The Most Summery of all Summery 1930s Dresses

Yellow Floral 1930s Dress

Outfit Details

Late 1930s/Early 1940s Yellow Floral Dress – Made by Me
1930s Straw Hat – Shepton Mallet Flea Market
Pink Straw Handbag – Marks & Spencer
White 1940s Style Shoes – Miss L Fire
1930s Jade Earrings – A Gift
Brown Seam Stockings – What Katie Did

1930s summer dress

At the weekend I headed down to my favourite 1940s event, The Dig For Victory Show. All week the Met Office had predicted that it would be dry, mostly cloudy, but chances of sunshine and I even sat and watched the BBC weather before heading out the door. The weatherman said it would be dry, with the odd shower but you’d unlucky if you had one. Note to self, never trust the weather reports!

I opened the front door, dressed in my finest summer dress, straw hat and white shoes and the heaven’s opened. I grabbed a coat and ran for the car thinking ‘Okay we’ve been unlucky but it’s only a shower’. Yeah right! It took us an hour and a half to drive to Nailsea, near Bristol, where the event is held and it poured down with rain, hard rain, the entire journey. I cannot tell you how annoyed I was!

When we finally got there we actually considered turning around and going home, but within about 10 minutes the rain actually stopped and the black clouds gave way to grey. So, in true British spirit, we soldiered on and went in and I’m so glad we did because I got to show off my newly made oh-so-summery dress. I teased the making of this dress in a previous post and everyone was so complimentary of it that I had to make sure I took some photos to show you guys. Unfortunately, the light wasn’t great but you get the idea.

1930s dress pocket detail

This dress has instantly become a firm favourite for many reasons. Firstly is the fact that I don’t own anything else that’s yellow so it’s something very different to everything else I wear. Secondly, all the details are just gorgeous. I wanted to create a dress that could either be a 1930s Depression style dress or a 1940s Make Do and Mend style dress and I think I’ve achieved it. In fact, my mum’s first comment, before saying it was beautiful, was that it looked like a pair of old curtains!

1930s dress yoke detail

1930s dress back detail

There was so much going on with the pattern that it took quite a while to put it all together, but the instructions were so easy to follow. The lower bodice pieces, front and back, have gathers around the waist and below the yoke and this needed to be done before anything else.

After that it was inserting the mock belt and this was probably the trickiest bit. The sections that the white ties sit underneath needed to have their seam allowances pressed underneath so it could be top stitched, which was fine on the straight bits, but trying to get a nice curve at both ends was just impossible. I did wonder how hard this would’ve been for a home sewer in the 30s/40s because electric steam irons were rather scarce back then!

The front yoke was a bit tricky too for exactly the same reason, but it was a more gentle curve, so it was a little easier. However, making sure the left and right pieces were placed so the buttons and buttonholes had enough room to lie flat, as well as ensuring the pieces fitted the curve of the bodice perfectly at the same time, was a real pain. It took a bit of jiggling about but I finally lined it up perfectly and quickly top stitched it into place.

The cute little pockets (Yay, pockets!) were placed exactly as the pattern was marked and I absolutely love their jaunty slanted look. The ric rac was mentioned as an optional extra and I just knew the white cotton ric rac I had in my stash (it was bought by my mum in the 1970s!) would look amazing with this dress, so I added it wherever they suggested apart from the edge of the sleeves. I honestly didn’t think they needed it.

1930s straw hat

Miss L Fire Betty Shoes in white

I teamed the dress with a new to me vintage 1930s straw hat which has beautiful fabric flowers on the right front that I picked up at the Shepton Mallet Flea Market a little while ago for about £15. It’s in really good condition, although the flowers were probably a bit happier looking when it was first made. I added a hat elastic to keep it on and it stayed completely in place all day, I didn’t even need to pin it anywhere.

I also wore my brand new white Betty shoes from Miss L Fire. These are my first ever pair of Miss L Fire’s and I absolutely love them, they’re just so authentic looking. They’re also really, really comfy. I wore them all day on Saturday and they didn’t hurt at all, even by the time I got home in the evening. I will certainly be investing in another pair of Miss L Fire’s in the future!

Thankfully, having been to Dig for Victory last year, I knew it wouldn’t be too muddy despite the weather, so wasn’t too apprehensive about wearing white shoes to an outside event in British weather. Besides one of my work colleagues had recommended a product called Crep Protect that can be sprayed on to shoes so that anything can be wiped off them and I’d used it on my Betty’s before heading out. I have to say it worked perfectly and they look like new again now.

1930s summer dress back

I’m so happy with the way the dress turned out and the whole outfit was just how I pictured it in my head (Don’t you just love it when that happens?). I had loads of compliments on the day and so many people asked me to pose for a photo, including two little four year old twin girls. They were walking around with their Dad and one of them stopped and looked at me before saying, “You look like the Queen!”. Well, that totally made my day!!

I was also snapped by one of the lovely Dig For Victory volunteers (the show is put on entirely by volunteers, which is the main reason I love this event as there’s no big corporation dominating the site) and have appeared on their fabulous photos blog post. If you’re interested in going next year I highly recommend having a look at it as it covers everything they have on offer.

Vintage Gal & Porcelina Precious

I met up with Sarah from Porcelina’s World and her husband who had come to the Dig For Victory Show for the first time. It was so lovely to meet them both and I was so surprised when Sarah started talking because she doesn’t have a Welsh accent! I was really expecting a gorgeous Valley’s inflection but was surprised when an English accent came out.

I was probably very embarrassing at this point because I was rather tipsy! I had just shared a bottle of Prosecco during lunch, having polished off nearly half of it, and I don’t really drink. As you can imagine, it had quite an effect on me, so I walked to the toilets where I promptly stuck my finger through one of my stockings, then came out and within about a minute I spotted Sarah. Perfect timing!

Anyway, I did manage to hold it together long enough to have a few photos done and, blimey don’t I look short, and I’m wearing heels! Hehehe! The problems of a short girl standing next to a tall one. It was so great to meet Sarah, she’s just so lovely, and of course we had a good chat about what we were wearing and what I’d already bought.

Talking of which, I spent a whopping £150 whilst I was there, mainly thanks to the fabulous Wardrobe Mistress and Top Tottie Vintage who I bump into often on my vintage travels. They both sell many pieces of 1930s clothing, with The Wardrobe Mistress mainly concentrating on clothes and Top Tottie Vintage offering all the accessories, especially an obscene amount of original hats.

In the end I bought two 1930s tops (Yay, original vintage separates!) from The Wardrobe Mistress which I’m sure will feature on the blog soon, 4 yards of original 1940s printed crepe in a pale Airforce blue, a huge white crochet collar which I’ll incorporate into something I make and the Margo Playsuit sewing pattern from Sew La Di Da Vintage. I fell in love with this pattern ages ago and had always planned to order it at some point, however, they were selling at the show and everything was at a special price, so it was hard to say no!

I had such a fabulous day, I’m so pleased we decided to go in, and I’ve already the dates for next year in my diary!

Cate

Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. Lover of all things old, lingerie obsessive, crafter and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.

53 Comments

  1. Aw, lovely write-up, and super photos! It was lovely to meet you too, and your lovely folks, and may I say again how absolutely smashing that summery dress is? I was so impressed! All the little details, like the vintage trim, really make it so special.
    I do find it funny about the expectations of my accent, in retrospect perhaps I should have put on a Welsh accent?! Sorry to disappoint!!
    You made some great purchases, the only thing I bought was falafel. xx

    • Hahaha! It’s so strange when you have expectations of someone in your head and then in real life it’s not like that at all. I think because I had lived with two Welsh friends for so long, I’d just assumed you sound the same! I can’t believe you only bought a falafel, didn’t you even get an ice-cream?! It was so lovely to meet you and we must do it again soon, perhaps without the Prosecco! xx

    • Thank you Ann! Yes, it was lovely to finally meet Sarah. We don’t actually live a million miles away from each other, so it was about time and she’s just so lovely. xx

  2. I love your outfit – dress, hat, shoes just perfect.
    I must say, I’ve been wondering how the 1930s home sewer would have coped without a steam iron – the books mention finger pressing sometimes – would that have worked in your dress?
    Great post anyway, with lots for me to look up.

    • Thank you Norma! I did actually try doing it with my fingers when the iron wasn’t creating such a great result, but it still didn’t work all that well. I even tried with my finger nails! I think the problem was that the strip wasn’t all that wide but the curve was so exaggerated. Thankfully the bow, which is longer than suggested, hides the worst offending part. xx

  3. beautiful dress with such lovely details. Love the accessorizing (you do it so well), although it sounds like you didn’t need a sun hat! Looks like it turned out to be a great day ;o)

    • Thank Colette! Yes, it was such a shame the sun didn’t come out. I really wanted to photograph this outfit in glorious sunshine but alas the British weather always has other plans. Thankfully it was warm enough to go without a coat. xx

  4. Ooh, the Crep Protect tip is a good one, thanks for that. Your outfit is so nice from hat to shoes, that it’d be awful if the shoes got spoiled. It’s no surprise that the dress has become a favourite.

    Dig For Victory looks like a great event – really good fun.

    • Would you believe that tip was given to me by a male colleague? I asked him if he used it on his white heels too!! Seriously though, it’s great stuff, a little bit pricey but definitely worth it. xx

  5. Cate, I am so excited to see this dress! It looks so beautiful on you, and of course I adore the yellow fabric! All the little details make it so special, it’s truly wonderful. xx

    • Thank you Jenny! I was hoping you’d like this. Yay, for yellow! I’m desperately trying to find the perfect mustard yellow linen fabric at the moment to match with a couple of blouses I’m making. You wouldn’t think it would be that hard but it’s driving me mad. xx

  6. hi cate
    your dress is so pretty and I really like the shoes as well
    dig for victory show looks a lot of fun
    katie

    • Thank you Katie. Yes, the Dig for Victory Show is such a good event and I’m so glad it’s not that far away from me.

  7. Hi , Been looking forward to seeing this finished after your teaser . Is fabulous, all the detailing works so well and the shoes are lovely , glad they didn’t get muddy !
    Looks like my sort of event , glad you had a great day .

    • Thanks Emma, I’m glad you like it. It’s definitely one of my most favourite dresses now. xx

  8. Goodmorning,Buongiorno Cate…nice photos and very,Very, VERY Charming Outfit…cheers!

    • Thank you! It’s a shame the photos weren’t full of sunshine but you never can tell with the British weather.

      • Goodmorning CAte,thanks for the reply…yes You’re right about the British weather…but…You bring the Sunshine! …so the photos are great!

  9. Ahh I love that you bumped into the lovely Porcelina, it’s fantastic seeing the two of you together! That dress turned out marvelous, I really love all of the accessories you paired with it – especially that fabulous hat. I am looking forward to seeing your purchases in a future blog post 😀

    • Thank you! Yes, it was really lovely seeing Sarah, although it’s always strange meeting someone for the first time after chatting online for so long. xx

  10. Oh my, you look fabulous! The dress is certainly a hit and the ricrac finishes off the garment beautifully. I must go to this event next year – it looks amazing!

    • Thank you Becky! I’m so glad you like the ric rac, and thank you for the inspiration. I want to add details like this to everything now! xx

  11. What a fun day! and once again an amazing outfit (one of my fav’s that I have seen on you). I’m really glad you were able to enjoy the day after all.

    Liz 🙂

    • Thank you Liz! Yes, it’s such a great event with so much going on. I’ve never actually managed to see everything in the one day! xx

  12. Many, many (all entirely positive!) thoughts entered my mind when I saw this gorgeous dress, but “curtains” were not one of them. Far from it (though I would gleeful have curtains in this beautiful fabric) .

    From the warmth of the buttery yellow hue to the classic lines and charming details, this is a memorable, fantastic handmade frock that is nothing short of radiant on you, dear Cate. To say that I’m smitten with it would be a rather big understatement.

    Many hugs & happy mid-June wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

  13. Oh, that event sounds like so much fun! And I adore your new dress. It really is so charming and you pulled it together wonderfully. I’m also really convinced to buy myself a pair of Miss L Fires. I’ve lusted after them for years and I need to just bite the bullet, they look amazing and I love to hear how comfy they are – score! Can’t wait to see the new 30s pieces you picked up.

    ♥ Lauren

    http://thehomemadepinup.wordpress.com

    • Oh you should definitely bite the bullet! I was a bit like that and then I was desperate for a pair of white shoes and these were the ones I loved over any others. I’m so glad I bought them, they go with just about everything I own and I know I’m going to get so much wear out of them. Just as long as the rain stays away! xx

  14. This sounds like such a fun time! (post rain that is) The dress came out so lovely! I love the fabric, it looks so authentic to prints of the time, and the hints of rick rack are too cute! The hat is a super find, I am a sucker for straw hats! I wish we had events like this where I live, what fun to spend a few hours halfway back in time 🙂

    • Thank you Bianca! We don’t have many events like this near me, most are at least a 2 hour drive away, but this is definitely the best. It’s such a great day and there’s so much going on. I’m already looking forward to next year. xx

  15. It sounds like you had a really super time. I’m glad that the weather was kind when you got there and that the rain held off your summer frock. You have made a really gorgeous dress. All the details are so pretty and I love the ric rac. What a lovely outfit!

    • Thank you Kate-Em! Yes, thankfully it turned out to be a lovely day and warm enough so I didn’t have to wear a coat. I would’ve been so mad if it had rained all day. xx

    • Thank you! Yes, I love this hat too, I’m so glad I decided to buy it, I nearly walked away from it.

  16. I saw the photos of the event of Porcelina’s blog too and thought you both looked fabulous. I love the combination of your boater and dress – just beautiful and so summery! I also really like the idea of brown on nude stockings (sorry you put your finger through them though) – they are perfect for those occasions when a black seam is too much but you need something more than nude. I’ll be adding them to my collection! Kx

    • Thank you Karen! I actually wear brown on nude much more than black on nude, I find it’s softer especially for day wear. I also wear nude seams on nude stockings for a really subtle look. xx

      • I really hadn’t thought about them before. I have black on nude, red on nude (and on black) and blue on nude – now I will definitely be looking from these from WKD – thanks for the inspiration! Karen x

  17. Thank you for using my red MG as backdrop to some of your photos. Both car and dress look fabulous.

  18. Wonderful to see the final results of the tantalizing teaser! The dress came together beautifully, and your accessories are spot on perfection to set it off! I think this whole ensemble is divine, you look like a summer rose. ❤

    xox,
    bonita of Lavender & Twill

    • Thank you Bonita, that’s so sweet! I didn’t feel like a summer rose with the dank weather but I’m so glad I went ahead and wore it anyway! xx

    • Thank you Esther and welcome to the blog! I’ve been following yours for a while and I’m always so impressed with your makes. I particularly love the details you do and you always find such gorgeous notions to add to each piece. xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.