Finished: 1930s Separates in Mustard, Navy & White

1930s separates - blouse and skirt

Outfit Details

1930s Navy Spot Silk Blouse – Made by Me
1930s Mustard Linen Skirt – Made by Me
Navy 1950s Kelly Handbag – Bath Flea & Vintage Market (no longer running)
Navy 1930s Shoes – Donna Flower Vintage
Navy Narrow Belt – Warehouse
Navy Drop Earrings – Shepton Mallet Flea Market

1930s blouse and skirt

Sometimes when you start planning to make an outfit the design you originally came up with doesn’t always end up being what you produce. These 1930s separates are a classic example of this. Both the blouse and the skirt are nothing like I originally intended but what I’ve ended up with is something I really love.

Originally the blouse was going to be my Big Vintage Sew Along garment and I was going to use McCalls 7053 1930s blouse pattern with the tie front. However, once I’d bought the pattern and cut out all of the pieces (something I hate to do!) I realised I didn’t have enough fabric. Cue big rant with lots of naughty words!

1930s polka dot blouse

You see the problem was that the beautiful white and navy spot silk fabric is vintage. I bought it at Shepton Mallet Flea Market (as I do with so many other things I feature on here!), so there was no going back for more. It was a good length piece, roughly about 2 metres but it was extremely narrow, so the huge tie section of the McCalls pattern took up most of the fabric. Time to abandon Plan A.

1930s silk blouse

After a little bit of consideration, I decided to use the top half of this 1930s dress pattern that I bought from Etsy a couple of years ago. Although I’m yet to use it for a dress, I just knew the top half would make a beautiful blouse. I was also very inspired by the sleeves on Lily’s deepest coral 1930s dress and decided to add on long cuffs instead of finishing the sleeves just below the elbow.

1930s sleeve detail

These were actually incredibly easy to do. Whilst wearing the mock up of the blouse, which I did beforehand, I wrapped a piece of scrap muslin around the bare bit of my arm and tacked it in place. I then marked where it joined in the middle and to the rest of the sleeve and made a pattern from it. I then added four rouleau loops and tiny navy mushroom buttons to be able to get it on and off.

Art Deco Buttons

The pattern suggested using rayon tape to finish off all the edges but, as this fabric is quite see-through, it looked awful. So, instead I lined both the cuff and the yoke with white cotton lawn. This actually helped to give the yoke some structure, but it also made it incredibly fiddly to join the two front sections where they overlap. I cannot tell you how many times I redid this!

1930s blouse yoke detail

I’m still not happy with how it turned out because the whole thing was very rushed. I didn’t do button holes as mentioned in the instructions, but rather just sewed the original Art Deco buttons in place to keep the two sections together. The back actually looks much better placed than the front!

The fabric itself doesn’t have a great deal of strength in it and I’ve already noticed a small spot where it is weakening. It’s also totally impractical because it’s a real b*&@h to wash and iron! The lovely smooth finish disappeared the second it hit the water on its pre-hand wash, which was impossible to bring back with pressing. Therefore, I’ve decided to try and find a white and navy polka dot rayon, crepe or cotton lawn to make it in as a wearable replacement.

1930s blouse and skirt

The skirt was much more successful, although again it’s not entirely what I’d planned to make. Originally my idea was to make a skirt like the one Florence wears in The Durrells. It’s a mustard linen skirt that has four knife pleats going down the centre front, with the top half of them stitched down so it kicks out from the knee. This was all going well when I made my mock up but then I laid the pattern out on my fabric and realised yet again that I didn’t have enough! Arghhhh!!

By the way, this never happens to me, I always end up buying too much. So, for it to happen on both garments was incredibly frustrating for me. Lesson learnt, never trust your judgement, always order an extra half metre to be on the safe side!

1930s mustard linen skirt

So, this idea transformed into a replica of a 1930s skirt I already own but still haven’t featured on the blog. The four knife pleats became a single kick pleat and I added two patch pockets to the front hip. The tabs that I adorned the pockets with are a slightly different shape to the ones on my original skirt but thought they’d work better with this skirt. You can see the seriously cute original pockets here.

I used my usual 1930s skirt pattern that I bought from Top Tottie Vintage last year. It’s probably the hardest working pattern I own as I’ve used it so many times! The length of the skirt is marginally longer than I would normally wear but I rather like it. I did think it would look a bit fuddy duddy but the amazing mustard colour stops that from happening. I finished the skirt in my usual way, with a side invisible zip (which isn’t totally invisible as I couldn’t get exactly the same colour) and a deep hem edged with rayon tape.

1930s navy suede shoes

And last, but definitely by no means least, here is a close up of the amazingly beautiful original 1930s navy suede shoes that I bought from Donna Flower Vintage at The West Country Vintage Textile Market. Seriously, how gorgeous are they?!! Look at that stitching detail. As you can imagine, I was incredibly excited when I slipped these on and found that they actually fit me.

They do look a bit big for me here but that’s because the leather interior seems to have been polished to within an inch of its life and my feet keep slipping forward! I have the same problem with my Aris Allen shoes and have some anti slip insoles in them, so I need to buy another pair for these. I also need to get some new laces for them because, as Donna was very kindly doing them up for me when I was trying them on, the lace broke. They’re just about long enough to get away with but I’d rather be safe than sorry! 🙂

1930s separates - back


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.


  1. Cate, you’ve excelled yourself! What a stunning outfit, I love all the individual elements (those shoes!), and they all work together beautifully. You put so much effort into these creations, and it shows. I think they’re marvellous, and nobody but you will really know about the way things didn’t go according to plan (well, we all know now we’ve read this post, but you know what I mean). I really like the long cuffs on the blouse. What a shame about the fabric – vintage fabric is both a blessing and curse I guess. These pictures are lovely and Autumnal too.

    Thank you for the inspiration! I love seeing what you sew and how to do things ‘properly’. I’d like to make a 1930’s skirt one day. xx

    • Aw, thank you Sarah! The base pattern I use for a lot of my skirts is an original 1930s one and is the easiest skirt pattern ever. It’s literally two pieces, the front and the back. The back has two darts in it and then all you do is sew up the side seams, add a side zip, add a waistband and hem it. Simples! I generally tend to line all of mine too for better structure. xx

  2. Shame to run out of fabric but this is a lovely outfit: I really love the skirt. Great colour.
    I didn’t realise that the skirt should have had 4 pleats – i just did a single pleat front and back. Still swishes though.

    • Louisa’s skirt had just a single kick pleat on the front and back, just like yours, but Florence’s (the doctor’s wife) had one with four knife pleats just down the front. xx

  3. Those shoes really are gorgeous – and in such good condition, I’d never have twigged they were actual 1930s shoes because of that. It’s another winner of an outfit.

    Which Bath market is it that’s no longer going? Was that the one in the old bus depot on walcot Street? I know the monthly market at Green Park Station has a schedule for next year.

    • Aren’t they amazing? It’s more obvious when you see the interior of the shoes that they’re actual 1930s ones. The Bath Flea & Vintage Market was at the racecourse and ran the months that Shepton Flea didn’t. I’ve no idea why it stopped, but it’s a real shame, I used to buy quite a few bits there. xx

  4. Whether you intended it or not, both pieces still look marvelous and those art deco buttons are divine. Good job!

    • Thanks Liz! I love those buttons too, they’re so classic of the Art Deco era. I bought them from eBay at a real bargain price! xx

  5. Beautiful outfit. Love the blouse and skirt

    Julie xxxxxxx

    • Thanks Kate! It’s funny, I’ve never worn yellow before this year and now I’m obsessed with it, especially mustard. It’s a great colour! xx

  6. That blouse is a stunner, even if it wasn’t what you originally intended to make. Those sleeves are fantastic. I love that you combined it with the mustard skirt, which is such a lovely colour. My eyes were immediately drawn to those lovely shoes, but I hear you with feet-slipping problem. I hate when that happens. xxx

    • Thank you Ann! Yes, these shoes are particularly bad but the leather inside is so shiny it’s not surprising. Foot Petals are the insoles I use to combat this if you can find them in your neck of the woods. xx

    • Thank you! Yes, this fabric was crying out for round buttons really. I almost used mustard yellow ones but then I thought that they would be better in navy so that I could mix and match the blouse with other colours. xx

  7. What a lovely outfit. Felt like I was in an episode of “Home Fires”…in a very good way. You look great in your duds:)

  8. Such a gorgeous skirt! That color is awesome indeed, and I can totally see it styled in a sort of safari/Indian Summer-ish way too! The blouse is a great style so it’s a shame the fabric turned out to be such a pain, I hate it when I wash a fabric and it looses all of its original drape and feel.

    • Thanks Bianca! Yes, I was quite shocked when I tried to iron this fabric and it just wouldn’t go back to the gorgeous smooth surface it had before washing. It’s such a shame because it was so much more luxurious before. xx

  9. What a beautiful blouse. The sleeve and neckline details are fabulous. I’d never have thought of either of those ideas, they make the garment so much more stunning than the original. I’m not surprised you’re making a second. Great creativity.

    • Thank you April! I do like adapting the patterns I’m using and giving them my own touches. The 1930s is full of lovely little unusual details like these, which is why I love it so much! xx

  10. This is a very lovely plan B outfit (and very Durrells – loved all of the clothes in that series ;o)

    • Oh now you’ve made me very happy Colette! The Durrells is a constant source of inspiration for me (I’ve now watched it three times!!) xx

  11. Goodmorning Cate,
    Great,Super Great work!…this outfit is fabolous on you…make shinning your charisma!
    all the photos are very nice…but the photo 1930s separates back is very nice..cheers!

    • Thank you Aure! I particularly love that back shot, it was one of those where the photographer was just snapping away without me doing anything. Those are usually the best! 🙂 xx

    • Thank you Bella! Mustard is such a great colour isn’t it? xx

  12. Wow! Lovely combo! Love the sleeves of your blouse! The skirt is very pretty as well!

    • Thank you Anthea! Yeah, those sleeves are quite something aren’t they? I want them on everything!! xx

  13. What a lovely outfit. I admire your talent for sewing.

  14. Oh this outfit is just lovely. I love the two pieces together – what talent you have – and the shoes are also magnificent! Kx

    • Oh, thank you Karen, you’re making me blush! Those shoes are quite spectacular, aren’t they? I really couldn’t believe that they fitted, that never happens! xx

  15. I am in awe and those shoes wow just wow.

    • They’re just gorgeous, aren’t they? Vintage shoes never fit me, so you can imagine my excitement when I tried these on! xx

  16. Love this outfit , looks so fab, so frustrating when you don’t have enough fabric -Grrr!
    Love those spots and the long cuffs are amazing, and the shoes are divine.

    • Thank you Emma! Yes, I always buy extra when guestimating on how much fabric I’ll need. I have no idea what went wrong this time! xx

  17. Gosh! What a superb outfit! It looks really special. I really like your sleeve/cuff alteration that you made to the blouse, it has such a great shape. The mustard fabric is such a good colour and is lovely with the blue polka dots. Those pockets are pretty good too. You must be so pleased with this one!

    • Thank you Kate-Em! I am indeed very chuffed with this outfit, despite the issues with the polka dot fabric. I’m still on the hunt for a more practical fabric as an alternative. xx

  18. 1930S SEPARATES IN MUSTARD, NAVY & WHITE it just a such a good combines and you look very pretty in this dresses up and your hair your shoes your bag all is so perfect in according to you….!!!!!!!

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