Learn about Life in the 1920s

1920 Long-Tunic Dress Description

The best dressed woman of any social class studies her own dress possibilities. She knows what the dress manufacturers have to offer in fabrics. She not only observes but reads about the fashions in reliable fashion magazines and newspapers.

Dress Style

Keeping up with the Changing fashions and studying them intelligently is the rational economical attitude toward dress. Therefore, keep up with fashions; don't wait until you feel that you have to accept them. Study them as they come and interpret them for your own individual needs; then your costumes will reflect the mode and yet express that distinction in dress always so much admired and so eagerly sought.


Take the long-tunic dress as an example of intelligent dress. Who would want to wear a uniform dress, so much advocated, when a style with as much individuality and genuine smartness as are evident in this dress is available?

To hear an artist talk of art, color, and line and their adaptation to individuals, one feels appalled. The responsibility of dressing in good taste and becomingly seems tremendous, yet the elimination of unbecoming colors and lines and a continued striving for the right expression of individuality will unquestionably gain their reward in improvement equal to the comprehension, earnestness, and persistence evidenced.

Material and Pattern.

Moccasin-brown silk duvetyn or satin, Hindu brown, or Arctic blue cloth, or even the reliable blue serge would prove splendidly appropriate for a dress of this type. For the average figure, 6 1/4 yards of 40-inch material or 5 yards of 54-inch material is needed, unless a sham skirt is used underneath the tunic; then the amounts may be reduced 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 yards.

In order to insure smartness and a well-fitted effect in a one-piece dress, a muslin model is almost a necessity, for if a very decided change must be made in fitting the upper part of the dress, an even more decided change than can be taken care of with an ordinary seam allowance is often necessary in the skirt lines. Such changes may be accomplished in the muslin model by means of piecings and the new seam lines then marked so that they may be followed in cutting the dress material.

Use a plain one-piece dress pattern as a guide in cutting the muslin model for this dress. Provide the extension that is necessary at the center front, mark the dart line above the hip line of the pattern and parallel with it, and slash and separate the portion of the pattern below this line to provide fulness. Then, instead of cutting a curved line, like the pattern, from the center front to the side seam, leave the lower edge straight. The extra length may be taken up in the dart and cut away, thus permitting the hem to be turned on a straight grain of the material.

Outline the back panel to make it of a becoming width, and provide a 1 1/2-inch seam allowance on both of its edges, as well as on the side back edges to which it is joined. Also, provide a seam line with fulness gathered into it, to be made an extension of the dart in the front portion. Provide an allowance of about 2 1/2 inches for finishing the lengthwise edges of the front opening.

In fitting the muslin model, consider the sleeves. Long or short sleeves may be used satisfactorily in this model. Also, decide on the amount of overlap of the front and the fulness of the tunic, especially at the sides just below the waist. In the case of cloth, the tunic should be 5/8 to 7/8 yard fuller than the foundation skirt, counting the overlap at the center front. For satin, the tunic should measure 3/4 to 1 yard more than the underskirt. This fulness will not seem so great when its bulk is concealed in the plaits of the back panel and in the overlap of the front.

Before removing the muslin model, form a muslin collar pattern and, as in the Tuxedo-scarf dress, make the lengthwise threads of the collar parallel with those in the waist at the front and form a bias seam in the center back of the collar.


Gather the fulness of the front dart and the back horizontal seam line, using very small stitches, and distribute the gathers evenly in basting them to the turned lower edge of the waist. The gathered portion is quite conspicuous and unless the fulness is carefully adjusted, this detail will detract from the general attractiveness of the design.

When the gathers are basted in position, baste the under-arm, shoulder, side-back, and sleeve seams, and turn under the backpanel edges and baste the panel flat to the dress. Also, turn back the allowance made for the finish of the lengthwise front edges. Then baste the seams of the foundation skirt, leaving the left seam open at the top for a placket finish.


Place the foundation skirt on the figure and make any changes in this that may be necessary. Then put on the tunic dress and observe every detail usually considered in the fitting of a dress of this kind. If the muslin model used for the dress pattern was fitted properly, few, if any, changes will be necessary in this fitting. In order to make sure that the armhole curve is correct, turn under the allowance made on the armhole edge of the waist and pin the sleeve in position. Much of the smartness of a tailored dress is dependent on the fitting of the sleeve and of the armhole curve; therefore, these points must not be passed over lightly.

With this done, mark the position for the buttons. Two large buttons are sufficient for a style of this kind.


Finish the dart and the corresponding seam line in the back with a row of stitching placed very close to the turned lower edge of the waist. Finish the foundation-skirt seams and the shoulder, under-arm, and sleeve seams of the overdress as plain pressed-open seams and either overcast or bind them. Stitch the edges of the back panel about 1-inch outside of the seam line, in order to produce a soft plait, which may be merely pressed in position. Stitch the armhole as a plain seam; then turn the edges in toward the body portion of the waist and finish them together. Either overcast or bind the inside edge of the allowance made at the center front, but do not hem this edge to the dress. Instead, secure it in position at the upper end with the collar facing, which is extended to the turned lengthwise edge of the front, and secure the lower end of the allowance in the skirt hem. Such a finish will produce a more desirable effect at the front than if an attempt is made to secure the front hem its entire length.

Finish the lower edge of the sleeves with a bias 1/4-inch finished binding or with narrow braid binding, whichever you prefer. Make the girdle of a double bias strip, which, when finished, is about 1 inch wide and 2 yards long. Then, finish the placket in the foundation skirt and turn the hems in both the foundation and outer skirts, and while the dress is on the figure tack the girdle in position. Remove the dress and secure the skirt hems with fine, loose hemming-stitches.

To make the buttons, cover molds about 1 1/4 inches in diameter with self-material. Buttons are frequently decorated with embroidery-stitches sometimes in a deeper or a lighter color, especially when large buttons are used, as in this case. Decorated buttons may be purchased if the material is very luxurious. Some of the buttons to be had this season are attractive enough to serve as brooches. Make the loops of self-covered cord, provided you have bound the collar and sleeves with self-material; but if you have used bindings of braid, make the loops by folding braid over the cord and whipping the edges together closely.

1920 Straight-Line Dress >>>>


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