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Saturday, August 30, 2014

· A 1930s Summer Dress ·

This could also be titled, "My Most Successful Re-Fashion EVER". :-)

This 1930s dress started out life as a Regency dress.  I don't really know why I decided to buy this fabric, because I never really liked it.  And the only colors are shades of grey! (not a favorite color...)  The dress was pretty much doomed from the beginning and was singularly unattractive and extraordinarily unflattering.  I wish I had pictures of it to give you a striking "before and after", but really- it was so horrible that I don't think I'd ever actually post the picture.

At any rate, it was transferred from box to box over the years, waiting for a re-fashion since there was a decent amount of usable fabric.  Again, I'm not sure why I was so obsessed with the idea of re-using fabric I never liked, but I think I just desired a challenge. ;-)

I got this Vintage Pattern Lending Library pattern as a gift, and after carefully laying out the pieces, I discovered that I could just *barely* fit it! :-)

As far as I can remember (I made this last summer), the pattern went together smoothly.  I was so happy that I finally got a 30s dress that was as long as I always want!  I seem to end up making them a bit on the short side, and I was really hoping for a long 30s look for this one. :-)

Grey isn't my color, so I made the neck ties lined with cream so that I'd have a more flattering color by my face. :-)  It was quite obvious that I'd need an accent color to "make" the dress, and red seemed like the ideal choice. ;-)  I had these bright red buttons and ribbon in the stash, and they always seemed outdated (in a 1990s sort of way) and frankly, ugly.  However, they really go well with the dress, and I love it!!  I'm so glad I ended up keeping them. :-)  I also happened to have a belt buckle the right color- it was meant to be!

This hat was a re-fashion last year, and turned out just as I hoped!  Hurrah!

For some reason, I decided to use this as an opportunity to practice my hand-sewn buttonholes.  On the bias.  In a thin cotton.  It ended up just being an opportunity to practice being frustrated with my buttonholes (something I excel at without any practice!).  My consolation is that the fabric hides them very well. ;-)

And then, it turns out that the dress goes on easily without unbuttoning anyway, so I didn't need them.  Oh well. ;-)

These puffy sleeves are so cute!  The only trick is getting the band *just* tight enough to hold them up without cutting off circulation. ;-)

The bodice has lots of unique, quintessentially 30s styling to it!  The ties at the neck are cut in one piece with the bodice and the dramatic zig-zagged closure is fun!  The rest of the seaming (where the bodice extends into the skirt at the front) ended up not being visible on my dress, but I'm looking forward to highlighting that on another version!

This pattern is SO COOL, and I can't wait to make another one. :-)

Aaaaannnnd, did you notice the suitcase in the first few shots??  I have lots of suitcases, but never had the "fabric-like" kind.  They are quite pricey in our area, so I've been admiring from afar for quite a while.  When I happened upon a stack of three at our local festival for less than the usual price of one, I knew it was meant to be. :-D

· Photos by Kathryn! ·


  1. Lily, this dress is gorgeous!!! Your whole ensemble from shoes to suitcase to your hat, not to mention your dress of course, looks like you stepped right out of the 30's! And your buttonholes are beautifully done! Much better than how mine turn out sometimes... ahem, most of the time. :P. And I love how the red creates such a pop in the otherwise "plain" dress. Gorgeous!

    the Middle Sister and Singer

  2. Ooooooooh I absolutely love this! I actually love the color grey! And the red is the per-fect color with it. I can not wait to make a 1930s dress!! Beautiful job, as always!!!

  3. OMG you look amazing! This might be one of the most adorable 30's dresses that I've ever seen. And I love that you repurposed another costume to make it. So inspiring!

  4. This dress makes me like the 30's!! :-)

  5. I love this dress! The fabric is lovely, especially with the kicks of red to brighten it. And I love the design. Love! Lots of love!


  6. I just love your work. I'll be popping by often as Im costuming a 1930's play soon. Have you ever considered costume design?

    1. Justine,

      Your play sounds like a lot of fun! The 1930s is such an interesting decade for clothing! No, I haven't really considered costume design on a large scale.... I'm too timid to be confident about that. ;-)

  7. How fabulous! This dress looks awesome on you!

  8. Oh, I love those jaunty little 1930s hats. Very dear to my heart! :) Lovely work as always, Lily. The details are amazing!

  9. Beautiful! This dress turned out so well in the end!!! <3

  10. I'll say it was all meant to be! You did a great job on the dress and hat, they turned out well. Hreat deal on the suit cases!

  11. This IS an amazing pattern! I've never done a 1930s pattern, but I'm really hoping to. You've done an amazing job of bringing a lot of personality to this dress. The cream and red are perfect accents!

  12. Such a lovely style! It truly looks authentic. I love the tiny sleeve bands. : )


  13. To, to cute!! I am not a fan of grey either (or brown) I find it to draby on me, but the red trim and buttons
    really make the dress "pop". Beautiful job as always!

  14. Thank you all so much! I'm rather fond of this dress, too! :-)

  15. Gorgeous work! And that hat is amazing! I just stopped by from a round up on The Sewing Rabbit and I think I'll be here for a while!

  16. This is fantastic! I love the little pop of color against the gray fabric! Also I just checked out your post on refashioning your straw hat. Using wave clips is an excellent idea. I'll have to give that a try if I ever come across a decent straw hat to refashion.

  17. Brilliant redo! I love the lines of this dress and the way the red pops!


  18. Considering all the 'ugly' components of the dress, the final product is absolutely amazing! You definitely have an eye for style.



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