1920s Dress with Some Issues

I didn’t need this dress. I bought it anyway. First of all, it is a really great dress. Secondly, it has some problems and I felt sorry for it. And finally, it was cheap. I just couldn’t leave it to become someone’s Halloween costume, and then be throughly trashed.

So, I brought it home. The truth is, I was in search of some wintertime projects. This one should occupy me through a few cold and snowy days.

I need to add that this is a really great dress. The asymmetrical chiffon layers are just stunning with the applied trim ovals. It’s a great balance of what the 1920s were all about – a straight (or boyish) silhouette with a touch of romance. I was hoping the dress would have a label, but sorry to say, there isn’t one.

Most of the problems are with the upper bodice. As you can see, the shoulders are pretty much gone. This dress is very light, but even a mostly chiffon 1920s dress with suffer in the shoulders if left to hang. That’s what’s going on here.

You might can tell that there are two layers of chiffon, one black and the other beige. Both will need to be replaced.

There are a few other little issues, like this small hole in the drape, and a rent on the bottom flounce. But ninety percent of the work will be to the upper bodice.

Note that there is an appendage on the right (your left) hip. I’m thinking of using it to replace the upper bodice. Will I be ruining the balance of the dress?

Another problem with the bodice is this lace. It seems to be there for a bit of modesty, as the sheer part of the bodice is quite low. At first I thought the lace was a later addition.

You can see that the stitching holding the lace in place is definitely not original to the dress. I was feeling all smug about thinking the lace was an afterthought until I spotted something else.

This is a bit of the lace where it was originally stitched to the bodice, and then cut away.

The lace is actually very nice, with that metallic thread over-embroidery. So after replacing the chiffon, I’ll reattach the lace in the original place.

After all this work, I’ll not be keeping this dress. This is a dress that needs to be seen, and it is definitely strong enough to wear. It doesn’t fit into my collection, and as pretty as this one is, most museums already have plenty of unlabeled black dinner dresses. The lack of provenance would make it difficult to fit into a history museum collection. So it will be sold, hopefully to someone who will cherish it and who will look marvelous in it.


Filed under Sewing, Uncategorized, Vintage Clothing

18 responses to “1920s Dress with Some Issues

  1. Vicky Loebel

    What a great project! If I had the boyish figure I would buy it from you 🙂


  2. lauriebrown54

    That is gorgeous! My advice on the wee hip flounce- us it to repair the bodice so that the fabric matches exactly- it’s aged the same etc. Then use a piece of modern silk chiffon to make a new wee flounce- unless it’s way off you’ll never notice slight dye/wear differences not being an actual part of the dress but something that hangs off.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’d use the hip do-dad to repair the bodice because it’ll offer the best possible (perhaps perfect) match, and then recreate the do-dad with found black silk crepe so you don’t change the original design. Just my take on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have a remarkable black silk charmeuse dress from the same era, with what I think is egyptian influence in the beading. Think King Tut. I bought it for nothing at a charity shop some years ago, and have worn it a few times. I think of it as a “near museum quality” piece but I don’t really know that is true. I will send you a photo, I would like your thoughts…..
    bonnie in provence


  5. jacqstaubssyahoocom

    Dear Lizzie – how many times have i heard ” I didn’t need this dress”?! And later they regreted not buying it – went back for it and it was gone within the hour! You needed this dress! XO! Fabulous find!


  6. eileen ann glennon

    I love everything about your blog. So glad I found it! I have an orange silk joan d arc dress.. I found it in a thrift store when I was in college and i wore it usually around halloween.. I recently took it out of the closet and found the shoulders are shredding.. Now I realize why…
    Thanks for a terrific blog.


  7. Maria Cate

    What a gorgeous dress! The embroidery is exquisite and I love the asymmetrical drape down the side of the bodice. I wish I had your sewing skills so I could do my own repairs on my vintage clothing! Please keep us posted on the restoration of the dress.


  8. ceci

    It would be interesting to hear of your progress on the dress reclamation project.



  9. You have an ambitious rescue project! Hope you’ll keep us updated as you go.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.