1930s Sew-along with Norma: Update 8-2016

Hi everyone!  How are your summer sewing projects?  It’s been very, very humid here in Brooklyn , New York and I find everything gets limp, even freshly cut muslin.  It’s more than the weather that is causing delays for the completion of the 1930s dress toile.

The two stumbling blocks I’m having continue to be:

  1. Getting a v-neckline finished with bias binding to lie flat.
  2. Getting a sleeve with a vertical elbow dart to properly balance on the cross and lengthwise grain.

I used a very lightweight poly stabilizing strip to keep the v-neckline from stretching.  After applying it the neckline was still flat.  But after slip stitching the bias binding into place around the neckline it stiffened up and looked unattractive.  The only reason I can think of is that a v-neckline goes on the bias.  Joining that to a bias binding brings two very changeable pieces together.  I’ve never had this problem with a round neckline.  Also, the same bias binding worked out beautifully on the hem of the sleeve.  This leads me to believe I must finish the neckline another way, even if it is not an authentic 1930s technique.  The overall comfort and integrity of the dress is more important.

The sleeve has eluded me again.  Margaret Ralston was right in saying that the sleeve seam must go 3/4″ towards to front of the bodice side seam.  I have tried again to figure it out but am left with more difficulties in the sewing.  This change throws the front ease of the sleeve out of whack because it is not being completely distributed between the front notch and the shoulder seam.  The top of the sleeve shifts forward 3/4″ too so that is 3/4″ less at the top to put the ease into.  I proofed the sleeve measurements I used for the draft.  They are derived from my basic fitting toile which proved correct all the measurements I base my drafting on.  So where I went wrong with this sleeve is a matter for an experienced teacher to explain to me.  Perhaps one will turn up through this blog.  This also goes to prove that even if you take coursework and have a solid library of reference books, you still need the advice and guidance of someone with more experience  at some point.  This is why I always encourage others to save their money for a workshop or a few private lessons.  No matter how many books you have you will always have to go to another person at some point.

I’m going to work on my modern day solutions to recreate something of a 1930s look.  What I’ve learned is that I love our advances in sewing all the more.  So far the closure, the neckline and the sleeve have forced me to make changes but the fact I can find solutions is very satisfying.  I also realize that recreating period clothing is a specialty and I have more insight into why some professionals go for their Masters degree in this specialty.







4 thoughts on “1930s Sew-along with Norma: Update 8-2016

  1. You’re having a hard time with this. Would straight binding along each side of the V work? The join at the actual V could easily be covered by a bow or other decorative treatment. Or maybe a facing?
    Afraid I have nothing to offer on the sleeve. I hope an expert turns up to help you.
    I expect to finish the woollen 1934 skirt shortly and post this week. This was a really slow one because of doing it all by hand and made me understand a lot more about the pattern. The skirt is lovely and swishy when I walk…

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    • Just saw the photo on your Twitter feed. The fabric looks so soft. Now I know why you saved it for something special.

      It’s been a real trip through the sewing techniques but I have something in mind that will work. I’ve learned that necklines that have a bias direction benefit from stabilizing and facing. I’m going to have to put a facing in the neckline to finish it. On the right side, I will use a single layer strip of bias fabric that will have each edge pressed to the center. This results in a very lightweight strip. I’m then going to slipstitch along the neckline. Carol of By Way of Thanks recommended sewing the strips in two pieces that meet at the center. This creates a perfect V point. This is a lot of hand sewing but it will look very nice. I’m using a lightweight muslin similar in weight to the dress fabric. We’re very busy at work so my experimentations are limited but it will get there. If I didn’t struggle through the previous attempts I wouldn’t have thought of this one.

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      • I’m glad you have a solution. I think you will enjoy the hand sewing – you are meticulous and it will reward you.
        Have made the skirt entirely by hand and thoroughly enjoyed it.


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