Inspired by antique 1920s afternoon dresses, I made this 1920s pink polka dot dress. The dress has a scalloped hem, is slightly sheer and is made of natural fiber fabric. And I only used 1920s sewing techniques to make the dress. Here’s a free sewing pattern from 1926 for a similar dress.
1920s-Style Rayon Crepe Georgette Fabric
I used 100% viscose (rayon) crepe georgette fabric. Fabrics like this have already been used in the 1920s as a cheaper alternative to silk fabrics. The fabric is slightly sheer and has a subtle crepe effect. Crepe fabrics were often used in the 1920s because they’re supposed to be wrinkle-free and don’t need to be ironed. However, after wearing the dress I cannot confirm that: 😉 Because the dress wrinkles a lot and it even needs ironing after washing!
Strange 1920s Detail: Rectangle & Circle Skirt Combined
Typical of 1920s dresses, the front of the skirt is cut like a circle skirt whereas the back of the skirt is just a rectangle. 1920s dresses often had this strange type of skirt – I don’t know why: probably to save fabric or to create a fashionable straight 1920s silhouette while still providing enough width in the skirt.
However, after making some dresses with such a skirt I can safely say that I don’t like it! 😉 Because even on such a lightweight dress as this, the front of skirt is heavier than the back and this always causes the dress to slide down at the front making the hem look longer at the front than at the back. Now I always make my 1920s dresses either with a straight-cut skirt at the front & back or with a circle skirt all the way around.
1920s Sewing Details – Scallop Hem, Picot Hem Finish, Self-Fabric Bias Binding & French Seams
The hem of my dress is a scalloped hem which dressier 1920s dresses – like afternoon & evening dresses – often had. The scalloped hem of my dress is based on this 1927 fashion plate. I also wanted to make a similar belt but I didn’t have enough fabric left for the belt. But I had just enough fabric left to make a detachable bow for the shoulder inspired by this antique 1920s pink silk crepe dress. The inspiration for the faux tied cuffs of my dress came from this sheer 1920s dress. And because I didn’t have enough fabric left for real tied cuffs, I sewed the cuffs so that they appear to be tied.
All seams of the dress are finished with French seams – a popular seam finish in the 1920s because all raw edges are encased in the seam.
The neckline is finished with self-fabric bias binding – the typical 1920s neckline finish. I attached the bias binding by hand so that no stitches are visible on the right side.
Hems of sheer, lightweight 1920s dress were often finished with a picot hem. But because I don’t own an antique hemstitching machine, 😉 I finished the scalloped hem with my faux 1920s picot hem.
Related: 1920s Faux Picot Hem – Tutorial
And after finishing the dress, I added two rows of gathering at each shoulder and also at the side hips because the dress was a bit too big and didn’t hang well without the gathering.
1920s Underwear & Accessories
In most of these photos I’m wearing a pink rayon taffeta slip underneath. And in the summer photo I’m wearing my white silk slip under the dress. This 1920s ad shows a similar sheer, rose-colored dress. The slip which is worn underneath can also be seen.
Related: My 1920s Slips
In the summer photo I’m also wearing my 1920s chiffon cloche hat and my hand-knotted pearl necklace.