Green Striped 1920s Dress, Part III: Construction


Once I got all of my pieces properly cut out, assembly *should have* been fairly straightforward.  Do you sense foreshadowing here? Because you ought to. I’ll tell you now, after this series of disasters I went to bed vowing that I would just scrap the whole dress and wear the blue one instead… but the next morning I decided to give it one more try, and eventually managed to salvage the project.

Anyway, it started off fairly well– sure, I realized that I had to cut out a second half of the back bodice because I’d neglected to realize that the fabric *did* have a right and wrong side (only noticeable when looking closely), and so I’d previously cut out two identical (not symmetrical) halves– but I stitched in my darts and basted the side seams with no trouble. I tried it on at that point to ensure proper fit, and sure enough, I’d over-compensated when I allowed my paranoia to prompt me to cut the bodice larger than the pattern, and it was HUGE. I had to unpick the darts and re-cut the sides, then re-stitch the darts before basting it together again. Luckily it fit much better after that.

Then I screwed it up by not being careful. I’d decided to french-seam all of the straight seams because of the sheerness of the fabric, and at first I was careful to make the seams teeny-tiny to avoid going over my standard seam allowance. But my last basted version had had gigantic seam allowances– about an inch– and had fit just fine, so I figured I didn’t have to worry. Bad idea. I let myself get too comfortable and before I knew it, I was wiggling into a too-snug dress that was supposed to hang straight down but instead was pulling at the bust and hips. Damn it. (no photos, they were horrifically unflattering)

Faced with the daunting prospect of unpicking not one but *two* rows of stitching for each seam– on a sheer and delicate cotton, no less– I almost gave up right there. But eventually I rallied and unpicked the seams before re-sewing them with a new and tiny seam allowance, and zig-zagging the edges to finish the seams. Happily, the dress fit me again!

After that it was a piece of cake to stitch together my skirt panels, attach them to a waistband, then stitch the waistband to the bodice at the proper height. Mindful of my previous issues, I used regular seams with a zig-zag finish rather than trying to deal with the french seams again.

I made a quick set of flutter sleeves– I started off cutting semicircles, but they were too full so I cut the arc down by about 30 degrees to make them hang better. Then I did a tiny rolled hem on my sewing machine– such a pain on a curved edge. It was even more of a pain because I forgot to check that my stripes were oriented the right way when I cut down my semicircles, so I didn’t do it symmetrically and had to re-cut and re-hem a new sleeve. (sigh)


I cut out some long bias strips of the striped fabric (2″ wide) and made them into bias tape to bind the neckline and underarms. (sorry, photo below is before I ironed the finished neckline so it looks a little puffy)


After that it was just a matter of cutting out some fabric pieces to make the cascading drapes at the hip and shoulder. They don’t always fall as prettily as I’d like, but they work reasonably well and add visual interest. I stitched them down with small pleats at the base to assist them in hanging attractively, and the attachment points should be hidden once I add the flower embellishments later.


To go under the dress I made a simple slip out of a yard of pale green cotton batiste– basically I folded the fabric in half, selvedge to selvedge, and then ran a diagonal seam to form a slightly tapered tube (the narrow end was, of course, around the bust). I put the seam in the back and trimmed the hem to be even all around, then hemmed the top and bottom edges and attached straps to the top. It ended up being just about knee-length, which was perfect under the shin-length dress.


While my husband still insists that the fashions of the 1920s are horribly unflattering, I like the simplicity and airiness of this dress. If I have to wear a shapeless sack, it may as well be an elegant one, right? I think the cascading ruffle bits and the flutter sleeves help to elevate the look from a plain house-dress to something appropriate for an afternoon tea party or picnic.


One thought on “Green Striped 1920s Dress, Part III: Construction

  1. Pingback: Green 1920s Dupatta Dress | It's All Frosting...

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s