I am about to blow your mind with this simple and glamorous dress. Most garments are made up of shapes. This 1930s gown looks like a fancy Bohemian wedding dress although it’s really made up of one tube, one rectangle and two circle shapes.

The Shapes. I like to start with cutting out everything larger. It is much easier to take something in than to let it out. I wanted this dress to be as easy as possible so I made it all on the serger. You can use a regular machine and if your lace gets stretchy try using a zig zag stitch.

Here is one of my two circles, these are called flounces. I cut two of these out exactly the same size. I didn’t have time to cut one out larger than the other to make layers. There is also no need to worry about perfection at this point.

Next is where the long rectangle comes in to play. This piece will attach to the center of the bottom circle. This is how one flounce circle appears longer than the other without cutting a larger second circle.

To get the measurement of the long rectangle you can measure the center of the circle, make it larger than you think you need or if you have extra fabric wing it and hope for the best. You can learn a lot from each way of trying this. Getting a measurement is usually the best way. This fabric is really stretchy though so it’s ok if it is not exact.

I attached one flounce to the bottom of a long piece and one flounce to the top. I attached them all on my serger with my differential feed turned up so I didn’t get wavering or distorted edges on this stretchy lace.

Once that was done I sewed the sides of my bodice and the shoulder seams with my serger. I finished my arm holes and neckline by simply serging and turning them. Nothing fancy here!

The fittings! The dress was way too big and needed to be taken in quite a bit. No big deal! I simply try on the dress and mark how much it needs brought in and then I stitch it up on my regular sewing machine.

Less than two hours later I have a beautiful dress. Alas, there were problems. I always give a dress a “dry run.” I wear the dress for a while somewhere close to home. I wore this dress to the grocery and found out quickly that the lace was so heavy at the bottom that gravity was pulling it downward and it wasn’t holding shape.

I gave it some good thought before I fixed anything. I believe the best way to alter a dress is to figure out how everything works together and then decide what makes the most sense to change. I was not about to shorten any flounces so I wound up taking 3″ out of each shoulder. This technique worked on this dress and the problem was solved! The bottom lace was going to lay however it wanted, to a point, so bringing the whole body up allowed it to fall naturally.

I hope I have inspired you to step outside your comfort zone and consider new ideas. Fabric is from Sew to Speak Fabric and Yarn in Columbus.

Behind the scenes~

Wedding season has started and this means lots of time altering dresses. I still managed to find a couple of hours to make a pants suit… Art by Tiffany Clark and the Mural Machine.

There was a big photography contest here in Dayton held by Clash Dayton and Dayton Most Metro. Gem City Pin Up Photography won best “Locally Made” category. Model Kacie Nicole Bornheimer is wearing one of my 1940s dresses.  After the shoot she bought the dress! Love it!

Check out Amelia, Owner of Brim hat store in the Oregon District. She hand stitched and designed this beautiful kimono out of vintage scarves.

Thank you for reading,

Tracy McElfresh

Dream it! Sew it!



Tracy McElfresh
Latest posts by Tracy McElfresh (see all)