August 3, 2014


 My 1920's dress is finished and I'm really happy with it. As it turns out, this is not just a look I 'had to do' for my Vintage Pattern Pledge. I love this dress. It absolutely feels like something you'd wear to dance the night away in some glamorous place...

As you may remember, I used this design from Gracieuse magazine from 1929. I used the pattern as provided because, as far as I could tell from their rather limited sizing table, my measurements should be about spot-on for size 45 (the sizes are by half bust measurement and the only vertical measurement provided is 'front length' without any explanation. I figured that with a loose fitting garment like this, it might not cause trouble). 
The fabric I used is black viscose crepe, the same stuff I used for my little jumpsuit and for my bias cut experiments, just a different colour.

Contrary to the instructions, I cut the neck band as separate piece and lined it with the same fabric, the neck edge stabilized with a light fusible interfacing. I decided against interfacing the band as a whole because I didn't want to compromise the flow-y nature of the garment. In the front bodice, there's a fairly shallow bust dart between the neck band and the main bodice piece which you were supposed to hide in the narrow pin-tuck which should simulate a neck band. In my construction, the dart had simply been converted to differently shaped edges at the front seam. 
For the skirt, the instructions were useful. From the picture, you can't tell whether the back 'tail' is applied over the skirt or forms a part of it. On this, the instructions were clear: Narrowly hem the flounces, apply them to the skirt as indicated and them sew the 'tail' between the skirt pieces. So, I did.
Then, the top and skirt fit together easily.

And then it looked like this...

Which looks like a period silhouette but is just a bit... blah. And if this is the intended fit, then why does the drawing show a skirt which is snug at the high hip and has the bodice blousing over it? Like this, the dress is an ever-so-slight A-line with a lot of extra room at the hips so I don't think it's all down to my measurements. 
I played around with it in front of the mirror and found a solution:

When folding a pleat at the back, to the width of the 'tail', the dress got that fit at the hip I was looking for. And started looking really good.
So, I sewed that pleat. I don't know if this is just me cheating immensely or if this might be something you were supposed to do. The silhouette looks like the drawing now... 
Two of my great-grandmothers, from whose time this pattern comes, were professional seamstresses, I wonder what they would have made of this. Of course, they might have had a better idea of what a dress like this should really look like.

I finished the dress with that pleat in place. All the narrow hemming was done on the serger. Not period accurate but much easier and nicer in a fabric like this. Of course, I didn't go for the kind of close stitching and high tension that gives a lettuce hem... That would have been so wrong for this dress.

I had to do a bit of a search to find the right ornaments to decorate the dress. The instructions mention 'agarves', a word I can't translate because I don't even know what it means in Dutch. They are decorations for center front and back. Finally, I bought a cheap, black-and-bling necklace at the market and cut pieces to fit the dress. I will have to take these bits off for laundry but I think they work for the look.

And, as I said before, this dress is way out of my comfort zone but I love it. Loose and flowing, it makes me feel free, feminine and happy.
I should really try and make more 1920's dresses (even if only to find out what the silhouette really should be).


  1. fantastic, love it and looks so pretty on you.

  2. That is gorgeous! The pleat detail really made all the difference :)

  3. Beautiful! I love the elegance of it and it really suits you -- you're a 20's gal! ;) Great job!

  4. It's easy to see how much you love it in the photos! Love this dress!

  5. This dress is a dream!

  6. It looks really really nice! Great job.

  7. Gorgeous! It looks lovely on you.

  8. It does look like fun to wear!

  9. Wow! This is just gorgeous, and you look gorgeous in it too! I really love the skirt longer at the back like that. A small detail like that really ups the glamour level somehow, and the little alteration you made made all the difference. Beautiful!

  10. I love it! As you said didn't love it before the alteration, but now the fit is great. Somehow you've managed to make it definitely of the period but contemporary too, I think the length helps a lot.

  11. Gorgeous! The black makes it feel so modern. I find these silhouettes so difficult to wear since we're used to emphasizing our waists but it looks gorgeous on you.

  12. I have been so much enjoying your exploration of vintage patterns and magazines, and it is a real treat to see how you made this one into a reality. Your dress is beautiful and glamorous.

  13. Beautiful pattern and a beautiful dress! You are very unique too - not everyone has a 1929 dress!

  14. Beautiful! The shape is just perfect.