Get this 1930s Day Dress pattern and be strictly business!
Based on an original pattern from the late 1930s, this two-piece "business" dress is already showing signs of the transition to 1940s style. Shoulder yoke and long or short sleeves make the look. Pleated skirt is slim and slenderizing. Make the top and bottom to match or in contrasting colours for a different effect.
Reconstructing History patterns are different from other reproduction patterns!
We don't just photocopy old patterns and sell them to you. We use the original patterns as a basis. Then we grade the pattern in modern sizes, up to 48" bust and 40" waist, so they'll fit far more sizes than the original patterns ever did. And we don't just stick you with the old vague instructions either. Kass personally goes through each pattern, improving the instructions, modernizing the vocabulary and adding in all those things that the old pattern companies assumed their customers knew. Yet we don't remove the flavour of the original pattern, so you can truly experience using a vintage pattern without all the trouble of resizing and "translating" it.
All sizes (busts 28" to 48") come in the same envelope. Also included are assembly instructions, embellishment suggestions, and the extensive historical notes you've come to expect from Reconstructing History.
Let us help you! At Reconstructing History, we want to see you wearing the best garments you are capable of making. Call us Monday through Friday from 8am until 6pm Eastern Time (or email us around the clock) and we will answer any questions you might have!
Fabric Suggestions: lawn, handkerchief linen, shantung, sheer cotton, rayon, bengaline, wool crepe, woolens, jersey, silk crepe, chiffon, organdy, georgette, voile and other dress weights
Notions: snaps for side closure, button and belt for front closure
Yardage: 3.5 yards 54" wide
Below is an excerpt from our 1930s historical notes:
Ladies’ Dresses in the 1930s
Fashion at the end of the 1920s experienced a reversal that many had not anticipated: hemlines lengthened and skirts became long again. At first, women bitterly complained that the days of “a glimpse of stocking” and their imprisonment by clothing were back. But the long styles of the turn of the decade never reached Victorian levels of modesty. Although long, the skirts of the 1930s were fitted and figure-clinging. These were not your grandmother’s long skirts!
An element that began in the fashion houses of Paris in the 1920s became a staple of 1930s fashion -- the bias cut. Famous designers such as Madeleine Vionnet used the bias cut to produce a garment that clung to a woman’s figure without excessive fitting. Unlike the fashions of the first years of the 20th century that depended upon shaping undergarments and precise tailoring, garments cut on the bias -- at a 45 degree to the straight of the weave -- stretched naturally and created a very attractive silhouette. Bias became the distinguishing characteristic of the 1930s and many of the elegant evening gowns we admire in old movies owe their beauty to being cut on the bias.
The Stock Market Crash in October 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression had a profound effect on the clothing market. Tailors began to sell “half tailored” garments. These were clothes that were finished professionally in all the complicated areas, but whose long seams were left unsewn. The idea was that anyone with a sewing machine could easily run up the long seams and complete the garment. So “half-tailored” outfits enjoyed a short season of prosperity while the fashion industry tried to figure out how to survive the Great Depression.
In the United States, the National Recovery Administration was formed in 1933 as part of Roosevelt’s “New Deal” in an effort to promote economic recovery. Manufacturers who conformed to the NRA codes were allowed to display the blue eagle logo and the words “We Do Our Part” on their products. However the NRA was deemed unconstitutional in 1935 and the use of the logo was discontinued.
The great couture houses of Europe introduced new lesser-priced clothing lines in order to compensate for the amount of income they were losing. This was the birth of ready-to-wear (prêt-à-porter) which represents most of the clothing we buy today. RTW clothing was sold in standard sizes based on bust and hip measurements. The buyer was meant to purchase the garment closest to her measurements and modify the RTW garment herself (or have a professional seamstress or tailor make the modifications). At a time when every woman had learned sewing either in school or from her mother, this was not a complicate task. The waist measurement was not originally included in RTW sizing because it was believed to be the most variable measurement as well as the easiest to alter.
Geometric cuts that add interest to garments became a hallmark of 1930s fashion. Skirts with pointed panels like that seen in the illustration at left were common. Interestingly-shaped gores and hidden pleats were also part of the lexicon of 1930s dress. These elements may have arisen from the ever-present economic pressure on the fashion industry. Garments had to be made with less fabric, so they made the most of what they had. Decorative elements like shaped panels and pleats added nothing to the overall yardage needed to make the garment, but the resulting outfit had a lot more visual interest than a simply-cut dress. The preferred silhouette was long and lean and Hollywood played a large part in the fashion.
As the 1930s hurtled towards the early years of World War II, the silhouette of fashion changed again to a more structured style. As shown in the illustration of a late 1930s two-piece outfit at right, after two decades of flowing fabrics with little shaping, the tailored look was coming back.
- Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen’s Dresses and Their Construction c 1850-1940. 1977: McMillan, London and Basingstoke.
- Blum, Stella. Everyday Fashions of the Thirties As Pictured in Sears Catalogs. 1986: Dover, New York.
- Payne, Blanche. History of Costume. 1965: Harper Collins, New York.
- Laubner, Ellie. Collectible Fashions of the Turbulent 1930s. 2000: Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, Pennsylvania.
- Ward, Tammy and Tina Skinner. Fashionable Clothing from the Sears Catalogs: Early 1930s, Mid-1930s, Late 1930s. 2003-2007: Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, PA.
- Waugh, Norah. Cut of Women’s Clothes 1600-1930. 1968: Routledge, New York.
For more, purchase this pattern.
This information © 2012 Kass McGann and Reconstructing History