When I first caught sight of this dress on Instagram, I knew I had to have it. With the applique sporting motif, it was just the sort of thing that I’m always looking for.
The seller described the dress (skirt and over-blouse, actually) as being from the 1930s. I was really puzzled as to why she put that date on the set as it just looks so late 1920s to me.
Then I noticed that one of the photos showed a side zipper. Still, I was convinced that it was from the 1920s. I mean, look at that orange color! Look at the shape of the over-blouse! So despite some condition problems and that pesky zipper, I decided to purchase it anyway. It was just too perfect to pass up.
The back view of the set actually looks more like it could be from the early 30s. The half belt is pretty much at the normal waistline. And note that the skirt is too long for the 1920s.
Another oddity is the skirt. If this were from the Twenties, you’d expect for it to be an under-dress, sort of like a slip and skirt combination. But this is a real skirt with a waistband. It was time to get serious about figuring out this one.
I turned the blouse inside out to examine the seam stitching. What I found was three distinctly different stitching patterns, evidence that the set had been altered twice. Here you can see the tiny original stitching along with some later stitches with a longer length.
I then turned my attention to the zipper. As I suspected, the zipper had the larger stitches, meaning that it was added at a later date.
The back of the blouse has shaping darts at the waist. These too are later additions, as is the half belt.
The skirt also shows extensive signs of alteration. My pen is pointing to the original seam, while you can see a newer one to the left.
For the skirt opening, the seam was simply split and the hooks and eyes were used for the closures. This photo really says a lot. For such a meticulously made garment, there is no way this waistline sewing was original to it.
This is such a well made dress, that the original owner must have paid quite a bit for it. I can see why she didn’t want to give it up just because hemlines dropped and the silhouette became more streamlined. Cutting off the bodice of the underdress and adding a waistband could have lengthened the skirt considerably (about five inches, it appears. Look at the photo of the set and note how the pleat opens about five inches below the hem of the top. You would expect the pleat to open at the hem.) Adding darts and the half belt to the blouse would have given it a more fitted and fashionable look.
I often leave altered garments in their found state. In this case, to restore it I’d have to construct a new bodice for the underdress, so for the present time I’m going to leave it as it is. I will most likely remove the zipper and the half belt. I haven’t decided about the darts, as they may leave the fabric weakened.
In my post yesterday I forgot to show the side seams of the blouse. In the crease you can faintly see the new stitching. Look nearer the edge of the fabric and you can see the old stitching holes. The sides were taken in about 3/4 inch on each side.