The One Hour Dress: Drafting Instructions

The 1930s Sew-along with Norma brought up a discussion of the straight lines of some dresses in the late 1920s and early 1930s. At Norma’s request I’m posting scans of drafting instructions for one version of the One Hour Dress. The first scan contains instructions for taking your measurements.

I have not made a garment using this system developed by Mary Brooks Picken during the late 1910s through 1920s. I have seen different versions online of this dress. Some came out very well and others did not look flattering. Since it is a very boxy shape I think making a muslin is a good precaution. The width is based on the hip circumference. Those who have a larger abdomen or smaller bustline may need to make some adjustment.

There are vertical or horizontal darts to give some shaping at the hipline. Walking pleats in the side seams are another unusual feature in some styles. I’d love to see photos of any readers who use these instructions to create a dress, tunic or top.

This pattern came from “The One Hour Dress-21 New Designs with Complete Instructions for Making”


4 thoughts on “The One Hour Dress: Drafting Instructions

  1. Sorry to be so late acknowledging your post – I had to go away for a family matter and rather lost track of everything.
    The measuring is very similar to how I work my freestyle tops and there are similarities in the rest also. I like the idea of side pleats and long sleeves and I made add something like that to future garments.
    If anyone is interested in trying this method, I have found that crisper fabrics need less fabric width whereas soft fabrics such as cotton lawn or silk need more to look good.
    I have cut out the 1934 skirt in the Welsh wool with a front and a back pleat and the darts are in and the waist stay stitched.

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    • Hi Norma! Hope things worked out during your trip. I’ve been low-key because of the ongoing heat and humidity. I’d enjoy watching how the One Hour Dress develops if anyone decides to take up the method.

      I just received my fashion fabric for the 1930s dress this weekend. The nylon stay tape was part of that order. Now I can try using it to stabilize the v-neckline. It’s so light I ‘m looking forward to working with it.

      Good luck with the 1934 skirt in that woolen you like so much. Will you be stay stitching the waistline this time?

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      • Yes, everything ok now, thank you.
        Exciting to get the fabric – hope the stay tape works.
        I’ve stay stitched the waist by hand using linen thread drawn from the long sleeve top fabric. It worked on the top’s neckline so it should hold this.

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      • That sounds like it will work. The linen thread will be stronger than cotton.

        I think I’ll try applying the stay tape by hand using a small running stitch. I choose this stitch because it’s very flexible and has worked out well on my zipper applications.

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