Sewing,  Vintage

I Made a … 1930s Inspired Dress

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Time to catch up with Retro Claude. Blogging has taken a back seat to working in the past few weeks. But I thought I would catch you up with all the things I have been making, starting with this 1930s inspired dress.

I made it to wear to the What Katie Did summer social. If you aren’t familiar with What Katie Did they make excellent vintage reproduction underwear and stockings. Every year, they host a little party to launch their new collection and I was lucky enough to be invited!

The best and brightest of the vintage world are often there and I was struck by that all too familiar fear. “What shall I wear?!!”

So I decided that this called for a me made dress. And not just any me made dress, an original piece, designed, drafted and made by me.

Although on Retro Claude I have mostly been following patterns for my me mades, I am actually a trained pattern cutter. And I LOVE cutting patterns. For me it’s almost more enjoyable than the making of a garment (sssh don’t tell anyone). But for this dress I knew I wanted something completely unique.

Of course I started with some Pinspiration. I love to look at the vintage fashion illustrations on Pinterest and I struck upon this one which really caught my eye.


1931 Dress Styles-McCalls Patterns | Vintage Style Files

There are so many elements of these dresses which I love: the cowl neck, the flutter sleeves, the flared skirt. I could go on. And so using this as my starting point I created a pattern that incorporated all my favourite elements.

And this is how it turned out.

The 1930s Inspired Dress

Self drafted 1930s inspired dress with flutter sleeves and cowl neckline.


The fabric I picked up at a Destash Restash event I went to in aid of the Make a Wish Foundation. It is a Rose and Hubble print 100% cotton. I would have liked to have used a rayon for this dress but I am making a conscious effort to use more recycled fabric and fabric I already own. So I decided not to buy anything new.

It was very simple to construct in the end. I drafted my front and back without seams so I could have a cowl neckline both at the front and the back.

Close up of the flutter sleeves and cowl neck of my 1930s dress - Retro Claude

And ohh wow, I absolutely adore the flutter sleeves.

I made mine slightly longer than the ones in the image as to get the same drape from my cotton they needed more length and weight. You can see that I went for a hand finished hem on the sleeves (read about my hatred of machine hems here).

The skirt was cut in 6 panels to create the flare. I made my skirt slightly shorter as my petite frame can get overwhelmed by prints easily. As a result it doesn’t have the 1930s feel bellow the waist but that’s okay with me because the top half makes such a statement.

Another view of my 1930s vintage inspired dress - Retro Claude

Vintage Belt Buckle

One of the elements I am most please with is the matching fabric belt. I used a vintage buckle that I picked up in a charity shop and a length of cotton tape to strengthen the belt. Using a fabric hole punch I made a hole and hand stitched over the edge to create an eyelet.

A close up showing the details of the matching belt with a vintage buckle

The buckle is more modern than the 1930s but it was such a good colour match for the print that I knew I had to use it.

So there we have it. My 1930s inspired dress. I am so pleased with the way it turned out. That is one of my favourite things about drafting your own patterns. You have so much more control over the design and the fit!

Making for my own body has proved to be much easier than I expected because I know it so well. I know what suits me and what doesn’t and what I can get away with.

What do you guys think of my 1930s inspired dress?

There will be more post catching up with my other makes over the weeks to come so stay tuned for much more,

Claude x