Historical Sew Monthly #2 – 1920’s Navy Silk Dress

Going through my collection of vintage patterns earlier this month (it seems to grow on its own…), I found this cute mid-1920’s pattern that would be perfect for the HSM #2 – Blue Challenge. I knew I wanted to make a casual day dress, and this silhouette evoked the style of some of the Chanel dresses that I have had my eye on for awhile.

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The pattern itself is an early McCall’s printed pattern, so it was really fun to work with. Most of my other patterns from pre-1930s are pre-cut pieces, which can be a little more challenging to work with due to cutting irregularities. The directions weren’t much more detailed than the others, but they did give a really cute guide to seams and seam finishing. From the illustration on the cover of the pattern, I would date it from the early 1920’s, maybe 1924-25?

Initially I wanted to make this out of wool crepe, but couldn’t really find any examples from the time period to support this fabrication. So when I went to the local wool shop (which sadly went out of business before this project was even finished) I bought a navy silk shantung instead. I was only able to find one example of a silk shantung dress from the 1920s, but I was happy to see that it was in a cut very similar to the dress I am working on. If I end up remaking this pattern, I will definitely use this example for embellishment inspiration, it’s so wonderful and reminds me of Sonia Delaunay designs. From looking at examples like these as well as advertisements from the time, I would guess that this style was popular from 1925 to at least 1928, as I can find the most examples of this style from 1927 – 1928.

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(From left: page from Bernard Hewitt catalogue, 1928; Chanel dress, 1927Silk Shantung dress, Metz & Co, 1927-1928)

Some styling inspiration from 1927-1928:

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(Clockwise from Left: Stocking advertisement, 1928Thomas leather oxfords, 1927; La Vie Parisienne, 1927)

And finally, the finished dress! It is constantly snowing here now (I wish I was in Florida with Sophia!), so we had to make do and some of the photos are out of focus.

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What the item is: Day Dress

The Challenge: #2, Blue

Fabric: Navy Silk Shantung

Pattern: McCall’s 4752

Year: circa 1925-1927

Notions: Only thread! This is a simple pullover dress

How historically accurate is it? I would say 90%, I followed the pattern instructions exactly, but I’m not sure that silk shantung would have been a popular material to use for this kind of dress. Also, I used a junior’s size pattern thinking it fit perfectly considering how short I am, but the sleeves and hem ended up shorter than they should be.

Hours to complete: 4-ish.

First worn: For photos, today!

Total cost: $21 (2 1/2 yds of material at $7/yd)