sewing a 1920s silk dress
Just before the weekend, I finished a project - officially the oldest sewing pattern I've used thus far - a loose-fitting silk dress sewn from a Butterick pattern dating from 1919. And appropriately I'm sharing this project on the eve of Downton Abbey's series finale (in the US, anyway).
I found the pattern via She'll Make You Flip, a great notion shop on Etsy, and in keeping with the promise I made to myself last project, I kept it as simple as possible. The pattern came with a couple variations but I made the no-frills version.. no lining, no gathered panel at the side. Part of the reason was to use this project almost as an introduction to the pattern (so I can move forward and make the other versions later), but another reason was because I knew I was sewing it out of Mood Fabric's beautiful pop art silk fabric, and it was wild enough already without any embellishments or details.
What I used.. three yards of silk and bias tape for the neckline. Because I sewed the simplest version, there were only three pattern pieces so it's a very straightforward process. First, I cut the pieces out (shortening the front and back pieces by about ten inches by folding the pattern pieces towards the bottom and middle before cutting the fabric) and sewed the side seams together - front and back and sleeve seams. Then, I sewed the sleeves to the dress.
Next step - bias tape neckline. I didn't have any single fold one inch bias tape (and didn't have enough fabric left over to make my own), but I did have some double fold tape twice the size - so I used my bias tape maker to craft single fold from the double fold tape. I cut the double fold in half, flattened it out, then ran it through my bias tape maker - pressing the new folds into place as it came out.
Once I had newly-sized bias tape, I sewed it to the neckline - unfolded right edge of the bias tape to the right side of the dress. I pressed the tape inward then sewed it shut on the outer edge of the bias tape, folding rough edges over one another at the center back.
Finished the hems, and the dress was done! My favorite part of this simple dress are the sleeves - they are massive and add a twenties style to an otherwise simple shift dress. I can't wait to change the pattern up a bit with a different neckline and maybe shorten the sleeve length. And add a belt to give it a drop waist silhouette.
And as a belated Valentine's celebration, I'm offering 20% off the Rebecca Dress in black velvet, enter the coupon code FEBRUARYLOVE for your discount! Sale ends tomorrow night.