July 15, 2015

Another go

I'm having another go at making a 1930's dress... The previous two attempts didn't (really) work out (the first one was a huge shapeless sack with tiny holes for the neck and arms and the second one became more or less wearable after a lot of tinkering) and even the blouse I tried first was less than a complete success. On the one hand, I'm starting to think the styles of this decade are just not for me. On the other hand, I don't think I have a crazy kind of shape, my bust and hip measurement even belong to roughly the same size on the 1930's Gracieuse sizing chart, so there seems to be no reason why I could not make it work. Maybe I am just too used to the 1950's aesthetic.

Anyway, last weekend, I had another look at the options I put on my Pinterest board. I didn't just look at the pretty pictures on my computer, no, I looked them all up in their magazines and had a look at the pattern pieces. I have noticed before that some illustrations which look really complicated and interesting actually have very ordinary patterns. And sometimes, it's the other way round. 
Studying the patterns and considering the time of year limited the number of options considerably. 
In the end, I decided to go with this dress:

The one on the left, an evening dress from October 1933. This is one of only two designs on my board which is (partly) cut on the bias. 
Every time I've talked about 1930's dresses here, I get comments about how 1930's dresses should be cut on the bias. Now, I'm sure this was true for those sleek show-stopping dresses worn by Hollywood starlets but it certainly wasn't true for what normal women wore every day. It makes sense really, who would want to use the most fabric-hungry style of cutting in a time of serious economic crisis? 
Based on my original patterns, I would say bias cut was very rare (to non-existent) in designs for normal people until 1933. From that year, it shows up occasionally. Usually in skirts and most of the time for evening wear. 

In this design those skirt pieces, which start in points above the waist, are cut on the bias. the short bodice and flutter sleeves are supposed to be made from a double layer of tule. 
I rather like the shape of those pieces. The oddly shaped armscye and the circular sleeve...

To preserve the 82-year-old pattern sheet, I'm tracing the pattern this way. It is tricky but it works. 

The fabric I'm using is this very soft cotton with beige and black stripes. I have close to four meters of it but unfortunately, it has these wide beige stripes at every meter or so. If I had had four 'panels' of stripes, I would have used those and cut without those wide stripes but I don't. I have no other choice than to try and incorporate them into the look.
The fabric was really annoying to cut. Before I could even lay out the pieces, I had to cut off the selvedges because they were pulling the edges in. Without selvedges, the stuff is incredibly shifty and moves around all the time. It should make for a nice fluid drape to the final product but it's a nightmare to cut and I have no illusions about what it will be like to sew...
I'm trying to match the stripes at center front and back. I'll have to see about the sideseams. The bodice will be black tule.

I'll start sewing tomorrow. Hopefully, it will be third time lucky! 


  1. Could you post a photo of a portion of the pattern sheet? Does not look like the lines are colored, so how many different kinds of lines can there be? (I know, a lot...)

  2. Can't wait to see this dress finished. Good luck!

  3. Also, if you don't want the wide beige stripes on the fabric, I think you can just sew the beige stripes closed the width of the small beige stripes like a pleat or a tuck before you cut into the fabric.

    1. I meant to say,"...closed TO BE the width of the small beige stripes".