1930s Ruffles Dress – Made by Me
1930s Black Hat – The Washerwoman
Vintage White Leather Gloves – Dig for Victory Show
1940s Black Cordé Clutch – Shepton Mallet Flea Market
1930s Reproduction Shoes – Aris Allen
Silver Celtic Earrings – Had for years
This gorgeous 1930s dress was one of my last sewing projects of last year. I just didn’t get chance to photograph it and get it up on the blog before, so I’m really excited to show it to you today. The reason I call it my 1930s Ruffles Almost-Vintage Dress is because about 85-90% of the dress is actually vintage.
The beautiful pale Airforce blue fabric is an original 1940s rayon crepe that I picked up at the Dig for Victory Show in June. It’s a very summery lightweight fabric with a stylised flowers and round vase print o it in white and charcoal. I hand washed it as soon as I got home and it held up really well. It’s got a good strength to it, so I’m not as afraid to wear it as my polka dot vintage silk blouse.
As soon as I saw this fabric I knew I wanted to make something floaty with lots of ruffles. It’s one of the areas of 1930s fashion I hadn’t explored before but after seeing Margo’s green ruffle dress on The Durrells I totally fell in love with it. So, off I went on Etsy to find the perfect pattern. Eventually I spotted this original 1930s Anne Adams pattern from Klassicline and knew it would be perfect.
After I made up the initial toile I decided I wanted the yoke section in a contrasting colour. I did a little sketch for both options and it definitely looked better without the pattern all the way over the dress. It’s something you see often in 1930s fashion, it was done when home dressmakers used scraps of fabric they already had to save money.
The white fabric isn’t vintage, but the likelihood of me finding a piece of vintage crisp white crepe was pretty slim so I opted for modern. It’s a slightly heavier crepe from White Lodge Fabrics, however, it has the same moss texture as the blue and I thought it would look better than a smooth crepe.
The yoke was the most annoying part to do on the entire dress. I initially followed the instructions on the pattern and finished the neckline with vintage rayon tape turned inside and tacked down. This is a very common technique of the 30s and I’ve used it often but, as the whole dress is ever so slightly sheer, the rayon tape showed through very obviously. It looked awful, so it was back to the drawing board.
In the end I used the same technique I used for my vintage silk polka dot blouse and added a cotton lawn lining to the whole of the yoke section. Again, it’s a common 1930s technique and is explored in detail in my 1930s sewing book.
Next was the button dilemma! With a total of 18 needed it was going to be hard to find exactly what I wanted if I opted for vintage. Also, what colour should I have gone for? I thought about black, as charcoal grey was going to be impossible to find. However, I wanted the dress to look really light and summery and I feared that black would just dull it down too much. White just wouldn’t stand out and the chance of finding 18 matching blue buttons would’ve been like finding the holy grail!
After exhausting all possibilities I went back to my favourite button maker, The London Button Company, and got them to make 18 matching buttons from the end scraps of the blue fabric. So, in a way, they are vintage 🙂 I do wish I’d gone for the slightly smaller size, however, just to create a little more spacing between them, but never mind.
Both the ruffles and long ties were all edged with a rolled hem. On the pattern is says to do this by hand (!!) but as I have a rolled hem foot I did them on the machine and that took long enough. If I’d done them by hand it probably would’ve taken me ten times longer. It’s well worth investing in a rolled hem foot if you don’t have one, it gives such a lovely finish to lightweight and sheer fabrics.
The pattern had two options for the arms, either to be left as they are, so without the ruffles it would be sleeveless, or to add short puff sleeves. For the toile I did one arm with the sleeve and one without. When I tried it on I much preferred the sleeveless version, so went without them on the actual dress. This meant that the armholes had to be finished off neatly and I finally got to use my little gadgets to make my own bias binding from the blue fabric. It was so easy and a technique I’m going to use over and over again.
Lastly the hem was finished with vintage rayon tape and hand sewn on so it doesn’t show through on the outside. This is my favourite hemming technique because it always looks so neat on the inside. With this dress I used a white rayon tape to match the yoke to give it a little extra detailing that only I get to see.
The day we took these photos it was about 3°C outside! My mum was wrapped up in many, many layers and was complaining about not being able to wear gloves whilst using the camera. I, on the hand, was absolutely bloody freezing!! Despite the fact that the dress is ever so slightly sheer it’s not lined (most 1930s dresses weren’t) and it doesn’t necessarily need a slip either as this would add bulk. So, there I was in 3°C weather in my underwear and a thin layer of rayon crepe covering my body! You can’t say I don’t suffer for my blog 🙂