September 29, 2014


This is actually something I worked on before I went on holiday: the second installment of my Vintage Pattern Pledge, a 1930's dress from an unprinted pattern. I already blogged about it here, when I was just getting started.

In that post, I already mentioned the absence of grain markings and the tricky tucks which form the shoulder yoke. 
The rest of the dress was rather simpler to put together. There were no markings anywhere for closures though and no instructions about that either. I quickly noticed that the neckline would definitely need some kind of opening though, so I kept the center back of the yoke unstitched.

When I first tried the dress on, I still needed to make some more room to fit my head through. I might look like a sort of mid-depth square neckline in the drawing, the reality is very high indeed.

Of course, the dress is still unhemmed, the sleeves would need pleating in at the bottom and the neckline still has to be finished.
But why bother. It is supremely unflattering. I had high hopes for the styles of the early 1930's because they look so elegant in the illustrations. Even though I know I am the wrong shape for this era. 

The dress is not only extremely baggy (I'm pulling it in a bit behind my back in this picture) with a very high, tight neckline, those big sleeves also have rather tight armholes. Either he armscyes are too high for me, or even the top of the bodice is too wide. Quite probably both...

Belting it sort helps with the look although I don't think you are supposed to belt a 1930's dress as tightly as this.

I don't particularly feel like trying to fix this. One of my reasons to want to try these old patterns is to get an understanding of the real period shapes. I don't think I could make this dress look flattering on me and yet have it look like a proper 1930's dress.

Looking more carefully at the dress in this 1930's photograph, I have to say it looks rather sack-shaped as well, so maybe that's how it is supposed to look...

If you know, please tell me.
In the mean time, I won't continue working on this dress but I may try another 1930's item from a Gracieuse magazine. At least with those, I'm sure which size the design is meant for.


  1. I think that the styles just aren't really flattering to today's eyes. At the time they did nit want women to look like women but boys and it was a real comment against the corseted hourglass figure. I do think what we see goes through a cultural filter so they would see things differently to us. I don't like 30s on me, much preferring the 50s silhouette.

  2. In spring this year I've been working on early 30s styles as well and used instructions for drafting the top - it was enormously too big and wide. I was also astonished to see that the instructions for making the skirt (which looked streamlined and rather tight in the picture) resulted in a a-line skirt with a lot of swish and fullness all around.
    But I also own an early 30s dress and this one does look like all the pictures ... all quite confusing. I gave it a rest but want to try again although I am not without hips :-D