Monday, July 19, 2010

Blue 1930's Summer Gown

I whipped up the skirt to my new dress on Saturday afternoon, while David read and dozed and the boys tried for hours to climb a certain tree outdoors. I put the last few stitches in mid-afternoon, and wore the dress to church yesterday. David took some pictures of it after we got home from church and I must apologize for this first photo. I have such a disdainful, arrogant look. I have no idea why, but I know it is Davids fault. For those of you who know David personally, you will know well that he is quite a tease and he delights in taking candid shots when his subjects are unsuspecting and occupied, for example, with telling a wayward child to not go into the patch of itch-weed. But let us not see the picture of that one.
Since I was pretty much on my own as far as pattern goes with this dress, I did make this up a little different from the inspiration image (see two posts below). The original style looks to be a yoked bodice with minimal fullness above the bust and at the waist, with short fluttery gathered sleeves or a set in short sleeve with a narrow ruffle edging, a smooth set six-gore skirt with sewn in pockets on the front skirt, a just-below-knee-length hem and a tie belt with a bow in the front.

Since the pattern image was from the 1940's, and I prefer the lines of the 1930's, I made up my bodice pretty close to the original image but I lengthened the skirt and tried to get it slimmer at the hipline. I think I need to try this skirt pattern again and take even more fullness from the hip/thigh area and flare it into the hem instead, but, for my first try with a from-scratch drafted skirt pattern, I was pretty happy with the results. For a better line, I think I ought to also lengthen the skirt by 1-2". It is longer than my pink dress I posted about last week but not quite as long as the between calf and ankle length that Nancy Bradfield describes 30's skirt hems in Costume in Detail. Since my figure is not flattered -yet- with smoothly set skirts (durn post-baby belly bulge!), this one has a little fullness at the waist which is gathered to the waistband at the same vertical lines as the gatheres on the yoke and lower bodice. To get slightly off topic, I love gathers. Or pleats. They are so slimming if done very lightly and in strategic places. Gathers lightly skim any lumps or bumps and smooth everything out - and any bulge is visually seen as the effect of the gathers, not physical demerits. :P

Instead of using a tie belt I made a narrow waistband and made a seperate sewn bow (not tied) that is pinned to the waistline of the dress with a big safety pin. This gives the visual appearance of a tied belt, but is far more structured and secure. No worries about twisting or slipping or the bow coming untied!

I did not put pockets on the dress as in the original image. I thought about it and even made a pattern piece for the pockets but in the end decided to leave them off. For one thing, pockets just seem "aprony" to me. This is okay if I were only to wear this dress at home, but I wanted to be able to wear it to church or other places if I want to. I would never wear an apron in public, so I left off the pockets. Another reason is that any aprons I make (and I really do need to make at least one or two new ones) will have pockets, and if I am wearing this dress at home, I will most likely be wearing an apron over it. So pockets on the dress would not really be necessary.

I used a lightweight blue cotton for this dress, which is printed with a viney/feathery design in white. I have no idea if this print is period correct (and I doubt it) but I had 9 yards of this on hand and it has been sitting in my sewing stash for about a year and I needed to start using it up. I used 3 yards for this dress. 6 to go. I love blue though and even if the fabric is not totally right, I still like how it looks. The dress is totally unlined except for the yoke area which is bag lined with white cotton.

Speaking of the yoke. . .I have found I detest square necklines. The original image had a nice square neckline and I thought to myself, how hard can that be? It was very hard. The square kept wanting to stretch, and I had to redo the neckline about three times. The finished shape is not really square like I wanted it to be. V necks or scoop necks or even sweetheart necklines are so much easier to do.

Well that is all I can really say about this dress! It is a simple little style. I did try to do a 30's inspired hairstyle for church. I love the great images and tutorials on so since I have naurally wavy/curly hair, I tried the brush curls. I wetted my hair and combed styling lotion into each section before rolling it up and pinning it. They hardened into steely little sausages and I stupidly did not realize I was supposed to brush them out once the curls were dry. I may try comb waving at some point. But it is not a style I will do every day.

Have a wonderful week!


  1. Very pretty! The 30's is nice.

    Trying out vintage hairstyles to go with your vintage-style dresses is fun, but a bit tricky, I think. Most vintage styles call for waves or curls, and my hair won't hold, it goes straight at once...

  2. Sarah,
    Your new dress is so beautiful and flattering! The style is definitely "you", I think you found a keeper. :-D

  3. This turned out really sweetly Sarah! What a nice style.

    I hope you are having a lovely Monday!

    Lots of love,

  4. There's lots to like about this dress! And I'm with you--who cares if the fabric isn't 100% period correct?! If you like it, it's good enough. My 14 year old Dd has cut out a Regency era dress in a print that I'm sure isn't Regency Era, but she loves it, and that's good enough, as she's making the dress just to be a comfortable, flowing every-day gown. No need to be 100% period for that, unless you really WANT to.

  5. Sarah, that is too bad about your hair not holding a curl. :( I wish often I had straight, lovely, silky hair but for the 30's it seems at least wavy hair was in! Finally! My hair fits somewhere in history! :P I need to experiment more, David does like the styles from this time very much and complimented me on my hair several times. When I brushed it out last night, it was SOO poufy. I think I could manage a passable style if I sat down and really tried and had a few hours of uninterruped time. (yeah, like that will ever happen! :) )

    Hope Anne (BTW I love your name!) I think you are exactly right. This is just for everyday wear, and most people who will see me wear it will have no idea if the fabric is period correct or not, nor even know what decade this style is from. It falls under the general heading of "old fashioned", I suppose. :) As long as you like it, I agree, it is fine to use for everyday wear! Your daughter sounds a lot like me when I was that age! I was just getting into regency styles then and made my first regency gown from the original S&S pattern, out of a pretty floral, but definitely not period correct, cotton print. I loved that dress though and felt beautiful in it. That dress was the start of my love for recreating historic fashion!

  6. I love, love, love this dress! I've never really looked at 30's before. This is super cute on you.

    The regency dress was my first historical dress too, but I made it out of ridiculously slippery satin for Prom :) It was awful, but I was hooked.

  7. Love it!!! This style really suits you. You look gorgeous and comfortable elegant :-D

  8. Sarah, I think your dress is fantastic, it turned out better than the image on the pattern. You are so very talented and thank you for sharing the things you have created.


  9. I'm trying to think of who you remind me of. I think it's one of the old movie stars from back in the day. I just love LOVE your 30's wardrobe.

  10. Dear Sarah,

    You look just lovely! The blue is a great color on you and the dress is extremelly flatering :)

    I also do not like square necklines. They tend to frame my face all wrong :)

    I like the skirt...and I agree, this dress is everyday wear - very pretty everyday wear ;).

    Thank you for being such an inspiration to all of us that visit your lovely place.


  11. I love 30's clothes on you. I made a 30's evening dress several years ago from a Simplicity reprint. I love that dress.

    Your dress looks so airy and cool. I've done 1 square neckline that I recall and didn't have a problem. Maybe it was the fabric? The skirt looks fine on you. You are too hard on yourself. You don't look pudgy at all, and you definitely have a waist. I'm with you on the pockets. I think the dress would look too 'around the house' with them. As it is, it's acceptable for at home and going out.

    I hope you're staying cool! Your veggies look wonderful in your last post. We are getting a few tomatoes every day or so. I bought a bag of chips in anticipation of getting enough for a bowl of fresh salsa.

  12. Sarah, your dress is adorable and flattering on you (and I think your hairstyle is cute, brushed out or not)! I'm so happy you're foraging into 1930s styles as I can live vicariously and make up the for the lack of vintage sewing I've done lately. ;-)

  13. Hi Sarah...

    I love this dress :) ) :) Wow, you sure know a lot about sewing. I admire you. I haven't sewn with a machine in quite awhile. I bought a singer sewing machien at Target a few years back...thinking I'd make quilts etc. Well, no, I have never used the machine...yet...anyway..and any sewing I've done has been by hand,mainly on a flannel quilt I'm working on!!! :) :)
    I love 1930s things...of course I love anything vintage...1940s or earlier!!! Have a great Tuesday. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  14. Sarah,

    You look really cute in this dress. You could've stepped right out of the 30's, especially with the way you did your hair! My favorite part of the dress is the yoke...adorable! Your little vintage dresses are inspiring me to make some of my own.

    (*also...I'm glad to know I'm not the only one that has to deal with the "post baby buldge" as you called it*)

  15. Jackie, that is one of the nicest compliments I've ever received! :D Thanks!

    Emily, me too, I can't wait to make some fresh salsa! We're getting a little bowful of cherry tomatoes each day right now, and maybe one or two "big" ones, mostly the yellow tomatoes right now but the Cherokee purples are starting to turn purple! I too used a reprint Simplicity pattern for a 30's dress a few years ago, I wonder if it was the same pattern?

    Heather, I admire you for handsewing! Some of the most wonderful seamstresses I know (Lauren for example!) sew mostly all the time by hand. I usually use my machine for the main parts and hand sew finishing things if I have to. I really ought to handsew more. The flannel quilt sounds wonderful and cozy!

    Jenni, I do hope you try vintage styles! I'd love to see what you come up with. You are an amazing seamstress and put so much into all the things you make, I know it would be a feast for the eyes for sure!

    And yes, I asked my mom once if the belly bulge would go away and she said nope. :) I guess it is a badge of motherhood!

  16. Another beautiful dress, the style really suits you :-)


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!