1930s Sew-along with Norma: Completed First Toile


Here’s the weekly update on my participation in the 1930s Sew-along with Norma  The toile is completed and I’m happy to report that the results are almost at the point where I can say “It’s worked!!”.  The overall drape has translated well into a toile.  There are some less than satisfactory spots that require correction as I will show in the following sections.  This necessitates creation of another toile because they are serious enough to merit the extra care.  I figure time spent on another toile is better than losing money on a poorly fitting garment in the fashion fabric.

1930s Sewing Challenge: Learning about lapped seams

The bodice of my dress is curved at the bottom where it connects to the skirt.  The curve is lower at the side seams. I’m using “Paris Frocks at Home” as my main roadmap into genuine 1930s sewing techniques.  This week I turned to the many very small illustrations that show garments that have lapped seams in some parts.  I now realize what a valuable technique this is for getting good results on curved areas where a bodice and skirt such as the one on my dress are joined.

To make the small illustrations and pattern instruction sheets easy to analyze I photographed them and then enlarged the photos in PaintShopPro.  My copy of “Paris Frocks at Home” is to fragile to withstand the pressing down necessary to obtain a good scan.  In this illustration I noticed that the finished dress has top stitching where the pleated skirt joins the chemise bodice of the dress.

This pattern instruction sheet is used in the book as an example of the need to follow the exact sequence worked out for constructing the garment.  Notice how it looks like the bodice of the dress is lapped over the top of the pleats where they curve.  This would be the only way to produce a neat joining.

I decided to try this technique out on the toile of my dress.

The First Toile

Here’s how the dress looked right after I finished hand sewing the skirt to the bodice and pressed out the wrinkles.  I was so excited to see it in a finished form.

The first concern I had for the back was in the looseness at the lower edge of the bodice.  This shows up in the slightly diagonal folds of excess fabric.

There is also a bit of fabric forming a fold below the French dart at the side.  I continued to review what else needs correction.

Corrections Needed: Armholes

The armholes reflect the inability I had to make up my mind.  I changed them from a sleeveless shape into something that mimics one of my tank tops.  However, that underarm curve in the back needs reshaping.  I might go back to covering up more of the shoulder line rather than scooping anymore fabric out.

I like the look of the armhole from the front.  But the back….

I’m still not sure about.  Shoulder blades showing from deeply cut out armholes aren’t the most attractive sight.

Corrections Needed: Side Seams

I waited until this morning to continue  a critique of the toile.  It was good to take a break because I noticed more corrections are needed.

The use of the curved ruler to shape and contour the side seams turns out to be a poor choice amongst the rulers available to me.  I will have to eliminate the curve and put in a straight line instead.  I have pinned that in to the side seam.  Once I measure in how much the amount is, I’ll pin front and back pattern pieces together and cut off the same amount.

I’ve also pinned a tiny sliver of fabric below the dart upwards towards the lower dart leg.  That eliminated the drooping at the dart level along the side seam.

Correcting the side seam also removes the sagging fabric as shown by the right side of this photo.

This close-up should give you a better idea of the difference in how the side seam will be straightened out.

Corrections Needed: Front Bodice

The lower portion of the bodice does not line flat.  It buckles slightly near the side seam.  I have to pin out 3/8″ just at the bottom.  I also have to figure out how to adjust the skirt.  It has too much ease to smoothly fit the curve of the lower bodice.

Next Steps

There are too many necessary corrections that I need to make to the paper pattern so it’s not possible for me to move ahead to draping the jacket yet.

I will make a new toile once these corrections are completed.  To save time I think a half-toile will be alright.  Since I know that the bias tape finishing at armhole and neckline work I will not repeat those steps in the construction.  The half-toile will enable me to be confident about how the finished garment will fit so it is well worth the effort.

It’s back to the drafting table to make corrections and cut out the next toile.  I do think this dress is evolving and that the drape is working out.  I need to stay observant and “listen” to what the toile is telling me.

For you


Here’s a little cyber bouquet as a way to say “Thank you!” for maintaining interest through this process of ongoing correction and evolution towards the finished dress.





8 thoughts on “1930s Sew-along with Norma: Completed First Toile

  1. It looks really good. It’ll be so beautiful once you’ve ironed out the fitting issues.
    My 1934 dress needed top stitching to hold the front panel in place. It was impossible to do it any other way – actually it had to be hand top stitched to get it right.
    Your fitting points are very helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thank you SO much Norma. I’m learning so many things. I’m way out of my comfort zone in a good way. I was getting into a rut. I’m thinking of hand stitching the skirt to the bodice using a lapped seam.

      After I published the posting I went back to my dress form. There were still a few parts of the back bodice that were droopy. I increased the dart intake just a very tiny bit on both darts below the waist. Now it’s very smooth. I’m very optimistic for the next toile. Thanks for your continued interest.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am glad you are moving out of the rut. I remember you were a bit down about it when we started. It’s so easy to just do what you know once or twice too often. I am very guilty of that – lots of tops made with the same pattern: no changes made. That’s one of the dilemmas for #1year1outfit.
        I think the lapped seam is a good idea but I ‘m sure you test it first.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I know how frustrating it can be thinking that this will be the last toile but then finding there are too many changes to be made not to warrant another one. It’s always worth it though and all those niggles won’t annoy you on the finished project. Well done you for sticking with it to really create something that I know will be really stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cate, it’s lovely to meet a kindred spirit! You truly understand. I’ll do my best not to disappoint. I’m starting work on the corrections this coming weekend. Please stay tuned & thank you!


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