So while I was working out the bodice block pattern for my green 1920s dress, I did some experimenting to determine whether I wanted to do a pintucked detail at the shoulders. I thought that the tucks might be a good way to narrow the shoulders while still allowing more space through the torso and around the hips, so I gave it a try on an early mockup made of a blue cotton sheet, figuring I could always cut it narrower if it didn’t work out.
I started out by cutting my torso piece as a rectangle instead of a trapezoid– the difference meant that each piece (front and back) was about 4″ wider at the top than it had to be. To take in the extra width I stitched in four 1/4″ tucks on either side of the neckline before stitching together the shoulder seams, grading the tucks so they were longest towards the center and shortest towards the armholes. They actually looked pretty decent once the shoulder and side seams were done, and they did provide a little shaping in the shoulders that let the dress hang nicely without needing an underarm dart.
In fact, despite the fact that I eventually decided not to do pintucks on the green dress, I liked the effect so much that I decided I might as well complete the mockup, so as to have another option to wear to future events.
Like the green dress (which I hadn’t started to cut out yet, so I didn’t know the hassle that was in store in terms of the skirt pieces), I sewed the skirt separately from the torso, with flat panels in the front and more interesting panels on the sides– in this case, I put in more pintucks at the top of the rectangular side skirt panels, both to be decorative and to allow for extra fullness to the bottom of the skirt while keeping a tailored line around the hips. The pintucks, like the ones at the shoulders, were graded to be longer towards the center of the dress and shorter towards the sides, and I sneaked in some larger pleats to add still more fullness to the skirt. The original width of each side panel was three times the eventual width of the tucked and pleated panel, so I had lots of room for movement.
I attached the skirt panels to each other before stitching the skirt to the dress bodice, then blind-hemmed the dress to the correct length.
To cover the waist seam and add a bit more visual interest, I took a long piece of leftover fabric and ran pintucks down the entire length (they weren’t particularly exact, but the effect was there) before hemming the ends. It made a nice, long sash that could be tied around the hips in various ways.
Finally, I made self-fabric bias tape to bind the neck and armholes, machine-sewing the outside and hand-tacking the inside. I admit I didn’t do the neatest job at the center front, but it’s passable.
I actually really like this dress– it’s simple, the pintucks add a somewhat tailored effect, and it looks cool and summery. And honestly, since I’d basically finished it before I ran into the whole problem with cutting my green dress pieces, I was really tempted to just toss the green dress entirely and wear the blue one instead– it’s just my innate stubbornness that keeps me plugging along at the green one!