1930s Sew Along with Norma of She Sews You Know

There’s a brand new project in planning.  It comes at a good time, too.  Norma of She Sews You Know recommended that we do a sew along together.  There are no hard and fast rules.  I like that.  There’s no deadline.  I like that, too!  We agreed to choose a time period.  Norma had a 1930s dress she wants to make and I thought I need a change from the 1950s.  Like Norma, I’m going to do my best to work with techniques from the time period.  This is not always as easy as it sounds, since some will be a new learning experience.

Norma is taking on the challenge of a detailed and sophisticated style which you can see at her posting, Sewing a Bit of History.  I’ve decided on something much simpler but which still challenges me.  There will be a skirt and blouse inspired by simple patterns from the 1930s.  I’ve collected some screen shots from Pinterest and Google Images which I’ll share.

Right now I’m lining the Sheath Skirt with Modesty Kick Pleat.  While that is going on I’m going to consider the ideas I’m getting from the vintage pattern envelope illustrations.  This is how I work.  I first consider many things and then pick the elements that I think I can work with.

Candidates for the skirt pattern


Six gore skirt with flare starting at hipline.


Six gore skirt with flare starting somewhere between abdomen and before hipline.

When the flare starts somewhere near the thigh you have a trumpet skirt.  Another style element I love are the bias cut flounces that were sewed at the bottom of 1930s dresses, slips, gowns and skirts.


Nightgown with bias flounce.

If I use a bias flounce the upper portion of the skirt would be a sheath skirt but with only one dart on each side instead of two.  The final choice of the skirt depends on the style of the blouse I choose.

At this point I’m leaning towards the 6 gore skirt.  The challenge here is where to put the closure without disturbing the flares.  There is no Center Back seam.  The closure will have to be in the side seam.  I’m thinking of trying a genuine 1930s snap placket based on a tutorial at Of Dreams and Seams.  I have never used snaps in as a skirt closure nor have I tried this technique.  I am curious to see how flat and inconspicuous it will be.  I have a 60″ wide piece of navy poly gabardine that has the right body for a gored skirt but it shreds very much.  It also is a medium weight so I have to make sure the closure is not bulky.

If I go with the 6 gore skirt I will be able to provide instructions for drafting the pattern.  I intend to make a toile first.  Even though the pattern is easy to make there might be some tweaking I can learn and pass on to you after evaluating the toile.

Candidates for the blouse


I love blouses with short kimono sleeves.  They hide many flaws such as thin arms and the softness helps a small busted woman look fuller on top.  I think that is a nice balance to a flowing gored skirt.  I like style #1.


This blouse looks very simple but study the neckline treatment.  There appear three elongated ovals along the neckline through which a scarf is looped.  I think this blouse is very smart but worry that the fabric I have for the blouse might not have enough body.  It is a rayon print with a light weight.  The background is navy with white, orange-red and yellow colors in the flowers.  I do not think the way this fabric shreds and the light weight will support the openings.  Still, I got some good ideas for the top from this.


I think the bodice of this dress will work well when the style elements are worked into a blouse.  The blouse will be made from an unfitted bodice from which the side dart is eliminated.  It will be a slip on with a slit at the center front.  The turn backs can be faced in a solid color that contrasts with the print.  The bow can be the same or pick up on another color in the print of the fashion fabric.  I might even do this as an over blouse with a self-covered belt made in the fabric of the skirt.  If I choose this then the skirt will not need a waistband.  I’d finish the waist of the skirt with a facing.  This will eliminate bulk that arises from a skirt waistband and then a blouse with belt over it.  If I go with this style I think I’ll make the bow detachable.  If I decide to sew it on then the opening will be a slit in the back of the blouse.  The challenge is to figure that detail out.  I’ll also have to figure out how much style ease to add to the pattern.  I want a blousy effect with the belt but I don’t want it to be too blousy.

My sketching is not up to display quality.  As the project progresses I’ll use photos.

Another challenge is deciding on the colors for the bow and the turn backs of the blouse.

I always give my projects a name because each ensemble takes on a life of its own.  I’ve decided to call this one Carole, in honor of 1930s comedienne Carole Lombard.

I invite you to join in and learn as we go along.



3 thoughts on “1930s Sew Along with Norma of She Sews You Know

  1. I like the 6 gore skirt a lot – in fact I like all those patterns.
    My dress has snap fastening side – one of my challenges is to get it to sit right as i couldn’t last time.
    I remember that one of my 1930s books mentions a concealed placket with no fastening. I remember my mother using those and they were very neat. I will look out the book when I’m not as busy trying to stop the puppy eating the electric wires…


    • I’ll have to google that one. I can’t visualize a placket without fastenings. My concern about snaps is that there could be gaps. Well, that’s why this is an adventure. We’ll see which way the road goes. It will do me good to find photos of 1930s skirts to see if they used zips at some point.

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