Chiffon and Lace

There is nothing quite like a last minute dress. I’m pretty sure this dress was about 5 hours from start to finish – and started the evening before a trip! I needed a really light weight, soft dress to wear in the evenings at a dance event – it’s really hot and un-airconditioned at the camp were the event is held, and the evenings are brutal.

The chiffon was left over from another project (and I think I still have about 10 yards left!) and the lace was a gift from a friend. The dress itself is amazingly simple – I draped the bodice onto my dressform, hand sewed the lace on and attached the skirt. To make things even easier, the skirt didn’t even need hemming – the selvedge edges are neat enough to do the trick.

It is an absolutely delightful dress to wear in the heat, and I’m still surprised how flattering the 1920s is on my figure! normally I tend towards the 40s and 50s – nipped in waist, flared skirts – because they flatter my figure much more. But this is remarkably attractive! I’d encourage anybody who is unsure about the 20s to give it a go – the light fabric and soft textures make a big difference.





Green Chiffon Twenties

This is the first time I’ve actually ventured into the 1920s for my own personal wardrobe. Previously, I never really got them, but after doing a bunch of dresses from original patterns, I decided that I actually really liked the concept! So without further ado, here’s the dress.

I made it from Vintage Pattern Lending Library’s 1920s Dress with Neck Frill and Sash. It didn’t exactly turn out like the pattern – mostly because I didn’t actually have the pattern here when I made it up! It got left back at school, as this was a dress that was halfway made up for a show and then returned to me late. A lot of the original details got cut out by me, simply because the dress was cut out very wonky.

 The dress itself probably makes me look a little stouter than I imagine myself. But you know what? I can get over that, it’s probably good for me. It’s so delightfully floatly and soft that I totally forgive all of its possibly unflattering lines!

It’s perfect for wearing on hot days dancing outside, when I’ve just changed out of a tight and heavy costume. It’s freedom! I definitely want to make a few more 20s inspired dresses – I’ve got quite a bit of white chiffon that I’m stewing upon. Maybe something with a bit more of a defined waist?  I’ll just have to wait and see what I come up with!

The Mysterious Allure of the Twenties

Ever since I got into historical fashion, the allure of the 1920s kind of alluded me. The level of weirdness that the twenties possessed ranked up there with the big sleeves of the 1830s and wide hip paniers of the 1750s-80s. The complete lack of hips and chest, both of which I have plenty of, along with the sudden departure from previous fashions, confused me, and pushed me away for a long time.

Then I ended up costuming a play set in the 1924, and ended up making twelve twenties dresses in four weeks, and designing six others. And you know what?

They grew on me – quite a bit. The fashions of the twenties are now regarded with fondness in my mind, and I find myself drawn to their aesthetic more and more.

Original 1920s dresses - Credit - Dear Golden

The way that the fabric becomes a canvas for embellishment and the lightness with which embellishment is accomplished is simply entrancing. In a stiff fabric, the columnar look of the twenties looses its appeal, but in soft chiffons, crepes, georgettes and voiles? It’s simply magical.

One of my reproductions, in green silk chiffon

One of the things I’ve noticed about my 1950s dress is that they’re so structured that they get very warm in the summer. It’s great in the winter, but even the smallest amount of heat is sweltering this year, thanks to an unusually cold spring. Slipping on a light 1920s dresses over only a cotton slip is absolutely delightful. It’s like wearing a beautiful whisper – light, delicate, not at all tight but still figure hugging enough to be flattering.

Three reproduction 1920s dress on stage

Looking back on the images of the show that I did, I can’t get over the simple charm of many of the dresses I made. Even unembellished, they have a quiet beauty that evaded me for a long time. Using a great deal of color defenitely helped tide me over to the side of the 20s, but even the neutral and white dresses have a loveliness all their own.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever warm up to hip paniers and big sleeves accompanied by matching massive collars. But I’m glad I gave the 20s a chance, and now that it’s summer time I’m looking forward to dabbling in them again.

Links of interest for the 1920s:
– Vintage Pattern Lending Library’s 1920s Patterns – I can’t recommend VPLL enough. Janice, the owner, is wonderful to work with and the patterns are simply lovely. Plus, they have an awesome rewards program!
Vintage Textile – Beautiful original dresses!
Woodland Farms Vintage – A lovely collection of original dresses. Currently they have some slips and pajamas on display that are lovely as well.
The Frock – Possibly the most beautiful collection of vintage dresses for sale online right now. It’s a bit hard to sort through their offerings, but well worth the trouble!