Monday, May 5, 2014

1-hour dress, lawn party edition

I've been so busy sewing and attending events this spring that I am falling WAY behind on blogging about my projects.  But before too much time passes, I wanted to share a few notes about a new 1-hour 1920's dress that I made for the Jazz Age Sunday Social at the end of March.

For this dress, I started with my Dowonton Abby 1-hour dress pattern but made a few modifications so the two dresses wouldn't look exactly alike.  I shortened the waist to remove the side gathers in the torso, slightly shortened the skirt, and created pleats at the hips instead of gathered swags.  I also shortened the sleeves a little and added a rounded neckline.  I created a pattern of this new dress so you can better see how small modifications to the basic 1-hour dress pattern can give you lots of variation in styles.

The other major difference is that I used some soft cotton plaid  to create a casual day-dress version instead of the slinky silk velvet that I picked for the Downton Abby dress.  You can see that the cotton dress is much less body hugging, and that combined with a slightly wider skirt means that the dress has a bit of a flare thanks to the stiffer drape of the fabric.  I don't mind that since I wanted something more casual for the picnic, plus a lot of these early 20's dresses had more fabric in the skirts than you would expect. But I thought it was fun to see the difference that fabric can make.


I think the hardest part about this whole project was deciding how to decorate it, and I spent more hours looking through fashion plates for design ideas than I spent sewing the dress.  In the end, I started running short on time so I finished it very simply with a contrast binding around the neck, a narrow belt, and a pair of long bows all made out of bias strips of scrap fabric.  This isn't a direct copy of one dress or fashion plate, but I had seen enough similar elements in various 1920's illustrations - like the ones seen on the fabulous What I Found blog - that I felt like it would be a plausible choice.

The best part about 1920's fashions are the hats, so I was thrilled to have an excuse to steal one of my husband's old straw garden hats and reblock it into a wide-brimmed cloche.  To do this, I removed the sweatband inside of the crown, completely wet the straw, then stretched it over a wooden hat block.  If you don't have a hat block, you could also reshape a hat like this on a styrofoam head that is used for holding wigs, and you can wrap thick towels over any type of head form to make the crown wider, which is very used for 20's styles.  After I left the re-blocked hat to dry overnight, I then cut down the brim so it was much shorter in the back and widest on the sides.  Finally, I stiffened the edge of the brim with thick jewelry wire (I ran out of millinery wire, but this works nearly as good) and covered the wire with a strip of straw braid that I removed from the edge of the original hat.  The decorations are made with bias strips of silk and a vintage mother-of-pearl buckle that a friend gave me.

So that's pretty much it.  It's nothing fancy, but it was quick and easy and all of the materials came from my stash, and that's always a good thing.  And once again, I bet you are wondering if it really took one hour to make, right?  Well... it was more like three hours this time because I didn't want to top-stitch all of the binding, and figuring out the pleat size in the skirt slowed me down a bit.  But that's still not half bad!  If you are interested, more photos can be found from my event album on flickr.


ZipZip said...

Fun, cool, so easy to wear, attractive, what's not to love?

Very best,


cathgrace said...

you look stunning!

Alexa said...

Such a cute fabric choice! Reminds me of how I have bins of vintage fabric a friend gave me... and makes me want to get working!

Aubry said...

Your whole outfit is just adorable!

fixitfaerie said...

Your outfit is so cute. You are such a talented person. Your hats always amaze me.

bauhausfrau said...

So pretty! I love seeing the two dresses side by side. And thanks so much for sharing your pattern.

Eleonora Amalia said...

Gorgeous dress, but it's the hat I'm in love with!

Gina said...

Oh I am so loving this dress!! The color is beautiful and so very summery and your hat is so sweet!

Eva said...

Wow! You look so real, like you belonged in the 1920s. Though very likely not at all flattering for my body I will have to try the one-hour-dress pattern soon.

Miss Brilliantine said...

Snaps where invented in the 1880s, at least the patent was taken out for them as "patent buttons". I have seen a facsimile of the patent on the internets but of course can't find it now.

Miss Brilliantine said...

Oops wrong post, it was meant for the lovely bustle dress.

Privatepen said...

Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I used this pattern to make a dress. It worked out amazingly and looks great - thank you so much for drafting it and putting it out for public use! I made sure to credit you in my post.

Lucy W, Kent ~ England said...

Gorgeous outfits.
Look forward to following your blog now I've
found you :~)

Sara Jane Retired RN said...

Love it!

Elenopa said...

Using your pattern, I just made a dress this afternoon. I will be wearing it for a show I'm in which is set in the 1920's.

Thanks for showing us how to do it.

Unknown said...

I was so thrilled to see this pattern diagram on Pinterest. It's exactly how my Mother made her 8th-grade graduation dress. This would have been in 1923 or 1924. I have the dress tucked away, so some of the details are a little vague. The dress is light green, maybe dotted Swiss or something similar. It had bits of lace trim. She made it herself as her mother had died in 1921. She always sew and taught both my sister and I, mostly by osmosis. I have sewed professionally for more than 35years. My specialty is historic clothing, predominantly 1860's and 1870's. I am intrigued by the various cuts of clothing, having dabble in everything from Vikings to 1950's.

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