White 1920s dress, Part III: Construction

Once my insertion was in, it was time to actually cut out the dress. Like I said, I went with a One-Hour Dress pattern, which is basically a glorified T-tunic– you just cut a hole on the top fold for your head, cut in some sleeves, and fuss with the hipline a bit to get pleats. Here’s the diagram I ended up using:

1920s white diagram

I made a mockup out of an old sheet to be sure I didn’t have too much or too little ease, and to determine a flattering hip level (on me it was 21″ down from the shoulder). I ended up using 2″ of ease from the widest point of my hip, which meant that there was 7″ of ease at the bust.

You’ll note that I basically used every scrap of fabric, using the cutout panels from under the sleeves to add extra width to the hips– I was incredibly lucky that I had exactly enough, because I couldn’t find any matching fabric to make up the difference. It took a little piecing together, but it all worked out!

First I cut out my basic dress shape:

1920s-white-cutout

Once I had cut my side seams, I french-seamed them together to get a nice interior finish, leaving the hips open. Then I added in my extra fabric to the hip panels to get my extra width for pleating, again using (tiny) french seams, and hemmed the bottom of the dress with a narrow rolled hem. I also zig-zagged the raw top edge of the hip panel and the raw edge of the hip cut, to keep them from fraying.

Eyeballing the width, I folded the hip fabric into wide pleats, pinned them in place, and then hand-basted along each pleat ensure that they would stay in place.

Then I ironed the pleats, setting them with vinegar. Yes, you heard me– vinegar. To do this, I mixed up a solution of white vinegar and water in a 1:1 ratio and filled a spray bottle with it. I spritzed my basted-down pleats generously, then pressed the pleats until they were dry. After the fabric cooled, I removed the basting stitches, and voila!

1920s-white-pleats

Once my skirt panels were pleated, it was time to attach them to the rest of the dress. I could have just used a narrow seam to attach them, but that would’ve offset them by at least 1/2″ and I didn’t want to ruin the nice straight line of my pleating at the hem. Instead, I used a trick I figured out when making my Toddler Shirtdress, and made myself a length of 1″ wide white cotton tape, which I then put on the inside of the dress to sew the raw fabric edges to. I hand-basted them down before machine-sewing them in.

1920s-pleats-in-out

Then I took my last bit of insertion trim and made two decorative hip tabs to cover up the seams and edges. I had exactly enough!

Finally, I hemmed the ends of the sleeves (there was fortuitously-placed embroidery already there!), and did a narrow hem around the neckline with a keyhole opening in the back.

1920s-white-sleeve

Finished dress! (It looks a lot better on a person than on a dress form, I promise)

1920s-dress-done

1920s-dress-top 1920s-white-skirt

 

 

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4 thoughts on “White 1920s dress, Part III: Construction

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