

  5. I have this pattern but always thought it was ridiculously ugly on the pattern envelope…you’ve changed my mind and I’ll have to take it out if my patterns to sell pile, if I haven’t already given it away!

    • It is really hard to tell from the pattern envelope, but I especially love the fitted hip or it would look like a sack. Though I don’t mind sack dresses…this pattern is s keeper!

  6. I am amazed you got that out of 2 yards! Nice work… I have this pattern. I pull it out every 6 months or so because I love it so much but still have not made it yet. Maybe 2016 will be the year! 😉

    • I would love to see your version. I might make it again, too. Let’s stage a revival for this little pattern! It is really on-trend, I think.

  7. Thrifting scores are so awesome! The yoke on this dress adds just the perfect amount of balance. You look fantastic, and I spied your collection on PR which is a beautiful set of summer happy!

  8. Helena, you have such a unique eye and style, delicate and pretty! It is always apparent that your selection of fabric and pattern are thoughtfully put together. A gorgeous dress!!!

    • Thank you, dear friend! You always have such thoughtful, sweet things to say and I appreciate your comments so much!

  9. This is absolutely beautiful – I love the shape of the top and the yoke is just perfect. I just bought this pattern from Etsy and your version is a million times nicer than the pattern envelope. I’m so excited to make it now.

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