1930s | Dresses

I spotted Hollywood

July 7, 2014

Last year in late autumn I spotted a beautiful Bette Davis Pattern on etsy, Hollywood 1221, published in 1934. And my boyfriend was so kind to give it to me as a christmas-present.

I already copied the pattern a few days after the holidays (because the pattern is so old I don’t want to use the original pattern pieces anymore), but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago I finally decided for a fabric and started cutting.


The choice of fabric wasn’t that intelligent in hindsight. I used1,5m of a white spotted green cotton print I bought a few years ago in the odds-and-ends-box of a nearby fabric store that doesn’t exist anymore. I chose it because I thought it was close enough to the spotted fabric on the envelope drawing and could look good (but it is not really appropriate for this time, in the sewing magazines I own polka dots don’t appear earlier than late 30ies, in earlier issues I only found them to be used for children’s clothing).
For this project it was just enough, I had to cut the lower back in two pieces, otherwise it wouldn’t have fit.


Well, the resulting dress is really…dotty. The matching of the pattern is at some seams better than at others, unfortunately where it didn’t fit was in the centre front (in contrast to the text on the linked page, it is a two-piece skirt. There is no seam in the pleat and I didn’t think of adjusting the width of it to match the dots).




The pattern asked for two zippers, on at the side and one in the centre back. I used a white nylon zipper in the neck and a light cream one in the side seam (because I had them in stock, I do know they aren’t authentic for the 30ies)  Both zipper-seams are hand-sewn as is the hem.


I used white thread for all seams, this seemed to be a better match than green one.

The size is a straightforward 12, only thing I changed is I shortened the hem by 7cm.

Because the pattern was too weird with the stomacher in between I applied a rest of white cotton ribbon after having already finished it, now it is a lot better.




I used every bit of it. As you see, it wasn’t enough to attach it on both ends of the stomacher-part in the back as well, the rest I had was just enough to form the button-loop for a button in the neck above the zipper.


As I said, I didn’t change anything. Like the most american patterns, the seam allowance is  included, something still unusual for me (it is uncommon in europe), because it makes it difficult for me to imagine how large it will be in the end (and in this case it was difficult to match the fabric pattern as well). When looking at the result it seems as if the bodice is a little too long, when making it again I should try to shorten the stomacher-part.


I hope you like it!



So much for today, love


  1. I love this! This turned out great! I’ve been thinking about using a Hollywood pattern and now I know for sure I will use one!

  2. I think it looks great! I don’t think you should worry about the authenticity of the print, it looks lovely. And, you’ve achieved a very nice period look, with your hair, too. You look fabulous!

  3. Okay, stay with me here on this long story. You know how there’s always That Dress You Didn’t Buy? Mine is a 1930s cotton garden-party dress that I tried on in a vintage shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on a visit in the early ’90s. I was fairly poverty-stricken at the time so I passed it up even though it fit perfectly, but I have always remembered it. Anyway, it was a full-length, bias-cut dress with flutter sleeves, clearly from the early to mid-’30s, and it was white with big purple polka-dots. So dot on in confidence!

    p.s. You look adorable!

  4. Thank you all so very much for your comments, you are so kind!

    The hair was in fact a very quick try, I dampened it, applied some mousse and used special clips to make the finger waves (I was unable to find a translation, in german they are called “wellenreiter”, long, slightly curved clips with toothed edges). Because my hair had been dry before it wasn’t very long living. But I was surprised myself how well it worked.

    @Jessamyn: Thank you for your story. Comforting to know polka dots existed that early. And I can understand you so well, I once saw 40ies wedding dresses for a steal, but didn’t buy them because back then I was all in my gothic-crinoline-ruffles-phase and had no eye for 20th century silhouettes.

  5. thats just so lovely! and for someone whos eye is not trained in 1930s, i do find that it looks very much what i think of 30s wear to look like. i guess yes the bodice is a bit short, but i think the colour is perfect for the era at least. and great job with your hair too! perfect look!

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