Inspired by an antique 1920s tennis dress, I made this sporty 1920s dress with hand appliqued bias trim and DIY printed silk scarfs at the back.
Natural-Fiber Chiffon Fabric
After making my 1920s mint green & white hand painted polka dot dress, I still had enough of the fabric left. So I decided to make another 1920s summer dress to use up the fabric.
The fabric is an off-white sheer viscose (rayon) chiffon fabric. The fabric is made of natural fibers so the dress is comfortable and cool in summer.
Similar fabric were already used for summer dresses in the 1920s because viscose chiffon was a cheaper alternative to silk chiffon! 😉
Because I had some mint green viscose (rayon) satin bias binding in my stash, I decided to use this and turn my dress into a sporty 1920s dress. The applique pattern is an almost exact copy of an antique 1920s silk tennis dress in Countryman’s & Hopper’s book “Women’s Wear Of The 1920s”.
I decided not to use my sewing machine for the applique because the viscose crepe fabric and the viscose satin bias binding were so different that the fabric might pucker: the fabric is thin while the satin bias binding is sturdy and slippery. So I appliqued the bias binding by hand. To make the hand applique I pinned the bias binding to the finished dress and stitched it down on both sides with overhand stitches.
Refashion With Leftover Silk Fabric
After I finished the dress a couple of years ago, I didn’t look like you see it now in the photos. And I never wore it because the back of the dress was too plain. Also, the armscyes were too large because this fabric stretches a lot when it just hangs on a hanger! So I decided to refashion the dress so that I would like it.
I slightly gathered the armscyes until they fit. Then I wanted to finish the armscyes and neck – which were white before – with the same mint green viscose bias binding. I searched for years for a satin bias binding made of natural fibers. However, natural fiber satin bias binding is no longer made! That’s so bad: it’s now all polyester (plastic) satin bias binding! Then I finally decided to look for something else for the armscyes and neck.
A couple of years ago I had made a hand-printed silk scarf which I also never wore: I’m not a scarf type person! 😉 I used an off-white pure habotai silk fabric and printed it with polka dots using a pencil and mint green fabric paint. Here you can see how I printed the fabric. The color of the fabric paint was very similar to the color of the bias binding. So I decided to use the scarf for the plain back of my 1920s chiffon dress. I cut the scarf in half, gathered and pleated it and attached one half of the scarf at each shoulder. 1920s dresses often had scarf-like pieces of fabric attached at the shoulders.
Then I thought the scarf would also be perfect for the armscyes and neck. So I cut off bias strips at the ends of the scarfs. I cut the bias strips so that the polka dots would be visible after sewing. Then I finished the armscyes and neck with the silk bias binding. The ends of the scarfs which were straight before were now diagonal at the bottom. But I liked it and decided to keep it. So I just finished the hems of the silk scarfs with a rolled hem again.
Refashions always take a lot of time but I really like the dress now: The armscyes fit, the back of the dress is no longer plain and I also used up the silk scarf. 😀
I wear my 1920s hand applique dress with my 1920s hand-knotted pearl necklace.
I also wear my 1920s chiffon cloche with a matching mint green viscose chiffon bow.
Related: 1920s Chiffon Cloche Hat
And because the dress is sheer, I wear it over my 1920s mint green viscose slip. Click on the link below to see how I made the slip.
I also wear my painted mint green shoes which match the color of my 1920s hand applique dress!
Related: How To Paint Shoes