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1920s | Dresses | Vintage Sewing

1920s White Lightning Dress

April 14, 2015

Greetings everyone! I’d like to share with you the dress I made for the Greater Boston Vintage Society’s White Lightning Ball. The event was held back in March at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum. I had a couple people tell me I looked like Lady Edith from Downton Abbey! 🙂

I made a new dress using a 1920s pattern – Vogue 9010 – that I purchased over the winter. I used a lovely ivory silk that I purchased from Deletable Mountain Cloth during their winter sale. The silk struck me as very Art Deco and I really liked the design and feel of it. So light weight. I used a cotton muslin to test the pattern. It looks rather odd because I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the full length of the right front panel. Not really an issue though as this was just a mock up. The dress is made from a back panel cut on the fold with little darts at the neck, a left front, a right front, girdle, as well as bodice and skirt cascades. I left the sleeves off . The right front crosses over the left and attaches with a series of snaps on the bodice and hips. The girdle is sewn into one side seam then wraps around the back and attaches at the opposite hip. I added a few extra snaps for good measure. Because my silk was rather delicate I made little cotton patches to go behind the snaps for extra support.

The pattern gives you the option of either hemming the edges or trimming off the seam allowance and adding a binding. My original plan was to only use a yellow/gold trim because I wanted to pair the dress with gold shoes. The binding was sewn first to the right side of the silk then folded over and pressed and hand sewn in place.

Summary of the Pattern
Fabric: Silk from Delectable Mountain Cloth
Pattern: Vogue 9010
Year: 1920s
Notions: Snaps, thread, pink and yellow China silk ribbon for binding
How historically accurate is it? Very.
Any tricky parts to the pattern? Not really
Did you change anything? Left off the sleeves for more of an evening look. Shortened the hem about 1 1/2″. I also added some additional snaps to the waist/hip area and some extra shirring to the girdle. The dress was a little high under the arms so I cut the arm holes a little deeper.
Time to complete: ummm, hard to say. I worked on it off and one for about 2 weeks.
First worn: March 28th, 2015 for the GBVS 2nd White Lightening Ball at the Larz Anderson Car Museum
Wear Again? Yes.
Notes: Due to the cascades and overall feel of this particular style, this pattern does need to be made with fabric that drapes nicely. One should also avoid fabrics with an obvious right and wrong side. My mock up was made using a cotton muslin which didn’t really hang right. It worked well for determining the overall fit of the pattern however and allowed me to mark up the fabric as needed. If I make this pattern again, which I would like to for day wear, I might try it with crepe and a contrasting cascade.

More photos and construction pictures on my blog.

    1. Thank you! The pattern wasn’t too bad to work with. The instructions were rather detailed for a 1920s pattern. I found my choice of fabric a little tricky to work with so I needed to take my time.
      -Emily

  1. Very lovely indeed! And I also agree that you look like Lady Edith.
    It’s rare to see anyone sewing 1920’s styles and those loose dresses can be hard to make to look flattering to modern eyes. You prove once again that it can certainly be done…
    Note to self: Make another 1920’s dress 😉

  2. You do look like Lady Edith! It’s a beautiful dress and even lovelier because you made it yourself. Thanks for sharing!

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