1930s Sew-along with Norma: Making progress in a good way!


Greetings to all followers of this blog and the 1930s Sew-along with Norma

I’m very happy to inform you that the toile is taking shape.  The process of refining the sewing and applications used is now in progress.  This is where the drape and pattern come to life for me.

I believe the toile speaks to me on many levels.  It tells me what will or won’t work regardless of what is in books, photos or illustrations.  Here are the results of the .recent conversation.

The Toile-Bodice-First Review


The lengthwise and crosswise grain lines were marked in green pencil to save time.  In the front and back there is adequate ease in the bodice at bust, waist and hips to make it comfortable.  The chest area needs 1-2″ more ease to allow movement in the arm.  I will add about 3/8″ to the underarm seam and taper to zero below the bust dart.  I will add 3/8″ to each side of the sleeve, too.  Not just at the cap but all the way down.  After making the alteration to the cap I lost some ease.  Please note this additional width will not change the amount of ease in the cap.  This will simply add sufficient width for comfort.


The back does hang straight it just looks a little off because of all the ease.  It’s hard to gauge from the illustration of the original style how close or tubular the actual dress was once completed.  But since this is a pullover dress with no placket at the side it is imperative to have sufficient width to pull it over the head.

With that in mind I had to add a slit in the center back that will be closed with buttons and loops.  This is not part of the original but an adaptation to suit my preferences.  I do not want to lower the neckline in front or back so this is the solution I chose.


This illustration of the original, finished dress is reminiscent more of the 1920s than 1930, the year Butterick released the pattern for this dress.  It seems that the belt is at hip level but when I tried that on my dress form I immediately disliked the look.  For the most part hip level belts look cute on little girls with flat tummies.  Once you’ve got a figure and curves it’s one of the most unflattering styles around.


I’ve decided to use a belt at the waistline.  The actual width of the belt will be determined after I make the bow ties and attach them to the toile.


At the back the dress looks when it’s belted, too.  I really do not think the original dress was belted so low at the hipline.  It just wouldn’t look good with the elaborate inset pleats and the curving pattern of the lower bodice.




“Paris Frocks At Home” recommends using a single or double faced bias tape, premade or made from the dress fabric, as a neckline and armhole finishing or facing.  I based this neckline treatment on the illustration shown above and these instructions from the book.  I’m not at all satisfied with the results.  Once I tried the toile on and the neckline had been exposed to being pulled over my head it stretched slightly.  This is a warning sign of things to come.  I thought about stabilizing the neckline with a strip of seam tape along the inside of the band but now reject that.  I have to develop another way to handle this.  I do have a possible solution but instead of writing about it, I’ll just do it and see how it turns out.


I was very careful with the double bias tape down to pressing, steaming and gently stretching it into shape.  Yet it still proved difficult to use on this slightly V-shaped neckline.  It even distorted at the center back and does not match up neatly.  Time to move on to another solution.  What I have in mind is not 1930s style sewing but something practical.  It will mean some extra work but that’s what a muslin toile is for.  It is a workhorse that saves time and money.  If I messed up like this on the fashion fabric I’d lose the entire bodice.

The way I will test any alternate treatment for the neckline will follow after completion of this entire toile.  There is still the sleeve and skirt to sew in.  Once that is complete just the neckline will need a re-do.  Since that is all, I think I will prepare a new toile cut just to below the bust level.  This way I’ll save fabric and time since all I need to evaluate will be the way the neckline looks.





5 thoughts on “1930s Sew-along with Norma: Making progress in a good way!

  1. Just wondered whether Paris Frocks at Home mentioned stay stitching? I followed the skirt method exactly & so didn’t do it at the waist & I regretted it.So far as I could tell, it didn’t seem to be something people did then – but I’d like to find out.
    1930 dresses look a lot like 1920s dresses I think. I suppose gradual change meant that people were able to update their dresses & still look reasonably fashionable.
    I think I have worked out how to make the top I want by adapting an unsuccessful old top to be a pattern.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norma, I agree that it took time for the 1930s style which defined the decade was not fully expressed when this pattern was released. I found the exact directions for sewing the neckline the correct way. It’s on the patternsheet used as an example in “Paris Frocks At Home”. I have to scan and enlarge it to see what they say. I do not think it mentions stay stitching. I’ll put it up tonight and we’ll learn more.

      At least I know where I went wrong and the correct way of finishing the neckline is within reach–I hope! I do realize that I will stay-stitch the neckline and if I need something to stabilize it like a think seam tape I’m going to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 1930s Sew-along with Norma: Mea culpa! | Retro Glam

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