I am thrilled to share this dress with you that I made to wear to the Gatsby Summer Afternoon this year. This is actually the first 1930’s dress that I’ve made! I did make a 1930’s skirt two years ago, but that’s it for my 30’s sewing. It seems quite odd that I’ve sewn many garments from the 20’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s and almost skipped an entire decade there. Not anymore!
This dress absolutely started with the pattern. I often obsessively search for vintage plus size patterns online and I came across this vintage Woman’s World Pattern from 1935. It was a deadstock pattern and in my size. But oh, it was EXPENSIVE. My price limit for patterns is generally about $30 and this one was twice that. I couldn’t stop admiring this design with the unique cape sleeves and their pleated trim. So, I thought well… I’ll just ask for this pattern for my b-day. I was lucky enough that my mom obliged and there was this fabulous vintage pattern wrapped up for my birthday. 🙂
Aside from the fact that this pattern is in MY SIZE, I was really interested to see how it sewed up as it was designed for fuller figures. I traced it and cut out a muslin, with my only initial adjustment being that I widened the skirt pieces at the hip. The muslin fit almost perfectly, with just a little gaping on the front wrap, which is normal for me. I adjusted the front pattern piece to eliminate the gaping and added a little length to the skirt and that was it for the alterations. It definitely makes me want to sew another Woman’s World pattern.
I originally planned to make this pattern out of a solid color and add silk ribbon embroidery to the caped sleeves. However, I had found this vintage cotton blend fabric in a thrift store and after I washed it and saw it hanging on the line, I had a bit of an epiphany as I looked at the decidedly 1930’s colors and the print and thought how that might work for my 1930’s caped dress pattern. When I saw how it perfectly matched the pink hat that I had bought to wear with my Gatsby dress, I figured that it was meant to be.
At first I thought how that print might be a little big for the 1930’s, and then after a discussion with Janet (Decades of Style) I was affirmed that it indeed was not and how perfect the colors and the print were for the era After that I found this photo of a vintage 1930’s dress in a very similar print and color combo to my fabric and I was sold. Plus, it has Lilies of the Valley on it, which is the flower of my birth month (May). 🙂
I really wanted to add a ruffle to the bottom of the skirt on this dress. Looking at it now, it’s probably best that I did not have enough fabric to cut out a ruffle, as I think this dress doesn’t need it. Someday I will make the frilly 1930’s dress of my dreams, but this dress is not that one. 🙂
The pièce de rêsistance of this dress is the pleating on the cape. There is a miserable story of a horrid Etsy seller that goes with this trim, but eventually I received it and was so very happy that it worked. It is vintage 60’s pleating, but it works. I had an incredibly hard time finding pleated trim. Most looks more like ruching and others have box pleats. Neither of those styles of trim was what I was looking for, so when I found this one, it was like searching for buried treasure. This pleating looks exactly like the trim on the pattern illustration and was just right for this dress. It’s a bit more Schiaparelli shocking pink than the coral-ly pink of the fabric, but I love the contrast. Plus, I did not have to pleat it on my own, which was a possibility as I waited for this trim to ship to me.
The pleating sewn to the cape overlay and finished on the back side with vintage 30’s/40’s rayon bias tape.
I tried to use all vintage notions for this dress and I succeeded! The dress has a side snap closure and a vintage 1920’s buckle. The only thing that is not vintage on this dress is the thread I used to sew it with.
I searched and searched for a vintage pink buckle and finally found this one. It’s carved mother of pearl and is a little bit smaller than I would ideally like, but it coordinates well.
This dress is actually a very quick sew. I had most of it pinned for a while on my dressform while I was waiting for the pleating to arrive, so although I had this started almost a month before the Gatsby, I didn’t get to sew it together until a few days before. It actually took me longer to pin and match the pieces before I hand basted and sewed them than it did to actually sew it together. The cape sleeves are actually overlay pieces that are sewn over a sleeveless bodice. I used ivory cotton lawn for the facing on the wrap front pieces.
The only back photo I had taken was this blurry one taken by husband (curses!).
There is a lot of hand sewing in this. I hand overcasted the seam allowances and used rayon bias tape wherever it wouldn’t be too visible on the outside.
Being curvy, it’s rather difficult to find vintage dresses in my size. Especially ones that I like! The one place where dress size generally doesn’t matter is with accessories. I wanted a vintage crocheted purse to wear with this dress and of course I wanted it in pink…. What a hard-to-find color! Eventually I came across this 30’s/40’s hand crocheted purse on eBay. It was dusty rose and not the coral-ly pink of my dress, but I vowed to make it work.
This purse was quite dirty when it arrived and it soaked for a few days before it was finally clean. I cut out the original silk lining and added a mauve silk dupioni one. I made several small silk ribbon flowers and sewed them on the purse to dress it up and help it to coordinate with my ensemble.
My hat is a vintage 1950’s hat that I found in a thrift store. I decided that it could be tilted and work as a 30’s hat. It had some ugly bows on it, so I removed those and added vintage and handmade adornments to it. I saw a photo of a vintage 30’s hat adorned with berries and used that as inspiration for the trim on this hat. I found these vintage 30’s/40’s millinery berries on eBay and made a 1920’s Hat Pin Rose from my favorite ribbonwork book, The Artful Ribbon by Candace Kling. I made my silk ribbon rose out of dusty pink ribbon so that it would coordinate with my purse. I didn’t have any vintage leaves to trim the ribbon rose with, so I used the back side of a modern millinery/boutonierre leaf from my stash instead. I think I need to start
hoarding stashing millinery trims as well as sewing notions/trims!
One of the things that I really love about the 1930’s was the quirky novelty style towards the end of the decade. I found this gorgeous glass raspberry necklace and earring set on eBay which went perfectly with the berries on my hat. The necklace is kind of uncomfortable, but look how good it looks! 🙂 I decided that I needed a bracelet to complete this ensemble, so made one out of pink jade that coordinated with my jewelry.
I didn’t take a photo of it, but I also made a beige slip to wear with this dress out of the Scroop Wonder Unders pattern (instagram photo of it here). It’s not quite period, but it works for me, especially as this dress definitely needs a slip. I also have on a retro corset/waist cincher. I intended to wear a pair of back seam stockings, but it was so hot and muggy that I didn’t care to put them on. Another item on my unfinished list for this outfit was to draft a pair of 30’s knickers, but I didn’t get that done…..
My husband is wearing a vintage linen “suit” that I altered. I say “suit” as each of those pieces came from different stores. Both are vintage thrift store finds. I only changed the buttons on the jacket, but I had to take in the trousers several inches at the waist and shorten them. I also cuffed the trousers, which is something that you can’t see in these photos. His bow tie and pocket scarf are new (Nordstrom Rack).
Continuing with tradition, I made him a boutonierre that coordinates with my dress. I’ve done this for every Gatsby that we’ve attended. This one is another 1920’s Hat Pin Rose with a 1920’s Leaf and rosebuds. I also made a wire stem that I wrapped with ribbon.
Above is a photo taken with my MIL. She also made her dress and crocheted her collar as well as her purse. Her dress is made from a reproduction 1930’s dress pattern.
And here I am with Jennifer (The Sewing Room) who I mentioned meeting in my Gatsby picnic post. I don’t know why I look a bit unhappy as I was very happy to meet her in person. I blame the heat. BTW, doesn’t Jennifer’s ensemble look gorgeous? She used vintage fabric and a 30’s pattern from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library.
I also don’t look happy in the photo above, either. Did I mention it was hot? Yep, I’ve complained about that! I wore this outfit for a few hours and then changed into my much cooler chambray 1920’s Isabella dress. My 30’s dress got pretty hot with that cape, my uncomfortable necklace and undergarments. I was sooooo happy to change into a cool dress, especially as we had to be there until after the event closed due to our early entry passes.
Here is a smiling pic of us in front of our Casablanca themed picnic! I already have next year’s Gatsby dress planned and I really look forward to making it. 🙂
- Dress: Vintage 1935 Woman’s World Pattern 5867 in vintage cotton blend, made by me
- Shoes: Aerosoles Marine Corps
- Necklace & Earrings: Vintage 1930’s Italian glass
- Bracelet: Pink jade, made by me
- Purse: Vintage 1930’s/40’s with silk ribbon flowers added by me
- Hat: Vintage 1950’s altered with vintage 1930’s/40’s millinery flowers and a silk ribbon rose made by me
- Lipstick: Besame 1931 Carmine (affiliate link)