Historical Sew Monthly #2 – 1920’s Navy Silk Dress

Going through my collection of vintage patterns earlier this month (it seems to grow on its own…), I found this cute mid-1920’s pattern that would be perfect for the HSM #2 – Blue Challenge. I knew I wanted to make a casual day dress, and this silhouette evoked the style of some of the Chanel dresses that I have had my eye on for awhile.

blue mccalls

The pattern itself is an early McCall’s printed pattern, so it was really fun to work with. Most of my other patterns from pre-1930s are pre-cut pieces, which can be a little more challenging to work with due to cutting irregularities. The directions weren’t much more detailed than the others, but they did give a really cute guide to seams and seam finishing. From the illustration on the cover of the pattern, I would date it from the early 1920’s, maybe 1924-25?

Initially I wanted to make this out of wool crepe, but couldn’t really find any examples from the time period to support this fabrication. So when I went to the local wool shop (which sadly went out of business before this project was even finished) I bought a navy silk shantung instead. I was only able to find one example of a silk shantung dress from the 1920s, but I was happy to see that it was in a cut very similar to the dress I am working on. If I end up remaking this pattern, I will definitely use this example for embellishment inspiration, it’s so wonderful and reminds me of Sonia Delaunay designs. From looking at examples like these as well as advertisements from the time, I would guess that this style was popular from 1925 to at least 1928, as I can find the most examples of this style from 1927 – 1928.

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(From left: page from Bernard Hewitt catalogue, 1928; Chanel dress, 1927Silk Shantung dress, Metz & Co, 1927-1928)

Some styling inspiration from 1927-1928:

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(Clockwise from Left: Stocking advertisement, 1928Thomas leather oxfords, 1927; La Vie Parisienne, 1927)

And finally, the finished dress! It is constantly snowing here now (I wish I was in Florida with Sophia!), so we had to make do and some of the photos are out of focus.

Blue 2fulll 1

Blue 3

What the item is: Day Dress

The Challenge: #2, Blue

Fabric: Navy Silk Shantung

Pattern: McCall’s 4752

Year: circa 1925-1927

Notions: Only thread! This is a simple pullover dress

How historically accurate is it? I would say 90%, I followed the pattern instructions exactly, but I’m not sure that silk shantung would have been a popular material to use for this kind of dress. Also, I used a junior’s size pattern thinking it fit perfectly considering how short I am, but the sleeves and hem ended up shorter than they should be.

Hours to complete: 4-ish.

First worn: For photos, today!

Total cost: $21 (2 1/2 yds of material at $7/yd)

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1920-30’s Lingerie Set

Erin here! I was really excited for the first HSM challenge “Foundations”, as I have been making 1920s and 30s dresses for the past year but never had the correct undergarments to wear with them. I bought the book Vintage Lingerie by Jill Salen on a whim a while back, and wanted to recreate a 1920’s bra that was featured in the book.

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The description in the book says that this particular set was made by nuns in Ceylon, and the detail is extraordinary. It’s made in a similar way to the Kestos bra, straps crossing in the back and wrapping around the front, hooking to front buttons for closure.

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This was my first time sewing lingerie, so I drafted this pattern without all the fussy details of the original (though I would love to recreate this set in full one day!) Using the pattern from Vintage Lingerie as a basis was fine for a trial run, but I wish they had given more specifics. I made mine without elastic in the straps, as the author didn’t mention elastic at all in the description, so it’s slippery and impractical when I move around. I’ll definitely be trying this again – with a few little alterations to the shape and changing the back straps to covered elastic. (I apologize for the grainy photos! I was using a phone camera for this post!)

full bra

bra detail 3

This bra was popular into the 1930’s, so I decided to pair it with the whimsical Circular French Knickers that Jeanne of VeraVenus created a wonderful tutorial for. They were super easy to make with this tutorial, and so pretty.

tap pantspanty detail
And finally, though I am a bit camera shy (especially wearing lingerie, on the internet!) I would like to present the final ensemble, worn here with a vintage chenille bathrobe from the same era!
  
 lingerie set

The Challenge: #1 Foundations

Fabric: Silk Habotai

Pattern: Bra adapted from Vintage Lingerie by Jill Salen, Circular French Knickers from VeraVenus

Year: late 1920s – early 1930s

Notions: hook and eye, two buttons, thread

How historically accurate is it? About 80%, I’m not sure that the fabric is entirely accurate, and unfortunately I made the bra straps to cross in front when I don’t think they are supposed to!

Hours to complete: 4, including drafting the patterns

First worn: For this photo, this morning

Total cost: $1, I got the fabric for free and only paid for the buttons at a local sewing shop