Reconstructing History 1341 – 1932 sporting dress

The next outfit for Art Deco… Reconstructing History 1341 – a sporting dress based on an original from the 1930s. They state on the website it’s from 1932, so pretty much on the button date-wise.

 I loved the shape of this pattern straight away, a dress with a waist and a fitted skirt with inverted pleats at the bottom. In line with not spending a fortune on fabric, I managed to pick this fabric up from a swap with friends in Wellington, so was actually a complete bargain. It’s a pretty cute white viscose linen mix (I think) with navy blue cherries. As soon as I saw it, I decided it would be perfect for this pattern.

I was so excited to make this dress up, but having never used Reconstructing History patterns, I decided it would be best to make up a toile. This is a habit now for patterns I’ve never made before, it saves a lot of heartache. Good job I did. This pattern needed so many changes! There are princess seams down the front, but the back is a single piece cut on the fold, which is long enough to create the shoulder straps and fix to the top of the bodice. Here are a couple of photos from the first toile…

The waist was non-existent, the back didn’t fit well at all, the straps were quite frankly odd, and there were big gapes under the arms. The skirt was also very much an A-line shape. I had a lot of work to do!

The back I completely redrafted and cut new back pieces. I raised the deep back so that it would cover my scaffolding and straightened the straps and lengthened them so they fit better.

The fronts I also changed completely. The princess seam on the original pattern was completely straight, which was a big surprise. I took them in at the top and also added a gentle curve to the waist. They also needed shortening, since the front came up too high.

The skirt I decided I would start again from scratch and use my pencil skirt block to create a whole new skirt! My pencil skirt block I’ve had for a while and I know fits. The only thing I took from the original pattern was to copy the pleats from the bottom.

So I made a second toile…

After that I played around with this toile and made some new pattern pieces for the bodice. They look nothing like the originals, as you can see from my poorly drawn blue lines below!

Having spoken to a local historical fashion expert, she mentioned that a blouse type bodice which gathered into the waistband with no gathering on the skirt waist was the way to go. Making a waistband meant I could get this fit. In the pattern, the bodice is attached to the skirt and then the pattern piece for a fabric belt is included. I found this red and white striped ribbon in Made Marion in Wellington and thought at the time it would be great for a belt. Rather than make a proper belt, I actually just slip stitched this ribbon to the waistband and included a buckle which I bought to make it look like a belt. I also interfaced the waistband for stability.

To fasten the pattern recommends using buttons down the left side seam with thread loops. I decided to use a centred zip in the seam.

The original pattern doesn’t use buttons on the straps, they are attached to the bodice directly. I found I had a lot of issues trying to get the right length of these, so I decided to attach the straps with non-functioning buttons. These big red buttons came from Pete’s Emporium. I pinned the strap to the bodice and stitched the button through all layers. I think I still made them a bit too long, but by the time I’d decided that it was difficult to shorten them more. I just need to add a couple of stitches on the back so the top of the bodice doesn’t collapse behind the straps.

Obviously the changes I made meant the additional cap sleeves can’t be added. I did think about these before I made that first toile… I quickly changed my mind!

I guess my finished dress looks like the image in the pattern online, but to get that I’ve practically drafted a whole new pattern. I did start this early on in my journey of making outfits for Art Deco and had the time. I have to say if I’d have started this late on, it just wouldn’t have got made. It took so long to make this up. I’m quite impressed with my patience.

To make the hem tidy (since this fabric frayed a lot), I finished the hem with a pale blue hug snug tape. This may not have been the right choice, it is slightly visible from the outside!

I also completely lined the bodice with a white cotton voile from stash (I buy lots of this in one go for these purposes). I didn’t line the skirt, since I like to wear a slip and I decided not to worry.

The details
Fabric:  White viscose linen mix (I think), with blue cherries from a fabric swap with friends in Wellington. White cotton voile from stash.
Notions:  Thread, interfacing, a dress zip, two large buttons (from Pete’s Emporium), red and white striped ribbon for the waistband from Made Marion in Wellington and a buckle which came from Miss Maude in Greytown.
PatternReconstructing History 1341, 1932 sporting dress, size H (44” bust)
Changes made:  Lots. I completely redrafted the bodice and also used my own pencil skirt block for the skirt. I also changed the straps to be attached with non-functioning buttons, added a waistband and changed the side buttons to a zip. I also lined the bodice. Full details are above.
Another one/recommendations:  This experience of a Reconstructing History pattern was not fun. I accept I have a modern body shape with curves, but this pattern as drafted needed a lot of changes and I didn’t expect to have to practically redraft the whole thing. I only used the instructions for the pattern when making up the toile. I didn’t use them at all for the real thing. I was expecting brief instructions and they were easy enough for me to follow.

All this being said, I am happy with the final dress and am glad I spent the time to get it fitting properly. I wore it a couple of times while we were away. I think it’ll get worn now we’re home on warmer days. I’m also really happy with how the skirt turned out. It’s tempting to use this to make a skirt and maybe I might look to see how I can adapt it to use a different colour in the pleat.

2 thoughts on “Reconstructing History 1341 – 1932 sporting dress

  1. Phew! Quite a job of reconstructing on this pattern, and very valuable advice, should I ever decide to use one of these patterns. Great job on making it wearable for your event – love the fabric you chose, too!

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