1930s Sew-along with Norma: A better choice of outfit


From “Paris Frocks At Home.” 

I’m very pleased with the investment I  made in getting books to help me with this project.  They are helping me think through the process of what will work best within the guidelines for the 1930s Sew-along with Norma.

First, I have to consider that if I’m to remain true to the challenge I have to create the garment using 1930s techniques.  I’m very excited to learn a 1930s draping technique to create the garment.  That’s all well and good but what won’t serve me well or do me good is to rush into the draping and start at an intermediate level.  As I read “Draping & Designing With Scissors and Cloth 1930s” I think a gored skirt is possible to do after learning how to drape the basic straight skirt.  The top I considered also is more on an intermediate level.  Although it’s simple, it would have to be unfitted in order to have a nice fit when it’s belted at the waist.  The instructions in the draping book I will use show only fitted bodices that work best as part of a dress.

To keep everything simple, I’m going to first learn how to drape an unfitted front and back as shown in one of the pattern diagrams and illustrations that are part of “Paris Frocks At Home”.  The guesswork about what techniques, finishings and fabric to use is gone when I go this route since the information needed is included in the book.  The only change I will make to the dress is to drape the bias flounce so that it is even on both sides.  I’m not ready to do an asymmetrical drape yet.  For the jacket I’m going add a slightly flared bottom to what is a short kimono sleeve.  Draping a set-in sleeve is unknown territory right now.  Because of this the dress will be sleeveless.  I want to focus on working with a bias cut flounce so I think timewise keeping the other elements simple will allow me to better focus.

One of the fabric recommendations is crepe.  I think a crepe back satin in a rose pink would be lovely with the crepe part on the outside.  I once made a blouse with the satin side showing.  Satin can make a person look larger and shorter because of the way it reflects light.  I won’t make that mistake again.  I do think that a glimpse of the satin when the flounce or sleeve moves is a nice touch.

Illustrations from “Paris Frocks at Home.” 

The binding on this book is fragile so I’ve photographed the pages instead of scanning them.



My choice is View A.


Diagrams of what finished pattern pieces look like.

Illustrations from “Draping & Designing With Scissors and Cloth 1930s”


The front, back and upper sleeve of the jacket will start out as shown in Fig. 13.


Illustrations for draping the basic bodice.  The vertical pleat you see is not a dart.  It’s called an “ease dart” that adds style ease to the drape.  It is unpinned and not marked off when time comes to mark and true the drape.

I have plenty of whipped cream crepe left over from the Secretary Blouse and from the lining of the Sheath Skirt with Modesty Kickpleat.  I’m going to try draping in that fabric.  This will be a big step forward since I’ve worked only in muslin in the past.


7 thoughts on “1930s Sew-along with Norma: A better choice of outfit

  1. Very clever to be able to photograph pages like that. They’ve come out very well and they are really good illustrations.
    I like View A and I think crepe back satin is a good idea – like you I am not keen on shiny side up.
    When you’re draping do you have to pin out all the ease first and then let it out when you true the drape? Or is it just some of it? You can tell I don’t know how to drape but I am very interested.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Norma! Yes, you pin in a 1/2: tuck first as shown in the diagram. Once the muslin is removed and marked the ease tuck is unpinned.

      What doesn’t make sense to me is that the instructions for the back bodice seem wrong. At one point they state that if a dart is needed you create it out of the ease tuck. That doesn’t work. I know because in the other draping system I learned in school a dart is a dart and it’s the excess fabric that must be taken up after side seams are shaped closer to the body. If the excess is not taken as a dart then it can be a tuck or gathers or integrated into a style line.

      What I’m going to have to do as I experiment is figure out where the ease tuck goes. It’s anywhere from 3-5″ from the Center Front and Center Back. On my form this is under the bust in front and shoulder blade in the back. The system we learned at French Fashion Academy required us to take a “pinch” of about 1/8-1/4″ just at the waist for a fitted garment and at the hip for a looser, longer garment. That would equal a little ease but not much.

      I think that if an ease tuck is used in the front one must be in the back. There are illustrations for a draped basque that omit the ease tuck in the back. That doesn’t seem right to me. I’ll have to play around with this and figure out whether the tuck should be 1/2″ deep or less.

      The idea of an ease tuck makes sense to me because the draping system I learned at French Fashion Academy always resulted in garments that weren’t that generous with style ease. I always had to make adjustments after the toile was completed.

      I think this simpler outfit is a great way to learn something new on many levels. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. It’s definitely going to be an interesting journey.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There must surely be an ease tuck in the back too? Sounds like experimenting is the only way to work it all out.
        I was just reading my message to you about interfacinng the velvet – should say fusible not visible – I think my phone must have second guessed & I didn’t notice.


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  3. Pingback: 1930s Sew-Along with Norma: Upper front and back drapes completed | Retro Glam

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