Tuesday, July 27, 2010

1930's "Ultra-Modern Magic Bias Slip"

Greeting dear friends;

As this sultry summer weather suffocates the midwest I have found renewed inspiration to continue making 1930's style dresses for summer wear. After I finished my most recent dress, I discovered I needed a slip or underdress to wear beneath it. Since a search through the local thrift shops for a full length slip was fruitless, I began researching 1930's underwear and came across these lovely instructions for a 1930's bias cut slip: http://dressmakingresearch.com/1930s_under_dress.htm

With nothing to loose, I set about making this slip for myself. It is my first ever bias cut garment so I was confounded at first by the odd cutting and sewing insructions. However, I followed them to almost a T, and it produced a very serviceable slip - plus I'll have the satisfaction of knowing it is period correct when I wear it with my dresses! :)

It is odd to wear a bias cut garment. It moves differently on the body and clings and drapes differently. I don't know if I exactly like it, but I will get used to it. The only thing I changed on the directions was the length and drafting of the skirt piece. I made my own piece (very similar however to the pattern instructions) since I didn't want to fool with making the pattern piece as the instructions said. I eyeballed and measured and it came out good enough. :P

The bodice is made of 4 squares of fabric and the instructions called for cutting them out as 15" square. I assumed that since I am probably larger than the average size woman of the 1930's I'd need to make the squares bigger. I originally cut them out at 20" square. Well, that was way too huge due to the way the bias fabric drapes so I ended up using 15" squares after all.

I don't have pictures yet of my new dress but here is a sneak peek: I think this one is my favorite so far. I decided I like the early-mid 30's a lot better than the later years, so tried to go for that look with this dress.

Have a lovely week!


  1. That's a beautiful slip - and it looks extraordinarily useful! :) You are so talented! I'm always in awe of your sewing projects. :)


  2. Very cute! You could almost wear it as a dress :-)

  3. Oh Sarah! I know I'm going to love your new dress. Seriously, where do you find the time?? :) But then, your boys are big enough to entertain themselves a little with each other. I need to have another baby! That's my solution! :) Victoria will have a playmate then...

    I just realized it's Tuesday. Oops! I've been thinking it was Monday all day so far!

  4. WOW--that is a very different way to make a slip . . . thanks for sharing with us. And I can't wait to see what you do with your new collection of fabric and buttons. (I have a dress with a vest that I have the exact same style and color of buttons as the fastening on the vest!)

    30 Days of Prayer for Katya

  5. Amy, I think you may have hit the nail on the head! I did very little sewing when little David was small and also when Judah was a baby. I did not really get back into sewing routinely until Judah was almost a year old - and by then, he and David would play together for good amounts of time so I was not constantly needing to attend to a lonely little child! :P

    Lauren, yes, it almost would make a nice sundress wouldn't it? I don't know if I'd feel comfortable wearing this out in public but I did think seriously of making a few in light weight cotton for summer nighties.

    Right now I really need to make some aprons though! Got to keep these new dresses clean! :)

  6. Oh I love it! You've totally inspired me, I've got to start trying my hand at this style! Do you have any tips on where to start looking for inspiration? Thank you dear. :) I can not wait to see your red and cream dress!!

  7. Oooh, Tilly, fun! :) Yes, you DO need to try this style! I love it! I think these styles would look darling on you.

    For inspiration, I looked first at the 1930's era patterns from Eva Dress. Then I looked at the ones from Past Patterns. Also fashion-era.com has a nice section on 1930's clothes/links, and I did ebay searches for 30's dresses and patterns and such and looked at antique garments on antique clothing sites. Though the antique dresses were usually fancier evening types, so they weren't really that helpful. It seems I am always most interesting in what a common, stay at home, active wife/mom may have worn. . .what I may have worn had I lived then and have the lifestyle I do now. There were a few catalog pages from Sears from I think 1934 that I LOVED! Major inspiration! Very nice examples of everyday, practicle attire.

    This newest dress was based off an illustration for a Past Patterns pattern, from, I think either 31 or 32.

  8. Sarah-

    I have a question for you that's not related to this post, but I figured you'd be more likely to see it here. Did you use a pattern for your 1860's crossover dress (or a combination of patterns)? And if so, what pattern(s)? I completely fell in love with it and would love to make myself a similar one.

    Thank you!

    In Christ Our Strength,


  9. Hi Lauren!

    For my crossover dress, I just made a (very easy!) modification to the basic bodice pattern I use for all my dresses. Way Way back in time, this bodice pattern was once from the Homespun Visiting Dress pattern, which is a basic dart fitted style of the time. (however for cotton fabrics I do not dart the outer fabric but gather or tuck/pleat it instead of darting it).

    The skirt is made from Mrs. Clarks instructions on how to make a skirt in "Skirting The Issue" or her free pattern for an underskirt from her website.

    The sleeves are one piece narrow coat sleeves I drafted based on Mrs. Clarks instructions in her book "Dressmakers Guide" though I have the early edition, not the new one that sounds like its double packed with goodies and info!

    So anyway, to modify the basic pattern. . .trace the pattern shape of your bodice front on paper. Measure out appx. 4-6" from the bottom front edge. Mark that point and extend the bottom edge of the bodice to meet that point. Then draw a line from that point up the very inside edge of the neck opening. You will have your basic bodice pattern shape with an extended lower edge, diagonally slanting back to the normal neckline at the top of the bodice. This makes the crossover. Test it out in a muslin first to make sure the fit is good. The point where the bodice crosses over itself (making a V-neck) should be above the line of your chemise, you can also pin this position in place with a bow or a brooch to help hold it shut.

    The lining is made as a normal darted lining. The lining is not attached to the skirt at the center front and fastens seperately from the crossover bodice.

    Hope this helps some! I really like this style!

  10. That is such a pretty slip, and it looks very comfortable and serviceable. I can't wear nylon slips any more. They really, really bother me. I have one cotton half, one knit half, and that's about it. I have been needing to sew some new slips for a while. I'm heartened by your statement that you sew more now then when the older boys were babies. I barely sew now, it seems. I want to so much but it's pretty much impossible. I get to it when I can, and I keep holding out hope that better days are around the corner, when there are enough babies that maybe they might play together a little while instead of eating markers or destroying the desk alone.

    I can't wait to see your new dress. Red and cream is one of my favourite colour combinations.

  11. Hi Sarah! Thank you for the link to the slip instructions. That slip looks like it would be so comfortable underneith those adorable little dresses you are making....such a tease for this new one you are making! What kind of fabric did you use for your slip?

  12. Jenni, I actually cut down a sheet for this slip. I didn't know if it would work out for me so didn't want to ruin "good" fabric for it. The sheet was meant to be cut up for mocks ups eventually but seemed to work okay for the slip. I think its probably a poly/cotton blend.

    I wore this slip with my dress all day yesterday and think now I need to make one of silk or rayon like the pattern suggested. My dress kept riding up and since the slip beneath wasn't slippery, the waistband tended to get stuck up around my ribcage and not come down unless I pulled at it.

    So maybe this slip will be one for looser dresses, or else a nightie. . .and this gives me an excuse to get new fabric for a better slip!

    Emily, me too, I detest nylon slips!

    The red and cream fabric is one I've been wanting to use for a while. I think I got it last summer before we moved planning to make a 50's style dress with it. But I didn't, so now it has come in handy for this project.

  13. Hi Sarah..

    This is lovely. I love the design and it's wonderful. You really have skill. I love clothes from this era....even the underclothes had style :) :) :) Have a lovely week. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

    p.s. Did you ever see the movie "A Walk in the Clouds" with Keanu Reeves? It came out in 1995, I think..give or take a year. There's this scene where it's nighttime and everyone's in the orchard trying to save the grapes from frost. One of the characters is wearing a lovely satin nightgown..but the angles in the front reminded of the one you made. It's lovely :)

  14. The slip is interesting, I have never seen one like it. It turned out nice!
    I can hardly wait to see your new dress. The fabric is pretty!
    Faith G.

  15. Thank you Sarah, that helps a lot! It is a beautiful style.


  16. Good for you! That is a very lovely slip. You did a great job not only in sewing but your discription. Gabrielle @ Loose Buttons


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!