Finished: Late 1930s Tulip Dress & Halo Hat

1930s Tulip Dress, Hat & Coat

Outfit Details

1930s Persian Lamb Trimmed Coat – Bought from a theatre costume company
Late 1930s Tulip Dress – Made by Me
Late 1930s Heart-shaped Halo Hat – Made by Me
Crochet Flower Brooch – Made by Me
1930s Black Leather Bag – Stardust Years Vintage
Yellow 1930s Style Shoes – Hotter

On a rather blustery Saturday a couple of weekends ago we headed down to the Dig for Victory Show near Bristol. Whilst eating our picnic in the car (it was way too windy to eat it outside) I spotted a nice open field where we could take some photos of the outfit I wore. I’ve been dying to show you the dress in this post for a while, but I wanted to save it until I had all of the accessories sorted to go with it.

1930s Persian lamb trim coat

Firstly though I’d like to talk about my new-to-me 1930s Redingote coat, which fits me like a glove. This beautiful and almost perfect coat cost me just £10!!! I bought it from a theatre costume company who were selling off a huge part of their stock before they moved premises. The majority of it was badly made costumes, but a small selection was original vintage pieces. I bought this coat, a 1930s blouse that Louisa Durrell would be proud of and a late 1930s white dress, which was most likely a waitresses uniform.

The blouse and dress, which cost me just £1 each, have a few specks of rust on them that refuse to come out. The coat, however, just needed a couple of seams restitching on the lining. Also, the Persian lamb wool that trims the neck and front opening has thinned just a little on one side of the neck. Apart from that it’s perfect and, because of its style, it can be worn for the 1920s, 30s and 40. Not bad for £10!

Late 1930s Tulip Dress

The coat was a godsend at the show as the wind was really quite cold. However, it was just about warm enough to strip off and show you the dress. I made this late 1930s tulip dress using an original 1940s pattern that I bought from Til The Sun Goes Down at The Knitting & Stitching Show last year.

The fabric is also vintage, although I have no idea from what era. It was bought as part of a huge haul I got from a lady my Mum knew who had decided to clear out her old stash. I instantly spotted it in her enormous pile because of the bright colours. As soon as I pulled it out I knew I had to have it as I could immediately see it would be perfect for this kind of dress. Aren’t the tulips beautiful?

It feels like a soft cotton crepe, if there’s such a thing. It’s got a wonderful drape to it and it’s of medium weight. There was about four metres in total but the only issue was that it had quite a few tears in it. After a good wash, I ironed it and attached a safety pin to every hole I could find. I went through it with a fine tooth comb, not once, but three times. After I cut the dress pieces out around the tears, and was about half way through making it, I spotted a hole I’d missed right on the front bust! Noooo! Thankfully it was quite small, so all I did was carefully added a tiny piece of cotton based, iron on, interfacing to the inside. So far, it’s held and cannot be seen. Phew!

1930s dress shoulder yoke

The shoulder yokes are my favourite part of the dress. The bust area gathers into them and then they’re top-stitched in place. The row of seven buttons on each one wasn’t actually part of the pattern, but I saw this detail on a dress Jenny (the backstabbing one!) wears in the second season of Homes Fires. Her dress was black, with a bright floral pattern on it, and had shoulder yokes so, as it was so similar, I decided to add buttons to mine.

1930s back closure

They matched perfectly with the eight buttons going down the back for the neck closure. I had these made by my usual button maker, London Button Company, and I wish I’d got two more done, so I could add eight to each shoulder to match, rather than the seven I ended up with. Ah well!

The only other closure to the dress is a left side opening secured with vintage poppers (vintage ones are much better quality than modern ones and tend not to pop open by accident). The pattern actually said that this was the utility closure method, but it did have instructions for an alternative zip closure if you had one to hand. The only way that would happen when this pattern was made was by taking it out of another garment as zips were only reserved for the military.

1930s tulip dress

The skirt part of the original pattern had huge stick out pockets on the hip and, as I have high and wide hips, this was never going to suit me. I also wanted something more 1930s looking and the original design was oh-so-1940s. I ended up creating a more figure hugging skirt with a gradual A-line using the same pattern I used for my burgundy skirt which I think works perfectly.

1930s dress buckle detail

I also had to do a bit of a fiddle with the bodice. The upward pointing waist area somehow ended up too low and was closer to my waist than my bust, where it was supposed to sit. After cursing many, many times from top-stitching it in place and realising it still wasn’t right, I finally got it sorted.

I then made a matching belt using the last off cuts of the fabric and added an original 1930s yellow buckle. This very Art Deco buckle has had quite a journey in its lifetime. I bought it as part of a set with matching buttons and they were all still attached to the original card. They were made in Germany but I bought them from a lady in America, who then sent them to me in the UK. How they’d never been used is beyond me!

Late 1930s halo hat

My halo hat is my latest hand blocked one. I based it on both my first hat and one owned by my Instagram friend, Sarah. I wanted it in the same sort of heart shape as hers, although mine ended up wider on the brim and deeper in the crown. It wasn’t hard to do, though, as I pretty much followed the technique of my first one, but just didn’t stretch the brim out quite so much.

The purple crochet flower brooch was a last minute job the day before we went, as it desperately needed a bit of colour to it to match the dress. I haven’t really got the knack of trimming hats yet, never really knowing what would work and what wouldn’t, but that won’t stop me trying. I did add some of the off-cuts of the hat around the area where the brim meets the crown though, just like one of my 1930s has, to create definition.

The brooch was pretty simple to make too, I just found a cute, and free, flower pattern online and sized it down. I then threaded a thin piece of wire through the centre of each one and added a small pearl bead at the top for the stamen. Finally, I wrapped green crochet cotton around the wire stem and secured it on the end with a tiny dab of glue. I found a tiny piece of yellow ribbon in my stash that was perfect for tying them together.

Late 1930s halo hat

I’m so pleased with this whole ensemble, it’s so lovely when everything just comes together. The 1930 tulip dress is definitely my current favourite dress to wear and it will get plenty more outing before the cold weather comes. Perhaps I need to crochet myself a purple cardigan to go with it for the winter!


Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. A lover of all things old, especially the 1930s, seamstress, crocheter, maker of hats and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.


    • Thank you Kate! I love this hat too, I can see me getting a lot of wear out of it xx

  1. I love a floral on a black background and I especially like the colours and painterly style of this one, dress is fabulous and wonderful hat too ;o)

    • Thank you Colette! I’ve never really been a big fan of floral on black, mainly because I don’t really wear black, but I’m definitely a convert with this dress. The painted style of the tulips definitely seems to make this print more interesting. xx

  2. Oh my goodness!!! The work and attention to detail that has gone into this dress and hat is superb. You must be incredibly proud! This is one of the most stunning ensembles, I would wear it all in a heartbeat. Kudos to your seemingly limitless talents! Let me know once you start taking hat orders 😉

    • Oh wow, thank you Sarah! I’m so blushing right now! I am proud of this one. It took a while to come together but it was definitely work it in the end. Hmmm, not sure I’m quite there yet with making hats for other people but you’ll be the first to know! xx

  3. This is a lovely ensemble, the coat was an amazing bargain, looks like you needed it too ! The dress shape is so flattering on you – fab

    • Thank you Emma! Yes, I couldn’t believe the price of the coat when I saw it on the ticket. I was absolutely convinced it had some major flaw that I just wasn’t spotting. It’s great because I’ve wanted a simple black vintage coat for a couple of winters now, so I do believe this one was destined to be mine! xx

  4. Gorgeous dress! It looks so very authentic, and those buttons and button loops are divine. The hat is beautiful as well! I love the heart-like shape <3 You have re-inspired me to get going on all the floral rayon I have in my stash waiting to become dresses is a similar style!

    • Thank you Bianca! Ooo, yes, I’d love to see that dress when it’s done. I felt good using fabric from my stash and a pattern I’d had for at least six months, rather than buying it all new. xx

  5. beautiful outfit (cannot believe you got that original coat – and one that fits so well – fabulous)

    • Thank you Eimear! I know, I couldn’t believe that coat either, anywhere else you’d pay over £100 for something like that. xx

  6. I’m loving all those fabric covered buttons! I didn’t know you could have them made, I’ve always used those do it yourself kits (sometimes they don’t stay together very well). I’ve been thinking I need to make something with lots of lovely fabric covered buttons but I’m not sure what yet. This is great inspiration!

    • Oh yes, the London Button Company are wonderful and really reasonably priced. I had some leather buttons and a buckle done by them, where I bought the piece of leather and then paid for them to be covered. It ended up being much cheaper than if I actually bought leather buttons already made! I’d highly recommend finding somewhere similar to get them done if you’re not in the UK. xx

  7. This is all so fabulous! I love the dress, especially the way the buttons on the yoke are made from different coloured areas of the fabric. And your hat is just amazing. xx

    • Thank you Elaine! I actually asked the button company to make sure they used the coloured areas of the fabric, rather than the black background, as I though it would look better. They were absolutely fine about it, just as long as I sent plenty of fabric to work with. I love how they turned out! xx

  8. It’s an absolutely gorgeous dress – but also so wonderful with the hat, coat and shoes. A really terrific look!

    • Thank you Karen! It’s always such a joy creating a whole ensemble that works together, especially if the majority of it is either handmade and/or vintage. xx

  9. I think I must literally look like the heart eyes emoji right now – this is just too freaking fabulous! I am absolutely in love with this dress, and you’ve finished it off perfectly with the hat, coat, and shoes. 1930s perfection!

  10. This is a stunning ensemble and you look great wearing it! I really love the fabric and the button details and the coat is gorgeous.

    • Thank you Iris! The fabric is beautiful, isn’t it? I probably wouldn’t have spotted it in a shop but it just seemed to really appeal to me on the day. I’m so glad I bought it! xx

  11. Wowza! Swooning over those shoulder details! It’s always the details that have my inner sewing geek drool! And you look splendid in this dress. And the hat is sublime too!

    • Yes, me too! I love detailing in hand sewn garments, I could never just do something plain. I guess it’s why I love the 1930s and tend to use patterns that were actually produced then. Modern sewing patterns are sooooooo boring! 🙂 xx

    • Thank you! I’ve just had a look at your blog, wow, hoorah for you sewing so brilliantly. I was terrible at it at your age, I literally had no interest in sewing at all. I love your latest yellow skirt and can’t wait to see what you create next! xx

  12. That dress is a work of art! Well done, Cate. I especially love the addition of that wonderful buckle. Your whole outfit here is stunning! xxx

    • Oh wow, thank you Ann! The buckle is gorgeous isn’t it? It was a shame to break it apart from the buttons but I knew it would be perfect for this dress. xx

  13. This outfit is stunning! You must be so proud of having made most of it yourself. Top creative skills! Love the shoulder details and the buttons and that glorious fabric. The little crochet posey looks fab on that wonderfully shaped hat. I can’t believe the coat was such a bargain! What a great find!

    • Thank you Kate-Em! This is definitely one of my most favourite outfits and I’m planning on wearing it in a couple of weeks to the Black Country Museum 1940s weekend. The coat is just gorgeous, the photos don’t do it justice at all. The three items I bought from the theatre company are definitely my best ever vintage buys. xx

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