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Thursday, July 23, 2015

· 1930s Penny Rose Dress ·

As promised, here are the details of my latest 1930s dress. :-)

As I mentioned in my pocket tutorial post for this dress, I knew I wanted to use this fabric right away when I discovered Penny Rose fabrics!  My inspiration for the dress were classic 1930s cotton print dresses made from feedsacks and the like.

I searched through Pinterest for inspiration and quickly realized that I needed to have a white organdy collar with a giant fluffy bow to finish off the look!

I knew I wanted these sleeves from VPLL T7357; so with statement sleeves and collar, the rest of the dress needed to be a basic, simple design.  I used the VPLL pattern as a base, making a few changes.
This is my second time using this pattern (first version here).  I made some fairly typical alterations for my body and since this fabric has more body, I decided to make the skirt portion fitted rather than being belted in.  That necessitated making a waist seam in the front (due to the original seaming and shaping, there isn't a waist seam) so I could have a fitted skirt and blousy bodice.

These 1980s Etienne Aigner shoes are fabulous for earlier 20th century outfits- classic enough to go from the 1910s through the 30s.  And much more afforable and easy to find on eBay! ;-)

These sleeves.  So ridiculously faddish in a 1930s sort of way!  I recently realized one of the reasons behind my passion for wearing historical styles all the time- I am naturally very cautious and practical about my purchases and I like to ensure that each and every expenditure will be well-used for years to come.

Well, the very nature of fashion is change.... so that means clothing styles can easily fall out of style.  The allure of vintage is that it either has (1) stood the test of time and is perennially classic or (2) is a "fad" style like this that is now so out-dated that being a fad is not an issue! ;-)

So there you go- with vintage, I have the freedom to embrace fads I love and the security of knowing my money and effort will still be put to practical purposes. :-)

However, faddish or not- these sleeves are so fun and unique!  They're made from what are essentially 2 circles sewn together on the outer edges with holes cut in the centers of each for the armsyce and the cuff.
(Added bonus- due to the shape, these sleeves give complete range of motion and absolutely no restriction! ;-))

The fashion nerd in me was geeking out when I saw the pattern shape, because in the 1830s, puffy sleeves were all the rage and there is an extant garment in Patterns of Fashion, 1660-1860 that features circular sleeves, too!  Fashion echoed itself exactly 100 years later.  So fun!

I am now secretly (or not-so-secretly since I just announced it to the internet...) hoping that we get a little fad in the 2030s for circular sleeves!  I might even be tempted to dabble in contemporary clothing on such an occasion, just for the fashion-history-nerdy-ness of it all. ;-) 

We found a set of 6 of these adorable little "hershey's kiss" buttons at an antique mall a few years ago, and I was thrilled to finally use them!

I love it when I can use a fabulous vintage buckle on my dress!  And I love it when it is just the perfect color.  And I really love it when it echoes the (previously decided) design lines of the dress.

In short- this buckle makes me happy. ;-)

The bow is made from a single layer of bias-cut organdy and is edged with narrow self-fabric bias tape.

The bow is held in place and given its shape by a brooch.  The collar is removable and is edged with bias tape at the neck edge and basted to the inside of the dress neckline.

This dress was a great canvas for a cute little decorative 1930s pocket.  I based mine off of this illustration (far right), and I blogged about a tutorial for making one over here.

I used the VPLL pattern for the skirt pieces, which includes V seaming at the hips and a large box pleat in the center front.  The decorative seaming gets rather lost in the print, but I know it's there- and that's really all that matters, right? ;-)

This dress fought me every step of the way, but you know what?  All the frustrations fade away when I look at how happy I am with the result that I strove and conquered so much to achieve. :-)

· Photos by Kathryn! ·


  1. So lovely! I love the 1930s on you. :)

  2. I could look at this dress all. day. long. It's so gorgeous, Lily, and it's the perfect style on you!! The design is absolutely perfect for the fabric, and the details you added are spot-on. The buttons are adorable, I love the buckle, and that bow and collar are gorgeous!!
    I'll never cease to be inspired and amazed by the attention to detail on your dresses! They always have so much character.
    Lovely job, Lily! Beautiful as always!!

    P.S. I just made one of your pockets yesterday for my 1930s dress, and I'll be posting it next week. :)

  3. Wow. That's really gorgeous. :-D Just WOW. :-)

  4. There are really no words to describe the drop dead fabulously gorgeousness of this dress when I see it! That coupled with your perfect hair, timeless shoes, and vintage grace = perfection :)

  5. The dress is gorgeous but you look beautiful in it! All the little details are perfect! X

  6. It just occurred to me -- with a dress with fun decorative seaming like that, adding piping or a bit of rickrack in the seam would help make the art deco lines pop! I find that I get a little disappointed if I put in all the fancy work and no one can tell!

    But that is a GORGEOUS dress. I love the sleeves (Anne of Green Gables would approve!), the print, the collar... all of it! 30s fashions are so much fun and you wear them well.

    -- Tegan

  7. You are so adorable!! I LOVE this pocket dress...that's what I'm calling it because of your pocket tutorial! Love the fabric and the whole look! Very well done!

  8. It's best we never meet, because I will snatch that dress right off you and run away. I love all your stuff, especially your '30s dresses. So iconic, great choice in fabric, and you're not afraid to "go there" with the fun collars, puffy sleeves, and deco details that make the '30s so interesting (to me, at least) !

  9. You look so lovely. This dress is great. The sleeves look amazing. I love it when fashion cycles like that.

  10. You look spelllbindingly beautiful in this dress and accompanying accessories. It is truly, hand on my heart, one of the most amazing 1930s outfits I've ever seen - including in movies/on TV - in the 21st century.

    ♥ Jessica

  11. This dress is gorgeous Lily! I love the giant puffy sleeves! Oh, and don't you just love finding fashion history echoed throughout the centuries? There were so many style lines of the 1630s that were echoed in the 1830s, and then now I see they were echoed in the 1930s too! Just goes to show how having a good knowledge of fashion history as you do gives you a greater appreciation for fashion in general.

    Oh, and those shoes? Perfect!


    the Middle Sister and Singer

    1. Brigid, ooh! Good point about the 1630s! I always forget about that decade, but you're right! :-) Hmmm... if only the 1730s hadn't disappointed.... ;-)

  12. How do you look so perfect in that style? :) It's beautiful!

  13. It's very lovely--I love the gentle, feminine lines of the 30s. Did you ever read the children's MacDuff stories? The fun part is that they're set in the 30s, so you get a taste of the fashion flavor.

    I'd love to know more about how you did the finding on the collar, and how organdy cut on the bias behaves.


    1. Krista, no, I'd never heard of those before! I should check them out. :-)

      And thanks for the suggestion on an organdy post! I'll add that to the docket of post ideas! :-)

  14. A wonderful make! All the details are so perfectly complimentary, and I love how they all come together to create such a fabulous dress. I think that whatever hassles the construction gave you, it was *definitely* worth the effort. Another stunning make from you Lily. :) ❤

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

  15. Thank you, thank you, thank you all!!! I am beyond flattered and humbled by your wonderful words! :-)

    Really- you all are the best of the best.

  16. Lately, I am obsessed with 1930s floral fabrics of the feed sack sort, and this is very like those. I love this dress. Unfortunately, I can't sew. I might try to learn if I weren't disabled but I know my body couldn't manage it. That means I'm constantly searching for vintage or vintage-style dresses. Someday, I'll hire my very own seamstress.

    Just today I was thinking that my love of vintage was, in part, because I don't have to worry whether what I'm wearing is in style right now, and then I read your post saying the same thing. Are we two great minds thinking alike?

    1. Nice to hear from you, Charlotte! Welcome, and thanks for commenting! And yes, I totally think we'd qualify as great minds. ;-)



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